Council plan upsets Coochiemudlo residents

Coochiemudlo Island (Photo by Peter Wear)

Coochiemudlo Island beach (Photo by Peter Wear)

Residents of Coochiemudlo Island are concerned  about  Redland City Council’s proposal to implement a Foreshore Landscape Plan which does not recognize the unique character of “Coochie”.

On 29 October 2014 Carolyn Brammer expressed the concerns of Coochie residents to a meeting of the Redland City Council. Here is what she said.

My Name is Carolyn Brammer and I am a resident of Coochiemudlo Island. I am accompanied by other residents from Coochie. We do not represent any one particular group but we are all members of the many groups on the Island such as Bushcare, Heritage Society, Garden Club, Coastcare, Native Nursery, and many more.More, importantly we are all very passionate about Coochiemudlo Island and we want to work with Redland City Council for the best possible outcome for our Island, the Redlands and beyond.

We have come here today because we want each and every one of you to ensure that the natural resources on Coochiemudlo Island are safeguarded and not filled with unnecessary, poorly researched infrastructure.

There are economic and environmental opportunities for our island if we work together. Coochiemudlo Island needs an overall top down plan for the Island not piece-meal projects undertaken when there are funds in the budget.

Part of Council's draft landscape  plan (click to enlarge)

Part of Council’s draft landscape plan (click to enlarge)

The recent Coochiemudlo Island Foreshore Draft Landscape Plan, of which there was minimal, constructive public consultation (just plenty of coloured brochures with a distinct lack of detail) appears to be another one of these piece-meal projects with barbeque settings concentrated in a tight zone between the ferry and barge ramp.

After visiting a number of parks around the Redlands and seeing the landscaping efforts at Point Lookout, it’s obvious Council is replicating the same suite of curvy concrete paths, lean to shelter sheds, BBQs and picnic tables through-out the Redlands. By replicating this style Council is destroying “Our Sense of Place” which is unique to Coochie. The very reason residents and visitors come to the island.

We need to retain the “Essence of Coochie” Don’t add more material structures in concentrated zones just because there is money in the budget. Sometimes less is best.

Our tiny island, mid-way between two PDA’s (Weinam Creek and Toondah Harbour) is under pressure like never before from south-east Queensland’s burgeoning population growth and our own urbanization. The challenge for us all is how best to retain the valued natural resource of our bush-lined, sandy beaches, the closest to Brisbane city, for future generations.

What we have is so precious and it’s valued by international tourists. For a number of years now Araucaria Ecotours has been bringing time-strapped overseas visitors to Coochie on a regular monthly basis. Why? Because the island offers such a diverse range of eco systems within close proximity of our capital city.

Western side of Coochiemudlo Island

Western side of Coochiemudlo Island

The groups turn left at the jetty, walk the beach past Red Rock then cross-over onto the mangrove track past the ochre caves to our northern Morwong Beach stopping to watch the visiting waders and other wildlife. They return via the eastern beaches through our Ramsar designated wetland with that wonderful vista across Moreton Bay seeing turtles, dugong and birds of prey along the way.

When we met recently, Araucaria Ecotours owner Doctor Ronda Green (who is also Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia), made one pertinent comment. “You’ve got a real problem with asparagus weed on the mangrove track”.

It’s not all about new bbq shelters and concrete paths. We need to manage our natural resources better, spend more on re-vegetation and maintenance of what makes our island so unique.

Curvy path and lots of BBQ sheds planned for here (click to enlarge)

Curvy path and lots of BBQ sheds planned for here (click to enlarge)

What research did Council Officers undertake to say that people come to Coochiemudlo Island to walk along a curvy concrete path to cook on a BBQ under a shelter shed alongside others in a tight zone on Main Beach?

After speaking with visitors to Coochie our research shows they come for the old-fashioned beach experience. They arrive by ferry or barge to what appears to be a deserted Island with bush-clad sandy beaches.

Coochiemudlo's vegetated fringe (Photo by Peter Wear)

Coochiemudlo’s vegetated fringe (Photo by Peter Wear)

Because of its vegetated fringe, Coochie is unlike all the other inhabited Island in the Bay.

Next month the island will be showcased at an International Conference in Florence by a Landscape Architect, Catherine Brower who has been captured by Coochie’s natural landscape and its engaging community and is working with the Heritage Society to have our unique natural landscape heritage listed.

We’re not alone in the sense that there’s something askew – 20 years ago Professor Darryl Low Choy now the Professor of Environment & Landscape Planning, Head of Planning at Griffith University who recently spoke at Coastcare’s AGM, talked about the special quality or “Essence of Coochie” in a chapter of the book, Chronicles of Coochie:

The physical proximity of the island to the mainland can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Greater accessibility and convenience are often cited as examples of some of the advantages. On the downside there are many examples worldwide of uncaring, unwitting and/or unsympathetic decisions which have sought to extend the mainland coastal environments to physically embrace nearby “ continental islands.

