Bid for Preservation of Greenslopes’ Stephens Mountain Quarry Site Ignored

Photo credit: www.norman-creek-catchment.org.au

The State Government ignored Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee’s (N4C) petition to preserve the quarry site of Stephens Mountain in Greenslopes against the “Coorparoo and Districts Neighbourhood Plan” development program. The development states that the quarry site and the adjoining Energex depot are suitable for residential development. The development is expected to maximize the usage of the Greenslopes Busway Station, which is in close proximity to the area.

 

N4C: Protectors of the Quarry

N4C office
(Photo credit: www.norman-creek-catchment.org.au)

N4C, currently located at 66 Baron Street, is a community-based non-profit organisation established in 1996. It aims to protect and maintain the Norman Creek Catchment and the Ekibin Quarry.

The organisation’s duties include creek restoration, protection of existing vegetation, ecological studies, bird watching and recording, and habitat designing and building.

Through its ongoing project, Creek Restoration – Norman Creek at Greenslopes DCP, N4C has been successful in cleaning the water of the creek and providing habitat for the native animals. They also have an ongoing research and observation effort to study the freshwater ecology and the flora and fauna in the area.

N4C is also responsible for presenting the environmental outcomes, positive or negative, of the proposed infrastructure and developmental projects to the Brisbane City Council. This includes their bid to protect the quarry from the Neighbourhood Project.

 


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Home of Unique Birdlife

Pardalote: one of the rare bird species in Ekibin Quarry
(Photo credit: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons)

N4C’s ecologists have recorded that the old Ekibin Quarry is home to more than 70 bird species. Most of these birds are only found on this Stephens Mountain side of the quarry. They exclusively found a habitat in this area, making them impossible to be spotted within the urbanised areas of Brisbane.

“N4C members have noted that the interesting thing about Stephens Mountain and the former quarry site is the number of small bush birds that are resident there … Species that would not usually be found within the urban matrix of the inner suburbs of Brisbane are found on the quarry site,” N4C Vice-President Damien Madden said in an interview.

According to a 2011 survey, some of the bird species found in the quarry are the Tawny Grassbird, Golden-Headed Cisticola, Finches, Whistlers, and Pardalotes, along with the migratory birds Drangos, Dollarbirds, and Honeyeaters.

The Coorparoo and Districts Neighbourhood Plan stated that the quarry is considered to have limited ecological and landscape value.

 

Effects on Norman Creek Catchment

Impacts of Veloway: Vegetation Degraded
(Photo credit: www.norman-creek-catchment.org.au)

Mr. Madden also pointed out that this development will divide the Norman Creek Catchment, which has already been affected by the South East Freeway, the Greenslopes Busway Station, and the Veloway Cycleway. Any more development will lead to an extreme damage to the catchment, according to Mr. Madden. He said that natural areas are now being disregarded because of the developments that have been simultaneously introduced.

This has also affected the residents. “We’ve got 100,000 people here and there is only about 2 per cent open space where Norman Creek and its tributaries flow through,” Mr. Madden said.

The N4C also believes that the quarry along with the catchment will help the council’s vegetated stormwater project near the Annerley Recreation Club, if it’s rehabilitated.

“We’ve treated our waterways absolutely shockingly. We have freshwater flowing all year around which is significant in such a dry continent and further upstream the creek is piped … This is a natural corridor linkage to Norman Creek, downstream of the freeway. This is an opportunity that should be recognised and not missed,” he added.

Norman Creek Catchment is an area of lush, natural features. Water flows down through a network of streams and creeks before reaching the Brisbane River and entering the Moreton Bay. There are 24 kilometre of waterways with 15 kilometere of freshwater creeks. It feeds the creeks of Ben’s Hole, Scotts, Bridgewater, Coorparoo, Kingfisher, Little Swamp, Sandy, Mott, Ekibin, Wellers Hill, Perrone, and Glindemann.

 

A Look Back in Time at the Ekibin Quarry

Quarry works in 1950s
(Photo credit: www.library .brisbane.qld.gov.au)

According to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, the quarry name was derived from the Aboriginal word “Yekkabin”. This is an aquatic plant with edible roots that grew in the creek.

Thomas Blacket Stephen bought the 78.5 hectare of land, including the quarry, in 1857 and established wool scouring and fellmongers business. Mr. Stephen expanded his business to farming and tannery works, and then later added rifle range and Chinese market gardens.

In the 19th century, road surfacing materials were extracted from the quarry. In the early 20th century, blue metal, fine-grained blue-gray mudstone, was also extracted from Ekibin Quarry and used for road construction.

The Stephens Shire Council acquired 10.5 hectare of land for the continuation of the Ekibin Quarry. Later in the 1940s and 1950s, the hot asphalt plant was added to the quarry works.

Early in the 1960s, portions of the land were sold for sanitation and for the Energex depot’s construction. Brisbane City Council stopped the quarry operations due to exhaustion of the quartzite. The quarry has been vacant since then.

Some subsequent developments have affected the quarry. The South East Freeway was constructed in 1970s. The Greenslopes Busway Station was completed in 2001, in line with the South East Freeway’s extension from Woolloongabba to Eight Mile Plains. The Veloway Cycleway project is the latest development that is expected to be completed in late 2017.

 

Today’s Development Program

The Coorparoo nd Districts Draft Neighbourhood Plan
(Photo credit: Brisbane City/Twitter)

The Coorparoo and Districts Neighbourhood Plan is a residential development program including parts of Coorparoo, Greenslopes, Camp Hill, Holland, and Holland Park West. The Neighbourhood Plan’s draft indicates that Stephens Mountain will be rezoned as “Emerging Community” that will be a mix of housing types and small-scale commercial activities. According to Brisbane City Council’s spokeswoman, N4C’s submission was considered.

“Under this zoning, any future development will be assessed at the highest level with community consultation and extensive consideration given to environmental impacts … If future development were to occur on this site, detailed technical environmental studies would also be required as part of any development application,” the spokeswoman said.

Adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan will commence in late 2017, if approved by the Queensland Government. To view the draft of the Neighbourhood Plan, visit the Brisbane City Council’s webpage for the residential project.