|Wildlife along Bulimba Creek. Clockwise from top left: Tilapia, Eastern Water Dragon, Brown Goshawk, Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula).|
|Featured areas: (1) Yandina Picnic Ground, (2) Cresthaven Park,|
(3) Sandringham Park, (4) Suburban Mansfield.
Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Located just 11 kilometres from the busy centre of Brisbane, Mansfield is a suburb that is very rich in environmental assets. Originally used for dairy cattle and sheep grazing, the district underwent a population boom in the 1960s when government-housing estates were established in the area. Thankfully, someone at the time had the foresight to keep the banks of Bulimba Creek free from development, helping to establish an excellent wildlife corridor through the suburb that has persisted to the present day.
Running west to east through Mansfield is Wecker Road. It traverses the hilly suburban area before gradually descending to Bulimba Creek, then rises once more at its eastern end. The land at this latter location - noted on the map as an unnamed green area - gives an insight into what would have likely once existed in the sections now covered by houses. Lightly-cloaked in Black She-Oak (Allocasuarina littoralis) woodland with acacias and eucalypts mixed in, the area was unfortunately hard to access for a closer look. Luckily, I got to know some other locations in Mansfield very well, and now regard the place as an environmental treasure! Listed here are four interesting spots:
|The descending trill of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo|
is a familiar sound in the Yandina Picnic Ground.
This area was a fantastic surprise! I had expected an expanse of green lawn dotted with trees and picnic tables, and was instead delighted to discover a wonderful patch of diverse bushland. Along the creek, exotic vegetation has run rampant, with Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) and Chinese Elm (Celtis sinensis) dominating the tree layer, and Ochna (Ochna serrulatus) and Tropical Wild Petunia (Stephanophysum longifolia) occupying the shrub niche. Nevertheless, there are beautiful rainforest trees mixed in with these, including gigantic Blue Quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis) and Black Bean (Castanospermum australe) specimens. The area is currently undergoing a steady transformation, thanks to a bushcare group whose dedication is obvious. New pathways through recently weed-cleared areas allow entry into open eucalypt forest, where birds like the Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis), Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus) and Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) are readily observed. To access the Yandina Picnic Grounds, park by the sportsfield on Wecker Road, then follow the path down to the bridge and along the creek.
|Frogs like this Stony-creek Frog can be easily found in Cresthaven Park.|
2. Cresthaven Park
Located on the opposite side of Bulimba Creek to Yandina Picnic Ground, this reserve is also home to lots of interesting wildlife. While spotlighting on a hot night this week, I found it a particularly good location for frogs, with Ornate Burrowing Frogs (Platyplectrum ornatus), Stony-creek Frogs (Litoria wilcoxii) and Tusked Frogs (Adelotus brevis) all being observed or heard within the hour. Mammals are also well-represented in Cresthaven Park, with wallabies, possums and Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) often seen by locals. A daytime bike ride along the concrete pathway is a more conventional recreation activity than spotlighting, but can be just as rewarding. Stopping on the beautiful wooden bridge near the Kenora Street exit will reveal plenty of Eastern Water Dragons (Intellagama lesueurii), dragonflies and exotic Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambica) below.
|Scenic walking path / cycleway through Cresthaven Park.|
3. Sandringham Park
One of the benefits to retaining such healthy bushland corridors in our suburbs is that it increases the chances of hosting wildlife in our gardens. Along Sandringham Street, near Mansfield State High School, I saw a family of Sacred Kingfishers (Todiramphus sanctus) perched on streetlights and roof gutters. A vacant lot of land along the street has been turned into a small park, filled with mostly exotic trees such as the Helicopter Tree (Tipuana tipu).
|Sacred Kingfisher, Sandringham Street. INSET: Mexican Bluebell (Ruellia tweediana), Sandringham Park.|
|Queensland Silver Wattle and Forest Red Gum|
outside the Mansfield Tavern.
4. Suburban Mansfield
To get a better feel for the more developed parts of the suburb, I parked my car at the Mansfield Tavern and walked through the surrounding streets. Patella Street was a particularly nice avenue, shaded by native Crows Ash (Flindersia australis) and ornamental Poinsiana (Delonix regia) trees, with one front yard home to a full-grown Hickory Wattle (Acacia disparrima). The groundskeeper at the Mansfield Tavern must be a conservationist at heart, as the trees surrounding the premises are a collection of healthy natives, including Queensland Silver Wattle (Acacia podalyriifolia) and Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis). From these well-maintained gardens, native animals like the Eastern Striped Skink (Ctenotus robustus) are able to maintain viable populations that expand into the neighbourhood given the right conditions.
|Bulimba Creek, the lifeblood of Mansfield's natural environment.|
For more information on the Bulimba Creek Catchment, please visit the fantastic website associated with it.