Hi all! Bex here with your weekly update!
We’ve just finished up our week with the Conservation Volunteers of Australia (CVA)! For this week we split into two smaller groups and worked on separate projects in separate locations. Amy, Anya, Caitlin, Wade, Ryan, and I went with our project leader Stefan to Toowoomba, Queensland to help the conservation organization Friends of the Escarpment Parks rehabilitate Redwood Park. Redwood Park is a piece of forest that has been over-run by invasive species over the last 40 years, which meant tons of weeding for us! We stayed at a Scout Camp about 20min from our work site; we got to sleep indoors in bunk rooms and had a kitchen and common area to hang out in.
We started work on Sunday and returned to Brisbane on Friday. Everyday we woke up early to get out to our work site to start work at about 9am every morning. We just picked a spot in the woods and started cutting lantana (a big bush), wild asparagus (a thorny vine), privet (a tree), and madeira vine (…a vine). We’d have a break for morning tea and then stop after lunch. It was hot and hard work! Most days it was in the high 80s to 90s and HUMID! On Tuesday we cut an access path so the volunteers could get to the weeds in that section of the forest; a welcome break from weeding. And forget the animals – we had to be worried about all the dangerous plants! Honestly, all the native species in Australia either have spikes, thorns, or are poisonous. The gully we worked in for a couple of days was full of Large Stingy Trees, which spread their poison upon your skin touching the spikes on their trunk and leaves. According to Stefan, they are extremely painful and there is residual pain for 3-6 months! The only medicine that can alleviate the pain in morphine! Luckily no one sustained more than cuts and bruises with the occasional tick bite all week; we were all very careful and wore long clothes (even though they didn’t help with the heat).
In the afternoons, Stefan brought us to some beautiful parks and lookout points before heading back to the camp. We went out to a Japanese Garden, a neighbourhood park with a gorgeous view, and a botanical garden. On Tuesday night he took us spotlighting – you go out after dark with a portable spotlight and walk around the bush looking for nocturnal animals. We saw a wide variety of spiders, a rare owl, and a possum; we were hoping to see some sugar gliders, but we had a great time anyways. On Friday, instead of working in the morning before we left, we went on a short hike through a rainforest. We had a blast with Stefan! He’s from South Africa and just moved to Australia a year ago, and boy does he have some pretty crazy stories – from swimming with hippos to mountain bike races, he’s got stories that’ll have your eyes bugging out! As a leader, he was fantastic! He is super knowledgeable and worked really hard to keep us in the shade, and a good cook to boot!
We all had a great week this week. The only thing that was tough was not having a project that we saw to the finish. The retired couple, Hugh and Kay, from Friends of the Escarpment Parks who we worked with have been working on Redwood Park for a few years now, told us from the beginning we weren’t going to do it all in a week. Seemingly obvious, yet still tough to swallow in the end. It was ultimately hard to see progress in a forest that had been untended for over 40 years. Nevertheless, I’m glad we got to help even if only for a few days. We made a difference, however little.
Right now, I’m sitting in Alice Spring where we just arrived a few hours ago. Tomorrow we head out on our Outback Adventure!
Happy Thanksgiving and much love!