NatureNow

Koala’s secret nightlife caught on camera

The nocturnal habits of notoriously shy wildlife gives an insight to the transformation of this cattle property into a slice of paradise.

A year of labour has gone into creating a natural balance at Shane and Sam’s Purga property.

Hard manual work cutting and poisoning the cats claw creeper smothering the blue gums, fencing off the creek and making off-stream watering points for the cattle, planting more than 300 native species, de-silting the dam and putting in frog-friendly grasses – the work is intense, and ongoing.

The owners could see flora improvements starting to take shape along the riparian corridor with dying weeds, growing trees and groundcover revegetation, but the fauna could still be elusive.

Shane said Council wildlife cameras were beneficial, both for pest management (particularly foxes) and to discover more about nocturnal native species.

“We’ve noticed an increase in the wildlife in the area, particularly possums and koalas. And the possums were breeding – we saw the baby as well,” he said.

“I went out (recently) and did a koala survey, I took the spotlight out. I didn’t see one possum or koala around. It’s just by having the cameras that we had the ability to see what’s going on.”

It all started with Albert.

Soon after they bought the property, Shane was down at the creek when he noticed this male koala staring at him. They affectionately named him ‘Albert’.

Sam said they liked the property because of its creek aspect, and it was a “blank canvas”.

 “When we saw the koala, that was a big change in our thinking for the property,” she said.

dollars directed towards conservation management on private land every year

hectares covered in conservation agreements with 1043 active partners

The property is on Purga Creek, a 2254ha sub-catchment area of the Bremer River Catchment, which is predominately rural and has significant remnant vegetation including the critically endangered Swamp Tea-Tree (Melaleuca irbyana).

The suburb of Purga is also mapped as a Priority Rehabilitation Area under Council’s Koala Conservation and Habitat Management Plan, making it an ideal property eligible for a number of incentives through the Landholder Partnerships Program.

In early 2017 Shane and Sam entered into a Koala Conservation Agreement with Council, and have more recently been accepted to receive a Nature Conservation Grant. They also have support from Healthy Land and Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Their advice for other landowners it to get involved and take advantage of anything on offer.

Sam said without the support, they would not have achieved half of what they have so far. With the Nature Conservation Grant,  “it’s not only monetary, it’s also motivation. We have to do these things in certain timeframes”.

Shane said being able to ring or email Council officers, send pictures or ask about strategies, had been invaluable.

“I don’t think people are aware of the knowledge in Council – they should access it. If (Council officers) weren’t aware, they knew who to contact, and they were always prompt about it. You could make an informed decision,” he said.

Celebrate koala conservation in Purga

Ipswich City Council and Ipswich Koala Protection Society present an open property morning.

  • Date: Saturday 13 January, 2018
  • Time: 9am to 12pm
  • Spaces are limited, RSVP now: Call (07) 3810 7173 or email [email protected]
‘Creating something for the future’

Shane and Sam see their work as a holistic approach that will create a biodiverse habitat for everything from native bees to wrens and koalas – all while maintaining a working cattle property.

Shane said it’s a long-term goal all about the flora and fauna.

“We are trying to re-establish a corridor for the wildlife, and have native flora into the local area – a lot has been stripped of those species – and try and have some connectivity to other remnant patches around here,” he said.

“We have a remnant area near the front near the road, if we can establish some of this connectivity with the bushland, hopefully the wildlife will be a little more protected, rather than going out and crossing the road all the time.”

Sam said there was a bigger picture to the work they were doing.

“We will never see the blue gums at maturity, we are creating something for the future,” she said.

This property is a terrific example of what can be achieved through cooperation between a landowner and Council. The work being done will aid natural regeneration, minimise erosion, provide connectivity with other remnant bushland, strengthen the wildlife corridor and ultimately improve the overall health of Purga Creek.

There are more than 2000 recorded species of native plants and animals in Ipswich, including numerous rare and threatened species. The protection of native flora and fauna has been identified as one of the top environmental priorities in Advance Ipswich.

There are a range of Council programs to support landowners, and those eligible can benefit from many incentives, such as free trees, access to wildlife cameras, different grants, property assessment, workshops and events and more.

Councillor Kerry Silver

Conservation and Environment Committee

Ipswich First and you - a natural partnership

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