Newsletter Issue 79

In this issue

Farewell Shorebirds
The State of Cylinder Beach
Book review of ‘A Nature Guide to North Stradbroke Island: Minjerribah’
Facebook Activities

Farewell Shorebirds

For the majority of the year Moreton Bay’s migratory shorebirds spend their time foraging on the bay’s mud and sand flats. Now, they are just starting to leave for warming Arctic climes where they breed annually.
Great Knot with Bar-tailed Godwits on sand bank off Amity Point, Photo by Athol Klieve
The bay provides crucial habitat for critically endangered Far Eastern Curlews and Great Knots and for vulnerable Bar-tailed Godwits, among other wader species.
Moreton Bay’s environmental significance is to a large extent as a refuge for these remarkable migratory birds, who are now under severe threat from loss of habitat through coastal reclamation.
So significant are these birds that a number of international agreements have been signed by Australia to protect them.
Moreton Bay was declared a Ramsar site 25 years ago. Under this international wetland treaty migratory birds and their habitat gained a specific protection. The important bird habitat provided by the mud flats of the western bay is listed as a major element of the designation.
Camba, Jamba and Rocamba are international agreements signed by Australia with China, Japan and Republic of Korea, all pledging to protect migratory birds and their habitat.
Now clad in rusty breeding plumage, well-fed and plumped up, the migrants are readying themselves to embark on their odyssey. Far Eastern Curlews, largest of these birds, are among the first to leave and some have already departed.
We wish them well on their gruelling flights north along the East Asian- Australasian Flyway to Siberia and Alaska.
Article by Sue Ellen Carew
Learn more about shorebirds at this year’s AGM
This year Friends of Stradbroke Island’s Annual General Meeting will be held in Brisbane:
Magda’s Community Hall, Boundary Rd Rainworth,
3pm 28 April 2018.
Our speaker will be Micha Jackson who will be discussing the remarkable lives of migratory shorebirds, the subject of her PHD. Micha is helping to enliven interest in these special birds and her presentation is highly recommended.
Grey-tailed Tattler and Bar-tailed Godwit next to GJ Walter Park at Cleveland, Photo by Chris Walker
Guest speaker bio: Micha Jackson is a PhD candidate in the Fuller Lab at the University of Queensland researching conservation and management of habitat for migratory shorebirds, a group facing an increasingly uncertain future in our region. Migrating shorebirds ignore international borders, so Micha’s research has led to the establishment of research collaborations in China and Singapore, countries strategically placed to facilitate shorebird recovery. Micha is passionate about conservation and is currently serving as the president of the Society for Conservation Biology UQ Brisbane chapter and as a member of the Birds Queensland management committee. She frequently gives public talks on shorebird conservation and enjoys participating in bird surveys and counts. Prior to commencing her PhD, Micha spent 7 years working with Indigenous groups on land and sea management and associated wildlife research in remote northern Australia.
Make sure not to miss this wonderful guest presentation at the upcoming AGM, for which you will find the details listed above!
Far Eastern Curlew near the ferry at Toondah Harbour, Photo by Chris Walker

