A Clearer Passage for the Pumicestone

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Sunshine Coast Council is committed to maintaining healthy waterways and aquatic ecosystems, and is striving to become Australia’s most sustainable region. Helping to achieve this is the Sunshine Coast Waterways and Coastal Management Strategy 2011 – 2021, which proposes tailored action plans for river catchments within the Sunshine Coast local government area (LGA). The first action plan completed is the Pumicestone Passage and Catchment Action Plan 2013-2016.

 “The multifaceted Pumicestone Passage should never be underestimated as it is an important cog in our history, environment and our economy” — Councillor Tim Dwyer, April 2014 

Looking south over the Pumicestone Passage with Golden Beach on the right and north Bribie Island on the left

Looking south over the Pumicestone Passage with Golden Beach on the right and north Bribie Island on the left

Catchment Facts

  • Catchment area: 785 km2
  • Major waterways: Pumicestone Passage, Lamerough Creek, Bells Creek, Mellum Creek, Coochin Creek, Coonowrin Creek, Tibrogargan-Hussey Creek, Glass Mountain Creek, Elimbah Creek, Ningi Creek and Bribie Island aquifers
  • 60% within Sunshine Coast Council LGA and 40% within Moreton Bay Regional Council LGA
  • Approximately 80% of the Pumicestone Passage is less than two metres deep
  • The Passage winds 45km from Caloundra to Deception Bay between Bribie Island and the mainland
The Pumicestone Passage catchment and its subcatchments

The Pumicestone Passage catchment and its subcatchments

Why do we value our Pumicestone?

The Passage:

  • is a declared fish habitat area and a high ecological value waterway under State legislation
  • is an internationally recognised Ramsar-listed wetland
  • contains extensive mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, inter-tidal sandbars and mudflats
  • provides valuable habitat for fish, dugong, turtles, crabs, oysters, juvenile prawns and a wide variety of local and migratory waders and shorebirds.
  • is an aquatic playground that provides outstanding recreational opportunities for locals and visitors

The catchment:

  • is home to 60,000 people and important urban settlements such as Caloundra, Bribie Island and the inland towns along the railway
  • contains the spectacular and regionally iconic Glass House Mountains
  • supports major forestry plantations, pineapples, strawberries, turf, tree crops and other primary production
  • contains many protected bushland areas, including national park reserves around the Glass House Mountains and on Bribie Island
  • includes major north-south transport networks, the Bruce Highway and the Queensland Railway
  • contains the Caloundra South Priority Development Area, which is predicted to accommodate a community of 50,000 people

The power of many

Under the banner ‘The Pumicestone Catchment Network’, Sunshine Coast Council is working collaboratively with Moreton Bay Regional Council and numerous other government, community, industry and primary producer groups.

This group of stakeholders represents a diverse range of expectations and priorities, and a strong spirit of cooperation has prevailed under a common vision:

“The Pumicestone Passage catchment and waterways will be healthy, resilient and well-maintained natural systems that sustain biodiversity and the livelihoods and lifestyles of residents and visitors.”

The result is a clearer passage for the Pumicestone, with stakeholders bringing their varied perspectives and combined resources for more effective management of the catchment’s natural assets and the benefits they provide to our livelihoods.

A plan of action

Council and Pumicestone catchment network partners have developed an Action Plan for the Pumicestone Passage and its catchment featuring specific actions to be implemented from 2013–2016. The action plan was completed in 2013, with stakeholders committing to 41 actions addressing the five key management challenges identified by the network:

1. reverse declining water quality;

2. protect and rehabilitate wildlife habitat areas and corridors;

3. minimise impacts from population growth and demand;

4. preserve and improve social and cultural values; and

5. preserve and improve economic values.

Some of the 41 actions are currently being implemented by various community groups and organisations, with many already completed.

Following the first three years of implementation, Council propose to review the plan and develop a follow-on three-year action plan with Pumicestone catchment network partners.

Some key achievements to date

  • $460,000 from Council’s Environment Levy allocated to rehabilitation (including planting more than 7,500 plants) and weed management — underway across 34 Ha and 6.8km of riparian areas along lower Bells Creek;
  • $7.7million invested at the Caloundra Resource Recovery Centre to minimise impacts on downstream water quality, through construction of high efficiency basins to treat surface water run-off, and construction of a major underground cut-off wall to prevent polluted leachate draining to receiving waters;
  • $30,000 invested from Council’s Environment Levy into monthly water quality monitoring at 30 sites from Jan–Jun 2013 within the Coochin Creek subcatchment to identify and investigate local hot spots. Monthly water quality monitoring is ongoing at several locations and results are guiding investment by the State and primary producers into improved management practices;
  • SEQ Catchments held the event Passage  of Time, a story-telling forum held in May 2014. Stories of the Pumicestone Passage catchment were shared by its diverse and passionate community, government and industry stakeholders and videos and recordings of that day can be seen here:

Other links, which were shown on the day: opening address by Professor Bill Dennison – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsrmAklafI4&feature=youtu.be 

The Water Waltz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTqI2ZMrGXo

Dugong Rock – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2J_DLHKgz14

Horticulture videos DAFF – https://www.youtube.com/user/HortSmart

 Stay Tuned!

Council will repeat this process for the Maroochy River catchment and the neighbouring Mooloolah River catchment.


Pumicestone Passage and Catchment Action Plan: http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=pumicestone-passage

Waterways and Coastal Management Strategy 2011-2021: http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=waterways-strategy2


Our address

Pumicestone Passage QLD
-26.942965355346004, 153.07285770830072
(07) 5475 7272

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