A love affair with the Rosewood community which began in 1958 continues to grow for Arnold Rieck. For more than 60 years he championed replanting of native vegetation in the area known historically as Rosewood Scrub.
Bushland cleared decades ago has slowly been replanted over 20 years. The remarkable transformation of Masons Gully in Rosewood has been close to Mr Rieck’s heart, and a band of loyal volunteers and supporters.
Now, with the completion of a public walkway named in his honour, he hopes it will inspire others to care about the rare and highly-valued species of the district.
The gully is unrecognisable from the barren landscape in August 2000 when Rieck and a band of Landcare volunteers and local school students planted the first seedlings.
Only species previously found in the dry vine forest that once stretched from Rosewood to Fernvale were given a home in this patch of regenerated scrub – not a eucalypt, not a melaleuca, not a callistemon in sight.
“It’s doing pretty well,” Mr Rieck said with pride.
He pointed out numerous species along ‘his’ walk, all hand-planted by himself or the dedicated volunteers who have helped over the years, such as brigalow, crows ash, rare baileys cypress, red cedar and hoop pine.
What a difference 20 years can make. Masons Gully corner of John Street and Walloon Road
There’s a rose almond planted with his granddaughter when she was quite young. Now she’s at university and it towers over Rieck.
But his personal favourite is the ‘original rosewood’, a long-lived weeping wattle that has masses of beautiful white blossoms.
“I would regard it as one of the best wattles we have in Australia,” he said.
This Rosewood living legend would love to see seedlings of these local species available for others to grow in yards and properties that also sit on the area’s rich volcanic soils.
There is so little of the Rosewood Scrub left – much of the original ecosystem was cleared with settlement – but Masons Gully provides a glimpse to the area’s unique floral diversity.
“That’s the whole aim of this (walk),” Mr Rieck said.
“To get people walking through.
“Council has a booklet about walks. My hope is that one day this will be in there.”
Slideshow: Masons Gully and the recently completed Arnold Rieck Walk
Most of all he wants people to take time to stand in the gully itself, to go down amongst the grass when the weather is clear and the waterway dry.
“We’ve got 360 degrees around yourself and they are all local trees from the Rosewood Scrub,” he said.
Here you are transported back to the days when giant kangaroos and diprotodont roamed the landscape, when the trees and shrubs evolved their characteristic prickles, spines, hard leaves and unpalatable chemicals as a means of survival.
Or perhaps to 1828 when the density of the scrub stopped explorer Allan Cunningham in his tracks. Faced with a barrier of hoop pine and vines and shrubs he had to skirt south close to the site of Rosewood then along the Bremer to make it through.
The dedication of Arnold Rieck and the ongoing efforts of the Masons Gully volunteers have made sure this window to the past will be available for generations to come.