Intensified Mosquito Spraying Planned for Clayfield, Hendra and Other High-Risk Areas As Ross River Virus Alert Goes up

Health authorities are sounding the alarm over a looming surge in Ross River virus infections, a concerning mosquito-borne illness. The rising number of infections has prompted mosquito spraying initiatives in high-risk suburbs, such as Wooloowin, Clayfield, Gordon Park, and Hendra in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, among other areas.



Chief Health Officer John Gerrard revealed a very high number of Ross River virus detections in mosquitoes across nine different council areas stretching from Mackay to South East Queensland. 

And the number of infected mosquitoes — at 31 positive traps of the 700 tested across the state — is higher than what was detected during the horror 2019-2020 summer, ultimately leading to a whopping 3381 Ross River infections for that year. 

There were 699 cases of the Ross River virus in 2023. As of the end of January this year, 64 people have been infected. 

Efforts to increased mosquito spraying are underway in Wooloowin and other North Brisbane areas.

About the Ross River Virus

There is no cure nor vaccine for Ross River virus, and whilst most people recover in a few weeks some people experience joint pain and fatigue months after infection.

Origin and Spread

Ross River Virus (RRV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that is endemic to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. The virus primarily spreads through the bite of infected mosquitoes, notably those in the Aedes and Culex genera, which are common in these regions.

Symptoms and Treatment

RRV infection can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild to debilitating. Common symptoms include polyarthritis, rash, fever, fatigue, and muscle pain. These symptoms can significantly affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and, in some cases, can persist for months or even years. While there is no specific treatment for RRV, management of symptoms is possible through medication and physical therapy.

Epidemiology

The virus has shown a notable propensity for causing large outbreaks, particularly in coastal regions. The incidence of RRV infection varies seasonally and geographically, with the highest rates typically observed in areas with warmer climates and in proximity to bodies of water where mosquito populations thrive.

Prevention

Preventing RRV infection centres on controlling mosquito populations and minimising individual exposure to mosquito bites. Public health measures include community education on the use of insect repellent, the importance of wearing protective clothing, and the need to eliminate standing water around homes and communities to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Global Health Perspective

RRV is considered a significant public health issue within its endemic regions. With climate change and increasing global travel, there is a potential for RRV to expand its geographical reach, making it a subject of interest for global health monitoring and research

Ross River Virus
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Elevated Risk and Intensified Efforts 

Dr Gerrard expressed concern over the significant increase in Ross River virus detections in mosquito populations early in the usual season, particularly across a wide geographical area. This surge indicates heightened virus activity. 

Typically, Ross River virus infections begin to surge with the arrival of rain and warm temperatures in December, reaching their peak in February and March. Moreover, it’s common to observe a notable increase in Ross River virus cases every three to four years, indicating a potential spike in infections. 

With the current high mosquito numbers and recent surveillance findings, there is an increased risk of human exposure to mosquitoes carrying the virus throughout Queensland.

Metro North Public Health Unit entomologist Jon Darbro said in the past month it had been either wet or hot which added to the extra mosquitoes around. 

Mr Darbro explained that the increased rainfall this season provides mosquitoes with additional breeding sites for laying eggs and larval development, resulting in larger mosquito populations.  Warmer temperatures also contribute to heightened mosquito activity, accelerating their growth and the drying process of eggs. These conditions create an ideal environment for multiple mosquito species to thrive, as observed by many.

Metro North covers areas like Wooloowin, Clayfield and Hendra, which has intensified its spraying efforts in late January 2024. 

More Mosquito Spraying for Brisbane and Gold Coast

Swarms of mosquitoes have inundated nearly every suburb across South East Queensland, with wet weather and warm temperatures creating the perfect breeding grounds for the flying pests. The unwanted buzz and bites have forced Brisbane City Council to spray an extraordinary 2,400 sites a week – a 140 per cent increase on the normal mozzie spraying schedules including seven aerial attacks in the past nine weeks.

Across Brisbane, 136 of 190 suburbs have been targeted and 24 on the Gold Coast. Redland City Council have increased their aerial treatments of mosquito larvae by 60 per cent making it the biggest year on record since 2016-2017. While Logan City Council, Sunshine Coast Council and Gold Coast Coast have also increased their spraying schedules. 

According to the Queensland Health notifiable notifications data, dozens of mosquito-borne disease cases have been confirmed, including 29 cases of Ross River virus and three of dengue in the first three weeks of January.



