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THECA's Mural

THECA unveils mural donated by the family of long-term THECA member Doreen Woolard.

 (Images coming shortly!)

Mural before unveiling
Mural with Petrea Woolard (left) and artist Jacqueline Hill (second from left)
Doreen Woolard at her 80th birthday party



Speeches and Dedications:

Spoken by:
Margaret de Wit, O.A.M.

Today we will unveil this beautiful mural in memory of a wonderful lady who not only loved her natural environment but actively cared for it for well over half a century and even into her ‘90’s.

Having been born in Townville in 1922, Doreen Woolard was one of those people who knew what it was to work hard and go without in the early post-war years and then in later years, having raised six children, to devote her life to caring for the bushland, in particular Moore Park at Indooroopilly. She was one of the founding members of the Moore Park Bushcare Group and remained actively involved as long as her physical condition allowed her to. Doreen not only worked physically hard to restore our native bushland, her accounts of the development of the western suburbs provide a vivid picture of how the landscape was changed when the western freeway was built in the early ‘70’s. It was a time when it was thought that straightening a creek would make it flow better and in the case of Witton Creek they even moved the creekbed for the freeway construction. Fortunately these days people know better but as they say – if you don’t know your history there is a likelihood of the mistakes being repeated.

In ‘Catchment Voices’ – an oral history of the Cubberla-Witton Catchments Doreen told her story about life in Indooroopilly from the 1950’s – about children riding to school on horseback, the farmland, the native species along Witton Creek such as the tiger quoll and rufous bettong which were last seen in the 1950’s. She used to refer to the ‘ribbon of red’ which was the weeping bottlebrush which in late spring became a ribbon of red along the creek. Unfortunately with the redirection of the creek the bottle brushes disappeared and in spite of the group planting many callistemon and melaleucas along Witton Creek Doreen never saw her ribbon of red restored.

Her other great love was the wattle and in one of her articles she told the story about Wattle Day which began in 1910 then after disappearing was reinstated by former Governor General Bill Hayden in 1992. He declared that 1 September each year was to be observed as National Wattle Day throughout Australia.

As well as her work with the bushcare group Doreen’s garden was a source of hoop pine and other native seedlings, now transplanted to back yards and bushcare sites across the western suburbs. Doreen was an active member of both the Indooroopilly and Kenmore Historical Societies and made very valuable contributions to both. In recognition of Doreen’s service to our community a tribute was given in Parliament by then Federal Member Jane Prentice.

I have been associated with THECA since its formation in the late ‘90’s and that is where I met Doreen more than 23 years ago. If there was an event on at The Hut you could be sure Doreen would be there. She had a close and active association with THECA and there could be no more suitable location to honour Doreen than here at The Hut in Mt Coot-tha Forest Park.
I would like to thank Petrea and her family for giving THECA this opportunity to recognise and immortalise the life and work of Doreen. I know that what is under this curtain is another spectacular work by local artist Jacqui Hill and without any further ado let us reveal this tribute to a very special lady - Doreen Woolard.

Growing up in the Foothills of Mount Cootha
Spoken by:
Petrea Woolard.

Hello, welcome everyone and thank -you for coming today, and braving the rain. The rain brings back many memories. When I arrived one of our dear friends, Peter, welcomed me and said well you brought the rain. I smiled as this was a saying my Mum used when one of us returned home and it was raining. Bringing the rain was akin to bringing a gift and with six children there was always a reasonable chance one of us would arrive home in the rain.

I wish to share with you a taster of what it was like growing up in the foothills of Mount Cootha. Mount Cootha was our ever present, undemanding friend. We opened our doors and she was there. When we were at school, she was there in the corner of our eyes (more exciting than any lessons) and she welcomes us when we returned home.

Like all friends she happily shared herself. Her colour changes throughout the day and the seasons (no expensive stylist required.) The piercing sharp whites, blues and yellows of summer and softer greys, blues and mauves of winter. In the wet you could smell the rain clouds as they approached, eventually enveloping and obscuring her summit, while the mist tendrils descended the gullies. The leaves and rocks glistening with water and the dry gullies and creeks flowing.

