Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network

Samsonvale - A history of the Samsonvale District

Written by A.J. Gold. Revised by K. Gold.Reprinted with the permission of K. Gold and the Pine Rivers Shire Council.

Andrew James Gold was born in 1890 to Henry and Janet Gold, pioneers in the Samsonvale District. He lived and worked as a farmer in the district for most of his life, and in 1962 he wrote a chronicle of his life. After his death at the age of 74, his son Ken revised his memoirs and a book was published by the Pine Rivers Shire Council Library.

A section of this interesting book deals with the flora of the district (Botanical Names in Italics have been inserted where possible).
"The district’s Flora and Fauna was similar to the rest of the South Eastern coastal belt of Queensland. For unknown ages nature was free of white man’s influence. The aborigines did strip a little bark for huts and cut toeholds in certain trees, apart from these minor acts vegetation was governed solely by the forces of nature, which included bush fires.

Dense vine scrubs grew on most of the creek flats, whilst a somewhat lighter type was on certain hills and mountainsides. Red Cedar (Toona australis), Beech (Gmelina sp.), Hoop Pine ( Araucaria cunninghamii) and Crows Ash ( Flindersia australis) were plentiful and ideal for building and cabinet work. Hickory (Argyrodendron sp.), Beefwood (Stenocarpus sp.), several varieties of Fig (Ficus sp.), Quandong (Elaeocarpus sp.),Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis sp.), Satinwood (possibly Daphnandra micrantha or Premna lignum-vitae), Maidensblush (Sloanea australis), Kurrajong (possibly Brachychiton discolor),and Tulip (probably Harpullia pendula) were plentiful. They were nice looking trees, but unsuitable for building purposes because they were subject to serious damage by borers.

The smaller trees and brush of the scrub were innumerable and of great variety, probably many were unnamed in early days and may still be so. There was also a considerable variety of vines ranging from very small delicate kinds to large ones which would be to ten inches in diameter and spread over the highest treetops. Lawyer cane vines (Calamus muelleri) were in every scrub and involved those who entered the jungle with the ceaseless job of unhooking the thorny spines from clothes and hopeless job trying to pull away from them. It had been said they were named lawyer because once involved it was difficult to get free without loss or trouble.

Stinging nettles abounded and were of several varieties (Dendrocnide sp.). Some were shrubs and there were trees to three feet in diameter. They are the softest of all trees consisting of soft fibre and watery juice rather than wood and sticky sap. Some are dangerous. Dogs and other animals have been known to die from severe stinging.

Staghorns (Platycerium superbum), elkhorns (Platycerium bifurcatum), birdsnest ferns (Asplenium australasicum), 2 kinds of tree fern ( Cyathea sp.) amidst many kinds of orchids and a multitude of smaller types of ferns and plants were part of every scrub which is sometimes referred to these days as ‘rainforest’. Altogether they comprised a mass of wonderful vegetation in a fascinating range of greens and many shades and of interesting growth and habits, intensely charming to anyone interested in such things.

Very little scrub survived the first 25 years of closer settlement. Although the pioneers were from the old countries where trees and vegetation were highly treasured, none except father saw fit to reserve a small area for posterity’s benefit. The 4 acre oval on our property is of the light variety and is of considerable interest to visitors. The Pine Rivers District was named such because of the large quantities of Pine within its borders. The only worthy specimens now surviving are those in the Mt. Samson National Park and in our smaller scrubs. The latter has about one hundred of millable size to about 90 feet high with 8 feet girths and clean trunks. Although the privately owned scrub disappeared by 1915 there are some beautiful areas behind Mt. Samson, now a reserve set aside for scenic purposes. The area is of 1500 acres and extends from Foggs farm well back into the ranges and includes Mt. Samson 2258-foot elevation.

