Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
Islands, stated: 'I intend to plant fruit trees on Brampton and Goldsmith if the
ground is suitable', and in 1935, National Parks Ranger McKeown reported that
pawpaws and coconuts had been cultivated at Stephens Island . 38 Birtles (1935,
pp182-3), describing Snapper Island, referred to a plantation on the island
containing turnips, pawpaws and sweet potatoe s. 39
One banana plantation, at Henning Island in the Whitsunday Group, had
a significant impact on the landscape of that island, as National Parks Ranger
McKeown indicated. Prior to 1934, Henning Island had been a 'mostly jungle-
covered island', but the Licensee of the Island, Dr J. Macdonald, cleared 5 acres of
the rainforest on the western slopes, facing the Whitsunday Passage, and established
a banana plantation there. By 1936, the bananas were in 'a very dirty and neglected
state', and the report stated that the clearing 'has to a large extent spoilt the scenic
value of this beautiful island'. By 1938, the banana plants were still in existence
at Henning Island, and McKeown suggested that borers had been found at the
plantation; consequently, in 1938, the eradication of banana plants on the island
commence d. 40 A later investigation of Henning Island, in 1961, after the island was
gazetted as a National Park, found that the area that had previously been used for
the banana plantation had not yet recovered from that disturbance . 41
One of the exotic plants introduced to islands that became a particular source
of concern was Lantana spp. , which by 1935 was established at Brampton Island.
A. Busuttin, the Lessee of that island, reported:
There is a considerable quantity of Lantana scattered over the island in
places here and there, which appears to have gone beyond the stage where it
can be economically cleared by manual labour . 42
Between 1938 and 1940, Lantana was found on several other islands in the
Whitsunday Group: Lindeman, Haslewood, Henning and South Molle Islands.
At Haslewood Island, the Lantana infestation was reported to be 'very heavy over
a large area in the vicinity of that once covered by improvements', while at South
Molle Island 'a good deal of scattered Lantana ' was found . 43
During the 1940s, other exotic species were introduced to islands of the Great
Barrier Reef. One invasive species was the prickly pear ( Opuntia spp. ), which was
found at Hinchinbrook Island in 1941 and 1946, and also at Masthead Island.
In 1947, the cultivation of pine and coconut trees in Mausoleum and Acacia
National Parks by the Lessee of Mausoleum Island was referred to the Queensland
Sub-Department of Forestry in an attempt to restrict the spread of pests to island
habitats (Flood, 1977, p3) . 44 However, island residents required a source of food
and some of the land found on islands was suitable for cultivation; at Magnetic
Island in 1950, for example, National Parks Ranger McKeown stated:
Good sized areas of flat cultivable land run back from several of the largest
bays. These areas have been alienated, and are under cultivation, producing
pineapples, mangoes and other tropical fruits . 45
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