Residents are wary of any moves to develop Mt Coot-tha. We are aware that future attempts will be made to exploit the resources if we do not act to counter them.
For historic reasons, the submissions that follow have been left in to demonstrate the reasons behind recent 'appeal' action.
It is essential to note that the objection was primarily against the location. If the zipline development had had a viable business case, it is likely it would have had been welcome -- SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN MT COOT-THA.
A retired Director of Land Planning, Department of Natural Resources and Mines wrote the following to Natural Resources Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham, in September 2018.
Dear Minister Lynham
Having been Director of Land Planning in the Department of Natural Resources and Mines prior to my retiring in 2001 and since retirement a significant contributor to the SEQ Regional Plan 2005-2026, I do not support the proposal to change the backdrop to Brisbane by the inclusion of the proposed Zip line. This is something I believe the Brisbane City Council does not have the support from informed Brisbane residents.
While I support appropriate development; enhanced employment opportunities; and, the promotion of Brisbane as a place of high liveability and a tourist destination, I am disappointed with the proposed development. My concerns are based on the following:
While State land it is held in trust by the Brisbane City Council and I propose the proposal is not in keeping with the spirit of the trust conditions.
When I have interstate or overseas visitors I take them to the lookout at Mount Coot-tha. The presence of Zip line infrastructure and the loss of parking space at Mount Coot-tha will make any visit and viewing less appealing.
The western "natural" backdrop to Brisbane needs to be maintained. Residential development at The Gap section of the Taylor Range already despoils that vista.
From my reading of Shaping SEQ Oct 2016, which I thought was a shared State and Local Government regional plan, I could not find any mention of the Zip line. However, it does emerge in the September Brisbane Blue Print 2018, a document which was based on a flawed community consultation process.
The development proposal appears to be based on a Mayoral election promise (a commitment being made prior to the Brisbane City Council without engaging the public in a pre-development application planning phase [of more reasonable timelines] to achieve an understanding and a level of support for the proposal). Instead, the current development application is being used to both justify the proposal as well as providing specific details on its implementation. It is insufficient for the public to have to wade through the plethora of detail in the development application to appreciate the scope and impact of the development in the short time available to them.
7. Having visited two major significant historical sites in the United
Kingdom that have been spoiled by crass over-commercialization
at Lands End and John of Groats. The initial intention in both cases
may have been honourable but the subsequent associated commercial
development, that have been required to subsequently make the
developments viable, has ruined the character of those sites. The
owner of our accommodation in Cornwall strongly advised us to enter
Lands End from a coastal walk as he was ashamed of how
commercialization had destroyed a tourist's impression of that site.
8. Development such as that proposed needs to be reversible if they
doesn't work out. However, I am not aware of a Plan B on how the
site might be able to be returned to its original condition should the
venture prove to be unviable.
Though it will be subject to criticism of being anti-progress, tourism and economic growth, it will be a brave State Government that allows this development to go ahead.
Mt Coot-tha from Toowong Image: Ross Hanson
Trevor A. Lambkin (UQ) a published Entomologist wrote the following in response to the proposed development in Mt Coot-tha Forest:
Mt Coot-tha is an iconic natural part of the Brisbane landscape. The mountain has a unique flora which grows on a weathered schist substrate which is distinct from the other branches of the D'Aguilar Range. As an entomologist, I have been studying the insect fauna of Mt Coot-tha over the last 50 years and have noticed that disturbance, particularly by human footprint, is the main contributing factor in advancing weed invasion on the mountain. Many of the native grass species on the mountain are highly susceptible to the impact of weed invasion.
Many species of butterfly on the mountain occur in highly localized populations in this natural grassland habitat and thus would be highly susceptible, experiencing localized extinctions. One species of concern to me are the Mt Coot-tha populations of the Imperial Blue butterfly (Jalmenus evagoras). These populations are highly fractured and localized on the mountain and are generally difficult to find. A population occurs in the remnant undisturbed eucalyptus forest on the Taringa side of the Western Freeway (cnr of Taringa Parade and Equinox Street). This area is now signposted to be disturbed by zipline development. This population is the only known population on the Taringa side of the freeway and is the closest population to the Brisbane city. A true relic indeed. This is one of Brisbane's most attractive and ecologically complex butterfly species.
I believe that, in addition to 1. the unsightliness of the whole zipline complex, 2. increased traffic demands placed on the mountain and botanic gardens, 3. poor consultation with the public and relevant experts, and 4. the commercialization of our natural heritage (and the heritage of so many generations before and after our generation), we need to ask is the project even going to be a profitable enterprise that appears to possibly only suit tourists and not the locals who have always enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the mountain.