These often controversial proposals have been characterised by conceptual thinking and design intentions which has tended toward a “sameness” mentality ie the recreation/replication of a typical mainland-type environment on an island which then dominates or subsumes those special qualities of the island’s character.

It is in fact the co-incidence of these special island qualities and the desire from some quarters to ignore these qualities and to impose a “sameness” regime which is at the crux of the most contemporary island management problems and conflicts”

Coochie is at the crossroads now.

Before you “Rubber Stamp” the latest Foreshore Landscape Plan with its curvy concrete paths, shelter sheds, BBQ’s and picnic tables please make sure you not destroying a little more of the “Essence of Coochie”

Carolyn Brammer

If you enjoyed this article you might want to read:

Coochiemudlo gets the Council treatment

It was a lovely natural glade

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12 thoughts on “Council plan upsets Coochiemudlo residents

  1. Redland City Council must preserve the ‘Emerald Fringe’ of Coochiemudlo Island at all costs. We were all led to believe this was preserved from any structures, from the high tide line to the property fence lines, by past Councillor Peter Dowling after many, many Community meetings. (or words to that effect) The ‘Emerald Fringe’ is a natural security area with unique and pristine vegetation, that is not on any other Island in Moreton Bay. The wording of that agreement with the Community was forgotten by Peter Dowling during the fight by him to have the Lifesavers structure on the foreshore of Coochiemudlo Island. Long live the ‘EMERALD FRINGE’ of Coochiemudlo Island.

  2. The tourists (mostly international) I bring to Coochie with Araucaria Ecotours are delighted by its naturalness and variety. We stick to the outer part, not suburbia, including coastal woodland, sandy beaches, rocky platforms, mangroves, and of course the red cliffs. The raptors, soldier crabs, stone-curlews and butterflies are big hits, plus other creatures we see along the way. It would be a shame to see tourism facilities that were not sensitive to this and ended up making it look just like any other island and losing its natural charm (and perhaps getting noisier, which may not be so good for residents). The walking track by the mangroves beyond the golf course is very weedy, and I point this out to our guests (part of the tour involves pointing out native fauna and flora, so I need to also show them that these weeds are not native), but also includes some native plants, so careful weeding rather than broad scale spraying would be needed (directed spraying from a backpack onto heavy infestations while avoiding the native species should be okay). Apart from the island, I used to bring international tourists to Indigiscapes, Point Halloran and other parts of Redlands on a wildlife day tour, and sometimes as part of our 3-day wildlife tour, but I haven’t done so in a long while now because it has become so hard to find koalas. This is a pity, as these areas still have much else to offer, and the other features were of interest also to our guests. It was a bit out of our way on these tours, but most of our internationals want to see koalas in the wild and Redlands used to provide a wonderful opportunity for that, so it was well worth the detour, and we could then go on to show them the scribbly gums, the birdlife, the native gardens and meals with native herbs at Indigiscapes, etc.

  3. Carolyn Brammer’s excellent speech to Council and reference to international tourists valuing natural or wild settings made me think about the G20 tourists. Are we expecting lots of the international visitors to come to Redlands to see koalas? Then they could say they have seen the real Aussie icon. We used to be the Koala Capital of the World. As we haven’t heard about lots of visitors, our koalas must be off the agenda. Or was it a marketing oversight? We could still show them some trees where they used to live and if we hurried we could do a big blow up koala.

  4. Leanne, I understand your frustration, Coochiemudlo Island has been neglected for far too long. Did you realise that the Market Area you are referring to is not part of the Foreshore Plan so will remain the same “dust and more dust”.

    The funds in the plan are being spent on a curvy concrete path, BBQ’s, shelter sheds and picnic tables (exactly the same as seen all over the Redlands) along a very small vulnerable area of our foreshore which currently has natural grass under native trees and forms part of Coochiemudlo’s unique Bush Beach foreshore. I am campaigning for the Council to provide an overall plan for the whole foreshore area and not the piece-meal approach they think will appease us. Items not addressed in this proposed plan are parking near the foreshore, the heavily used dirt track between Tageruba Street and the Kiosk, as well as the grassed picnic area between the road and Curlew Creek. If you and the other hundreds of residents are thinking the same as you, then you are going to be very disappointed. Read the details of the proposed plan carefully.

    Our native wildlife, flora and fauna are so important for the future of our children and their children. We are their stewards and must take our responsibility seriously.

