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Address: 10 Waterbird Drive, Rangeville QLD 4350
Toowoomba Bicentennial Waterbird Habitat is a 19-acre natural habitat and park, designed to mimic natural wetlands.
The park features multiple lake formations including three permanent lakes and a shallow lagoon.
It has many different habitat environments that provide for the waterbirds' requirements to feed, roost and nest. Aspects of the habitat include large areas of grassland, mud-banks, deep and shallow lakes, areas of reeds and islands.
The park's natural habitat beauty, incorporating a central pond, mature trees, wildlife and walkways that circumnavigate the lake make it a popular location for walking, jogging and picnics.
Dotted around the park are informational boards which provide interest for park users. There is also a viewing deck/boardwalk that takes park users over the main lake to offer an excellent vantage point to view the waterbirds.
Please note that feeding of the wildlife is discouraged and dogs are not permitted in the park.
Toowoomba Waterbird Habitat comprises native plants and trees and wildlife including waterbirds, fish, turtles and insects. The natural habitat area of the park is situated at the eastern end of the park, delineated by the lake.
The entire habitat is fenced to protect the birds and to prevent domestic animals from getting into the area, offering a safe refuge for the many different species of waterbirds. Multiple plantings around the perimeter of the park provide a buffer for the wildlife from the surrounding roads and residential areas.
Many different species of birds can be seen throughout the park including wading birds such as ibises (threskiornis) and herons (ardea), which populate the shallow water. The open grassland attracts maned ducks and straw-necked ibises to feed on the grasses.
There are native rushes (baumea, lomandra), reeds (juncus), sedges (carex) and other aquatic plants in this wetland as well as fish, turtles and many insects.
Other native plants such as paperbarks (melaleuca), kangaroo grass (themeda), and eucalypts also provide food and shelter for native animals.
The park contains multiple lakes which provide a wetland style habitat for the wildlife. The water in the series of lakes has both deep and shallow areas and contain island refuges for nesting and roosting waterbirds.
The deep water is suitable for a few duck species and cormorant, coot and grebe. The shallow areas adjacent to the western shore are attractive feeding areas for the large waders such as ibis, heron and egret. The other permanent water bodies, middle lake and the lagoon, are shallow and reedy.
The Toowoomba Waterbird Habitat's lakes are spring-fed, which means they are never dry. The plants are therefore adapted to conditions of permanent water.
In a more natural wetland some of the plants would be adapted to a more temporary existence, with seeds or other structures able to withstand periods of drying out.
The mud banks in the habitat are important aspects of the food chain. When water levels drop the exposed mud-banks offer fresh feeding areas for birds - such as small waders - to feed from.
When water levels rise again, organic nutrients are released from the decaying vegetation, which feed algae, plants and small insect populations, which in turn provide another food source for feeding waterbirds.
As part of Australian Bicentennial Celebrations in 1988, each local council had to produce a suitable commemorative project. A submission was put forward to establish a waterbird habitat on East Creek to attract a variety of waterbirds, save the swamp habitat, aid in flood mitigation and encourage public recreation and education on native flora and fauna in the area.
In 1983 the proposal was adopted and the construction progressed in September 1985. The Toowoomba City Council (now Toowoomba Regional Council) designed and constructed the habitat with assistance from the Toowoomba Bicentennial Community Committee. The project was a successful collaboration of funding and assistance from Council, the Australian Bicentennial Authority, donations and assistance from various local associations and private citizens. The habitat was formally opened on Australia Day in 1988.
In addition to its natural heritage, this area is part of Toowoomba’s cultural heritage. In the late 19th century, market gardens were planted along the creek. One of the wells dug and used by the Chinese market gardeners has been restored and can be found near the middle Lake.