Ross Tapiolas points out the pasture growth near one of the whoa boys on his property

Six Mile Creek runs clear even after record rainfall

Whoa boys stand up to monsoon at 6 Mile Creek Station

A series of erosion control measures installed at a grazing property south west of Home Hill have held firm despite nearly record monsoonal rainfall during February.

Last September, whoa boys – a type of diversion bank – were installed along 14 km of roads throughout 6 Mile Creek Station, run by Ross and Tracey Tapiolas.

Ross Tapiolas said the whoa boys, installed to prevent water damaging roads and infrastructure during heavy storms, were doing their job after the property received 120mm in December, 150mm in January and 680mm in February.

“The whoa boys have been fantastic! We’ve seen minimal soil movement along our tracks where erosion used to occur, and our creek crossings aren’t all filled up with sludge and muck washed off our paddocks”, Mr Tapiolas said.

“The water is being held up on paddocks now, and we’re growing more grass than ever, which means food for our cattle and habitat for wildlife. The ground is soaking up more water, recharging the underground aquifers, and we’re not noticing big amounts of sediment leaving our property.

“Installing the whoa boys has helped us financially as well. Instead of paying for a grader to fix up our roads after events like this, we can now put our effort towards other priority projects to manage our grazing better.

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Field Officer, Linda Anderson said that the whoa boys were jointly funded by two Australian Government Reef Trust projects –  Point Source Sediment Management, and Saving our Soils – and the Queensland Government-funded Landholders Driving Change project:

“This is a great example of NQ Dry Tropics working with state and federal governments to deliver practical on-ground solutions that benefit landholders and water quality to the Reef”, Ms Anderson said.

“It’s great to see 6 Mile Creek, which has its headwaters on the western ranges of Six Mile, still running clear despite all that rain” she said.

Six Mile Station grazier Ross Tapiolas shows off the return in pasture the whoa boys have helped deliver by slowing and keeping water on the property 


Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
KEQ #8

KEQ #7
KEQ #6

KEQ #5

KEQ #4

The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

KEQ #3

*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

KEQ #1

Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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