Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has watched the wetlands dry back up and the birdlife slowly leave from the birdhide. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has watched the wetlands dry back up and the birdlife slowly leave from the birdhide. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

Artist’s reflections on wetlands slowly drying up

AN ARTIST'S eye notices the small changes of ever-changing landscapes like the Wooroolin Wetlands.

Wooroolin resident Diana Bolton has captured the vast birdlife and landscape changes she has seen in her watercolour, acrylic, oil and pastel art works.

Irony has it that the wetlands, located 16 kilometres outside of Kingaroy, have been mostly dry for decades.

"Wooroolin is a sort of a hub that's ever changing," she said.

Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has documented the changes from green, flooded wetlands to the drier landscape. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has documented the changes from green, flooded wetlands to the drier landscape. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

Mrs Bolton remembers when the wetland burst its banks for the first time in recorded history during the successive floods in 2011 and 2013.

"Water rushed through here to the back steps and went over the road, we had to dig a trench to drain the water," she said.

Ducks swam near the grapevines while silver perch swam in the floodwater alongside the roads.

"We had to paddle over the water, it was a big thing for us when it did flood," Mrs Bolton said.

Wooroolin resident Diana Bolton has watched the wetlands dry back up after the floods. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
Wooroolin resident Diana Bolton has watched the wetlands dry back up after the floods. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

The keen painter has documented the wetlands at the beginning, the height and after the floods in her artworks.

"Now the wetlands are very dry," she said.

Mrs Bolton, like many birdwatchers, took a special interest in the different species of birds found in the 209ha fauna sanctuary.

"I've seen swans, pelicans, herons, owls, water birds and magpie geese," she said.

Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has painted the birdlife near her home. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
Wooroolin artist Diana Bolton has painted the birdlife near her home. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

Just as the floods have ebbed and flowed through the wetlands, the species of birds has also vastly changed.

"Birdwatchers had come from all around the world when the water was there," Mrs Bolton said.

The artist noticed many birds left the area as the flooded banks receded slowly.

Kookaburras were one of the few species to stay.

"The swamp hens, they still live around the swamp near the little waterholes," she said.

She has featured her artworks in local gallery exhibitions to share these changes with the community.

Wendy Turner has worked in the Wooroolin Post Office across from the wetlands and been in the area for more than 27 years.

Wendy Turner has taken photos of the various stages and views of the Wooroolin wetlands. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
Wendy Turner has taken photos of the various stages and views of the Wooroolin wetlands. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

She said the walking track and bird hide alongside the wetlands had always been quite popular.

Ms Turner said many tourists made use of the rail trail and free camping site at Wooroolin.

"It has made a huge difference," she said.

"People are just getting more interested in nature and seeing what's around."

The bird hide at the Wooroolin Wetlands has housed birdwatchers from all over the world. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
The bird hide at the Wooroolin Wetlands has housed birdwatchers from all over the world. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)

The wetlands is now classified as a palustrine wetland, a non-tidal, inland, seasonally flooded vegetated swamp.

Eucalypts growing in the dry lagoon since the early 1900s have since died after being inundated with water levels during the mid seventies.

These dead trees have become key bird nesting areas and make up the vast, dry landscape of the wetlands.

Early 19th Century Wooroolin settlers reported feeling tremors at the time the lagoon suddenly dried up.

Wooroolin is located in a volcanic area and tremors have been known to occur.

It is possible the earth tremors could open or close larval tubes under the wetlands, changing the holding capacity of the lagoon area.

VAST: The Wooroolin Wetlands is mostly a dry open space the with occasional waterhole. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
VAST: The Wooroolin Wetlands is mostly a dry open space the with occasional waterhole. (Photo: Jessica McGrath)
South Burnett


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