Time for another Maleny Visitor Information Centre Familiarisation. A group of more than 30 volunteers set off early in our bus on a bright and sunny day.
Our first stop was the Sandy Creek Organic Farm, where we had a very interesting talk by Les Nicholls. This is a most impressive undertaking where 86 acres are farmed with the help of 3 creeks and a dam, all of which are used for irrigation. An unusual method of farming is applied – a row of vegetables or fruit, then a fallow row, then another row of vegetables. This apparently helps to conserve the soil and also means that heavy rain does not adversely affect the plants. There are buffer zones around the borders for protection, and charcoal (brought in from far western Queensland) degrades very slowly and aids the soil.
Sandy Creek sells about half its produce at an organic market in Brisbane every Sunday. In addition, regular customers in Maleny order boxes of vegetables and collect them from a set point. The farm grows a huge variety of produce including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas and tomatoes in winter and cucumber, corn, lettuce, Chinese greens, okra in summer. They hold regular Open Days and have a staff of three full-time persons plus a varying number of WWOOFers (willing workers on organic farms) depending on needs. The next Open Day is on Saturday 10th October, from 10 am to 4 pm. Sandy Creek Organic Farm website. A most interesting stop, this, and one that most of the volunteers were not aware of. Amazing what our area turns up?
We then proceeded to the Glasshouse Mountains Lookout for morning tea, and even our large group could not demolish the huge number of plates of food that were provided by several volunteers! We really did not need lunch later in the day after this, but this did not seem to stop us. Glasshouse Mountains Lookout Circuit website.
Bankfoot House on Old Gympie Road at Glasshouse was our next stop, an amazing home built originally in 1868 by members of the Grigor family to service people heading to the Gympie gold fields in the late 1860s. It was built straight on to the earth on logs but was fairly rapidly eaten by white ants and had to be re-built in 1878 with an extension. This was dismantled in the 1930s and re-built again, but the core of the current house dates back to 1878. In the late 1800s it became the “lunch stop” for Cobb & Co coaches between Brisbane and Gympie, which in those days was a two-day trip. Horses were changed here and the original through-trip fare of three pounds would have been quite a lot of money so long ago. The Grigor family also dealt in timber and the house has been occupied by three generations of the same family. It was purchased by the Caloundra City Council in 2004 and is the oldest surviving building in the Glasshouse Mountains area. The name Bankfoot was taken from a small town in Scotland. Bankfoot House website.
Across the road from Bankfoot House is the Glasshouse Mountain Camp Ground and Steve, the owner, showed us around his huge shed where he is planning to build a 120-seat theatre as well as copies of old Cobb & Co coaches based on original plans that he managed to get hold of. He has one of only six of the original coaches left outside museums and which was built in 1915. This model used 7 horses and did the Brisbane-Bankfoot House trip in 6 hours. He claims to accommodate an average of 300 people at his camp ground and says the funds for coach-building come from the income from campers. Glasshouse Mountains Camping Ground website.
At the Glasshouse Mountains Visitor Information Centre we were given a talk about this centre and how it operates. Apparently 80% of visitors calling here are international, so it handles a very different type of caller to our own Maleny centre.
The Wildlife Hospital at Australia Zoo was an absolute eye-opener, and seeing what goes on there was extremely interesting. There are four vets employed, there is an operating theatre, a treatment room, an intensive care unit. The zoo runs a rescue service for injured wild animals, and they will collect if necessary if people are not able to bring animals to them. The hospital was first opened in 2004, then in 2008 it moved in to a new purpose-built building – sadly this was after Steve Irwin had died, so he was never able to see his dream come to fruition. Since it opened, it has treated over 58,000 animals, about 7,000 a year. It currently costs about $ 2.4 million a year to operate and is funded by income from the zoo and also by corporate and individual donations. Wildlife Hospital website.
Last call for the day was Twinnies Pelican & Seabird Rescue centre which tries to rescue and rehabilitate injured birds – mostly water and sea birds, although there are other birds there as well. It is run on a family-owned basis at a cost of $ 85,000 to $ 95,000 a year. Any member of the public can ring up and call in to see what is being done there for a small donation. Twinnies is holding a Charity Golf Tee-Off and Auction at Glenview Gold Course on Sunday 27th September from 12 noon to raise more funds for their work with birds. Twinnies website.