|Early morning colours on the heathland at Pine Ridge Conservation Park.|
|Featured areas: (1) Pine Ridge Conservation Park, (2) Runaway Bay |
Marina, (3) The Broadwater foreshore, (4) Suburban Hollywell.
Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Hollywell is not one of the premier tourist destinations on the Gold Coast, but for those interested in coastal landscapes, a visit should be essential! Inside this suburb remains the last coastal wallum heath found on the Gold Coast mainland, preserved as part of Pine Ridge Conservation Park. Before European settlement, this vegetation type would have covered the entire area, right down to the dunes bordering the Broadwater. Things changed in 1890, when
an Englishman named Joseph Proud purchased the land and named it after his homestead back in Britain. The area remained largely rural until a canal development was proposed in the late 1980s, thanks to the financial success of a similar venture at nearby Runaway Bay, and now the suburb features very large and expensive waterfront homes. It will be interesting to see how the property market fares here in the coming years; with a completely flat topography and much of the protective dune system altered or removed, Hollywell appears particularly vulnerable to the future effects of climate change.
|Both the Noisy and the Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis) are found at Pine Ridge Conservation Park. |
The latter (seen here) is the less common of the two.
|Rainbow Lorikeets are abundant within the park,|
commencing their daily activities well before sunrise.
1. Pine Ridge Conservation Park
Pine Ridge has become a beautiful natural island amid a sea of intense urban development, protecting 121 hectares of the Gold Coast's last remaining wallum heathland. The name 'wallum' is an Aboriginal word for the Banksia (Banksia aemula) tree which dominates low-lying coastal areas in South-east Queensland, and this species is plentiful within the Conservation Park. Also common is the Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta), a eucalypt which has adapted to the acidic, waterlogged sands of the wallum environment. Growing closer to the ground are Swamp Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea fulva), Twiggy Homoranthus (Homoranthus virgatus) and Wallum Boronia (Boronia falcifolia); a visit in winter and early spring will show off these flowering beauties at their very best.
I find that even the urban sections of the Gold Coast have a surprisingly decent dawn chorus, and Hollywell is no exception. Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) and Noisy Friarbirds (Philemon corniculatus) make harsh sounds, while songsters like the Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) and Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) please the ears more. Careful listening will also reveal the presence of cute Double-barred Finches (Taeniopygia bichenovii) in the Conservation Park, given away by their nasal calls within the undergrowth. Other wildlife to be seen within the park include Lace Monitors (Varanus varius) and the occasional Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus).
Pine Ridge Conservation Park can be entered off Oxley Drive opposite Coombabah State Primary School. Facilities include parking, picnic tables, signage and a walking path which mostly follows the perimeter of the park.
|A Swamp Mahogany overlooking the wallum heath. The flower buds of this species |
somewhat resemble medieval jousting lances.
2. Runaway Bay Marina
Despite featuring the name of a neighbouring suburb, this marina actually falls within the boundaries of Hollywell. Here you can gaze at multi-million dollar boats from underneath the shade of native Pandanus (Pandanus tectorius) and exotic Coconut Palms (Cocos nucifera), but mind your noggin' if standing under the latter! Parts of the foreshore here and at the end of Poinsettia Avenue fall on private property, with accompanying signs being quick to point out boundary lines. Bush Stone-Curlews (Burhinus grallarius) are sometimes observed skulking about the landscaped gardens around the marina.
|Coconut Palms and private jetties straddle the edge of the Broadwater at the end of Poinsettia Avenue.|
3. The Broadwater foreshore
|Beach Morning-Glory is a common dune plant |
along the Broadwater foreshores.
|Long-legged Bandwings are relatively small grasshoppers.|
|Bream are sought after by both recreational and|
|Good wildlife habitat: oyster-covered rocks and a remnant dune borders the Broadwater.|
4. Suburban Hollywell
|This Masked Lapwing has a deformed leg, highlighting the|
stressful and dangerous urban environment it lives in.
|Common Paper Wasps (Polistes humilis) cluster tightly over their nest in a Bribie Island Pine (Calitris columellaris).|