Wednesday, June 13, 2012


It took four weeks to get a meeting after three e-mails and a couple of telephone calls, but it did happen. No doubt settling into the challenge of being the Councillor for Division 9 keeps one busy. We met with Councillor Tozer on Tuesday 12th June 2012 at 9:00am. As recorded in our meeting notes below, the Association believes that 'consultation should be transparent, shared and assessed on informed merit, not political convenience.' With this in mind, the agenda / briefing note prepared for this meeting is published here, along with notes of the meeting compiled shortly after the consultation, and the related E-mail communicatio that was forwarded the next day.


 In our e-mail of 11th May 2012, we listed the following schedule of items (in bold) relating to Springbrook, that required discussion. This communication seeks to elaborate a little on these items in order to establish something like an agenda for our meeting on Tuesday at 9:00am, and a briefing note, for your information. The commentary is in italics. There are many items that interlink and overlay each other. The first list sought to identify the scope of concern. Additional dot points expand this list with related issues, for the record. The schedule does not illustrate a hierarchy of significance or relevance. The common thread is that matters always connect with the World Heritage listing that has to remain the core reference for assessing futures on Springbrook.

Matters that are of importance include:
  1. the significance of World Heritage listing for the region - (the primary
    reference for most issues at Springbrook);
    The World Heritage (WH) listing of Springbrook should be the core item in everything to do with the region. Other countries treasure their WH listings and work hard to maintain their essence. As we have seen with the Barrier Reef, WH listings carry obligations as well as benefits. Springbrook is listed because of its unique biodiversity. This is an important matter as it covers such a broad spectrum of interests and impacts and must never be neglected.
·         GCCC Conservation Reserves management
·         Feral animal control
·         Domestic animal regulation
  1. the Springbrook Local Area Plan;
    The LAP needs to reflect the WH listing and respond to its implications rigorously.
·         GCCC public consultation
·         Fudge Shop/Shopping Centre
·         "Naturelink" Cableway terminus site GCCC
  1. the Gold Coast City Council Tourism Visioning Plan for Springbrook –
    (the Spork project is a part of this strategy);
    The Association has its submission on the Visioning Plan on-line: see for all of the details. The Spork property development has been an extremely contentious matter as it has used unreliable data for its rationale and support. There really is no logic in having a new toilet/picnic/bus/car parking area opposite one that is so underused, located on a strip remote from most of the walks and park areas on the mountain.
·         GCCC Visitor Management Plan
·         Springbrook Information Centre GCCC
·         Purlingbrook land: "Texas" bequest to GCCC
·         Foreshadowed Cableway project
  1. the modification of Lyrebird Ridge Road - (including the current
    management plan and the roadside management for Lyrebird Ridge Road);
    Lyrebird Ridge Road is one of the few remaining unique ‘character’ roads on the mountain. Main Roads and Council are slowly but surely ‘upgrading’ the roads at and to Springbrook to make them all the same as any other road in the world. Lyrebird Ridge Road should be managed differently and carefully. See the article in – A Road is not a Road.
·         Repeater Station Road: management
·         Springbrook Road: management
·         60-passenger coach traffic
  1. the development of the Spork property;
    See comments above. This development needs to be stopped and options reviewed.
·         Apple Tree Park - GCCC development
·         Spork GCCC project -associated roadwork
  1. the proposal for signage at Springbrook;
    Springbrook already has far too many signs. There needs to be a considered strategy to start rationalising the signage on the mountain so that the character of the WH place is not turned into an even worse circus of information.
·         Springbrook War Memorial GCCC
·         Springbrook "Street Art" GCCC
  1. roadkill statistics on Springbrook - (large vehicle/bus access and
    general speed limits);
    The roadkill statistics that are recorded are alarming, and these only represent a portion of the kill. The primary factor in roadkill is speed, followed by a lack of interest and care. Speed levels throughout Springbrook need to be lowered, and varied in relation to the specific risk/locale. There also needs to be an awareness programme to stimulate interest and understanding in our native animals – especially in relation to WH matters.