Prevention Measures Urged

Dr Gerrard reiterated that people needed to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases. 

  • Any mosquito could potentially carry Ross River virus; increased bites raise the likelihood of infection.
  • Mosquitoes are active throughout the day, with some species most active at dusk and dawn.
  • It’s advisable to avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito activity times.
  • Preventive measures include regularly applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wear loose, light-coloured clothing to cover up arms, legs, and feet to minimize exposure to mosquito bites.

Published 12-Feb-2024

Dickson Street Ranked One of Brisbane’s Most Dangerous for Cyclists

Dickson Street in Wooloowin has been identified as one of the 10 most dangerous spots in Brisbane for cyclists, according to newly released data from the cycling safety app BikeSpot.


Read: Local Community Is Split Over Proposed Wooloowin Street Development


BikeSpot’s 2023 Interim Safety Report, released last week, ranked Dickson Street as the number 3 unsafe area for Brisbane cyclists due to a lack of bike lanes and a missing link with the North Brisbane Bikeway.

One BikeSpot user reported that riding south on Dickson Street was the “most dangerous section they have rode so far” because the North Brisbane Bikeway abruptly ends at Price Street, leaving cyclists to traverse Dickson Street without a bike lane.

Photo credit: BikeSpot map

“Bike lane ends, forcing bikes onto road or path,” one cyclist said. Others commented that there are lots of parked cars on the street.

Other cyclists agreed, saying the short section of the North Brisbane Bikeway is incomplete and leaves them feeling vulnerable when transitioning to Dickson Street.

Photo credit: Google Street View 

Cancelled Project

The Brisbane City Council has announced the cancellation of several key cycling infrastructure projects, including the North Brisbane Bikeway extension, due to the devastating floods in South East Queensland in February 2022.

According to the council’s website, proposed plans to create a dedicated and separated bikeway along Dickson Street and Bonney Avenue, connecting stage four of the North Brisbane Bikeway to Junction Road, will no longer go ahead.

Funding has also been pulled from a project to build a “green street” with shared, low-speed active travel routes for cyclists and pedestrians along Keith Street, Sydney Street and Jackson Street.

Dickson street
Photo credit: Google Street View 

The council said it made the difficult decision to redirect resources and prioritise the rebuilding and repair of roads, bridges, existing bikeways, parks and sports facilities across Brisbane that were damaged by February 2022’s catastrophic flooding.

“While the proposed project is not proceeding, Council is committed to working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads on the broader North Brisbane Bikeway network and future active transport connections in this area,” Council stated.


Read: Greville Wooloowin, Other Developments That Were Abandoned in 2022 Due to Construction Crisis


Cycling advocacy groups have expressed disappointment over the cancellations, saying the projects would have greatly improved safety and connectivity for Brisbane cyclists. However, the repairs from the destructive floods have been deemed a priority by local officials.

Published 22-December-2023

Wooloowin State School: A Model School’s Journey of Resilience and Growth

Did you know that Wooloowin State School is the first primary school in Queensland to offer woodworking and domestic science classes to its students?



From its establishment in 1914, Wooloowin State School has gone through significant expansion, interesting developments, and numerous challenges (even a tragic fire incident) and come through it all with remarkable resilience.

Here are some things to know about Wooloowin State School:

A Model School Borne Out of ‘Educational Experimentation’

In the early 20th century, Wooloowin emerged as a rapidly expanding suburb due to its proximity to the railway station, which opened in 1889.

Recognising the need for quality education, the Wooloowin Progress Association and school building committee spearheaded the establishment of Wooloowin State School.

Wooloowin State School was one of the most expensive schools to be built by Queensland Public Works. Its establishment came at a time when Queensland was undergoing an “educational experimentation” and a reworking of the curriculum.

With its construction occurring in four stages between 1914 and 1934, the school resolved to be a model institution in terms of curriculum, staff, facilities, and progressive education.

First Primary School to Teach Woodwork and Domestic Science

Wooloowin State School
Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

The first section of Wooloowin State School was completed in 1914, comprising two single-story brick wings with four large classrooms, spacious verandas, and modern furnishings. In subsequent years, additional classrooms were constructed, bringing the total count to six by 1918. 

Employing the finest teachers in the state, the school eventually introduced woodworking and domestic science classes. It was the first primary school in Queensland to teach these subjects to the students.