The State of Cylinder Beach

Letter to the Mayor, Redland City Council
8 March 2018
Re: Council responsibilities at Cylinder Beach, Point Lookout
Cylinder Beach is the most popular beach on North Stradbroke Island. In 2017, it was named by Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) as the state’s top beach. SLSQ recorded more than 304,331 beachgoers at Cylinder during the 2016/17 season. It’s well recognised as the jewel in the crown of tourism in the Redlands.
The Redland City Council is responsible for the management of the beach and the Cylinder Beach parkland area. Redland City Council is the trustee of the Point Lookout Reserve of which Cylinder Beach forms part.
However, in 2018, it is clear that this beach, foreshore, parkland and amenities are suffering from long-term neglect. The Cylinder Beach area has serious problems with poor vegetation management, storm water runoff, polluted water seepage from unsewered dwellings above the beach, erosion of the grassed areas by uncontrolled carparking and foot traffic, and sub-standard toilet and shower facilities. Moreover, all these issues are exacerbated by a lack of basic maintenance of the parkland and facilities and any long-term strategic management of this key natural asset for visitors and residents.
Tourism is identified in the Redland City Economic Development Framework 2014-2041 as one of eight key growth sectors that can be used as a driver for socio-economic progress for this city. The linked Redland City Tourism Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020 focuses on the changes needed to ensure the Redlands can provide the facilities and experiences needed to grow tourism.
Both aim to help create ‘An even better Redland City – a unique place that offers world-class facilities …. and much, much more for the enjoyment of visitors and residents alike’.
Sadly, many FOSI members have commented that the state of Cylinder Beach parkland and facilities is certainly not ‘world-class’ and, in fact, are extremely poor in comparison to beachside areas maintained by other councils in Queensland and NSW. Our members wonder – ‘Is Cylinder Beach Queensland’s most mismanaged and neglected beach?’
A long history of council ‘planning’ but no action
In 1988, FOSI was formed to oppose inappropriate development at Cylinder Beach and members have been involved in efforts to preserve Cylinder Beach’s outstanding scenic coastal landscapes ever since.
In 1999 Landscape Architect Catherine Brouwer developed for Friends of Stradbroke Island a set of recommendations for how the Point Lookout Reserve should be managed. This extensive document commissioned and financed by FOSI was the ‘Point Lookout Reserve Master Plan and Guidelines”. Copies of this document were provided to Redland Shire Council at the time.
This plan and other work by Catherine Brouwer has provided a basis for many low key, complimentary improvements to the Reserve over the last decades, especially construction of linkages in the track system that is now so well used. This plan also included many recommendations for maintenance and improvements to the Cylinder Beach section which, surprisingly, are still awaiting implementation today.
Some relevant points and issues made in the plan for Cylinder Beach Parks and tracks include:
“This area is a major public recreation and access place in the Reserve. It should be an introduction of the Reserve identity, landscape character and environmental values.”      “Wetlands-reform and plant”   “Runoff from roadway and car park onto grass and Melaleuca grove”      “Wetlands revegetation”   “Monitor stability of sand and vegetation at beach access tracks”“Weed species prominent from earlier holiday units; palms and other garden plants”
In 2004, FOSI initiated the heritage listing of the Point Lookout reserve under the Queensland Heritage Act.
In January 2017, FOSI members met with representatives of the Redland City Council to again discuss plans for Cylinder Beach. The environmental issues discussed were similar to those raised in FOSI’S 1999 Point Lookout Reserve Master Plan only the degradation is now worse because there appears to have been no remedial work to any of the problems identified then. The need for weed removal, restoration of the wetlands, removal of cotton tree overgrowth, attention to beach access tracks and the still decaying toilet block were raised at this meeting.
March 2018 – There appears to have been no action taken to address any of the issues identified in 2017 and there has been considerable further deterioration in the state of the coastal reserve. Tourism data indicates that visitation has increased markedly.
Key issues that need to be dealt with:
(1) Preservation and restoration of the natural vegetation.
Invasive Cotton Trees and weeds need to be urgently controlled.
Invasive Cotton Trees – The original vegetation of Cylinder Beach was dominated by a strand of Coastal She-oaks (Casuarina equisetifolia) and Paperbark Tea Trees or Coastal Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Over the past twenty years, a vast and rapidly expanding impenetrable tangle of Cotton Trees (Hibiscus tiliaceus) has been allowed to establish. The Cotton Trees have grown extensively due, in part, to the poorly managed stormwater piped to this part of the foreshore swale. The Cotton Trees are choking and killing many of the original paperbarks and are now spreading toward the sea and replacing some of the original Coastal She-oaks.
Weeds – In addition, a large number of invasive plants listed as weeds by the Redland City Council are well established and spreading in the reserve. The eradication of these weeds should be a priority in the care of Cylinder Beach. Significant environmental weeds rampant in the Cylinder reserve include: Asparagus fern; Lantana; Fishbone fern; Singapore daisy; Easter cassia; Mexican Agave and yellow Allamanda. Other weeds that need control at Cylinder Beach include Pepper Tree and Umbrella Tree and Prickly Pear growing on the frontal dune in front of the camp ground and rocky headlands. Other invasive plants such as grasses and reeds now dominate the swale area. Of great concern is the proliferation of rapidly maturing Cocos palms that are invading the heritage listed reserve and spoiling the appearance of the natural canopy. Fortunately, there are very few Cocos palms on the island and it’s crucial they are not allowed to establish themselves in bushland. Cocos palms are recognised as a serious threat to the flying-foxes which inhabit the island and are vital to the island’s ecology.
The Redland City Council is responsible for the management of vegetation and control of weeds in the Cylinder area. The Council is guided by its ‘Redland City Council’s Conservation Land Management Strategy 2010: A plan for the next ten years’. Under the Vegetation Management section of the strategy some of the objectives include to: maintain or re-establish indigenous vegetation and regional ecosystems, control weed invasion, minimise the causes of weed invasion, and control declared noxious and environmental weeds. A visit to Cylinder Beach reveals that the RCC has failed thus far to meet the stated objectives of its Conservation Land Management Strategy at this key site.
See images in Appendix 1.
Action required –
Immediate action is required to proactively manage the invasive Cotton Trees and control weeds in the reserve.
– Restoration of original vegetation should be sensitively implemented. 

