Friday, December 17, 2010

Police seek information on missing 17 year old Girl

UPDATE: According to the Facebook page, Rhiannon has been located and is safe and well. 

Police are seeking information about a young woman who went missing on Wednesday night. Rhiannon Harbottle, 17, lives with her parents in Arana Hills. Ms Harbottle went out to the movies on Wednesday night but has not been seen since.

The missing young woman has been described as caucasian in appearance, 165cms tall, of a slim build, long blonde hair and brown eyes. A photo is available on the website page.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Steam Train to Ferny Grove

Sunday was the last visit by the QR Steam Train to Ferny Grove. Now that work is beginning on the Railway Station upgrade, future visits will not be possible. The upgrade will remove the additional track required for engine to change direction at the end of the line.

Last Steam Train to Ferny Grove - Arriving

I was on the train from Michelton to Roma Street. I hadn't been on this particular train before, and I am not a train fanatic by any means, but it was a good experience. Some friends reported the tickets were sold out, so I am glad I got in early.

Many kids were on the train and they appeared to have a blast. The event also commanded the presence of dozens of amateur and professional photographers and videographers. No doubt if you didn't get to see the train's visit it is now well documented online. (the photo in this blog post is by stephenk1977  and the video by allsteamedup1.)

Ferny Grove Railway Station Upgrade: Half Baked?

BrizCommuter, a blog about Brisbane public transport issues, has a blog post describing how the original plans for the Ferny Grove Railway Station upgrade have been scaled back from 3 to 2 platforms, and what this means for the capacity of the station once the upgrade is complete.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ferny Grove Community Christmas Event - Tonight!

Update: Cancelled due to rain (According to @erin_lucy_loves)

I nearly missed this. There is Ferny Grove Community Christmas event tonight at Ferny Grove primary school oval on McGinn Road. Entertainment starts at 4pm. Its been a very wet day today so I hope the festivities are not washed out.

Aside: I found out about this from a page on 96five's (the radio station) website. 96Five really needs a new and better domain name. is not the best branding.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wilson Update for November

State Member for Ferny Grove Geoff Wilson has released his November update, which was distributed via email to subscribers. It doesn't look like the update is available yet on his publications page but I am hosting it here .

Along with the usual page-filler PSA sections the news letter contains some details of community events including the Railway Upgrade information sessions, Community Cabinet session (on December 5 in Albany Creek) and Christmas events.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ferny Grove Railway Upgrade Updates

I've posted and opined about the Ferny Grove Railway Upgrade and Proposed Precinct before. This week the mail delivered the 4th issue of the Railway Upgrade Newsletter.

In Railway Upgrade news:

  • Environmental reports show the trees at the station site are dying and birdlife would not be affected by their removal 
  • The awning over the city side of the station and pedestrian crossing will be removed at night between November 29th and December 2nd. 
  • Work in early 2011 will include construction of a temporary platform, changes to road access from Samford Road and the move of all bike lockers on the Samford Road side. 
  • The tavern will be demolished in February of 2011
  • By mid 2011 additional parking on the site of old tavern will be available. Through travel between Samford Road and Convalla Street will not be possible by car or on foot. The bus stop will have been relocated.
In Railway Precinct news (mentioned in passing in relationship to the tavern):
  • The Community has chosen 'Vision 1' out of the 2 precinct visions presented. This vision allows for a new tavern to built later as part of the precinct program. 
  • Therefore, the tavern may yet reappear as part of the precinct. 

Additional consultations regarding the upgrade will be held with the community on November 29th and December 2nd at the Ferny Grove bowls club, at 10am and 4pm respectively.

While doing some more internet searching I also came across this forum discussion which has been ongoing since 2009 about the upgrade. For additional opinion and history on the subject, check it out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

National Novel Writing Month arrives at Ferny Grove Rail Station

November is National Novel Writing Month. I am not sure why the word national appears in the title, since it seems to be an international event. The novel writing month centers around a challenge for participants: Write a 175,000 word novel between the 1st and 30th of the month.

Given the short time frame, the focus of writing is on quantity over quality and encouraging aspiring writers to abandon perfection for sheer output.

What puts this on the radar of Ferny Blog is that a group of participating Brisbane residents are organising a group day long writing activity on QR City Trains. They call it a Roving Write In. This Sunday, November 14, aspiring writers will be travelling the breadth of the Ferny Grove, Petrie, Cleveland and Beenleigh city rail lines, draining laptop batteries or sharpening pencils as they (presumably) draw inspiration from each other and the journey.

