There is never nothing we can do.
There are just people who do nothing.
With a world that is not on track to meet its climate targets, in the face of government failure it is the community who must act. It is time to do something.
Right now in Brunswick Heads our wild heathland is calling.
It calls us to be people who care for country. To be the line in the sand. To be the community who push back on opportunistic greed. And this development is opportunistic. It’s no coincidence that after sitting dormant since 2013, Zombie DA it found its way to the Regional Planning Panel in 2021, during Covid. When we were distracted. With just 3 hours of community consultation. When we were all looking the other way. Well, we aren’t looking the other way now. Blocks may be sold, but it’s not too late.
It’s not too late because it’s still there, and while those 230 trees still stand, so can we.
There is so little wilderness left. So little of the environment not decimated by human intervention, whether it’s through habitation or extraction.
Last week ecologist James Barrie introduced me to the wallum wildflower heathland salt marsh at the end of Omega Circuit in Brunswick Heads. It’s the most extraordinary place.
This wildly beautiful habitat for sugar gliders, koalas, the glossy black cockatoo, microbats, large bent-winged bats, the grass owl, the rainbow bee-eater, native bees, and the Wallum froglet and the Wallum sedge frog. The frogs are both classified as vulnerable to extinction, and the koala and the cockatoo are critically endangered. Australian Wetland Consulting have listed 14,000 fauna at this site. Surely the Biodiversity Conservation Act should protect this site? If not, I’d want to know why? 14,000 species seems pretty bloody biodiverse to me.
There are a range of critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable and threatened species on this site, as well as four threatened ecological communities (vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered), which weren’t given proper consideration in light of the DA. Because somehow the Regional Planning Panel decided to green light a luxury development. In a flood plain. FFS. Have we learnt nothing?
Yes we are in a housing crisis. But it is not a luxury housing crisis. The last Census told the truth – when one million homes sat empty, many were giant high-end palaces of privilege.
Maybe the habitat we need to push in on isn’t the precious and fragile remnants of wilderness, but the housing portfolios of the super wealthy. According to some sources, stage one has seen some of these blocks, as small as 450 sq metres sell for close to $1 million. Just around the corner is a pod village of flood victims. This is clearly not going to be their housing. Who is this housing even for? More out of town investors? It’s wrong.
We are at a crossroads. We are living in that part of the Venn diagram where the climate crisis intersects with the housing crisis. We need systemic change, we cannot build our way out. And we cannot and must not destroy places like this heathland full of scribbly gums. Scribbly gums that predate colonialism. Scribbly gums that have been luxury housing to so many species for over 400 years.
It can take up to 200 years for a hollow to develop. Imagine waiting that long for your home to be built.
The developers have the hide to call this Wallum. Named after the habitat they are destroying. This is not as the developers suggest ‘an ecology-led solution’. This is an ecology dead solution.
So it’s up to us. Let’s make Bruns the new Bentley. It’s not too late.
It’s still here. And while this sensitive coastal area bordering Simpsons Creek remains intact, we can save it. And we should.
Please be someone who does something. Join the Facebook group ‘Save the Scribbly Gums’ and be part of the community action.
Watch this space.