These same gullies and creek were our gateways to places beyond our front door. We walked – no off-road bikes or vehicles. There was always something that made you stop and look – a movement a flash of colour, a sound or a smell. Who would not be entranced by the informality of processional caterpillars, the dragons with their quick plonks back into the water, the flash of green and yellow of a yellow faced whip, the flittering of a red back wren, the silhouette of a kingfisher, the antics of the magpies, the songs of the butcher birds, the blue face honey- eaters rather chaotic nest building routines, the haunting curlew cries or the flowering of the water. There was something for everyone from dawn to dusk.

We all had our favourite. The treasures revealed were endless, but we did not just magically understand everything that was laid before us. There were some many amazing people who helped us develop: The Mackenzie’s from across Moore Park, Queensland Naturalists Club, The Girl Guides and Scout, the Curators of the Queensland Museum, Queensland Conservation Society, Faculty staff of the Queensland University , CSIRO staff, Historical Societies, Brisbane City Council staff. People from all these organisations became lifelong friends, gave their time, knowledge and skills willingly

Supporting our quests were our parents, our father, who was our driver, often changing his shifts to ensure we got to events. Our Mum was passionate about learning and took our quests and passions in her stride, even if it meant helping to catch insects for lizards, knitting walking collars and leashes for the lace monitors or looking after the many injured animals that made their way home down shirts fronts, in pockets or ports.

It is harder now to sustain that good friend Mount Cootha. There are many more shops, homes – the creep of urbanisation and the construction of roads all of which have changed the landscape of our childhood. These changes mean it is more important that community organisations thrive and work together. I hope that the mural will not only be a memorial to Mum but can attract members to THECA and community groups.

Notes from Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network (CWCN), who knew Doreen Woolard through her bushwork
Written by
Jutta Godwin (CWCN)

Doreen was one of the founding members of the Moore Park bushcare group and remained actively involved as long as her physical condition allowed her to. She refers to the 'ribbon of red', a phrase she had borrowed from McKenzie family memories (see below) and had made her own. Just upstream from Moore Park, alongside the cricket oval, is a new housing development. The area it occupies was owned by the McKenzie family. Wally and Betty McKenzie remembered that Witton Creek was a series of waterholes with deep swimming pools, and that Tiger Quolls and Rufous Bettongs were last seen in the 1950s, a Dingo was sighted along the creek in 1981. Until 1982 natural vegetation remained along 509 metres of creek passing through the McKenzie property. "The dominant tree, right through to Russell Terrace, was the weeping bottlebrush which, in late spring, became a ribbon of red with the spectacular display of flowers. Honeyeaters, lorikeets and numerous other birds fed in these trees, and ringtail possums built bulky nests of twigs and vines high in their twisting branches. The rough trunks were hosts to elkhorn ferns. Banks with a south-easterly aspect were the habitat of six different kinds of ground orchids - two species of Greenhoods, Helmet Orchids, Autumn Bird Orchids, Pixie Caps and pure white Caladenias. Shading these were extensive communities of Brisbane wattle and Hovea, which were a glory of yellow and purple blossoms in late winter. Many fern varieties flourished near the water." (Source: Ms McKenzie in W. Davies, Wildlife of the Brisbane Area, 1983 Jacaranda Press).

When the bushcare group began working, the Western Freeway had been built. To allow for its construction in the 70s the creek bed had been moved to accommodate the new location of the cricket oval in the park as well as a changed entrance to the park. The interference led to the loss of a lot of native vegetation. The creek line in Moore Park was dominated by Camphor laurel, Chinese elm, Madeira vine and Glycine when rehabilitation started. Only two of the once numerous bottlebrushes were still alive and towering (one has died since). Although the bushcare group planted many Callistemon/Melaleuca viminalis along Witton Creek, by far not all of them liked the artificial creek banks. Doreen never saw her ribbon of red restored.