  5. I, like hundreds of other residents are looking forward to this new foreshore development. Why ? Because currently the foreshore is nothing more than a dust bowl and has been ever since I can remember.
    When we have our markets, we stand in dust, our children play in dust. No grassy areas to lay picnic blankets, just dust and more dust.
    Our shrubs and trees badly need trimming as the high winds we get at this time of year sends them crashing to the ground. Luckily no cars or people have been involved to date.

    Coochie has been a neglected Island for far too long. You can pander on about its wild life, flora and fauna all you wish, foremost it is a residential island and the majority of residents want these facilities. The plans are beautiful and that is the opinion of everyone I have spoken to about it over the last twelve months baring one person. We should be grateful we are finally being looked after.

  6. How many Redland Councillors and residents have seen the fiasco of a walking track that is near the old quarry site on the high north western side of Coochiemudlo Island? Why was a very steep, wide concrete path paid for by the Redland Council and it is not able to be used even by a donkey? A goat? Wheelchair friendly ??? People friendly ??? Baby stroller friendly, have a look! This track can not be used by anything…
    Past Counciller, Peter Dowling was the Councillor representing the Island during that construction. Not to mention the concrete paths everywhere else…
    Maybe he had not visited the Daintree and other parts of Australia where eco friendly tracks are constructed
    with minimum interference to vegetation and wild life and not constructed with concrete,

    Now there is this new plan to lay more concrete paths and cut down more trees along the Emerald Fringe!

    Come on John Williamson, bring it on Rip, Rip, Woodchip… WE need to all preserve the Emerald Fringe.

    Who remembers the many Redland Council sponsored public meetings at the Community Hall on Coochiemudlo Island to discuss the protection of the Emerald Fringe? Wording to the effect that “no structures will be built from the high tide line to the fence lines” was one of the reasons the Lifesavers were required to be located behind the shop and Redline had very, very strict guidelines during the laying of sewerage pipes, pumps etc

    Do Councillors and Residents have short memories?

    Come on, lets protect Coochiemudlo Island from unwanted tree felling, unwanted structures, unwanted wide
    concrete pathways.
    The Emerald Fringe is very unique to Coochiemudlo Island and affords the residents and wildlife security from
    the public being aware of how many homes and businesses are on the Island.
    I am always so proud and happy when approaching Coochiemudlo Island that it is totally natural from the Bay,
    no houses or ugly vandalised beach structures. Just a lovely, lush green canopy and beautiful clean, sandy
    beaches can be seen.

    Protect your Emerald Fringe, talk up to the Redland Shire Council as I feel no one has told the new Councillor and the Council the history of the Emerald Fringe and how much we have all fought to keep it pristine and unique.

    I look forward to feedback from anyone associated with Coochiemudlo Island.

  7. This article may have some relevant information, however I would like to make some fundermental corrections to opening statements.
    1 Ms Brammer is not a full time resident [Editor’s note: Ms Brammar has advised Redlands2030 that Coochiemudlo Island has been her principle place of residence for the past 10 years]
    2.The groups and societies listed are overlapped so same person may participate in several groups
    3. There have been a number of decisions made by council, then changed because of the consistant complaints and wishes of this small minority group.
    4. Council seems to grant whim wishes (tree removal in marine park area) to appease members of this small minority.
    5. Councils plans are designed to facilitate general public. This presentation is asking council to consider select groups of individuals.
    I love my island, the diversity, the nature, the birdlife, and I am proud to share this with the multicutural and diverse populations who visit this island. I believe ms Bremmer’s plan is idealistic and well researched yet lacks consideration and respect for the times, place, and current community. Respectfully submitted. Elise Rutterman

  8. So true, Rosemary.

    Tourism is always touted as being ‘good’. Who is it ‘good’ for? Businesses who want to make money. Certainly not good for the ordinary people who have to deal with the problems tourists bring. Look at what tourists do to Straddie eg schoolies who have two sessions per year now, instead of one.

    Tourists often have no respect for the intrinsic beauty of the place they are visiting. They may splash money around but they add nothing but extra traffic, crowds, and sometimes drunkenness and violence. Not to mention higher prices for the local resident population.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. I am not a Coochie resident but I am fed up with the way the council decides what is best for our local environment – often based on what they perceive visitors and locals want rather than what is really in the island’s best interest.

  10. Couldn’t agree more with Carolyn’s view. One could say that the same applies to the Red lands more broadly, but it’s very late now to retain the Red lands that people loved to visit.
    For Coochie, there’s still time to retain that special sense of timelessness that so many residents and visitors (including my grandchildren) value so much.

  11. The three words that sum up the nightmare that is happening all over Redland City are ‘Less is Best’. Coochie is beautiful the way it is. Just leave it alone!

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