BY GILBERT HOLMES
BRISBANE — A determined band of activists are preparing a blockade in an effort to save Brisbane's last piece of inner-city bushland. The two hectares of bushland, known as "The Gully", have received council approval for a 29-house development.
Situated in Highgate Hill, the Gully is only two and a half kilometres from the centre of Brisbane. It provides a unique window into what life used to be like among the meandering loops of the Brisbane River.
The Gully provides habitat for many animals, including echidnas and over 50 species of birds. Vegetation is also abundant and among the many larger trees, natural regeneration is progressing. Species include eucalypts, figs, silky oaks and at least one beautiful two metre high red cedar, a rainforest giant.
The Highgate Hill Protection Society has been fighting to save the Gully for two years. They have succeeded in reducing the proposal from 40 to 29 houses, with 25% of the area set aside as a park. Few people believe that this goes far enough.
The man behind the proposed development, Phillip Usher, plans to fill the Gully with over 30,000 cubic metres of dirt and rock. In the development application, there are only two trees marked for retention. The developers are preparing to start work as early as mid-June.
Faced with the almost overnight devastation of the life of the Gully, activists have formed a new, radical group. Known as the Gully Action Group it is preparing front-line defensive techniques to help stop the bulldozers.
Compared to other forest blockades, the activists are faced with some difficult tactical problems. Most notable among these is the small size of the Gully and the short time it would take developers to completely clear the area. They are appealing for public assistance.
For enquiries or to get involved, contact the Gully Action Group on (07) 3255 0019 or email <GullyActionGroup@yahoo.com>.