(2) Environmental Water Management
Environmental water management is very poor at Cylinder Beach. There are two aspects to this problem-
Stormwater runoff – Stormwater is being channelled and directed from the road and carpark directly onto the beach at the main beach access area. Not only is this very ugly in an area of natural beauty, it has detrimental effects on the natural environment. The channelling has led to the concentration of the water into one area and created ideal conditions for the spread of the Cotton Trees and reeds.
Polluted water from seepage from unsewered dwellings above the beach – Most of the dwellings above Cylinder Beach are not sewered. Septic tanks and trench systems in the soil provide waste management. The seepage from these trenches finds its way into ground water and then to the beach and any lagoon present. The growing number of dwellings has increased the seepage.
The North Stradbroke Island Co-ordinator for Redland City Council has advised in an email that the Cylinder Beach lagoon when it is present is tested monthly for enterococci. Enterococci are bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and when found in water indicate possible contamination by faecal waste. There are many sources of faecal indicator bacteria such as enterococci but the source of contamination at Cylinder Beach is likely to be septic system effluent. If the levels exceed the acceptable limit the lagoon is signed accordingly. We note the sign is now permanent. When the lagoon covers areas where pedestrians must traverse to access the beach the council installs bridges.
Recent FOSI-commissioned testing of water samples of ankle-deep water covering the path to Cylinder Beach found enterococci contamination exceeded acceptable safe limits. Levels of enterococci were greater than 200 when the acceptable level is less than 40. A bridge was not in position on the path. As the RCC sign points out ‘this lagoon …can occasionally contain elevated levels of naturally occurring bacteria that can be harmful to humans.’ Enterococci are indicators, of the possible presence of other disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Significant amounts of enterococci in a water body can negatively affect the recreational and economic value of an aquatic resource and are unacceptable at Redlands’ premier family beach.
See images in Appendix 2.
Action required –
– Attention to suitable management of the storm water including properly constructed, environmentally sensitive swales to disperse the run-off.
– Speedy sewering of Point Lookout
– Provision of much clearer warnings to the public of the danger to children, in particular, of playing in and consuming contaminated water.
    (3) Maintenance of the children’s playground, picnic areas and beach access pathways.
    In general, the children’s playground, picnic areas and beach access pathways are eroded, run-down and poorly maintained. During the 2017 Christmas holidays peak visitation period, FOSI members noted the significant amount of eroded bare sand around the picnic areas and playground, litter and the rank overgrown grass in other areas such around the overflowing bins and adjacent to the shower head. In recent years a coffee business and juice business have been licenced to operate in the park by the council. The grassed areas in the public parkland around these well patronised facilities are now severely eroded and in need of restoration and ongoing maintenance. The erosion is creating a risk to the delicate root system of the ancient paperbarks which shade this area. The beach access pathways at the Southern end are not properly made or maintained.
    The car parking area is uncontrolled and sprawling, and vehicles are encroaching onto the grassed parkland. See images in Appendix 3.
    Action required –
    – The children’s playground, picnic areas and beach access pathways must be properly maintained for safety, environmental and aesthetic reasons. Grass should be mown regularly, eroded areas reinstated and bins emptied frequently, particularly during peak holiday periods. 