The Brisbane community is responding to the Brisbane City Council's current practices in relation to proposed developments.
Dear Lord Mayor
The community of Brisbane are very disappointed in your leadership in regards to supporting a commercial business to use public land which was gifted to the people of Brisbane who you represent for a business which will bring minimum dollar value to its rate payers.
It is time you listen to the people (90 % who were against this DA).
We vote and we remember.
It is not a “low impact “Zipline that is an oxymoron.
“Preserving a natural asset “is not chopping down tall growth forests and planting a few little trees.
We are not fools Mayor Quirk and we are tired of your rhetoric.
A wise man knows when it is time to listen to his constituents and be prepared to change his views .
What will be your legacy Mayor Quirk?
An excerpt from a letter to MP Dr. Anthony Lynham, Dept of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy from a St Lucia resident in February 2019.
Dear Dr. Lynham
I am writing to you to as a very concerned resident of Brisbane in regard to the DA approval of the Brisbane City Council to their own development application for a huge Zip Line development on our beautiful Mt. Coot-tha. I find it extremely questionable that they have approved their own development in such a record time.
This proposal is on a huge scale with hundreds of documents and submissions (90% against) that need to be given serious consideration. A natural park is a unique asset right on our doorstep .
One which, once “developed” can not then be “put back”. Tall growth trees are to be revered and valued. They cannot be replaced with little trees the council provide.
I ask you what will be your legacy Dr Lynham? Will you be remembered as the minister “the hero” who listened to his constituents and protected this beautiful and cherished mountain? A legacy for your children and future generations to enjoy. Or will you be remembered as the minister who changed the DOGIT and wrecked this serene and beautiful space?
We are all watching and waiting on your decision. You have stated that it is not your decision alone but will make a decision based on recommendations of your team.
However you are the leader of this team and it is your role to listen but also to lead.
Mount Coot-tha unzipped
By Mary-Rose MacColl, the author of five novels, a non-fiction book, a memoir, short stories, feature journalism and essays.
In my city of Brisbane, there’s a hill we call Mount Coot-tha about ten minutes from the CBD. You can walk up to the summit, down the other side and back up and down in around an hour and a half. For those ninety minutes, you bathe in a eucalypt forest.
It’s not always quiet – kookaburras and cockatoos are not always quiet – but it’s not noisy like the work day world is noisy. The smells are not like the rest of the city either, that lime-pepper of gums in the high summer, honey wattle in the mild winter. It’s often crowded with humans, but even so it’s a different experience from other crowded places. It’s nature unbothered, 1500 hectares of it. It’s the city’s lungs and in some fundamental way, it’s our heart.
‘What’s said on the mountain stays on the mountain,’ my walking friend says. It’s the mountain I climbed for the first time as a troubled teen, hoping to see the dawn from the summit, collected by police on patrol who gave me a lift the last few kilometres so I wouldn’t miss the sunrise and waited to drive me home afterwards so I’d be safe.
Coot-tha, Kuta, a place of honey to its owners, welcomes a broad church. Now I’m an old walker and it still holds me in its arms, along with thousands of others. Up there, you meet species we don’t see so often in the city, cockatoos and currawongs and owls and wallabies and around the creek, frogs and yabbies, ironbark and wattle and spotted gum on the slopes. Mount Coot-tha is heritage listed as a forest reserve for good reason. Governments of all persuasions and levels have known better than to try to change it.
When I first heard about a zipline project on Mount Coot-tha in the Lord Mayor’s annual goodwill letter, I thought Yippee! Another way to love Mount Coot-tha! Bring it on! But the zipline project is not another way to love Mount Coot-tha, because it will destroy Mount Coot-tha.
Bear with me. The devil is in the detail here.
When someone tells you a zipline is a way of experiencing nature, they may not have spent much time in nature. Ziplines at their best are a cheap thrill, with no real connection to the place they fly over. I love them. The faster the better. But saying they’re an experience of nature is like saying a transatlantic flight is a way to bond with whales rather than a way to get somewhere else.
When you think of ziplines, you might conjure a bit of wire running between two trees. Not this one. This one is a path as wide as a four-lane highway all the way down the mountain, six separate lines suspended from giant towers, a viewing platform, a bus service from the Botanic Gardens replacing parking at the summit, and a canopy walk through something that’s not a canopy.
Without so much as a letter asking whether we want this to happen, the Brisbane City Council that fines us for cutting down trees in our own back yards will fell at least 200 big old trees to clear the zipline road through Brisbane’s backyard. And when it’s operating, the zipline’s path will be lit up until 10pm like a ski field, people screaming all the way down, like at the Ekka. They’ll have forked out $100 each and taken a bus from the bottom for that quickie down the scarred slope. Yippee!