  1. the carrying capacity of Springbrook - (protection of World Heritage
    There is a direct relationship between population and environmental impact. A careful study is needed in order to determine what the carrying capacity of Springbrook is before its WH characteristics (and water supply) are compromised, and action taken appropriately.

  1. Springbrook as the primary source of the Gold Coast water supply;
    It is forgotten that Springbrook is a major part of the water catchment area for the Gold Coast, even though the formally declared water catchment area excludes Springbrook. All matters concerning Springbrook need to recognise this, given the importance that adequate quality water supply is gaining in our world. In parallel with this is the issue of water extraction. This needs careful review as very little is known about the impact of this business. In other countries, such extraction processes have seen streams and rivers dry up for the first time in recorded history. There is local evidence that creek flows are being changed. The original approval required the extraction company to undertake research. This has never been done, but it should be.

  1. the social and environmental significance and history of The Settlement;
The Settlement is the site of the first settlement at Springbrook. It was developed as a tourist park but failed. A golf course proposal was formulated and challenged in court, but later ‘fell over.’ The Settlement was purchased by the government and made National Park. It was an important buyback as it links significant portions of the existing National Park, helping to establish a more cohesive whole out of this very fragmented area. Arguments for any re-instatement of ‘community/public’ sports facility of portion of this land have no historical basis. It has never been so. The integrity of the National Park should be maintained.

NOTE: The references to relates to the Association’s blog. The Association published a newsletter for many years as the Springbrook Local. The blog is an electronic version of this and is being added to continually. The easiest way to access this is to click the link or to ‘google’ springbrooklocale  Old copies of the Local are being scanned onto this site to give public access to this archive.

Spence Jamieson

9 JUNE 2012


The first E-mail emphasised the importance of knowing the history of Springbrook. The following synopsis outlines the sequence of events around the proposed golf course development that was planned for The Settlement property. This was a critical event for the mountain, but is only one small portion of the whole story that needs to be understood in context if the WH region of Springbrook is going to be properly and effectively managed.

  • Originally a dairy farm/rural property – sold to developer 1978;
  • ‘Historical Village’ tourist development;
  • Cricket pitch developed as added attraction to historical village complex - very few matches were ever played;
  • Village failed as attraction and buildings deteriorated;
  • Property sold to developer 1989 - there was no community objection to this sale or to the loss of the cricket pitch: it was clearly known and accepted that this site was never public property;
  • Developer applied for 18-hole golf course - Albert Shire approved golf course;
  • SWPAI challenged approval in the Environment Court 1989 - 90 - appeal lost, the developer failed financially and left country;
  • SWPAI convinced State Government to purchase property to add to National Park area;
  • Some locals and government bureaucrats attempted to have property designated a ‘Recreation Facility’ under Regional Open Space - after a 5-year delay, the property was gazetted as National Park;
  • Government conceded oval area to be used for public recreation – this is rarely used.

It was publicly revealed after Albert Shire Council (now GCCC) approval, that in addition to 18-hole golf course, practice fairways, restaurant, shops, clubhouse, swimming pool facility, and night driving ranges, it was the developer’s intention to apply for further approvals for 640 condominiums, an international hotel complex, a health resort, and heliport. The developer denied that this was planned prior to approval being granted.

Springbrook has a history of inappropriate developments being proposed, and frequently approved, in spite of objections and their quality. There are many of these approvals that have never been acted upon. They are often seen as a way of adding value to a property or to prop up a failing business that is then put up for sale - as a way of getting out of Springbrook - even though the argument for development is always based on ‘the good of Springbrook,’ ‘what Springbrook needs,’ when it is frequently what the seller/developer needs to make money. It is for this reason that all developments require careful review and rigorous assessment. WH values must remain the primary reference for everything on Springbrook.


