This report covering Townsville Branch activities, and other matters, for the year January to December 2018 was circulated to all members prior to our AGM on 31/3/2019.
2018 marked our 50th birthday, the Branch having been formed in April 1968 by a small group of local nature-lovers, birdwatchers and biologists from what was then the new University College. The end of the year was over-shadowed by the loss of conservation champion Margaret Thorsborne, Society patron and long-time friend of the Townsville Branch.
Membership: We lost a few members during the year, sadly including one who had been with us for at least 40 years – Sid Brischetto – who passed away in September. Encouragingly we gained 16 new members and by the end of the year our membership stood at 60, made up of 44 single, and 8 joint memberships – a pleasing increase on 2017.
Communication: 22 permanent posts were published on our Townsville Branch blog, including 9 trip reports, 5 bi-monthly branch updates, and 8 articles on other matters of general or local interest or concern. Regular posting over 6 years has used up most of the available space and as the current server has become unstable, no more can be added until moved to a new server.
Field trips: There were nine altogether, February’s trip having been cancelled due to rain. These were to the Ollera project area,Town Common (combined with the 50th birthday picnic), Mt Stuart foothills, Cardwell area (with Cassowary Coast and Hinchinbrook Branch members), Whale watching (Sealink), Clemant State Forest, Florence Bay and some adjoining bays, Bluewater Range, and Ethel Creek (Paluma). Average attendance was 13 per trip with the whale-watching trip proving most popular in terms of numbers.
Mahogany Glider project: The cameras were put out for the first time in April and captured confirmed images of a mahogany glider and a sugar glider. Since then cameras have been set in 16 more areas with more confirmed sightings. Fifteen members have been involved in these trips. The need for a 4WD vehicle on the property, and usually only one being available, has limited the number of people per trip, but those who expressed interest in going have managed to go at least once. There will be more trips throughout 2019 if others are interested.
Advocacy / advice / assistance: Three formal submissions were made during the year:
1.To Queensland Parliament: Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (March). Branch members also attended and gave evidence at the public hearing on this Bill.
2. To Australian Senate: Inquiry into Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis (September).
3. To Douglas Shire Council: Opposing relaxed rules re vehicles on beaches (September).
Letters to TCC expressed concern at reports of Paluma Dam being opened to motorised water-sports, eventually bringing a denial of any such plan from Council. The Branch also wrote to the Minister for Environment & Science and the Minister for Main Roads commending co-operative work to incorporate revegetation and glider crossings into the Bruce Highway upgrade at Frances Creek. Letters also went to the Minister for Tourism, Minister for Environment and the Premier opposing the commercialisation of National Parks announced in October.
In response to separate enquiries we gave advice on the Ross Creek ibis colony, wildlife of Castle Hill, wildlife of the northern suburbs and reported to DES the unusual sighting of a northern quoll in a Burdell back-yard.
Following the mass death of at least 10,000 flying foxes at a Townsville colony during November’s extreme heat-wave, we donated $100 worth of infant formula to NQ Wildlife Care, backed up by donations in cash and kind from our members, to help with the care of a huge numbers of orphans.
Other: We were unable to attend EcoFiesta because of the time and effort that was being put into the glider project and missed the March for Science because it clashed with one of our weekend trips.
A large group of members joined the GetUp Solar tour in May, and at least one member attended the New Economy for NQ Symposium (organised by NQCC) in July.
The FNQ Branch organised a bio-blitz and mini-Northern Get-Together on the Tablelands in October but short notice and other commitments meant only one member could attend. Maybe this year we’ll be able to gather more members of the northern branches together?