|The pastel love flower is a charming, shade-loving native plant.|
The stretch of highway on the way to the Gold Coast running between Mount Gravatt and Yatala has always been a bit of a vague blur to me at the best of times, and a peak hour nuisance at worst. An endless strip of superstores, car dealerships and fast food outlets, I tend to hurry on through as quickly as the traffic will allow, chasing greener horizons further south. It turns out that the view from the M1 doesn’t really do this area justice though, as I found out recently while exploring the Logan suburb of Underwood.
|Featured areas: (1) Suburban Underwood,|
(2) Concourse Park, (3) Brookvale Park,
and (4) Jacaranda Ridge. Image courtesy
of Google Maps
What Underwood residents lack in garden size, they make up for in community green space, however. Interwoven through much of the suburb are bushland corridors and parkland, each offering a variety of facilities such as walking paths, barbecues, outdoor exercise equipment, picnic tables and more. Despite being bordered on all sides by busy roads, including one of the busiest in South-east Queensland, native flora and fauna manages to persist in the suburb, thanks to these green areas.
|The scrub cherry is a native rainforest lillypilly that has been cultivated into a popular ornamental tree.|
1. Suburban Underwood
If you’re knowledgeable with your trees, one thing you might quickly notice in Underwood is that the street plantings are almost all Australian natives. Throughout the suburb, mature specimens of tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) and golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) shade the footpaths, providing food and shelter for animals including the black-faced cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) and inland golden orb-weaver (Nephila edulis). Along Perrin Drive, an impressive scrub cherry (Syzygium australe) grows behind Bunnings, something I will remember should I ever fancy trying one of its edible fruits! Apart from the main roads, most streets in the area have an abundance of roundabouts and chicanes that make conditions safer not just for children and pedestrians, but also for wildlife like ducks, wallabies and reptiles.
|Waterbirds can be easily viewed from the pond edge at Concourse Park.|
Running south-west to north-east between Centenial Street and Botanical Drive, Concourse Park centres on a narrow stony stream draining out from a small ornamental pond. Vegetated with native water snowflakes (Nymphoides indica), the pond itself is home to a variety of waterbirds, including white-eyed ducks (Aythya australis), little pied cormorants (Microcarbo melanoleucos) and Australasian grebes (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae). The rocky edges of the waterbody offer perfect sunbathing spots for eastern water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii), a species which does quite well in even the most built-up of suburbs.
|Rainbow lorikeet, feeding from a paperbark blossom.|
|The forest floor of Brookvale Park is covered by native grasses, ferns and groundcovers.|
3. Brookvale Park
Best accessed from Brookvale Drive or Samba Place, Brookvale Park protects the highest quality wildlife habitat in Underwood. Amazingly, the thick creekside vegetation is home to swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor) that are managing to eke out a living just a stone’s throw away from some very busy roads. Part of their survival success is due to their wary, fleet-footed nature; expect to see nothing more than a low, black shape bounding into the scrub, as well as their trackways and droppings.
|Yellow paper wasp (Ropalidia romandi) nests are very|
large and usually secured to the upper branches of a eucalypt.
Earlier this year, I carried out a spider survey in the bushland on this site, and became acquainted with interesting species like the elegant lynx spider (Oxyopes elegans), Bleeker’s jumping spider (Euryattus bleekeri) and the leaf-curling spider (Phonognatha graeffi). For those less willing to make eight-legged friends, other interesting insects in the vegetation include stem grasshoppers (Adreppus species) and garden mantids (Orthodera ministralis).
|The Crescent runs along the top of Jacaranda Ridge, with houses on one side and bushland on the other.|
4. Jacaranda Ridge
The community living atop this small rise have commendably chosen to forego an eye-pleasing coastal view in exchange for retaining a patch of ridgetop bushland. Nestled among spotted (Corymbia citriodora) and forest red gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis) is a small picnic shelter, where a short, downhill concrete track also begins. The close proximity to nearby gardens means that the area suffers from a slight weed problem, with small-leaved privet (Ligustrum sinense) and exotic passionflower (Passiflora species) vines creeping slowly into the bushland. The area is still nevertheless utilised by a variety of birds, with welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena), rainbow bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) and brown goshawks (Accipiter fasciatus) exploiting the updrafts above.
|Leaf-curling spiders have found a unique way to hide from hungry birds.|