1 March 2021
Author: Melanie Simmons, Wildlife Queensland Upper Dawson Branch
Our Wildlife Queensland Upper Dawson Branch gathering on Duke’s Plain brought together a friendly group of members from around Taroom and Theodore for our first outing of the year. Tucked in under the northern edge of the sandstone belt of gorges and ranges, Duke’s Plain has long been a declared nature refuge. Bought by Origin Energy as an offset to their fossil fuel (gas) industries, it is now managed conservatively incorporating a cattle enterprise in conjunction with prescribed vegetation management. Henry Hinds explained with passion his way of sustainably measuring, managing and retaining soil health and caring for the land that he and his wife caretake, fielding and answering many questions from our keen gathering.
By late morning we were wending our way upstream along Cattle Creek, beneath towering jagged sandstone peaks and through ironbark and eucalypt open forest, to finally arrive at a large spring-fed waterhole. Sunlight enhanced the rich orange colours on rocky outcrops and cliff ledges overhanging small caves. Ferns and small sedges fringed the water’s edge where spiders and their intricate webs laced together grasses and saplings. Even the meat ants were quick to find any small discarded morsel from a sandwich or salad – all part of the web of life. In the welcome shade on a levelled terrace above the water, we enjoyed our lunch and had our meeting.
Of greatest interest was the growing awareness of frequent platypus sightings in the Dawson River and in Castle Creek. Now with scientific assistance and water environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling available there is the possibility of formally advancing and researching a long stretch of the river in the Dawson Valley. See the recent story, Call for citizen scientists: PlatypusWatch in the Dawson River for more information or contact Ann Hobson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch this exciting space that will involve a coordinated effort with volunteers encouraged to join us in this important venture.
We are grateful to the Duke’s Plain family and thank them for opening up to us and allowing us to enjoy another day together in Nature’s embrace.
Our next gathering will be the annual campout 21-24 May in the headwaters of the Mary Valley behind Kenilworth. Details to follow in the coming weeks.
For more recent Upper Dawson Branch updates and information, visit our web page.