Members newsletter November – December 2023

Members newsletter November–December 2023

In this edition

President’s report

Membership matters 

Project updates

Joining up national parks

Sediment accumulation project

Community engagement

Friday Environment Forum

Environment Centre

Activity group updates

Bird Observers’ Group

Botany Group

President’s report

With 2023 coming to a close, it’s timely to reflect on the past year, and the environment and lifestyle issues that have been front and centre in our beautiful neck of the woods.

For the past 60 years and more, Noosa Shire has for the most part been able to grow gracefully, and Noosa Parks Association has been at the forefront of this success story. With a passionate group of volunteers, we’ve been able to make a difference by advocating for good planning schemes that have resulted in clear distinctions between Noosa and many other coastal towns around Australia.

But we are now at a crossroads, with a state government that is advocating and insisting on growing South East Queensland.

Perhaps newer residents to SEQ don’t see the threat—after all, it’s probably a much better place than where they have moved from. But many long-time residents of SEQ are appalled that the very lifestyle they have enjoyed could be irreparably changed. This issue is even more acute for Noosa residents.

Draft river plan, 6 years in the making, overturned by council

At NPA’s recent Members Forum, we heard from our project officers about two issues that will help define Noosa’s forward trajectory—the Noosa River Management Plan and the Noosa Destination Management Plan. Both have the capacity, if handled correctly, to deliver outcomes for Noosa that help protect our environment and lifestyle.

A defining moment occurred at a recent council meeting. Councillors were deciding if the draft Noosa River Plan, as submitted by staff, would be endorsed for further investigation.

This was a plan that clearly stated it needed further consultation with the community and with state government.  However, endorsement was a big step forward in the long-overdue process of creating a river plan—the draft had been 6 years in the making. The plan included a concept for a conservation park over current fish habitat areas.

Endorsement would have set in place an opportunity for further Noosa community consultation, but 2 councillors and the mayor saw fit to overturn an excellent draft plan and delay any further progress. They managed this by generating a highly dubious conflict of interest regarding Cr Brian Stockwell, thus excluding him from the meeting and the final vote.

Housing issues and a growth-obsessed state government

Meanwhile, the growing issue of approvals for short-stay lettings (Airbnb and the like) in residential areas is likely to become another defining matter for future Noosa councils. The new local law governing activities at such properties has proven difficult to implement. The whole issue plays into Noosa’s lack of permanent rental stock, the matter of affordable housing, which in turn results in worker shortages for local businesses.

The population increase being thrust upon Noosa by a growth-obsessed state government may also see building heights irrevocably altered in our shire as well as an increased urban footprint.

We need strong, principled, independent councillors

We need strong, principled, independent councillors to deal effectively with the state on these matters.

Now is not the time for apathy. Arguably, the greatest threat to Noosa is the belief that someone else will save it!

It will require significant community effort to change the course of Noosa away from increased development and overtourism. So please be proactive. Discuss the issues with your family, your friends, your neighbours.

Ask questions of the current councillors, and of the 2024 council candidates. We must have elected representatives that put residents, their wellbeing and lifestyle, first. Of course, they must also care for our natural environment—and not just in the lip-service way that all candidates profess.

Noosa is at a turning point

Noosa Parks Association has been hugely successful in ensuring that Noosa has remained a beautiful place to live, work and play. It has become a place surrounded by national parks, with green corridors interspersed throughout the shire.

The built environment has been intentionally low-key, and there has been a conscious effort to avoid big city symbols like traffic lights and rampant public advertising. It is no wonder that people want to live here!

But we have arrived at a turning point, where Noosa once again needs rescuing if we are to avoid continued degradation of our enviable lifestyle. Increased population, unchecked tourism, and the election of community representatives that fail to respect Noosa’s points of difference will lead us down a very different path.

I fear that the further we head in this direction the more Noosa will be homogenised, becoming increasingly like everywhere else.

Thank you for your continued support of Noosa Parks Association. I wish you all the very best for the festive season.

Darlene Gower

President, Noosa Parks Association

greeting cards laid out under greenery

Beautiful cards are for sale at the NPA Info Hut at Noosa National Park

Membership matters

NPA memberships are due for renewal on 1 January each year, and the formal invitation to renew in 2024 will be going out shortly. However, if you want one less thing to do over that busy Christmas / New Year period, why not renew your membership today?

If you joined NPA after 1 October, your membership extends through to 31 December 2024.

Many members take the opportunity to make a donation at renewal time, thereby boosting NPA’s ability to secure environmentally significant land and to extend the green corridor linking the Tewantin, Noosa and Cooloola national parks. Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible.

In 2019 we introduced the tertiary student membership concession. To date the take-up has been minimal. Clearly, to conserve the local environment long into the future we all need to do more to encourage the upcoming generation to join us in our work.

2024 membership fees

Family membership: $60

Individual membership: $35

Tertiary student membership: $5 for the first year of being a member, $25 in subsequent years while remaining a student.