If demand is low and the project folds, the trees can’t come back. Zipline Australia is the not-quite-five-year-old company that won a tender for $1.8 million from the Council for this project in November last year. The Council will kick in a further $1 million. Zipline Australia has a Linked-in page (I couldn’t find a website). They appear to have one zipline, in Vanuatu. For Mount Coot-tha, they promise ‘an exhilirating megazip experience’ and ‘an inspirational treetop canopy tour’ as well as the ‘longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the Southern Hemisphere’ over Slaughter Falls, and a ‘free lookout podium.’ I don’t know if they’ve been up there but there’s already a free lookout podium on Mount Coot-tha and currently you don’t have to catch a bus to get to it. Also, you can see Slaughter Falls now if you want. You don’t need a bridge. You don’t even need to walk far.
In Zipline Australia’s promotional material, everything is the longest, the biggest, the fastest, the best, with eco thrown in every few sentences for good measure. The Brisbane City Council, which has responsibility to protect Mount Coot-tha on our behalf, is not just right behind the project. The Council is running the project. After a few people started expressing concern, it was the Council that ran an information session at Toowong this week to tell people about the plans. The sessions were over-subscribed. My group of three – two ex-Bardon primary school mums and me – sat down for fifteen minutes with Glen, a Council environmental planner with a lovely smile and a patient, concerned nod. He didn’t reassure us in any way.
What we learned is that the zipline development is sure to be approved by Council because Council is the applicant, and Council also assesses the application, and then Council will decide whether to approve the application. Yes! Council can be the applicant and the assessor and the approval body for its developments. Not only that. Council is also the land holder by Deed of Grant in Trust from the State Government, and so it’s already written itself a letter to give itself permission for the land use.
Aside from the fact this is a flawed process – you can’t assess yourself, as we’re learning from our churches, banks and the judiciary – it’s also the wrong process for a decision about an iconic place in our city. There should be genuine public consultation. And as it turns out, there already has been. The Council asked Brisbane about Mount Coot-tha in 2009, and the then Lord Mayor assured us Mount Coot-tha’s role as our green space would not change. And now, Council is changing it.
Two years ago I found an eagle’s nest where the zipline will go, and I watched the eaglets fledge. Just last week I saw a koala, and while I don’t like anthropomorphising animals, she had a look on her face as if she knew and felt the profound sadness – and ours – of losing her home.
We asked Glen about the koala. He said the Council used a dog to find out where the koalas were in 2016 and based on that, they’re not putting the ziplines where the dog found koalas. In 2016.
At Mount Coot-tha this weekend, we humans will turn up in our thousands, the power walkers with their heavy packs and sticks training for Kokoda, the terrier and rescue dog and cavoodle owners, the forest bathers, the families with boots full of picnics and barbecues and footballs and novels, and the bikers occasionally cursed for careening down the more sedentary walking trails. There will be many more than one teen up the top by the time the walkers get there. They’ll be listening to music or singing or just sitting there, blankets over their shoulders, taking in the morning.
Mount Coot-tha should be there for the next generation of dawn-seeking teens and the one after that, for the family barbecues and frisbees, the wanderers and bikers. Not for a corporate development, even if someone has sprinkled it with an eco prefix, not in one of the last places of honey left. Surely not.
Thanks to Alison Sommerville (koala) and David Mayocchi (the rest) for these great pictures of our place of honey.
Great Grand Daughter of William Jolly, the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane writes:
I love Mt Coot-tha. My Great Grandfather, the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane was instrumental in the early 1900's in purchasing more land to increase the green space for the people and the city, and declaring it to be never built on in the future, and kept for the joy of the people.
These are his words:
'We citizens of today are deeply indebted to the foresight of the men who in 1880 reserved 1,800 acres at Mt Coot-tha for the people ... a panorama of imposing grandeur, the beauty of which It is Impossible to adequately describe ... The Greater Brisbane City Council has added to the area by securing the rest of this range, and the total area of this park is now 2,560
acres. It Is important that we should retain these tree-clad hills for all time In their sylvan state, not only for the pleasure which it affords for those who visit them, but because if these hills were sub-divided and the trees cut down, it would destroy the beautiful background with which nature has endowed the city ... It will be of untold value to future generations.'
Let's not go backwards. Stop the concrete and steel. Keep it sylvan.