Creek timber is quite different to scrub and forest kinds and could not be easily destroyed. After efforts to do so on Kobble Creek had failed, it was learned that vegetation was nature’s bulwark against flood erosion of banks and watercourses. All wise landowners now allow unrestricted growth of vegetation along watercourses. The predominant kinds of trees on Kobble are Weeping Myrtle (Waterhousea floribunda), Black Ti Tree ( Melaleuca bracteata), Bottle Brush (Callistemon sp.), Cherry (Syzygium sp.), River She Oak (Casuarina cunninghamii), Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta), White Cedar (Melia azedarach), Yellow Wood (Rodosphaera rhodanthema), Figs (Ficus sp.) of several kinds and many kinds of vines including wild grape (Cissus sp.). On Samson Creek the story is different. River She Oak was the principal tree there, plus a fair number of Black Bean (Castanospermum australe). The axe destroyed everything along the creek excepting the last mile where there is a good stand of timber. The rest of the watercourse has little or no trees, in consequence banks have fallen away and there are no deep water holes anymore. Some that used to be 15 feet are now ankle deep, not even sufficient for fish as was formerly the case. The Samson Creek experience is very convincing evidence of the value of trees where this is a strong flow of water.

The forest types of timber are very hardy and defy the landholder’s efforts to clear his property to his liking. They are able to survive the greatest of bush fires. They suffer notably in prolonged dry weather, but never die of thirst. They are easily killed by ringbarking. Small young saplings never die because of brushing, on the contrary they multiply by regrowth. All kinds seed freely, so there are always young seedlings to keep their kind in existence. The timber millers are forever in search of the good building varieties and after the onslaught of 90 years are still able to get surprising qualities in this locality. Big stands of 70-year-old trees are about, being the result of the first attempted clearing by the early settlers. However, they are so crowded their growth is very slow. No variety of forest timber has been exterminated. Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra), Bloodwood (Eucalyptus intermedia), Box (Lophostemon confertus), Apple (Angophora sp.), Mahogany (Eucalyptus resinifera), Moreton Bay Ash (Eucalyptus tessellaris), Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys) and several kinds of gum are the principal local varieties. Of course Black Wattle (Acacia melanoxylon) is plentiful and worthless, a menace to grasslands, its seed is distributed chiefly by ground feeding doves.

Many very big Blue Gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis) still adorn certain paddocks, especially in Kriesch’s, where beautiful specimens up to 20 feet 5 inches in girth can be admired. On a trip by road recently to well beyond Cairns, I saw a great number of Gums. None, however, could match our locals in size or height. A dressed Ironbark from our paddock, in the 1890’s, was shipped north for some special purpose. It was over 100 feet long. Another of 113 feet broke in two when it was being loaded onto the Bullock Wagon. No doubt others of similar size were secured at the same time.

Native grasses were numerous and still are. None of us have names for the majority of them. Kangaroo (Themeda australis), Foxtail (?), Couch (?) and Bladey grass (Imperata cylinderica) were all very plentiful. Heavy stocking and fires have almost exterminated each of them.

Paspalum (Paspalum dilatatum) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) were introduced about 1905. Blue couch (Digitaria didactyla) was introduced by some unknown agency and occupies much of the cleared land. Mat grass (Hemarthria uncinata?) and Carpet grass (Axonopus sp.) have recently established themselves in every paddock and are regarded as very bad dairy feed, so the outlook so far as grass is concerned is depressing. Clover (Trifolium sp.?) is making some headway at last. The country seems to have been free of serious vegetable pests when Captain Cook discovered it. However, soon after settlement was established unwanted weeds, gradually made their appearance. Evidently they entered among garden and farm seeds imported from other lands. We have a great variety now. Doubtless there are more and worse to come. Lantana (Lantana camara), Castor oil (Ricinus communis), Sida retusa, Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus), Redshank (Amaranthus hybridus), several kinds of Devils Apple (Solanum sp.), four kinds of burr, four of thistle, Balloon Cotton (Gomphocarpus physocarpus), Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum?), two kinds of Thorn Apple (Datura sp.), Groundsel (Baccharis halimifolia) and many other unwanted weeds are constantly with us. Some vines introduced as garden plants have spread to situations that suit them, Convulvus (Ipomoea sp. ?), Asparagus (Protoasparagus plumosus) and Nightshade (Solanum seafortheanum) are noticeable in certain places The whole array and what are yet to come will call for a great and continuous battle to keep properties in a satisfactory condition." The  book is available from the Pine Rivers Shire Council Library.