Snap Send Solve – “attention LVRC I’ve seen a problem”

I wonder how many people in the Lockyer Valley Regional Council area (where we live in the western part of South East Queensland) are aware that the Council accepts notification of issues on the Snap Send Solve app.


I’d never heard of this app until an audience member at a recent presentation by Cr Jim McDonald on the Council’s environmental policies and programs asked whether the Council used it.  They do.

Have a look on the Council website: and at the SnapSendSolve website.

The app works on iPhones and Android phones and is available free from the Apple App Store and for Google Play.

Send us a comment on your experience with it and how the Council responds.  And please share this post with other residents in the Valley.  Since the last elections we have a much more responsive Council and it’s important to maximise the opportunities for better government that this presents by increasing our communications with them.

If you don’t live in the Lockyer Valley, this app is widely used in Australia.  Their website claims over 600 “authorities” here and in New Zealand use it and that they have more than 60,000 users.

Nice try. More work needed – and in another location, without all the people living nearby

The proposed motocross development at Adare could possibly, with a lot more work on the concept and the details, be a good idea.  But not at Adare.

It’s just  in the wrong location, even if judged only on the number of people impacted.

The Qld Moto Park at Wyaralong, on the other hand, is an example of a properly located motocross facility – there are only about 120 people living within 4km.  At the Adare site, here are 900 people living within 4km of the proposed motocross property, including a lot of young people who don’t need their nights and weekends blighted by motocross and traffic noise.

demographic table QMP vs Adare[1] Compiled using the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census Data for the localities closest in proximity to the proposed development.  Where census data is not available at the necessary scale for a locality, extrapolations have been made from an adjacent locality close to the proposed development.
[2] Note: 0-19 years includes those aged 0-14 years.[3] Sources: and Google Earth imagery and overlays to locate houses and properties within specified radii of the properties.


The $4 million QMP (Queensland Moto Park) facility between Beaudesert and Boonah was developed through the efforts of the SEQ Council of Mayors, the SEQ Councils, and the State Government.

The LVRC Mayor, Steve Jones,  as the Chair of the SEQ Council of Mayors Trail Bike Task Force, played a significant part over a number of years in the development of the project.  The QMP Wyaralong facility is a well-planned site following strict design and operating criteria.

Clearly, even judging only by the number of dwellings and residents adjacent to the site, the location of the proposed Adare development has not been well planned.

MX tracks and their poor relationships with neighbours and local government

The quote below is from the introduction to a review of the relationships between motocross tracks and their neighbours and local government agencies.  The quote below is from the introduction to reviews of the histories of eight existing or proposed motocross tracks in America.

At the Oct 21 Conditional Use Hearing regarding the Thomas Conditional Use proposal for motocross/camping in rural Clackamas County, testimony was given in support of the proposal based on claims that motocross was “family friendly”. A man stated that Washougal MX had expensive homes in the vicinity of the MX tracks and that local residents and the commercial MX business had happy relationships.

Extensive research into the functioning and relationships multiple MX facilities, whether permitted or unpermitted, have with their neighbors and with their County planning departments proves conclusively that it is totally false to claim motocross events can happily co-exist with residential areas.

Every case I researched, including Washougal MX, proved that  residents within earshot of MX tracks are miserable and that they consider motocross a serious nuisance which steals their quality of life and degrades and pollutes land. Counties have extra work loads to enforce MX code infractions and have ongoing struggles related to traffic, crowd control, noise, and regulating environmental damage. Local police and emergency services are impacted as well.


Any claims that the proposed Adare motocross track will be family oriented don’t take into account the impacts on families among the 900+ people living in the vicinity of the track.

Emergency Services

It’s worth noting the mention of impacts on police and emergency services as well.  That has also been the experience with the Black Duck Valley and the Wyaralong tracks in Southeast Queensland.

Noise as an Amenity Impact

There’s a nice quote from a county examiner (sort of like our LVRC Assessment Manager) in relation to noise [LVRC please note]:

pg. 24 item h. iii: “Even when the noise does not drown out conversation or disturb people sleeping or exceed 57 dbA, it increases the noise levels frequently enough and in amounts and for a duration that is enough to detract from the character of the area as rural residential. The examiner finds that such an impact is significantly detrimental to people nearest the site.”

Noise issues are NOT just about loudness as measured in decibels!  They are about loss of rural/natural amenity, and about stress and anxiety caused by ongoing, long-term exposure to noise which is not part of the local environment.

Loudness Requirements Can Stop Motocross

But, in terms of loudness of MX noise, the article quotes a complaint that: … imposed sound limitations that are so restrictive they effectively deny the permit application.”

