This breathtaking view along the boardwalk from Nelly Bay to Arcadia (above) transfixed my artist’s eye. What a joy, walking in the National Park observing the different habitats, from mangroves to literal rainforests. With 76% percent of the rocky island being National Park, there are 10 distinct regional ecosystems here. Nine have a biodiversity status “of concern” and one is “endangered”.
Look up when walking in the Eucalypt forests and you will almost certainly find a Koala. There are Rock Wallabies by the ocean at Bright Point in Nellie Bay. The Beach Stone Curlew, one of 17 rare or endangered birds, fossicks in bush nearby the shores.
By the side of the Andree Griffin Rainforest Walk at Paluma township, the sunlight caught this elegantly twisted buttress of a massive, strangler fig carcass bought to life by its velvet green coat of moss.
The tropical rainforest of the Paluma Range feels lusher, and more encompassing than the subtropical littoral rainforest remnants close to my home on the Sunshine Coast. An hour and a half drive inland from the arid seaboard city of Townsville, this verdant forest must be haven for locals.
From the photo it is difficult to gauge the size of the buttresses. Look closely at the next photo for the tiny red way marker on a sapling behind the fig. To the right, barely discernible are Colin’s black hat and his shoulders.
In Queensland, Australia we are fortunate to be in a COVID-19 free bubble. Within the state we can travel freely, taking COVIDSafe measures such as recording our visits to public places, and being more thorough in our infection prevention measures. So, Queenslanders are, like me, taking to the open roads.
Queensland is a vast state, Australia’s second largest state, two and a half times the size of Texas with a population of 5.11 million people, 3.6 of whom live in Brisbane or the south eastern corner. Sometimes it’s a long way between ‘places of interest’ when you leave the coast. These places are not the bucket list, big ticket items like the Grand Canyon or the Tower of London or the ‘big five’ on African Safari.
There is natural beauty, but not of the grand kind; there is ‘white man’s’ history which is by definition short; and there is extraordinary wildlife, but not of the variety that turns the tourists into surrogate game hunters aiming their cameras for the best shot of the beast.
Rather there are small friendly towns, often with evident civic pride and a willingness to share their history with passers by. Such places lend themselves to slowing down after a long drive, having a yarn and a beer with a fellow traveler or a local – whoever is at the bar or more likely on the veranda – at the local pub.
Aussie bush is a bit scrubby and untidy for sure, monotonous even. But when you really start to look, it’s wondrous. Sleepy little towns are easy to pass through without a pause. Each one has a story if you take time to discover it. All that’s needed is willingness to slow down, notice and appreciate the little things, and to start to feel a connection to the amazing land that others knew so well before any Europeans realised it existed.