Our preferred means of renewal is by bank deposit to:

Name: Noosa Parks Association Inc.

BSB: 734 219

Account no.: 070372

Please make sure to add your name!

Payment by credit card is another option through our website.

Cheques are of course still acceptable, mailed to NPA at PO Box 836, Noosa Heads, Qld 4567.

Please encourage your like-minded friends and family to join now.

Mike Sackett

NPA Membership Secretary

NPA achieves a linked national park and nature refuge estate running from Coolum to Cooloola

NPA’s decades-long vision of achieving a continuous national park and nature refuge estate running from Coolum Beach through Noosa Shire and up to Tin Can Bay has become a reality.

The key has been our success in building the 10,000-hectare Tewantin National Park between Noosa National Park and Cooloola National Park.

Seven years ago, NPA initiated an equal 3-way partnership with the Queensland Government and the Tony Wellington-led Noosa Council to take all necessary steps to convert Tewantin, Ringtail and Yurol state forests into a consolidated 10,000-hectare Tewantin National Park.

At the core of the partnership agreement, signed 5 years ago, each partner—NPA, the state government and Noosa Council—pledged $1.2 million to buy out an existing 90-year commercial logging licence in Tewantin, Ringtail and Yurol state forests.

Where did the $1.2 million come from?

NPA’s $1.2 million contribution came from two sources:

  • $575,000 from the NPA National Park Land Acquisition Fund
  • a $625,000 loan repayable over 5 years.

Over the past decade, NPA’s magnificent team of over 100 volunteers working at the Noosa National Park Visitor Information Centre—and led by Darlene Gower, Liz Smits, Kay Cartwright, Valerie Williams, Mercedes de Campo, Glen Gloster, Debbie Bratchford and Dave Vickery—has generated the necessary $1.2 million, with the last loan repayment being made in October this year.

Noosa Shire’s 3 iconic national parks

During the same period, both Noosa Council and the Sunshine Coast Council have perpetually conserved council-owned land abutting Noosa National Park as gazetted nature refuges.

Slowly but surely, the missing perpetual conservation links between Noosa and Tewantin national parks have been eliminated.

Now, with Tewantin National Park about to be formally gazetted, Noosa Shire will have 3 iconic national parks:

  • the new ~10,000-hectare Tewantin National Park
  • the ~10,000-hectare Noosa National Park that NPA has been building since 1962
  • the ~70,000-hectare Cooloola National Park that NPA has been building since the 1970s.

These 3 iconic national parks, together with the Noosa Council and Sunshine Coast Council owned nature refuges, now form a spine of national parks and nature refuges running from Coolum Beach in the south, through Noosa Shire, and up to Tin Can Bay.

Now NPA can focus on strengthening that spine with the addition of a Noosa River conservation park, by keeping Noosa and Tewantin national parks free of private-sector development leases, and by winding back existing and proposed private-sector development leases in Cooloola National Park.

Take a bow

Take a bow, all NPA members. Take a bow, NPA honorary project officer Heather Melrose. Take a bow, successive NPA management committees. Take a bow, the Playford-led and Wellington-led Noosa councils. And take a bow, Noosa Council and Sunshine Coast Council staff who played their part over the decades.

NPA’s decades-long vision is now a reality.

Michael Gloster
Project Officer, Joining up National Parks program

Late afternoon sun shining on a large eucalypt in Noosa National Park

Noosa National Park

Credit: Mary O’Callaghan

Sediment accumulation project 

Dr Simon Walker of Ecological Service Professionals is finalising the final project report. We should have interesting results for you in the New Year.

Bryan Walsh
Project Officer, Noosa River & Lakes program

Noosa River

Credit: Mary O’Callaghan

Friday Environment Forum 

Attendance was good at each of the last 3 forums of 2023. Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe’s talk, “Australia on the brink: avoiding environmental ruin”, registered the largest audience of the year with 76 attendees, 26% of them non-members.

Prof. Lowe highlighted that the environment is in poor condition and deteriorating as a result of increasing pressures from population growth, climate change, habitat loss, pollution and resource extraction. He warned of possible dramatic impacts on our health and living standards. Despite this confronting situation, he said there are still opportunities to improve the situation and he left us with hope for improvement.

Our sunset cruise on 23 November was enjoyed by 44 members and friends, celebrating another successful year of forums and thanking our volunteers for their ongoing contribution.

The 2024 year will get off to a good start on 9 February with Adrian Caneris from BAAM Ecological Consultants talking about “Living with wildlife – the good, the bad and the ugly”.

The FEF Team have decided to continue with a $5 entry charge for all attendees for forums in 2024. This includes morning tea.

To read about upcoming forums, visit Friday Environment Forum or check out the FEF Newsletter issued on the Tuesday before each forum. Joining the newsletter mailing list is easy—look for the SUBSCRIBE button on our web page.