As if the fact that MX operations can’t comply with mandated noise limits is somehow the fault of the legislators, or is a direct attack on MX as a business, instead of being a standard of what is reasonable noise in a particular environment.

Emu Creek track in the Tenterfield Council area is one example.  After a lot of time, court cases and expense the Tenterfield Council imposed noise and operating time limits on the motocross activities at Emu Creek, which they claim they could not meet from a business point of view.  They are still in business and seem to have moved to mountain bike and Bicycle MX activities to replace the motocross element of their custom.

It’s also worth noting that in the case of the Emu Creek motocross, Tenterfield Council monitored maximum noise levels [L(A)max], rather than averaged noise levels over a (usually long) period [L(A)eq], because they said it was more objective when long-term, long period noise was considered.  The Adare proponent’s Noise Study uses averaged noise levels, which always appear more favourable to the proponent’s case.

Costs to Council for Ongoing Compliance Action

The case studies refer to costs to all parties for the application (including appeals) procedures and for ongoing compliance.  In our own area, the Emu Creek case mentioned above is said to have cost the Tenterfield Council in excess of $66,000 for compliance monitoring and court costs before it stopped the noise nuisance.

Life throws some strange curve balls at times

Since 7 December last year our lives have been totally dominated by the prospect of a motocross track being built just 2.7km from our house – and even closer than that to the houses of others in the Vinegar Hill-Adare community here in the Lockyer Valley.

We’ve been told that there were 234 submissions lodged with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council in relation to the proposal.  232 of them were against the establishment of a motocross track in the area.  That’s a fantastic achievement for a community that had only 15 business days to respond to the advertising of the proposal.

I’ve been trying to find time to get back to this blog and to posting about our doings on the land here, but it just doesn’t happen.  Today I’ve come to the realisation that this blog is about sustainability, mainly in the Lockyer Valley, but really what happens here is a microcosm of what happens everywhere in the developed world in terms of ultimate sustainability of lifestyle, community, the environment, and indeed the future of humanity.  How we, including our local and state governments, respond to totally wrong-headed proposals like this motocross track is all about whether our society, locally or globally, will be sustainable.

Is the community going to be trashed for the sake of a minority (almost all from outside the area) who want to get their thrills by driving powerful, noisy and dangerous machines around and around on a circuit?  Is the environment going to be trashed for the same purpose?

Is the community going to be trashed because some profit-oriented developer thinks he has the right to change the nature of the area and introduce a totally incompatible activity into our rural landscape?

Is a pristine creek (Redbank Creek, which has all of its catchment above the motocross property in National Park) and its surroundings going to be allowed to be trashed?

Are we going to allow a significant koala population to be degraded by noise impacts from the track and road-kills from the massive increase in traffic on the country road leading to the proposed motocross site?

Are we going to allow the bird population and its significant species to be similarly trashed?

If we do then that’s not sustainability.  And sustainability is what this blog is supposed to be about.  So I ask you to follow us and our community on this journey, and be understanding if there are few posts on this site for at least the next couple of months about sustainable food production.

Thanks. It will be an interesting ride.


2_Google Earth screen shot_SMALL_with distances to dwellings etc

Distances from the motocross property to selected dwellings in the area

Sorry for the lack of posts for the last month.  On December 7th we got a call from a friend in our area who had just found out that there had been an application to establish a motocross park about 2.7km (about 2 miles) from us.

It had actually been advertised by public notice in our local paper, a week or so before, but no one we know had seen it.  As a result, we had only 11 days to lodge objections to the planning department of our local government (Lockyer Valley Regional Council).

From that point on everything else in our lives was put on hold.  For about a week we got by on around four hours’ sleep per night, and in the last month we’ve only completely stopped working on this on Christmas day.

A fantastic group of people from the area and wider came together to oppose the motocross track in our area.  If you ever want to create community quickly, drop something like this on a neighbourhood.  We now have a much wider circle of friends and a community group that is actively fighting this proposal and has already started on longer term projects like a neighbourhood Koala monitoring program.

The period for public comment closed on December 18th.  We don’t know the total number of objections that were lodged, but we know of at least 200 that were delivered to the Council offices.  An amazing effort to galavnize that much support in 11 days.

We calculated that there are more than 900 people living within 4km of the motocross property, so that’s a lot of people to be affected by the noise and other impacts.

As you can see from the above map, this is a rural area, where zoning is largely Rural Uplands, Rural Agricultural, Rural General or Rural Residential.  Not the sort of place where you’d put a noisy motocross development with high traffice levels (up to 150 vehicles/hour) on narrow rural roads.

Our community has established a website and an online petition.  Please, have a look at the website and sign the petition (you can also link to it from the website), and leave a comment about motocross noise on the petition, particularly if you’ve ever been exposed to it.