If you are interested you can join the group at Ferny Grove on the train departing at 12:28pm, or meet up with them sooner on another line. Refer to their organising discussion for more information.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bring your cash with you: No ATMs at Mitchelton Markets

If you are thinking of going to the Jan Power Farmers Market at Michelton, make sure you stop by at a teller machine prior if you are low on cash. All three ATMs on Blackwood Street were out of service today.

A stall owner I spoke with wondered if the banks were keeping the ATMs offline out of business hours to reduce the risk of theft and attacks against the machines. In the past year Blackwood Street has seen more than a couple of armed robberies.

Despite the inconvenience of customers and the possibility of lost sales by store owners, the Market appeared very popular today, with a range of fresh produce, pastas, curries, preserves, breads, meats and the inevitable German sausage. Entertainment was notable and varied without being overdone.

The Jan Power Farmers Market is held on Blackwood Street, Michelton, on the first Sunday of every month.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brisbane West District Crime Bulletin

The October 2010 Brisbane West District Crime Bulletin, produced by the Police district of the same name, is available here (172Kb, PDF).

The new Police Link phone number 131 444 for non-urgent police matters is being rolled out.

Some community events were announced, all for the month of October, which we have obviously missed.

Of more interest to Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills residence is the listing of recent house and motor burglary locations in the sidebar. Its not really clear which period the numbers are covering but here are the relevant numbers for Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills

CrimeFerny HillsFerny Grove
Burglaries 2 0
Motor Vehicle Theft 1 1
Burglaries from Motor Vehicles 2 0

View Ferny Blog: October Crime Bulletin in a larger map

Opinion: The Queensland Police website does not make a lot of information available. The information it does have is somewhat hard to access. Sure, I can request additional information (application fee: $38 plus processing fees) but I am sure there is a lot of obviously interesting public information that should be more readily available. I don't mean to pick on the police here. Just government. Rant ends!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ferny Grove SHS Teacher Recognised

The NEiTA (National Excellence in Teaching Awards) organisation has announced winners of their Inspirational Teaching awards for 2010. Ferny Grove State High School teacher Stephanie McCaw was among the recipients.

Stephanie McCaw's NEiTA profile (PDF) describes how she has advanced the teaching of Music at the school considerably since she started full time in 2000. Stephanie McCaw was nominated by a school parent.

Congratulations, Stephanie.

Last Steam Train to Ferny Grove?

I haven't found any confirmation about this, but the True Local / North West News website is promoting an event for the last ever steam train to Ferny Grove on Dec 12, 2010.

Tickets can be bought at the Jan Power Markets (Blackwood St, Michelton, 7th Nov or 5th December) or at Bendigo Bank.

If its true, QR has not yet updated its Steam Train Sunday webpage, which promotes the Roma Street to Ferny Grove steam train ride until the end of the year.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Link: Exploring the Ferny Grove Dayboro line

Camp Mountain
Neil Ennis is an avid cyclist and blogger who is exploring the sites of the old Ferny Grove to Dayboro line. His blog entries describing his exploration are brief, interesting and supported with photos of his journeys.

In this weekend blog entry Neil sets off from the Ferny Grove line terminus along the route of the old railway line.

The railway continued along from Ferny Grove station along what is now Lanita Road. An easy path follows the route off road at the end of Lanita road, and continues through to Camp Mountain.

I've walked the path a few times, but I can never find the memorial at the end. It looks like Neil found it without any problems.

I've never met Neil, but this particular blog post (and the series) caught my attention.

Friday, October 29, 2010

State opposition points finger at Ferny Grove member

The Queensland opposition is claiming that Ferny Grove member Geoff Wilson opened the offices of businessman Brendan McKennariey in 2005, the ABC reported today. Former Labour MP Gordon Nuttall has been found guilty of accepting $150,000 in kickbacks from Brendan McKenniary.

State Premier Anna Bligh denied there is anything unusual in a MP opening the offices of businesses in their own electorate.

The State electorate of Ferny Grove includes Ferny Grove, Ferny Hills and Arana Hills, in addition to Upper Kedron and Samford. Geoff Wilson is also serving as the Minister for Education.

Two weeks ago (and before this blog was born) it was widely reported that Nuttall had meetings with McKenniary at the Ferny Grove Tavern.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ferny Blog news: Now with email

I've just set up my Ferny Blog email address. If you want to send me a comment, request, story or link you can send it to .I have also created the @fernyblog twitter account. I will put up a page of different ways to contact me or leave general comments on the blog soon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nerf War comes to Ferny Grove

There are organisations and clubs around Nerf warfare like OzNerf. Nerf toys are soft projectile toys, and clubs arrange wars between different groups. Nerf War came to Ferny Grove yesterday and several members posted videos to Youtube. Everyone enjoyed themselves by the sound of it.

