Those of you familiar with my work will be used to seeing images from Beachmere, a place that used to be (and still is) one of my favourite sites for image-making. The iconic mangroves, the huge tidal flats when the tide is low, the stars over the still waters of Moreton Bay, all combine to make Beachmere one of the best places to wander around and feel connected to the natural world. Being so close to the Brisbane metropolitan area makes this extra special.

Recently, after a long hiatus, I returned there, and was disturbed to find that the old Mangroves, including the one from the below picture, have all been bulldozed down and piled up on the shoreline. Two large canals have been dug, in what appears to be an attempt to drain the lagoon there. Large, concrete pedestrian bridges have been constructed over both of these canals.

This is gentrification of the wilderness, and it rarely works – paving the way for more development as baselines shift. There used to be a metal sign at the entry to this Southern Beachmere Reserve, stating that it was a protected area. That sign is now gone.

My sceptics brain told me that the lagoon was being drained to make way for housing development. Why else spend money on bridges over canals that were not there before? But I didn’t really know. So I looked up the planning permissions at the Moreton Bay Council. This is what I found:

According to the planning document, there has been significant die-back of the mangroves there. The drainage from the lagoon was done to address this problem. Why? The mangrove die-back occurred outside the lagoon, on the tidal flat, so I cannot see an immediate reason for adding this. If nothing else, it will add to the sedimentation running out onto those flats, so again I’m not sure what the effect of this will be.

The bulldozing of the leafless trees is sad – their trunks will now not fall where they were meant to fall, perpetuating the cycle of life which is so crucial to mangrove systems, and they have destroyed what was essentially a forest of monuments. I fail to understand what this has done to benefit the existing mangroves, the tidal flats in general, or the lagoon, and I suspect it has been done with a view to future development there. I will contact the Moreton Bay Council and ask them, but will not do so with the expectation of an honest answer.

Meanwhile, in celebration of what once was, I leave you with this compendium of Beachmere images.