|(Ed. Pine Ridge Environmental Park is on the Gold Coast in the suburbs of Hollywell and Runaway Bay. It is bounded on its western side by Oxley Drive and on the east by Morala and Poinsettia Avenues. The best time to visit here to see the wildflowers is in August and September.)|
Pine Ridge Environmental Park has low-lying Wallum which closely resembles that of the centre of Bribie Island. It is dominated by Banksia aemula and Xanthorrhoea fulva, with ground-level plants including Boronia falcifolia, Sowerbaea juncea, Leucopogon virgatum and many others.
A wide (accidentally graded) track gives easy access as you ramble along. Turning off the track to the left, you gradually make your way out of the Xanthorrhoea-dominated low-level Wallum, with its peaty sand, into light open forest with an interesting mix of shrubs and trees on a low ridge.
Bright yellow pea-flowers of Gompholobium virgatum, Wallum Wedge Pea, catch the attention, as do Dianellas (Flax Lilies). A very interesting small shrub is Leucopogon virgatum, the Twiggy Beard Heath. This delightful little plant usually appears as a group of upright wiry stems with narrow pointed leaves and very fluffy-petalled tubular white flowers. In this case, it is a tiny shrub about 45cm high.
This low sandy ridge drops gently into a Melaleuca quinquenervia forest, unfortunately degraded by weeds in great numbers and varying species. Usually fairly swampy, this part of the Park wasn't as wet as it should have been in 1997, due to prolonged dry weather. By following the track you are led out onto a road with suburbia, along the western boundary.
Returning through the "wetland", take the track back to the Wallum area, passing by some tall plants of Aotus ericoides, with a few Boronia safrolifera among them. This Boronia is less common than the Wallum Boronia, B. falcifolia, and occurs at only a few locations in south-east Queensland - Pine Ridge Environmental Park, North Stradbroke Island, another Redlands Shire site on the mainland, Ningi (between Caboolture and Bribie Island) and on Bribie Island. Not very well conserved at all, it is under threat from development on Bribie Island and at Ningi. Almost impossible to cultivate, it has a very uncertain future.
Back in the Banksia aemula / Xanthorrhoea fulva Wallum area, discoveries can be made which link the area to Bribie Island. The tiny rare and endangered Acacia baueri can be found, and the very lovely Leucopogon pedicellatus, a medium shrub worthy of cultivation if it could be seriously propagated. So far I have seen this species only in protected areas - Pine Ridge, Bribie Island National Park and Noosa River National Park. While this means that it is safe, it means that the collection of propagation material would be a bit more difficult than if it was located on private property. It is a pretty plant, with upright stems from the base, which carry masses of the tubular white flowers, following buds that are deep cream, almost yellow.
Epacris pulchella and Acacia ulicifolia are found here. They are two prickly specimens usually present in Wallum. Plants of Bossiaea heterophylla are also plentiful, regenerating after recent fires, just starting to flower and noticeable with red underside to the buds and petals. Some did have seed pods which were still fairly green.
Related to the Boronias, white-flowered Zieria laxiflora (pronounced Zeer-ee-uh), and Conospermum taxifolium with their tall stems and heads of white, joined Pimelea linifolia to add touches of white to the scene. Both Stylidiums (Trigger Plants) are found - Stylidium graminifolium, with its short grassy foliage, and S. ornatum, with its cluster of shiny, broad, pointed leaves, but no pink flowers. There are various Lomandras.
Pine Ridge Environmental Park is a last remnant of Gold Coast Wallum, so vulnerable in its situation surrounded by suburbia. The proliferation of weed species in the Melaleuca wetland is unfortunate, but this area appeared to be a very good bird habitat. If you have an opportunity to visit it, I am sure you will find it very rewarding.
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