Walton Bridge Reserve

Enoggera Creek

Group leader: Anne Jones

Where Fish Creek meets Enoggera Creek, Walton Bridge Reserve is an urban rainforest in the heart of The Gap. The site has been a reserve since the nineteenth century and contains an important patch of remnant dry rainforest. It is linked to the Enoggera Army Barracks, which contains large areas of relatively undisturbed dry sclerophyl bush. The active Walton Bridge Reserve Group meets 4pm on the first Saturday of every month except January. In 2010, the group began restoring the Fish Creek corridor between Lochinvar Lane and Glenella Street which became the Glenella Street Park bushcare site. For more information phone Anne Jones on 0438 047 910, or check out the group’s Facebook page.

History

Walton Bridge is a popular recreation spot with a history. It has been a meeting place for the local indigenous people and a rest area for bullock teams traveling west. The junction of the two Creeks, Fish and Enoggera, was an important meeting place for Aboriginal people.

In 2003 Robert Whyte, along with Mark Crocker and Anne Jones, decided to do something about the rampant weeds at Walton Bridge Reserve. When they first started you couldn’t get to the creek, there were so many weeds. There was head-high cane grass Pennisetum purpureum at the Rita Huggins’ Memorial. Upstream near the bridge there were masses of elephant’s ears Colocasia esculenta. Then there were vines over everything. Balloon vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum, devil’s fig Solanum chrysotrichum, caster oil plant Ricinis communis, Chinese elm Celtis sinesis, privet Ligustrum sinense, camphor laurel Cinnamomum camphora and ochna Ochna serrulata – Walton Bridge had all the bad weeds.

The group started clearing cane grass along the creek bank, working a few hours every day for four months. Once the weeds were gone, a natural sandy beach reformed. They discovered remnant bush that had never been fully cleared. That meant they could learn more about the local native plants. After six years Walton Bridge was recovering well, but that’s when the drought ended. The area was hit hard by flooding. Up until that point, the group had been planting with no understanding that they needed to be looking at flood maps. It was a tough learning experience. The plants which couldn’t survive flooding were lost. They were replaced with more flood-tolerant species. More than 10,000 plants have been planted at Walton Bridge since 2003.

In 2017, Rob published A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia which included numerous specimens photographed at Walton Bridge.

Walton Bridge and Glenella Street Park timeline

The largest Aboriginal village near Walton Bridge Reserve was between Enoggera Creek and Kedron Brook. The Walton Bridge area was certainly used by Aboriginal people. The granite rock may have a role in their use.

1824 Moreton Bay Penal Settlement established.

1842 Brisbane was opened to free settlers.

1840s The Gap was logged.

1851 Land in The Gap valley became a sheep farm. Later dairying became popular.

1860s Five hectares were set aside for a bridge reserve where a wooden bridge was built to cross Enoggera Creek

1878 Jesse Paten built a house on the site which is now The Gap Village. The house was called Walton after his birthplace in England.

1893 The wooden bridge was washed away by a flood.

1900 Walton Bridge was constructed much higher above previous flood levels. Walton Bridge became a popular picnic area.

1950s Squatters known as the Speedy brothers lived in a rough camp at Lochinvar Lane.

1974 Following the 1974 flood, the Australian Government paid for a program to clear scrub at Walton Bridge.

1994 A memorial to “inspirational” Aboriginal author Rita Huggins was dedicated at Walton Bridge Reserve.

2002 New Walton was built to duplicate the 1900 bridge.

2002 The construction area around the bridge was not remediated. Supported by SOWN’s Pete Dorney Robert Whyte, Mark Crocker and Anne Jones started a bushcare sub-group.

2003 A Green Corp project leader by Melinda Mclean cleared weeds and prepped Zone 1 and Zone 2.

November 2003 Large community event planted 2000 native plants.

2004 The Island (Zone 3) was impassable due to major Ochna infestation. The area also had huge volumes of litter. Mostly glass bottles.

2007 Major planting in Lochinvar Lane attended by Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garratt.

2007 Following the removal of the ochna on The Island, the group decided to start removing ochna along the bank of Fish Creek. Members of BRAIN (Brisbane Rainforest Action and Information Network) Marina Novak and Russell Harisson joined the group.

2010 Three years and one false start, the group broke through to a tiny patch of lawn. This was Glenella Street Park.

2011 Major community event to plant the Glenella Street end (Zone 1).

2021 Celebrated the 10th anniversary of Glenella Street Park bushcare group.

2023 20th anniversary of the Walton Bridge bushcare group.

The Gap rainforest at Walton Bridge Reserve. PHOTO: Anne Jones

 Walton Bridge in 1924 PHOTO: State Library of Queensland

Walton Bridge bushcare working bee in 2019 L-R Anne Jones, Janet Angel, Wayne Briscoe, Mike Holliday and Libby Jones PHOTO: Mark Crocker