Friday, 16 January 2015

Suburb Guide: Griffin

Sunrise from Dohles Rocks, looking east towards the Houghton Highway Bridge.

Griffin is a semi-rural suburb of the Moreton Bay Region,
immediately to the north of Brisbane city. It was named after Captain George Griffin, a Scotsman who was the first white settler to claim the land as his own in 1843. The area was at the territorial margins of three different Aboriginal tribes: the Ningi Ningi people from Redcliffe, the Turrbal people from Brisbane and the Kabi Kabi clan from the Caboolture area. Because the area is prone to frequent tidal inundation and storm flooding, it is possible that both European and Indigenous settlers have historically used the land for hunting and grazing, but have resided on higher ground nearby.

Featured areas: (1) Dohles Rocks, (2) Hays Inlet floodplain, (3) Osprey House Environmental Centre,
(4) Greens Road Wetlands, (5) Housing estate. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Land reclamation works in recent times have changed this. A 2011 census of the area recorded 2,358 residents living in Griffin, with most development occurring in a Stocklands housing estate in the north-west corner of the suburb, as well as along the riverfront at Dohles Rocks. Griffin is bounded on the west by the Bruce Highway, and to the north and south by Freshwater Creek and the Pine River respectively. Much of the eastern half of the suburb adjoins Hays Inlet, and has been left undeveloped. Land-use for the suburb is set to intensify greatly over the next few decades - Moreton Bay Regional Council has published a PDF document outlining the plan for this.

Listed below are five interesting natural areas within the suburb of Griffin, with the fauna, flora and facilities for each of them noted briefly.

Forest Red Gums, Dohles Rocks.
1. Dohles Rocks
Probably the best known natural area of Griffin is Dohles Rocks. This rocky bank on the Pine River is an exceedingly popular fishing spot, where good catches of Yellowfin Bream (Acanthopagrus australis) and Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) are common. Even if you aren't fishing, a glance into the river is worthwhile, as Common Toadfish (Tetractenos hamiltoni), Blue Blubber (Catostylus mosaicus) jellyfish and the feeding depressions left behind by Estuary Stingrays (Dasyatis fluviorum) are easily seen. Excellent facilities have been provided by the local council, including picnic tables, toilets, shelters, BBQs, drinking water, playgrounds, boat ramps and fish cleaning stations. Towards the eastern end of the foreshore, mature specimens of Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and Moreton Bay Ash (Corymbia tessellaris) provide shade. 
Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) hitching a ride on livestock behind Dohles Rocks Road.

2. Hays Inlet
The very end of Dohles Rocks Road turns sharply to the left and becomes Korman Road for about 50 metres, until a gate with a 'no trailbikes' sign is reached. The 'road' (actually a muddy track hereforth) can then be followed into Swamp She-Oak (Casuarina glauca) woodland, with views out to the saltmarshes of Hays Inlet. It is economically important to preserve this area as it is - saltmarsh retains more carbon than a forest of equal size, and it functions as a nursery for fish species around which entire food industries are built. Hays Inlet is also one of the few locations in Australia where the Water Mouse (Xeromys myoides) is known to occur. This rare and beautiful little creature is listed as a Vulnerable species and is hard to observe in the wild. More easily seen are the Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) that live where the marsh meets the Forest Red Gums.

Sepia dawn over the Hays Inlet saltmarsh.
An Eastern Osprey asleep by its nest,
Osprey House Environmental Centre.

3. Osprey House Environmental Centre
For almost 20 years, volunteers at Osprey House have endeavoured to show visitors a new perspective on mangroves and mudflats that recognises their ecological significance. Engagement with the environment is encouraged by the centre in some innovative ways, one of which you will notice as you pull into the carpark. In 2006, Osprey House installed a man-made nesting platform for its namesake, the Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus), which allows the nesting behaviour of the birds to be observed by visitors. For a look inside the nest, a video camera has been installed that streams in real time to the Osprey House website. Also clever is the construction of the Fred Dohle Amphitheatre in a location that allows for environmental talks with the best visual aid possible - nature itself. These areas are linked by a boardwalk with interpretative signs; this leads to a bird hide where migratory waders like Godwits and Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) can be seen in the summer. Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are often observed in the eucalypts around the centre also.

Fred Dohle Amphitheatre, on the Pine River.

Creek Grasshopper (Bermius odontocercus)
in wet grassland along Greens Road.

4. Greens Road Wetland
A densely vegetated chain of lagoons at the end of this dirt road provides shelter for interesting waterbirds including Magpie Geese (Anseranas semipalmata) and Wandering Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata). Crakes and rails are likely to find this location suitable as well, but there are limited viewing opportunities of the private land on which these wetlands fall. Flooded pastures and farm dams along Henry Road are also reputed to be good for bird sightings, especially of our native crane, the stately Brolga (Grus rubicunda).

Remnant Paperbark forest along Vermilion Avenue, in Griffin's residential area .

Scarlet Brackets (Pycnoporus coccineus) grow
in the open forest at the bottom of Cairns Road.

5. Housing estate
The new residential areas of Griffin are broken up by parkland corridors that have been planted with native trees, and the streets themselves are lined with Tuckeroos (Cupaniopsis anacardioides). Of higher environmental value however are the remnant patches of swamp woodland to the south of the houses, as they illustrate what was growing on the land before it was cleared for development. Lush forests of Broad-leaved Paperbarks (Melaleuca quinquenervia) are interspersed with Umbrella Cheese Trees (Glochidion sumatrana) and Pink Doughwood (Melicope elleryana), while Harsh Ground Ferns (Hypolepis muelleri) sprawl below. This wet and dense habitat offers shelter for shy wildlife species such as the Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), Shining Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx lucidus) and Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis). Hopefully these areas will be left intact if the housing estate expands further.

Grey Mangrove (Avicennia marina) reflections on the Pine River,
Osprey House Environmental Centre.


  1. beautiful, colorful shots! love the cattle in the field with the egrets. :)

  2. One of those Scarlet Brackets' looks like it's dripping! Lovely post Christian and fascinating as always. I loved that sepia shot of the salt marsh - it looks like snow. We had snow here a few days ago - so beautiful. Have a great weekend.

    1. Ahh snow... We have been having heatwaves here so that sounds lovely! Thanks Em!

  3. Wonderful post. Very interesting. I love the Osprey House Environmental Centre and the view from that platform. Love the fungi image. would love to visit there some day Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Thanks Margaret, yes Osprey House is well worth a visit!

  4. Hi Christian, first of all... my compliments on your photography - especially the first photo, a magnificent capture of the sunrise - every glorious colour!
    The red gums are so beautiful too and a beaut post full of great info. I do hope they continue as they started with the housing estate.
    Cheers now :D)

    1. Thanks Susan. The photography is easy - nature does all the work of being beautiful! :)