November 13th 2012
Tree planting to celebrate Gustav Creek’s restoration
“It’s the culmination of three years preparation getting the site ready to plant and I’ll be celebrating the completion of restoration of this magnificent section of Gustav Creek and inviting all to come and plant trees and watch them grow into the future!” That’s how Magnetic Island Nature Care’s (MINCA’s) Charlie McColl described his excitement for a community planting which will be held on Sunday 18 November.
While community plantings are always fun and enriching, this job has a special history which stretches back to that fateful Night of Noah, January 10, 1998, when ex-tropical Cyclone Sid turned Gustav Creek into a raging torrent that removed the old Barton Street bridge and caused a huge landslide behind the Magnetic International dumping 50,000 cubic metres of rock, sand and other debris into the creek. For the record, The Bureau of Meteorology, Townsville, recorded 549mm of rain in the 24 hour period (120mm falling during just one hour and 205mm in two hours) followed by another 245mm in the next two days.
“Since 2004, in a co-operative response involving MINCA and Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayer’s Association, the main focus has been to remove the plug effect caused by the landslide sand, which was so overgrown with weeds and trees, it stopped moving (down to the bay),” said Charlie.
The work was the outcome of the Gustav Creek Management Plan and Charlie’s role since has been heavily hands-on - starting about three years ago with the regeneration of Gustav’s banks beside the Clinic on Sooning Street.
“We learned how successful a concerted effort could be from the Queensland Health (Clinic) job,” said Charlie.
Since then he has worked his way up along the school-side bank for what is now about 250 metres.
While Gustav Creek is still home to many weeds, the transformation where Charlie has worked has been dramatic with massive amounts of weeds removed including Island ‘favourites’ such as Singapore daisy, sisal, various twiners and guinea grass to name a few.
Added to this has been a huge amount of discarded material which dated back to Cyclone Althea in 1971. Charlie was able to start its removal after an exhibition proceeds' donation from Island artists Mel Williams and Sasha Stafford helped fund the earth moving contractors.
To visit the site today is impressive and areas where Charlie has removed the strangle hold of weed species to allow the native trees and shrubs to flourish is little short of inspirational. The work has also gone a long way to help stabilise the creek banks and, on Sunday, this work will be taken further with four large areas being organised for planting.
Native species seedlings are being provided by Council and Magnetic Islanders are invited to join with Charlie, MINCA and Townsville City Council staff who are also running a free barbecue as well as providing drinks and a free native plant to take home after the event.
The planting will run from 9am to 12noon and best access is via The Grove towards the entrance to the School grounds in Nelly Bay.
Photo and story: George Hirst