Coal Seam Gas and the Gatton Star Poll on Mining in the LVR

LVR Mining Poll in Gatton Star - results 13 NovWOW!  This is the score at 9.30pm on 13 November.  Three days ago, when I wrote the last post and pointed readers to the poll the ‘No’ vote was 84%.  Well done people.

If you know of anyone who might not have voted on this, please ask them to use this link to register their opposition to coal seam gas exploration or extraction in the Lockyer Valley Region:

Let’s keep these destructive activities out of the Lockyer Valley Region – not just the productive farmland in the valley bottoms, but the ridges and forested areas as well.  This industry is far too impacting to be allowed anywhere near our farms, homes, schools, businesses, or natural environment areas.

You can check on the latest poll figures here:

Tips on bushfire preparedness

There’s a new post at the Helidon Hills Smokespotters website summarising some tips coming out of newly published research from some major wildfires in the western United States and from Ignite Change, a relatively new Australian blog on bushfire awareness.

If you are living in Australia with any kind of bushfire threat, this would be a really good time to start updating and upgrading your bushfire protection, and the links above might just give you some ideas that will increase your property’s survivability.

Other relevant posts:

Fire Danger & Weather Conditions:      My other blog is the website for the Helidon Hills Smokespotters, an informal community group with members located at over 20 locations around the Helidon Hills in the Lockyer Valley.  You can find out about the Smokespotter group here.  The group’s motto is: when it comes to bushfires, we are all neighbours.  Though the group […]

The Fire Danger and Weather Conditions Tab above

Living with and understanding fire risk     Those of us who live on rural properties face varying degrees of fire risk.  Most of us are aware of the risk in a general sort of way, and many of us take active precautions to reduce the risk to some extent.  Few of us, however, think about how the reasons for living where we […]
An unexpected bushfire      The weather last Friday morning was quite unusual.  In fact I was commenting on it at the time in a blog post I was writing over at the Helidon Hills Smokespotters web site.  The general feel of the morning said “Fire Danger”, even though the actual Forest Fire Danger Rating was only High (we have […]

Bioregionalism – and a taste of Italy

A rather bland definition of bioregionalism is “the belief that social organization and environmental policies should be based on the bioregion rather than on a region determined by political or economic boundaries.”

Others would describe it more practically as “a fancy name for living a rooted life. Sometimes called “living in place,” bioregionalism means you are aware of the ecology, economy and culture of the place where you live, and are committed to making choices that enhance them.”

It’s a concept I have been vaguely aware of without really thinking about it, even though it clearly links to my recognition of “connectedness with place” as a significant factor in the mental health of many people, including (but definitely not restricted to) the original Australians and families living for many generations in the one location.  I’m sure many of us in the Lockyer can recognise this.

Now a friend has brought the latest edition of the journal PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature to my attention, for its focus on fungi, and it happened also to contain a report on the Italian bioregional movement.  I can’t think of a better way to “get” the concept of bioregionalism than to read this delightful report – and at the same time to soak up the mood of Italian enjoyment of life and place.  Enjoy.

Preserving Food – and how to avoid botulism

Preserving excess food is one of the cornerstones of a sustainable lifestyle.  I used to do a lot of preserving of stone fruit when I lived in country Victoria, but those days are gone, along with the antique Fowlers preserving set.

Now that we are trying to establish a permaculture lifestyle I think the time has come to get back to preserving food, not least so we have a more varied back-up larder to increase our food independence.

There was a good blog post by Farmer Liz over at Eight Acres the other day, with consideration of the pros and cons of preserving fruit, vegetables, and meat.  Farmer Liz concluded that with our climate (Southeast Queensland) allowing us to produce vegetables pretty much all year round, there’s no reason to preserve vegetables.

Meat isn’t usually preserved (canned) in Australia, possibly because it’s always available (if you are getting yours from the butcher or supermarket) and can always be dried or smoked.  Personally I’d rather store my meat by keeping it on the hoof (or claw) till it’s needed.  If we buy meat in bulk we tend to freeze it, and when we finally get some chooks, if we ever have to kill more than one then they’ll go in the freezer too.

Speaking of meat, we just bought a quarter of a Low-line Angus and it’s in the freezer now, all bagged up in daily serves.  We have friends who raise this breed of beef cattle in an ecologically sustainable (pasture fed on cell grazing) and humane way, and market them by the quarter.  Not that you have to buy a front quarter or a back quarter, but you get a quarter of all the cuts from the animal.  It’s a nice feeling to know where our meat comes from and how it was raised, even to the point of having seen the paddocks that it grazed.  The fact that we are supporting friends who are members of our community is an additional consideration.  More and more farmers seem to be changing over to specialty marketing of sustainably produced bulk meat.

