Coal, Bees and Fossils: The History and Significance of the Redbank Plains Formation Fossil Sites, South East Queensland

Rix, A. (2022)


The Redbank Plains Formation, between Brisbane and Ipswich in South East Queensland, provides fossil evidence of the fauna and flora of the earliest part of the Cenozoic era, and is dated from the Paleogene Period, specifically the late Paleocene–early Eocene (66–55 Ma). These fossils have been collected and studied for over 120 years, but the conjunction of agriculture in the then-rural Redbank Plains district, and the mapping of the valuable Ipswich coalfields, led to their palaeontological significance being recognised and documented. Scientific study began in 1916 and has continued since, revealing some of the earliest evidence of modern Australian fauna and flora. However, the area’s rich underground coal resources and a hunger for residential land in a rapidly developing urban corridor, has resulted in the loss of or threats to the fossil sites. One deposit has been given local government status as a Conservation Park and remains accessible for scientific study, but the lack of either national or state protection for such significant sites in Queensland and Australia imperils our national geological heritage and its scientific contribution.