Looks like good wholesome fun, but I am not sure exactly where they are in Ferny Grove. Any ideas?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keperra to Ferny Grove Railway Upgrade Consultation Report

While I was nosing around the internet for my previous opinion post I found this consultation report, prepared in May 2010, for the Keperra to Ferny Grove Railway upgrade. The report was interesting to me because it highlights some of the community concerns that are relevant and important to the discussion about the future of the Ferny Grove Station.

For example, traffic congestion, especially on Convalla Street, is a big issue, as is the rat-racing through the railway station. The fate of the Tavern, possible extension of the train line and improvements to bus feeder services are all mentioned.

It would have been better, in my opinion, to have opened this consultation up to a wider audience using online surveys and meetings. Perhaps it was, and I missed it. In the future I hope to better understand the Governments communication strategy in announcing and conducting these consultations.

As Yoda might say, 108 people in attendance of the event does not a representative sample make. Regardless, the report makes interesting skim reading if you are interested.

Opinion: Are Community needs being met by Railway Precinct Project?

In a previous post I wrote that the Ferny Grove Railway Precinct project is being driven by the concept of Transport oriented development. My scant research shows Transport/Transit oriented development (TOD for the jargoneers) is being given a lot of attention by Queensland Government planners. I worry local needs might not be addressed in favor of a one size fits all approach.

Transport-oriented development involves developing retail, commercial, residential and transport infrastructure  together, and the precinct project certainly has those elements. But is it right for the surrounding suburbs of Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills? In my way of thinking - no!

Vision 1

Do we need additional retail areas in the community? I am not sure we do. Close by to Ferny Grove station is a service station, the shops at the bottom of Ferny Way and ten minutes walk away the Cole shopping complex at the corner of Archdale Road and McGinn Road. A ten minute drive away is the Kmart Arana Hills and Keperra Great Western Shopping Centres. Can we fill additional retail space at Ferny Grove? If we can, does it make the other centres less viable?

View Ferny Blog: Retail Areas around Ferny Grove Railway Station in a larger map

The precinct plan calls for parts of the current train station to be converted for use in medium density residential. I might be nuts, but this seems backward. Retail, commercial and transport development should follow residential development in the normal course of affairs. Is cannibalising the railway station property to create residential areas simply to complete to the TOD checklist? Is it a way of justifying the TOD methodology in the first place? Why should we give some of this precious space to residential use, when the station is already surrounded by residential areas?

Vision 2

One vision of the precinct plan has an area reserved for the (a?) Tavern. The current tavern is being acquired under the auspices of the railway station upgrade to provide more parking. I'm not an efficiency expert, but if the (a?) tavern is to be kept on the current station land, why go to the hassle, expense and inconvenience of acquiring the land and moving it 150 metres?

Speaking of the tavern acquisition, the objective of improving the parking situation is totally ignored by the precinct plan. The precinct plan has a very weak and uncomforting statement that the need for commuter parking will be 'taken into account'. What does this mean? I would be somewhat mollified if a simple statement that the capacity of commuter parking would not be decreased was included, but the precinct plan does not even go that far. 'Taken into account' sounds like doublespeak to me for 'will be reduced but not completely eliminated'.

In the original railway upgrade the objective of improving the commuter parking capacity was front and centre, and an issue during political campaigning. The Railway Precinct Project ignores this as an issue that needs specific vision.

More broadly, the process of hearing first about a Railway upgrade to improve station and parking only and than this seemingly unrelated precinct vision focussed on additional residential, retail and commercial spaces was jarring and reinforces the belief that one half of government does not know what the other is doing.

Its worth remembering that 'Transport-oriented development' is being pushed in many communities, of which the Ferny Grove community is only one. A cookie cutter approach to suburb development might make for shorter and easier reports, and possibly less planning requirements, but if the precinct project is not more richly justified I believe it could be the wrong move. Cynically I wonder whether the development of residential, commercial and retail areas on the property helps the bottom line, lending this and other TOD projects credibility in government circles.

Whatever happens with the Ferny Grove Railway Station and the land it occupies, Its important to recognise the importance of choosing wisely. Once it is carved up into retail, residential or commercial areas, acquiring the land for future community needs will be difficult, and from a government perspective, possibly impossible. It is not a lot of land, and I wonder if rezoning around the existing land might retain our flexibility for dealing with future requirements.