Cr. Tozer,
Thanks for the chance to meet with you this morning. It was a welcome change for both of us.
We have attached an electronic copy of the document handed to you, for your convenience. This expands the list of items originally scheduled in our first communication to become somewhat like a checklist.
Today’s meeting was a time to get to know each other, as well as an occasion to raise some general matters of concern, and to get an understanding of your proposals and strategies for managing this important part of Queensland.

You sought to find out from us what our vision for Springbrook might be.
 We noted that in order to give a specific, comprehensive response to this matter, an informed understanding of all of the issues in general and in detail is required. We explained that our emphasis would always be the World Heritage (WH) listing of Springbrook and its implications. We noted that it was critical to know that this WH listing is for the preservation of the unique biodiversity of the region, not for any picturesque reason that might appear attractive to tourists. This needs to be understood beyond the naming of it, as it has deep and meaningful repercussions. ‘World Heritage values’ very easily becomes a pointless, cliché phrase like ‘eco-whatever’ because of its careless over-use. An awareness of its quality and depth has to become part of one’s sensibilities if its’ true value is to be appreciated and its integrity preserved. We noted that this awareness should be passed on to visitors/tourists.

In much the same manner, that special quality of Springbrook has to be felt if it is to be maintained. An aesthetic/emotional quality is involved here along with a determined commitment - one that can see, for example, how completely inappropriate the new concrete stairs and pavement at the Best of All parking lot are – (let alone the process by which these were achieved). One could cite many more examples. This matter is not really a difference of opinion that has to be endured. This perception - that these matters are merely personal whims - only perpetuates the disagreements.

Working with WH as a core reference/guide does mean that certain activities and developments should never occur on Springbrook. It does also mean that the impact of population and visitation numbers needs to be understood, and that these may have to be limited in order to maintain the WH listing.

We quickly went through the numbered items on our agenda/briefing paper and itemised our response to each matter as a broad guide to indicate to you how we might approach matters at Springbrook.
For the record these responses are scheduled here:
  1. the significance of World Heritage listing for the region - (the primary
    reference for most issues at Springbrook);
This must be the core reference for all decisions on Springbrook.
  1. the Springbrook Local Area Plan;
    A new LAP needs to be formulated to replace the existing one that has been assembled from the old ASC Development Control Plan and modified repeatedly without any public consultation. The basis must be the maintenance of the integrity of the WH values.
  2. the Gold Coast City Council Tourism Visioning Plan for Springbrook –
    (the Spork project is a part of this strategy);
The Association’s submission is on-line. Tourism is not the reason for WH listing.
  1. the modification of Lyrebird Ridge Road - (including the current
    management plan and the roadside management for Lyrebird Ridge Road);
    All roads at Springbrook need to be carefully maintained to relate to their unique context rather than being upgraded to ‘world-class’ or GCCC suburban standards.
  2. the development of the Spork property;
    This proposal needs to be scrapped as there is an existing under-used facility opposite. The Association agrees with you that as a general principle, tourist ‘attractions’ should provide adequate facilities for their visitors.
  3. the proposal for signage at Springbrook;
    There is too much ill-considered signage on Springbrook, with approximately 100 signs just between Wunburra and the Fudge Shop. Signage needs careful culling and should reflect WH qualities. The WH listing of Springbrook needs to be accurately explained and subtly emphasised.
  4. roadkill statistics on Springbrook - (large vehicle/bus access and
    general speed limits);
Speed limits need to be reduced generally and specifically for various contexts. The principle should be that vehicle speeds should be modified instead of allowing for any typical standard limits to apply. Springbrook is not ‘elsewhere.’ Neither GCCC, nor DMR, nor NP keep statistics on roadkill. SWPAI submitted records from Wildcare to the State Government last year indicating that in excess of 400 fauna deaths/injuries occurred on Springbrook in the previous 14 months. These were only the incidents voluntarily reported to Wildcare. Most kills/injuries go unreported.
  1. the carrying capacity of Springbrook - (protection of World Heritage
Making decisions without knowing the impacts of population/visitation numbers can only give uninformed outcomes, like those that neglect WH values.
  1. Springbrook as the primary source of the Gold Coast water supply;
The rigorous restrictions that apply to developments in water catchment areas should logically be applied to Springbrook. Springbrook plays a major role in the catchment of Gold Coast City water with all runoff entering either Hinze Dam or Little Nerang Dam.
  1. the social and environmental significance and history of The Settlement;
The general history of matters on Springbrook is critical to any real understanding of attitudes and opinions.

