Southern Moreton Bay Islands
Russell Island Walking Tracks Background Information
In April 2008 Friends of the Wetlands, the predecessor of Bay Islands Conservation Inc. was founded. Along with other conservation issues, plans to develop walking tracks on all the Southern Moreton Bay Islands was the focus of the group.
Although Russell Island has a growing urban community, in excess of a third of the island has been zoned as conservation. These areas are made up predominantly of wetland environments.
The vision for Russell Island was and is to have a series of walking tracks in and around these conservation areas, ultimately interlinking these tracks in a way that it is possible to circumnavigate a large portion of the island.
As well as a number of smaller areas, there are four main wetland areas on Russell: Whistling Kite, Turtle Swamp, Watermouse Wetlands and Melomy Wetlands.
The first stage was the surveying of Whistling Kite and Turtle Swamp wetlands in 2009 using GIS mapping device. Thousands of photos and mapping coordinates were collected. Some of these together with other information can be seen on the initial website, russellislandwetlands.com.au.
In 2010 Friends of the Wetlands was incorporated and in 2012 the name was changed to Bay Islands Conservation Inc. and a new website, bayislandsconservation.org, was created.
Proposal Jan 2014
Bay Island Conservation Incorporated (BICI)
Proposed expansion of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands low impact trail network.
To identify key points of interest on the Bay Islands and to connect them using a network of low impact trails that incorporate existing road reserves and fire tracks to promote greater awareness of the region’s valuable natural and cultural values, provide access as described further in this proposal as well as providing access to volunteers to rehabilitate and maintain.
In addition to supporting a growing human population, the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) abounds in natural values and are situated within the Moreton Bay Marine Park and are part of a wetland area that is internationally recognised for its environmental value under the RAMSAR Convention. Furthermore, there are many sites of cultural interest to the region’s first inhabitants including middens, fish traps and story place like Canaipa Point which is an important part of the region’s Dreaming Story. Sites from more recent European arrivals also exist and play an important role in describing the development of the south east Queensland.
In 2013 BICI, in association with the Redland City Council (RCC) established the first walking trail to the east of Centre Road on Russell Island that provided access to a series of natural waterholes and native wild flower areas on the eastern extent of Turtle Swamp Wetland (Appendix 1).This trail was the first in a series of trails that are intended to be developed across the SMBI’s to sensitively increase public access to high community value sites. Progressing on the success of the first trail, in 2013, BICI was successful in obtaining almost $35 000 from the Jupiters Casino Community Benefit Fund (JCCBF) to implement the next walking trail (Stage 2.0) which includes: establishing a walking trail around the wetlands adjacent to the Russell Island concrete batching site (CBS); to conduct associated regeneration activities: and, to implement community training associated with the project.
Current Walking Trail proposal – Concrete Batching Site
The JCCBF concrete batching site walking trail proposal is outlined in Figure 1 and is intended to increase the public’s access and the available facilities at one of the more beautiful, but unknown, locations on Russell Island that has historically been significantly neglected and subjected to significant illegal dumping and weed invasion (Figure 2). The trail will provide walking and wheel chair viewing access to the Russell Island’s main permanent freshwater source which is habitat for many species including birdlife like swamp hens, magpie geese, raptors (eagles and kites) and kingfishers which could be a major drawcard to an ecotourism business focusing on bird watching. The trail will also provide BICI members and other community groups with access to address weed incursions through active eradication and replanting programs .
The proposed walkway has been developed to provide a formal walking trail from the corner of Minjerriba and High Street to the historical Weedmore corduroy road (Figure 1). The proposed building process will use timber bordered paths of road base. A short section of fill will be required to cross a canal that had been dug by the previous owners’ of the concrete batching plan to provide access to water for concrete manufacturing and to allow disposal of waste water. The fill will incorporate the walking trail and a formal bund wall to prevent future pollution of the wetland by the batching plant. This fill will provide access to an ideal location for the establishment of a table and shelter for people to access a view of the open waterway. Containment of the fill by geotextile fabric will reduce the potential for reduced water quality in the WKW which will be enhanced through the placement of the bund wall. From the proposed shelter area, the walkway will follow the cleared high bank of the wetlands (Figure 3) in a south westerly direction until it meets with the road. If the budget permits, the concept of a raised berm or platform will be investigated in this location to provide a better viewing of the open water areas and further reduce the speed of overland flow. At this point the walkway will follow the Titania Road and finish at Weedmore Road.
The proposed walking trail will also:
- link to the fire track south of the ambulance station that traverses east to reconnect to Minjerriba Street
- address erosion problems at the ambulance station as further south on High street at a storm drain leading into the wetland
- provide a buffer and bund wall between the concrete batching plant and the Whistling Kite Wetland
- significantly improve the visual amenity of the location through the appropriate planting of local native screening species
- create conservation training opportunities as part of revegetation and weed eradication programs along the length of the proposed trail
Figure 1. Proposed trail network for the concrete batching site and tree replanting areas
Figure 2. Weed infestations around Melaleucas at the site include Lantana and Singapore Daisies.
Figure 3. Potential trail site with minimal disturbance of native plants to link the shelter area with Titania Street. Clear area has significant potential for replanting to increase the buffer between the batching plant and the WKW
Figure 4. Potential triangular replanting area to the north of the concrete batching site bordered by High Street and Titania Street that could be used to improve the visual amenity of the site from the bitumen part of High Street.
Redland City Council Input
The JCCBF grant is intended to cover the costs associated with the on-ground delivery of the first of three walking trails linking the Minjerriba Wetlands to the Turtle Swamp Wetland walking trail (Figure 5). To successfully implement the concrete batching plant walking trail (Stage 2.0), BICI needs to discuss the implementation process with RCC. Specifically to identify commitment to:
- assist the project through the provision of suitable rock material to construct the path associated with the first stage of the walking trail;
- to approve the proposed pathway and to conduct any associated survey work that may be required;
- assistance in the establishment of a formal network with traditional landholders to provide signage advice in relation to relevant local Dreamtime Stories, and,
- to address any other issues that the RCC may be aware of that need to be considered in the development of this trail.
BICI would also like to enter negotiations with the RCC to implement additional trails on the SMBI, including for example stages 2.1 and 2.2 outlined in Figure 5. Stage 2.1 could for example, be based on establishing a formal fire break to help in implementing controlled burns of the area. Stage 2.2 would require assistance in sourcing a suitable infrastructure development grant as it will require the installation of large amounts of raised platforms and the de-gazettal of an existing road. This road is constantly under water and a closure would significantly reduce the threats to the WKW by improving water quality through minimising disturbance and reduce the risks of weed dispersion.
Yellow- New trails (note the eastern trail could be a fire track)
Green – Board walk. These will be designed for uneven ground and short, shallow wet area crossing in mind.
Red – Part infill of water access drain created by previous batching plant owner to access water from the wetland.
Blue – Raised walkway with viewing platform for bird watching.
Figure 5. Stages of the Minjerriba Wetland Walking Trail
Approximate location of the walking trail established on Russell Island in 2013 to provide access to the eastern side of Turtle Swamp Wetlands.