Covering 175 hectares, Curramore is located on the western escarpment of the Maleny Plateau about 90 km north of Brisbane and 23 km west of Nambour in south east Queensland. Elevation falls steeply from 660 metres near the Summit of Donavan’s Knob, one of the highest points on the Maleny Plateau, to 200 metres in the Mary River Valley near Conondale.
Despite its relatively small size, surveys reveal that Curramore is home to a high abundance and diversity of wildlife, including 20 threatened vertebrate species. This is due both to the diversity of vegetation types on the sanctuary, the condition of habitat on the sanctuary and its connectivity to more extensive forest on adjacent land including the Maleny National Park.
Rhyolite, granite and some basalt underlie the soils which support tall eucalypt forests and palm forests in the wetter gullies and dry eucalypt forest on the slopes. The sanctuary encompasses most of the headwaters of Little Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Mary River.
Strategically located in the southeast Queensland biodiversity hotspot, AWC’s management at Curramore not only protects an important suite of species but also demonstrates an effective response to one of the major threats to habitat in the region – invasion by lantana.
A total of 279 species of native vertebrates are protected by Curramore Sanctuary. At night, the rare Golden Tipped Bat searches the canopy for spiders, its favourite prey. It shares the night canopy with several other threatened species including the Koala, Marbled Frogmouth and Grey-headed Flying Fox, as well as possums and gliders.
On the forest floor below, the leaf litter comes alive at night, with two species of pademelon (small forest wallabies), two (possibly three) species of Antechinus, a dunnart and a planigale (small carnivorous marsupials), two species of bandicoot, and several species of native rodent.
With daylight, the mammals withdraw to their tree hollows, rock crevices and shrubby nests, conceding the forest to several hundred species of birds and diurnal reptiles. Distinctive among the birds are the colourful Noisy Pitta, Paradise Riflebird, Regent Bowerbird, Grey Goshawk and eleven species of doves and pigeons, seven species of cuckoo and seven species of parrot. The reptiles include several threatened species: the Elf Skink and Rose’s Skink.
The sanctuary’s 50 species of reptiles vary from the large and obvious Lace Monitor and Eastern Water Dragon to the shy and secretive Three Toed Worm Skink and its predator, the Bandy Bandy.
The 24 species of frogs present on the sanctuary include the threatened Tusked Frog and Marsupial Frog.
At least two species of threatened invertebrate are present at Curramore: the magnificent but vulnerable Richmond Birdwing Butterfly and the nationally endangered Pink Underwing Moth. A species of spiny crayfish (Euastacus sp.) is common along Little Cedar Creek: most of the spiny crayfish species are endangered.
AWC is the only conservation organisation to measure in a robust scientific manner the ecological health of a network of sanctuaries. At Curramore, we undertake more than 2,000 live trap nights and at least 700 camera trap nights each fauna survey to measure a suite of ecological health indicators including:
Our performance against these indicators provides rigorous scientific data which enables us to track the ecological health of Curramore, especially as lantana is progressively removed.
The Field Programs on Curramore are focused on:
Curramore is located on the escarpment of the Maleny plateau. The plateau itself receives an average of 2,000 mm rainfall annually, distributed throughout the year but with a maximum in summer, while lower elevation areas receive around 1,200 mm rainfall per annum. The plateau used to support an extensive cover of subtropical forests, but most has been cleared, with much of the remainder impacted heavily by weeds, particularly lantana. The escarpment often supports tall eucalypt forest, which can also become infested by lantana if poorly managed for fire.
Curramore is strategically well located, linked to National Parks and other areas of the public conservation estate. It shares similar land management challenges, especially the impact of lantana.
At the time of purchase, more than half the land area of Curramore was infested with lantana, reflecting the condition of much of the region’s remnant forest. Many hectares of forest was severely compromised, with lantana excluding almost all other vegetation and preventing recruitment to the canopy layer.
Over the past 10 years, AWC staff and volunteers have undertaken a systematic control program, removing lantana and restoring the native ecosystem. This program is well on the way to effective control of Lantana on Curramore, securing the future of its wildlife and, by demonstrating the feasibility of restoration techniques, hopefully acting as a catalyst for regional control efforts.
The high rainfall, diverse geology, and sharp topographical variations of the property have combined to give Curramore a remarkable range of habitat types including medium to tall eucalypt forests and several different types of vine forest (rainforest). Soils supporting these habitat types are formed on 3 basic rock types, the volcanics rhyolite and basalt, microgranite, and transported materials (colluvium and alluvium) eroded from these rocks.
AWC mapping has identified 29 vegetation types on the property. The most significant vegetation types are those developed on basaltic soils, because most of these habitats of the Blackall Ranges have been cleared. The dominant habitats on basalt are two vine forest types developed in the high country near Donovan’s Knob; one as complex notophyll vine forest and the other is a simpler type (in terms of structure and floristic composition) dominated by palms. Other equally rare types of vine forest dominated by palms occupy sheltered gully positions on steep slopes and along Cedar Creek. A small, but significant area of “dry rainforest” (microphyll vine thicket) with emergent bunya pines is found in the south-western corner of the property.
A strip along the eastern margin of the property is occupied by grassy open forest, but most of the property is dominated by tall eucalypt or Brush Box forest with a vine forest understory. The tall white trunks of Rose Gum emerging from that understory are one of the aesthetic highlights of the property.
445 native plants have been formally identified from the sanctuary with 6 of these listed as threatened species in Queensland.
Curramore is managed by Klaus Runde, a long-term resident of the region. Klaus is assisted by Murray Wall. Klaus and Murray have established a network of trails on the sanctuary to manage lantana and conduct fire management activities. The science program is delivered by a team of AWC field ecologists, assisted by qualified volunteers.