Close to the heart of Brisbane City, the Brisbane Quaker Arboretum in Hampson Street, Kelvin Grove is a surprising .5 ha of rainforest, rare and endangered species in the heart of surrounding urban blocks of lawn and shrubs.
The backbone of this hidden inner-city landscape are the 100 grand 80-year-old hoop pines emerging from the native woodland that surrounds the purpose-build 45-year-old Quaker Meeting House.
This year, the Brisbane Quaker Arboretum will be open to the public on the weekend of 21-22 November as part of the Open Gardens Scheme.
Careful husbandry of existing native forest plus close to two decades of dedicated bush regeneration and revegetation has developed the Arboretum as a haven for native flora and fauna that might otherwise be unknown in Brisbane's dense inner city development.
The first step for the Quaker volunteers who began work on the Arboretum in the early 1990s was to remove weed species. Gradually, they removed camphor laurels and Chinese elms, ochna, Madeira vine and cat’s claw and replanted with a number of rare and endangered species that can be viewed via walking paths. The paths are supported by dry walling painstakingly brought in by wheelbarrow.
The fragrant Backhousia citriodora is a living memorial to the work of 19th century Quaker naturalist James Backhouse, who recorded and sketched native species as he travelled through eastern and southern Australia preparing a report to the British government on the treatment of convicts and the Indigenous peoples.
Visitors during the Open Gardens weekend may take hourly guided forest tours, or undertake self-guided walks at any time. Brochures are available for specialist plants and Indigenous uses.
Other activities on site include a self-directed kids’ forest treasure hunt, solar power demonstrations and talks, stalls run by the Society for Growing Australian plants, sustainability and solar power information, and a Quaker book and plant stall.
Food includes morning and afternoon teas and lunch including lemon and anise myrtle bush teas, or lemon myrtle rice pudding.
The Open Gardens weekend will also see the launch of the Meeting House’s solar grid, a 3KW system to supply about 60 per cent of the overall use for the two buildings on site. Brisbane Meeting House is the third Meeting House in Australia to ‘go solar’, part of a Quaker commitment to walk lightly on the Earth.
Quakers share a way of life, not a set of beliefs. The first Quaker, George Fox (1624-1691) preached in the open air in English towns and countryside. Fox believed there was no need for ‘steeple houses’ or paid clergy, as each person could find ‘that of God within’ wherever they may be.
Quakers seek to live lives of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equity. In 2008, Australian Quakers agreed on an Earthcare statement that concludes: ‘We commit to the demanding, costly implications of radically changed ways of living. Let us do so out of joy, celebration, reverence and a deep love of life’.
There is no need to book for the Open Gardens weekend, simply turn up at 10 Hampson Street, Kelvin Grove between 10 am and 4.30 pm.
• For further information about the Brisbane Meeting House see http://www.bqmh.org.au