Rapid Growth in the Early 20th Century

Wooloowin, originally part of Lutwyche, flourished as a suburban community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The extension of the tramline in 1913-1914 played a crucial role in the area’s development. Wooloowin State School had to undergo more expansions, including a swimming pool, to fill the demand for education. These expansions in 1925 and 1934 reflected the school’s commitment to holistic education and catering to the growing population of the working-class suburb. 

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

In 2003, tragedy struck Wooloowin State School when an arson attack damaged several key buildings, including the office, pre-school, tuckshop, School’s Out program, and library.

Despite the setback, the school’s heritage listing prevented the demolition of the damaged structures. Instead, the community rallied together, and the school was carefully repaired and rebuilt at a cost of A$4 million. Temporary classrooms were erected, and in September 2004, Wooloowin State School proudly reopened its doors.

Manners Maketh Man

The restoration process brought about several improvements, including the refurbishment of the main block, library, and pre-school. Additionally, a new tuckshop and uniform shop were constructed near the pool, further enhancing the school’s facilities. School’s Out program, initially located under the library, found a temporary home in one of the demountable classrooms.

Wooloowin State School stands as a testament to the power of community and resilience. From its early days as a model school at the forefront of education to the challenges faced during the 2003 fire, the school has evolved and adapted while preserving its rich heritage. 

With the motto “Manners Maketh Man” guiding its students, Wooloowin State School continues to provide quality education and shape the lives of generations to come.



Published 17-August-2023

$18 Million Lawsuit Filed Over Asbestos Contamination at Greville Wooloowin Development

The Greville Wooloowin development, an ambitious “urban village” project situated in Brisbane’s north, has been thrust into an $18-million legal battle due to a shocking asbestos discovery that has brought construction to a grinding halt. 



The project, led by Dunland Property Pty Ltd, was intended to bring a touch of elegance to the city’s landscape, but now finds itself at the epicentre of a lawsuit against environmental consultants accused of negligence.

Dunland Property Pty Ltd, the owner of the development site at 60 Bridge St Wooloowin, has launched a lawsuit against MACH1 Environmental Pty Ltd and Butler Partners Pty Ltd in the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit alleges that these environmental consultants negligently cleared the contaminated site for construction, leading to costly delays and financial losses.

The legal claim, filed on 14 July 2023, highlights that Dunland relied on assurances from MACH1 Environmental and Butler Partners that the Cedar Woods’ townhouse project, known as Greville Wooloowin, was safe from contamination and suitable for construction.

However, once construction commenced in early 2021, asbestos was discovered in the soil, prompting a complete halt to work.

Greville Wooloowin
Photo Credit: Greville Wooloowin/Facebook

Subsequent investigations conducted in April and May revealed even more asbestos contamination on the site. To rectify the situation, Dunland had to remove a staggering 11,000 cubic meters of soil tainted with asbestos between June and November 2021, incurring significant costs. 

By the time construction could resume, the project’s budget had ballooned from $15.3 million to $24.6 million for the townhouses, which were originally planned to be finished by October 2022. The consequences rippled through the project, forcing Dunland to cancel sales contracts for the terrace homes and incurring substantial financial setbacks. 

The company is now seeking damages totaling $18.2 million, which encompasses increased construction costs, commissions paid to real estate agents for Francis Apartments, sunk marketing costs, and more.

Dunland asserts that the negligence caused the project’s crippling delays, costs, and cancellations.

The claim alleges that Butler Partners provided misleading information in their “contaminated land investigation” report, deeming the site suitable for unrestricted use and suggesting its removal from the state government’s environmental management register. Similarly, MACH1 Environmental’s report stated that “no contamination remains on-site.”

These reports were pivotal in the site’s removal from the environmental management register in October 2019. However, subsequent asbestos discoveries prompted the site’s relisting in June 2021. 



Greville Wooloowin’s development includes 49 medium-density lots, 12 medium-density lots and two high-density apartment blocks, divided into four stages. Whilst the legal battle unfolds, the Greville Wooloowin development remains mired in uncertainty as no defence has been filed and no hearing date set, as of press time. 

Published 7-Aug-2023

Former Sisters of Mercy Convent in Wooloowin Designated for Childcare Centre Development

A portion of the historic Sisters of Mercy site in Wooloowin has been designated for development as a childcare centre. Changes could be made to the structure of the former convent.



Located on Morris Street, developer De Luca Corporation Pty Ltd detailed plans to build the facility that will accommodate 110 children via DA A005776689, lodged with Brisbane City Council on 16 July 2021.