Honing in on particular details of ‘solutions’ or ‘visions’ is not useful at this stage as it distracts from the general thrust of the intent. These can all be identified and debated once the general principle for a management strategy has been established.

You noted that your first thirty days will be dedicated to ‘fact–finding.’ This is the same position that we hold. Decisions on Springbrook need to be based on facts: objective facts. There is a diversity of opinion on many matters at Springbrook. This makes the collecting of ‘visions’ problematical if these are to become the basis of choice for future outcomes. We acknowledge that there is no easy answer, because the quality of the facts/research then becomes the point to be challenged; but this is always more transparent than personal ambitions are.

As was noted at the meeting, the danger with ‘opinion’ or ‘personal visions’ is that a commitment by GCCC to WH values may mean sacrifices that some people may not be willing to entertain for various reasons. WH values are not negotiable. Compromise can only put the WH listing at risk. If GCCC has no commitment to, or statutory provisions to ensure WH protection, then the WH listing becomes something of a cynical charade used only to attract tourists.

On your desire for tourists to spend more – up from $6.00 to $12.00 per head – the history of businesses on the mountain needs to be understood, as the general history does too. There have been ‘quality’ businesses started at Springbrook, but the circumstance of the region is that visitations are irregular and unpredictable. This means that good starts with exciting futures get progressively watered down - sometimes literally with soup – generating a souring of the reputation that means even fewer visitations, that then continue to decline further as the efforts to improve profitability by trimming are repeated, until the business either closes, gets leased to another punter for a re-start, or is sold on if a buyer can be found willing to pay the price being asked. We have no solution to offer for this circumstance. We just wish to note it. It does appear to mean that Springbrook requires a special type of business model if a business is to succeed. Paying careful attention to WH values in all impacts would only seem to offer a significant advantage for any business. Indeed, this could be said of everything on Springbrook.

It has been recorded that a ‘lack of public consultation’ was one of the matters that prompted your decision to stand for office. It is refreshing to have some consultation after being starved of it for so long. Consultation should be transparent, shared and assessed on informed merit, not political convenience.

We look forward to maintaining contact with you so that discussions can continue in the hope that outcomes for WH Springbrook can be improved.

Spence Jamieson
Ken O’Shea

 12 June 2012

On item 7 - Roadkill at Springbrook, Councillor Tozer expressed doubt aobut the possibility of being able to set a 20kph speed limit - a speed that was mentioned as a general example in our discussions. He asked for proof that such a speed limit could be implemented. The following E-mail was sent the day after the meeting.

Cr. Tozer,

Following our discussion on speed limits at Springbrook at our meeting yesterday, you asked me to indicate to you where a speed limit of 20kph was in place.

Rather than drive around searching one out, I have looked up the Internet. The paragraph below has been taken from an ARRB Transport Research report on road speed limits.

I think it makes my point very clear.

It really comes down to having a concern for wildlife and the political will to act.

Spence Jamieson

Speed zones are speed limits based on engineering assessments of road, traffic and land-use characteristics. They are established for particular lengths of road, particular defined areas and/or for particular times of day for which the prevailing general limit is not appropriate. Speed zones of 10km/h, 20km/h, 30km/h, 40km/h, 50km/h, 60km/h, 70km/h, 80km/h, 90km/h, 100km/h, 110km/h are in use in Australia.

Research Report. ARR 298. Higher open road speed limit: an objective assessment. Deborah Donald. Peter Cairney. ARRB Transport. Research Ltd., p.4.

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