Aren’t we worried about blackouts and losing all the food in the freezer?  Not while we are off the grid and on solar power – and own a generator that can take over from the solar batteries if the need ever arises (it hasn’t).

When the floods hit in 2011 (remember the disastrous Grantham/Toowoomba floods in the early part of that year) we were cut off for days, and when we eventually got out to the supermarket pretty much all the shelves were bare.  All of the people on the electricity grid had experienced days of no power, but our solar power kept right on going.  We didn’t even have to run the generator to top up the batteries (I thought about doing it, just to be on the safe side, but a mouse had made its home in the alternator and it and the wiring got fried when I turned the generator on).  Anyway, we had a quarter of a cow in the freezer and about three-months’ supply of non-perishables in the pantry, so being cut off wasn’t a problem.

The subject of preserving meat always starts a discussion on botulism.  Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can occur in the soil, the bottoms of waterways, or in the intestines of mammals such as humans, cattle and horses.  The spores are not killed by boiling.  However botulism is uncommon because special, rarely obtained conditions are necessary for botulinum toxin production from C. botulinum spores, including an anaerobic, low-salt, low- acid, low-sugar environment at ambient temperatures – the kind of habitat you might find in a container of badly preserved meat, for instance.

While I was thinking about preserving, Northwest Edible Life (another of my regular reads) came out with a post on “How Not to Die from Botulism”.  It’s a must-read if you are doing any preserving, and is useful generally if you are regularly preparing or storing food.  You can find the blog here  and you can download a full-size pdf file of the poster below here.

Avoiding botulism

Producing the staples

What do you eat?  I don’t mean a literal list of all the different varieties of plant and meat that you consume, but rather the main elements of your diet – the staples, as they are traditionally known.  These are food “eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet” (Wikipedia).

Here on Black Cockatoo Ridge we can divide our main food items into six groups, not all which are staples in the normal sense, but we eat them at least every week, if not daily.  In rough order of volume consumed they are:

  • starchy roots (potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin – I know it’s not a starchy root, but we often use it as a substitute);
  • grains/seeds (rice, beans, gluten free grains/seeds used as flour or in muesli – corn, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chickpeas);
  • fruit (bananas, apples, melons, pawpaw, avocado);
  • meat (kangaroo, or when we can get a bulk order from a sustainably and humanely raised and slaughtered animal, beef, fish);
  • dairy products (milk and yoghurt);
  • leafy greens (pak choi, lettuce, broccoli); and
  • onion family (onions, garlic, spring onions).

Which of these do we produce ourselves?  Potatoes – very infrequently.  Sweet potatoes – just started harvesting our first (poor) crop.  Pumpkin – seasonal, and depends on whether the bandicoots and possums get to them first. Beans – seasonal, and I’m bad at succession planting, so the supply is intermittent. Pawpaw – we have one amazing tree that has kept us in pawpaws for the last few years. Garlic – seasonal, and not enough to last more than a few months.  Spring onions – constant supply using cut-and-come-again approach.  Pak choi – more or less continuous supply. Lettuce – very occasionally, due to pests and poor succession planting.

Given that our objective is to be as self-sufficient as possible, this is a pretty poor showing.  Not that this is by any means all we grow – the total list would probably be more than 30 species – but most could not form staple elements of our diet.  If we suddenly had to rely on our own production for our food supply we would probably be starving within a six months.  Even lasting that long would be mostly because we have a policy of keeping up to three months’ food supply on hand and this could be eked out with production from the garden.  That would give us a bit of a buffer during which we could try to ramp up our production of staples.  However given the work involved in bringing new garden areas into production and the need to find seed/breeding stock during a period when lots of other people were doing the same, it would be at best a precarious situation to be in.

How would you go if you suddenly found the supermarket shelves empty and unlikely to be re-supplied for an unknown period?

You don’t think that is a likely situation?  Supermarkets rely on a just-enough and just-in-time inventory system.  They generally have a 3-5 day stock of items on hand, and if there is an emergency situation the shelves will be cleared out of staples quicker than that.  If supplies cannot get through (roads blocked, fuel unavailable, civil unrest making roads untrafficable), then you could find yourself reliant on your own food stocks/production very suddenly and for a prolonged period.  Those of us who experienced the Lockyer Valley floods in 2011 will know what this feels like.

But for most of us, being self-sufficient in food isn’t mainly about emergency situations; it’s about having a supply of unadulterated food with a known history – e.g. no harmful chemicals, no exploitative or inhumane practices involved in its production, low food-miles to limit green-house gas emissions.

How does your garden stack up in terms of producing your staple foods, and how do you think you could improve the situation?