The development is in line with Cedar Woods’ townhouse project, dubbed Greville Wooloowin, in the same Sisters of Mercy site covering sections of Bridge, Chalk and Merehaye Streets. 

De Luca Corporation Pty Ltd said that it’s negotiating to buy the convent’s land for the childcare centre from Dunland Property Pty Ltd, which owns Cedar Woods. The facility will stand next to the aged care accommodations. 


Highlights

  • De Luca Corporation Pty Ltd plans to build a childcare centre in a section of the Sisters of Mercy site in Wooloowin.
  • The developer intends to buy the land where the convent stands from Dunland Property Pty Ltd, the owner of Cedar Woods, which bought the Sisters of Mercy site in 2015 for residential development.
  • Some changes to the convent’s structure will be undertaken if the development application receives approval. 

The former Sisters of Mercy property is a Local Heritage Place which was sold to Dunland Property Pty Ltd. in 2015. The convent has been empty since the purchase with the doors and windows boarded up to prevent trespassers. 

In 2017, Council approved plans for the redevelopment of the sprawling Sisters of Mercy site as an aged care and residential facility. Greville Wooloowin has begun its first stage of civil works this year, where some of the townhouses have been pre-sold.  

Photo Credit: Development Application/BCC
Photo Credit: Development Application/BCC

“As a consequence of the change of use of the heritage building some minor heritage fabric is proposed to be demolished and the remaining heritage fabric will be restored,” the developers stated. 

“There will also be some alterations and extensions to the heritage building. There is a new single storey building proposed to the south and east of the heritage building which will provide the additional accommodation required for the Childcare Centre.”



De Luca Corporation Pty Ltd also intends to incorporate 22 car parking spaces, play areas at the rear of the building, and pedestrian access from Morris Street to the car park. 

In November 2020, the developer met with Council officers to discuss its intention for the facility before lodging the application. As a Local Heritage Place, residents may appeal this project but, as of press time, Council has not yet set a public notification date for submissions.

War Survivor Celebrates 100th Birthday in Wooloowin

Wooloowin resident Ann Damen turned 100 years old on the 18th of Dec 2019. After nine children, 23 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, Ann acknowledges that she’s had a good life as a Dutch native living in Australia. Her life, however, could have been cut short during the Second World War.

Ann was born in The Hague and still remembers the time the Germans occupied the Netherlands some seven decades ago. An airstrike from the British army retaliating against the Germans destroyed the home she shared with her husband and children. It was a miracle they all survived.

“I remember, but not fondly, we went through the war. With all our kids we didn’t have much to eat. It was very hard, but we made it,” she shared. 

Photo Credit: Supplied


Ann, who lost her mother to tuberculosis at two years old, met her husband Pieter as a teenager. They married at the age of 20 years old in 1939, just before the Second World War broke.  

In 1950, Ann and Pieter decided to uproot their lives in Australia. 

“Because we had nine kids, and especially with six boys I was thinking, ‘Holland is lovely and beautiful but it’s very small so maybe it’s better if we go somewhere else’, so we decided to go to Australia,” Ann said. 

The move took Ann some time to get used to. Before the war, she and her husband used to enjoy a leisurely walk at night in Holland. However, her neighbours in her new community would go to bed early with the streets so dark and quiet in Australia.

She also missed Holland, especially during the snow at Christmas time. Before long, however, she got comfortable with the nice and warm weather of her adopted country. 

Photo Credit: Supplied


Sarina, one of Ann’s daughters, said that their mother’s love for her Australia sways with her love for her homeland. 

“When mum watches the Olympics, tennis or swimming on the TV she always barracks for Australia, but if there are no Australians in the race she then barracks for the Netherlands,” Sarina said. 

Until she was 99-years-old, Ann lived on her own in a unit in Newmarket. She has since moved to the Carinity Clifford House where she spends her time gardening, watching movies, singing and listening to music, playing Scrabbles and puzzles, and reading books by Rosamunde Pilcher and Cathy Kelly.

Photo Credit: Supplied

Carinity, established in 1949, is a non-profit Christian organisation with a mission to provide an affordable retirement community for the aged, the homeless and the struggling families.  It has seven retirement lifestyle villages and 11 aged care centres spread out across Queensland, including the Clifford House in Wooloowin. 

The Clifford House specialises in memory assisted living with the residents given access to. a team of medical experts like a GP, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dentist. The centre also has its own library, chaplain, hairdresser, and a community hall for various group activities and entertainment.