Skip links and keyboard navigation

Nature, culture and history

History

The history of Venman Bushland National Park is a heart-warming story of how one man made a great contribution to the conservation of 255 acres of bushland within Redland City Council. The man's name was John (Jack) Burnett Venman. The following story outlines how Venman Bushland National Park came to be.

To those who knew him, John (Jack) Burnett Venman was a strong and hearty bushman. His dream was to conserve his 255 acres (103 ha) of land for visitors to enjoy the tranquility of the bush. Despite enduring some hardship, Jack possessed the determination to make this a reality (Ashman 1998).

Born on 13 August 1911, Jack spent his early years in Kingaroy. His parents, Sarah and George Venman, also had four other children, three of whom died young. Jack attended Brisbane Boys Grammar School on a State scholarship, finishing in 1927 at the age of 16 (Ashman 1998).

Although a qualified fitter and turner, Jack spent a lot of time working on cattle stations. He was a man who spent a lot of time moving about, which allowed him to take note of the many properties he saw with bad farming practices and land degradation. It was this constant reminder and his love for the bush that led Jack to want to make a difference.

'After I closed my business at Upper Mount Gravatt, I got tired of it... living in town... and came up here, and then of course I run out of tucker, and instead of going back to the trade, I went back to my old love; working on the cattle station' (Jack Venman, cited in Walding 1992).

Jack's vision to run a cattle farm on his newly acquired Mount Cotton land lasted five years before he was forced to find work elsewhere. During his search, Jack noticed that many of the pastoral properties he had once worked on had become seriously degraded due to bad farming practices (Griffith University 1992).

'After two or three years of poking around the bush, I got to know the bush and I could see the results of over-burning or not burning and ring barking and all the rest of it. They've ruined half the country. And so it gave me a different appreciation of the country' (Jack Venman, cited in Griffith University 1992).

Jack's 255 acres of bushland were a valuable asset. After making enough money he returned to his Mount Cotton property. As the area was logged in the early 1900s, Jack was determined to see the land returned to its natural state (Ashman 1998).

'I wanted to preserve the vegetation as it is. As it was 200 years ago. Anything that is not right has to be brought back into line' (Jack Venman, cited in Griffith University 1992).

When a company that planned subdivisions offered Jack 48.6 acres of land at Tallebudgera in exchange for his land, Jack soon realised that if his property were to remain undeveloped for future generations to enjoy, he would need to act quickly (Ashman 1998).

During 1971, at the age of 60, Jack sold his land to the Albert Shire Council for one dollar.

'One dollar was the smallest amount the land could be sold for to make the deal official. It was an excellent proposition for them—they were getting the land for nothing and I was going to develop it into something worthwhile. I knew I had to do something to make the land secure from any future development. It had to become an environmental reserve. That way they could never cut it up.' (Jack Venman, cited in Walding 1992).

Jack put a great deal of work into the property to make it parkland that people could visit and enjoy. He created walking tracks which also acted as firebreaks and dammed a small section of Tingalpa Creek so that during the dry season, there was still a fresh water supply for animals (Ashman 1998).

He constructed wood-fired stone barbecues and built wooden chairs and tables where people could relax. The council also provided two septic toilets as visitation increased (Ashman 1998).

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, along with Redland City Council, helped to manage the park after May 1975. At the age of 73 Jack Venman resigned as caretaker (Griffith University 1992).

'For the first 10 years things were going well. As a matter of fact I wore myself out doing it. A person at that age should have been retired. That was the start—that's how it got created' (Jack Venman, cited in Griffith University 1992).

Jack Venman dedicated 40 years of his life to building a dream. There was much controversy over the naming of the park, and it wasn't until after his death at the age of 83 that the park became Venman Bushland National Park.

Today, the park is 415 ha and is managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The ridges of open eucalypt forest, patches of lowland rainforest and paperbark-lined Tingalpa Creek provide ideal habitats for a large diversity of wildlife. Be enchanted by the playful tunes of birds, inquisitive wallabies or even spot a lazy koala nestled among the tree tops.

'The place has generated a peace and tranquility all of its own. People come here to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere—the tranquil bush' (Jack Venman, cited in Walding 1992).

References

  • Ashman, Kirsten 1998, A Tribute to Jack Venman in honour of a True Bushman, Bernborough Press, Oakey, Queensland.
  • Griffith University, Institute of Applied Environmental Research 1992, Venman Bushland Reserve: a Historical Outline, unpublished manuscript, Griffith University, Brisbane.
  • Walding, Richard 1992, A True Tale From the Bush, Jack Venman's Story as told to Richard Walding, unpublished manuscript, Brisbane.
Last updated
19 December 2013