13 October 2018
Keep it green
Thank you for your alliance and its work. I totally agree with you. As it happens, my great grandfather was the first Lord Mayor of Brisbane, William Jolly. He was the fellow who, in the 1920's decided to make this area a green space, to be used for the people of Brisbane to enjoy. I also happened to find out recently when yarning with Uncle Joe Kirk, an Aboriginal Elder from the area, that there is a Bora ring somewhere on the mountain. A very sacred space, that hasn't been used in a long time, but remains sacred forever. Have the council asked Aboriginal people if they think this is a good idea? I am dead against it. I just think it is a ridiculous, backwards idea.
11 October 2018
As a member of Queensland Koala Crusaders I am very interested in Keeping tabs on the habitat destruction proposed. No population surveys have been done in the park but we know they are seen regularly. And I see the detection dogs confirmed that.
Numbers in SE Qld are crashing and fragmented habitat is responsible for that. Also for the woeful genetic diversity in wild koalas. Tree planting cannot replace old growth forest.
It’s all about short term gain and hanging on to power. Greed.
My mantra...no koalas, no reef, no tourists. Very simple. They cannot be replaced.
The Summit Lookout view Image: Mike Robertson
10 October 2018
I am just a citizen who crosses the river as often as possible to Mt Coot-tha to walk the dog or run, alone or in groups, and to take visitors to for the view and often a walk also. At the “information kiosk” in Toowong tonight, the Council officers could not answer most of my questions, so I am hoping someone more closely involved in the project will be able to. I don’t have time to read 2,000 pages of a development application, so generally I was just asking where in the application some key matters are covered, so I could read the relevant sections. The topics I would like to read up on in the application or other official documentation are: • Business failure of the operator • Quantification of negative impacts on existing visitors' peaceful enjoyment (the core value of Mt Coot-tha) • Negative impacts on the Botanic Gardens (existing visitors' peaceful enjoyment, numbers and revenue) • Noise Management Plan detail and enforcement (e.g. sanctions against inevitably screaming zipline riders disturbing the peace over walking tracks and the Botanic Gardens) • Restrictions on foot access under both ziplines and the Skywalk, (which would appear to cut across myriad footpaths and tracks happily used by numerous walkers and runners) Sincerely (a Brisbane resident)
10 October 2018
A well organized group of residents in the Drop-in sessions focused on koala legislation, the DA process and timing of stages, changes to the DOGIT and the nature of BCC's consultation.
Additionally they asked how would the e-petition and paper petition signatures to Brisbane City Council (now 1200+) feed into the consultation process? How would they inform Council's view of resident's response to the proposal?
We look forward to hearing BCC's responses to these questions.
The general consensus of the residents who attended the Drop-in kiosk in Toowong on Wednesday 10 October 2018 was that council officers could not answer their questions, additionally some answers given were incorrect. The display material was certainly better prepared compared to the Information Sessions in January and February this year where an out of date Mt Coot-tha track map was on display. Unfortunately these more impressive glossy posters were done at our expense.
The written exit poll conducted by members of this committee demonstrated 96% opposition to the proposed commercial ziplines development with residents travelling from Zillmere, New Farm, Annerley, St Lucia, Indooroopilly, Taringa, Chapel Hill, Kenmore, Oxley, Bardon, Paddington, Auchenflower, Milton, The Gap and Woolloongabba.
Some officers were unsure if there would be any further community information sessions despite BCC advertising there would be an online survey. Other residents were told by BCC officers that "this was it" and there would be no further 'consultation.' Regarding that advertised online survey, how is council going to demonstrate that the people filling in the survey have a full understanding of the pros and cons of the proposed commercial development? It is common knowledge that survey questions are limited in their scope, so is this a transparent way to do 'community consultation?'
The majority of people attending had prepared questions to ask the officers and submitted those unanswered questions at the end of their 15 minute session for a written response from council. Of some concern was the observation that none of the council officers took notes on the questions they were asked but when a senior representative was asked about this the resident was informed that they had a tick sheet to fill in after each session which was not for public viewing.
According to a council officer the lease for the Megazip....now Scenic Zipline (difficult to keep up with the name & concept changes) will be a volumetric lease (airspace) plus the land surrounding the infrastructure. He stated there would be no fences around the lease areas but from a safety perspective would this be feasible? People enjoying the free passive activities the area is known for would understandably be wary of walking or riding under the towering structures and the cables occupied by the thousands of patrons.
We were advised at the session that the community could be waiting between 3 to 12 months for the Development Application to be assessed but apparently we should expect the formal submission time period (possibly 15 - 20 working days) to be advertised on the BCC website in the next few months. Merry Christmas!