    – Well designed, environmentally sensitive parking management using porous natural materials and landscaping solutions is required.

    (4) Sub-standard toilet and shower facilities
    The toilet/shower block is worn, rundown, thoroughly outdated, dirty and unpleasant to use. The small number of toilets and shower facilities is inadequate for the number of people using the beach (as noted above, SLSQ recorded more than 304,331 beachgoers at Cylinder in 2016/17 season).
    See images in Appendix 4.
    Action required –
    – New, properly designed, environmentally sensitive toilet, shower and changing facilities need to be installed.
    In summary, FOSI requests that RCC urgently undertake the following actions in the reserve:
    – Proactively manage invasive Cotton Trees and control environmental weeds.
    – Sensitively restore original vegetation.
    – Effectively manage storm water including the construction of environmentally sensitive swales to disperse the run-off.
    – Connect all Point Lookout houses to the sewer system
    – Provide much clearer warnings to the public of the danger to children, in particular, of playing in and consuming contaminated water.
    – Properly maintain the children’s playground, picnic areas and beach access pathways to an acceptable level. Grass should be mown regularly, eroded areas reinstated, picnic facilities upgraded and bins emptied frequently, particularly during peak holiday periods.
    – Implement well designed, environmentally sensitive parking management using porous natural materials and landscaping solutions
    – Construct new, properly designed, environmentally sensitive toilet, shower and changing facilities.
    We look forward to your attention to these issues and your response to this letter.
    Marry Barram, President
    Above: Where does this shabby, rundown toilet block fit with RCC’s provision of ‘world class facilities for residents and visitors’ at Cylinder Beach?
    Above: Is this the message Redlands should be giving to visitors to this tourist hot spot?
    Above: Cotton tree encroachment onto the beach

    Book review of ‘A Nature Guide to North Stradbroke Island: Minjerribah’

    by President Dr Michael Banyard – Australian Veterinary Conservation Biology Newsletter – Reprinted with permission
    Bar-tailed godwit feeding at G.J. Walter Park, Toondah in March 2018, Photo by Chris Walker

    Facebook Activities

    Facebook and other social media are setting the agenda for environmental issues.
    FOSI has very recently embraced this trend with our own Facebook page Friends of Stradbroke Island- Minjerribah-Nature Guide.
    The page is designed to complement our Nature Guide and to celebrate the island’s natural beauty and wildlife through the seasons. The page also has a handy ‘Shop’ to purchase copies of the Nature Guide.
    Wild Redlands is a wonderful nature photography Facebook page with a focus on the migratory and resident shorebirds around Toondah Harbour – Wild Redlands with Chris Walker.
    Toondah Harbour is being resisted by a number of community groups in the Redlands. You can add the following facebook pages to your likes and follows.
     Save Straddie
    – Save our Bay Toondah Harbour
    Toondah Friends.

    Redlands 2030 also has information of note, look for the ‘Toondah Harbour’ tab on the website.
    Have you considered making a donation to support FOSI’s work?
    Friends of Stradbroke Island relies on the generosity of our members to fund our work. All donations made to the Environment Fund are tax deductible.
    It is easy and secure to make a donation by bank transfer – email us at for details how.

    Your donation will help fund our ongoing public information and education campaigns and support relevant scientific research affecting North Stradbroke Island on issues such as environmental damage caused by land clearing, sand mining, hydrological changes, plastic and feral animals.

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