Di Shun Wah, Friday Environment Forum

On behalf of Liz Diggles, who is on holiday

People on a sunset river cruise
People on a sunset river cruise

Enjoying the Noosa River on the Sunset Cruise, 23 November 2023

Environment Centre celebrates 30 years 

The Noosa Parks Association Environment Centre was constructed in 1993 after Noosa Council designated Wallace Park Precinct for community use. It was built about the same time as other important community facilities such as the Noosa Library and Noosa Leisure Centre.

Over 30 years it has provided a bright, airy space for meetings, for NPA and like-minded groups, for educational purposes and for social gatherings. Cleverly designed to catch the breezes, it is an attractive building set in beautifully landscaped gardens.

The centre is open to the public fortnightly for Friday Environment Forum and every second Wednesday.

We opened the centre to the public for 3 days over 15‒17 November and saw several interested people through. Three new members joined. Several people  showed interest in various activities of the NPA and we are following up with them.

Valda McLean led an interpretive birding walk on the Friday morning—a popular outing held regularly by the NPA Bird Observers’ Group. Several new parties joined her for the session.

Thanks again to those volunteers who assisted us in staffing the centre over the 3 open days and being part of a successful celebration.

Dave Vickery

NPA Environment Centre

Front entrance of Noosa Parks Association's Environment Centre

Bird Observers’ Group

To complete the Bird Observers’ program for 2023, the group visited the Peregian section of Noosa National Park on 19 November. The outing was well attended and we enjoyed the hospitality of our leader, Di Shun Wah. Birds were a little less obliging, but 43 species were recorded.

Everyone enjoyed Gary Quirk’s Friday Forum presentation on 13 October. His bird photos from across Australia are breathtaking, not only in their quality but in the bird behaviour that he has captured. Gary told us how he composes photographs to make them special—to have a bird doing something is an important element.

Wallace Park surveys are also complete for the year. The public was invited to the final walk on 17 November as part of the 30-year Wallace Park celebrations. Several new members attended, and the group recorded 25 bird species, including the nesting Tawny Frogmouth and Noisy Friarbirds.

Unusual sightings for the Sunshine Coast during November include Spotted Harrier, Spotless Crake, Bailon’s Crake Pallid Cuckoo, Painted Button-Quail and Red-necked Avocet. Oriental Cuckoo and Barred Cuckoo-shrike are currently seen at the Botanic Gardens at Lake Macdonald.

Look out for the Far Eastern Curlew, as it is now called, while this migrant wader species is visiting Australia. The largest of all the world’s shorebirds, they breed in Russia and north-eastern China on intertidal habitat which is under pressure with more and more agriculture taking over the marshes in those regions. Disturbance and habitat loss in Australia and reclamation of their staging ground in the Yellow Sea are all contributing to the critically endangered status of this species.

Valda McLean

Convenor, Noosa Parks Association Bird Observers’ Group

Tawny Frogmouth and chick huddled together in a nest in the crook of a branch

Tawny Frogmouth and chick, Wallace Park

Credit: Angela Farnsworth

Noisy Friarbird guarding its chick in nest
Noisy Friarbird chick in nest

Noisy Friarbird and chick in nest, Wallace Park

Credit: Angela Farnsworth

Botany Group

Those of us who live on the edge of the wallum near the coast often must contend with gardens of pure sand. Sarah’s talk in October was about how she created a beautiful native garden in the wallum. She improved the soil by adding organic matter and chose plants that were mostly local to the area and were adapted to growing in low-nutrient soil. Her many photos and accompanying handout are a useful guide to creating our own gardens.

In October we revisited Phil and Kathy’s 45-acre property in Verrierdale. The rainforest vegetation was a mixture of old-growth and regrowth forest, and Phil had identified 147 species. These were listed on a comprehensive handout, and species along the track were all labelled for our identification. Time did not allow us to inspect every tree but Phil made sure we had a good look at the most interesting ones, including the forest giants.

Louise Ryan’s interesting talk in November was about “Significant trees in Noosa”. It was a guide to 13 of her favourite trees in the area—all of them very large, some very old and some historically significant. Most locations were clearly described, and for some enjoyable homework it will be easy for us to check out the trees for ourselves.

Our last walk of the year, the Buderim to Palmwoods Heritage Tramway Walk, is of historical interest. The track follows the route of the old tramway which was in use from 1914 to 1935 to transport people, produce and goods along the line. It was then developed as a walking track. We walked through diverse rainforest, which was interesting but very dry owing to low rainfall this year.

Joan Heavey is now stepping down as leader of the Botany Group. At morning tea, we took the opportunity to thank her for the many years of dedication and time she has given to the group. Her work is much appreciated.

Sonia MacDonald

Botany Group

close up of pink apple berry flowers

Apple Berry (Billardiera scandens)
Credit: Sarah Lawson

Close up of a yellow Bottlebrush Grass Tree flower

Bottlebrush Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea macronema)
Credit: Sarah Lawson

Close up of purple Fringed Lily flowers with a Blue-banded bee

Fringed Lily (Thysanotus tuberosus) with Blue-banded bee
Credit: Sarah Lawson