Mar 10, 2009

Press release for Open Day

Franke Scrub Open day reveals ancient treasures

More than 100 curious people met a 300-year-old neighbour during the inaugural Open Day at Franke Scrub remnant dry rainforest at Cawdor north of Toowoomba on March 7.

Friends of Franke Scrub (FoFS) group leader Patricia Gardner introduced guests to an ancient but very healthy specimen of Hill Leopard Ash (Flindersia collina) which may well have been a mature tree when Captain Cook discovered Australia.

It stands on the margin of a small, steep gully head on Franke Rd reserve near the Cawdor-Highfields boundary.

"This 'scrub' is really a tiny piece of dry rainforest, of the type known as 'semi-evergreen vine thicket'," Mrs Gardener said.

"It is one of the very few remaining local examples of this endangered ecosystem type."

"Because of all the clearing across this region since settlement began almost 160 years ago, these ecosystems are now very rare," she said.

The Open Day was run jointly by FoFS and Steve Plant, Natural Resource Management Officer (Northern Region) Toowoomba Regional Council, with assistance from Bushcare Officer Kristie Jenkinson.

Other TRC support staff included Jamie Pukallus and Wayne Bennett who helped market the tubed plants struck from seed harvested from Franke Scrub specimens.

During the guided tours guests were introduced to about 55 dry rainforest tree and shrub species and 15 climbers including the fascinating toothache tree (Melicope micrococca), blind-your-eye bush Excoecaria dallachyana) and the hairy lolly bush (Clerodendrum tomentosum).

Visitors were able to choose from more than 300 examples of most of the rare species found in Franke Scrub reserve as $2 and $4 tube plants thanks to the green thumb of Steve Plant, who operates the Crows Nest Community Nursery with the help of part-time staff and volunteers.

This nursery in Cows Nest is open to the public every Thursday from 9am till noon.

Mrs Gardner invited neighbouring Gowrie and Highfields districts' residents to help clean up and protect this endangered ecosystem by participating in weed removal campaigns on the fifth Wednesday of the month.

"We work hard to control foreign invaders such as cat's claw and asparagus fern which are competing aggressively for moisture and light with the indigenous plant communities.

"Our group always welcomes more volunteers to dedicate a couple of hours to removing these pest species and help maintain the integrity of Franke Scrub which is really a small but thriving oasis and not a barren scrub," she said.

FoFS will meet on-site on April 29 from 9am. Volunteers should bring their own smoko and a weeding tool. Weed bags are provided – all welcome.

For further information contact Patricia Gardner ph 46308505, or access the group's blogsite at

Thank you Gary Alcorn for providing this press release and photos.

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