In a community-led project, Beaconsfield Reserve is being transformed into a haven for bees, native trees, birds and frogs: a green space for all to enjoy. Maeve Cunnington from Kurilpa Futures tells the story.

At the western rise of Beaconsfield Street in Highgate Hill 4101 the bitumen ends at a vehicle barrier and a lone handsome fig tree. Then it’s a short sharp grassy downhill to the end of Derby Street above the old gully. Houses and a walking path flank the crunchy green-brown rectangle of Beaconsfield Reserve (BR). Until mid-2023 nothing could grow on this rocky mown-over site until a team effort added green life to the denuded hillside. It could perhaps now be called Beaconsfield Park but it’s a place in limbo on official records.

Local residents sought funding from The Gabba Ward in 2022 to plant a community garden and this project merged with a federal grant[i] requested by Community Plus and John Mongard Landscape Architects (JMLA). Once approved it became The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee project. The project’s brief was for planting local and native trees as well as garden beds with shrubs and ground cover under the good green guidance of JMLA. Plaques to acknowledge the grant and the significance of planting choices, a celebratory event including Welcome to Country and invitation of our elected representatives at three government levels would ‘open’ the site when tools were down.

Residents, members of Kurilpa Futures (KF) and Community Plus, John Mongard, our three representatives, Amy MacMahon MP, Cr Trina Massey and Max Chandler-Mather MP, and their staffers, gathered over time at planning meets, took on tasks and then came in fabulous June weather to plant, set up and celebrate on Sunday 25 June 2023. Cliff from KF played music for the work gang.

The big holes had been prepared days beforehand so the plants and plaques could be done and watered, hands scrubbed, and tools downed in time for Aunty Dawn’s Welcome to Country at 11:30 followed by speakers, morning tea and plaque unveiling. It was a terrific day. A frog pond with frog was added, and sometime in the future Gabba Ward team might wrangle a tap there and residents might make use of money offered by a family at the reserve to buy a seat. This is a peaceful place for everyone to sit and play, with sunset views over what remains of the old gully, and soon enough some added shade and beauty and new perches and places for wildlife.

Locals and KF members water the reserve on a weekly roster, Peter (KF), John and locals do weeding and maintenance and Michael does frog care. The plants and trees are doing their best but need a human hand for now. It’s a harsh sloping place but given time and early nurturing the new green growth will be a perfect fit for the spot where once it was the gully’s wooded upper reaches. It will give its benefits many-fold.


[i] A Federal Government Grant of $20,000 was provided for this project as part of the Planting Trees for The Queen’s Jubilee initiative. The Beaconsfield project, was to, “plant native trees, install a commemorative plaque and hold an event in honour of The Queen’s Jubilee. This will beautify the area and support native wildlife.”

All images supplied by Kurilpa Futures

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