It is too easy to criticise a plan without proposing an alternative. Perhaps if the government was more transparent about how its planning groups arrived at these results I would be more satisfied with the outcome. As it stands I can't help but think that now Ferny Grove railway station is getting the attention that it deserves we might not be getting the outcome that is best for the community.

Computer virus cold call scam - Coming to a phone near you

Last night I received a phone call from International Routing Service, a supposed security company contacting Microsoft customers who appeared to have malware or computer viruses installed on their machines, based on analysis of network traffic patterns. Because I work with computers I was able to ask a series of difficult questions, and the call centre operator I was talking to eventually handed off to her supervisor, who after talking to me briefly and giving up, told me he was in love with my wife and hung up. I was laughing.

This is a scam. From what I have read since the intention is to 'demonstrate' that you have malicious software on your computer, and then offer the solution - an anti-virus software package - for a price that is allegedly around $270 dollars.

The approach of scaring you, the consumer into making a purchase isn't new. Its called scareware by the security community, and its prevalence is increasing (see this section of Microsoft's latest Security Intelligence Report )

They never reached the demonstration phase with me, since I asked too many questions and I know to be suspicious. But it is easy to see how someone not familiar with technical details of computers could be taken for a ride. Being taken for a ride in this case means giving away their hard earned money (and credit card details, which might be sold to other crooks) for a program that at best does not do anything and at worst infects their machine with further scareware or viruses.

The morning after the phone call my wife pointed out a notice in the dead tree edition of North West News about this very scam. Its unclear whether this scam is being perpetrated in any systematised way, and whether it is currently doing the rounds in a specific geographic location. It is definitely happening to people, here, in Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills, so please, be suspicious.

Friday, October 22, 2010

High winds rip shade covers at Coles

Last Friday night (15 Oct) the wind ripped the sun shades outside the entrance to the Coles store on the corner of Archdale and McGinn Roads to shreds. I returned from my honeymoon that week, after noticing online the number of Brisbanites complaining of rain all that week, to notice the incredibly strong winds that night.  The next morning I happened to be visiting Coles (restocking the fridge) and I notice the wind had ripped the sun shade to shreds.

This afternoon I notice they have finally taken the shreds down. It wasn't a good look.

This post is late, and not very important, but I managed to take a couple of photos myself so I thought I would mention it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whats going on at Ferny Grove Railway Station?

Brisbane Times is reporting on a Queensland planning conference high-lighting Transport-oriented Developments  as a key plank in a planning strategies for Queensland moving forward. This adds some perspective to the recent proposals by the Queensland State Government to combine retail and residential precincts with an upgraded rail station at the site of the current Ferny Grove Railway station.

The Keperra to Ferny Grove Rail Upgrade is already underway (if you count the establishment of site offices in the Lanita Road end of the car park), but is not due to be complete until 2012. It aims to duplicate the last 3.2 kilometers of rail line to Ferny Grove and upgrade the station and bus interchange.

On the other hand, the Ferny Grove Station Precinct project aims to create a 'vibrant, pedestrian-friendly centre'. You might have seen a vision brochure and request for comments in your letterbox if you live in the local area (I did). The brochure and site show two visions (which to my eye, are hard to distinguish apart from the inclusion of the Tavern or not). No timelines are yet available, but announcement on which vision would be followed appears to have been due in September.

The latter project is intended to compliment the former, but the exact relationship between the two is unclear from my scant research. What is interesting to me in the Brisbane Times article is that 'Transport-oriented developments' seems to be an approach being applied across the state, Brisbane and specifically in the Ferny Grove Station Precinct project. If you read the project page, you might notice that very few concrete benefits are listed. Instead, we will receive 'Transport Associated Development' outcomes. (the Queensland government provides some further information about Transit Oriented Development and what they believe the benefits are. There is even a Wikipedia page, which of course makes it true).

If you have any comments or further information, please leave them in the comments below.

Welcome (and what the hell is this)

Hello and welcome to the Ferny Blog. My name is Ben Davies  - I am an IT consultant and web developer. I am working on this blog in my spare time to aggregate news about the Brisbane suburbs Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills.

Mass media has done a lot to take away our feeling of local community. I believe that online media can play a role in bringing it back. We should all care about what happens in our local communities, because if state, national or international news is ultimately going to affect us it will happen locally to where we live, work or play. This is a simplified view, but nonetheless I think there is some value in simply collecting the news local to you.

I don't intent to write extensively for this blog. Instead I believe at this point I will merely find the relevant material on the internet and send you there. If you operate a website or blog local to Ferny Grove and Ferny Hills, or have some locally significant news you would like me to draw attention to (as much as this blog can, at any rate), please let me know (special email address for this blog coming soon).