Category Archives: Queensland’s Green Spaces

Cairns, sunshine and green spaces all the way to the Botanical gardens…

In early August we flew out of Canberra in our coats (minus 2 degrees) and arrived in Cairns, Far North Queensland, at midday…I took this photo as we had some coffee in the 27 degree sunshine….now the secret is out..

Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but the city council should also be congratulated on their town planning and green spaces.

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In Cairns is it possible to walk from the centre of the city all the way along the Harbour to the Botanical Gardens on the edge of the city….all that land preserved for the public.

The Esplanade has a collection of wonderful shallow pools for children to play and swim. Further along the boardwalk are playgrounds and spaces for older teenagers and young adults to play games such as volley ball.

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The path is wide enough for pedestrians to walk either way….and, there is a separate wide path for cyclists….

These sorts of green spaces give a whole community a sense of wellbeing and belonging.

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We took a leisurely stroll into Cairns in the evening…

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…and then a leisurely stroll back towards the Botanical gardens…

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Unfortunately we missed our booked guided tour of the Botanical Gardens due to rain…but here are a few photos of the gardens and the plants ….

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….so very different from our plants in the south..

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Acanthaceae Justicia Carnea Jacobinia

 

 

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Leguminosae Brownea grandiceps

 

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Ground orchid

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Waeszewiczia Coccinea

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heliconia

The plant below was my  absolute favourite, called Bumpy Satinash…The sign on this tree says,

it has aromatic flowers that attract many animals and insects, including possums, lorikeets and fruit bats to feed on the copious nectar,

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It looked wonderful growing beside the magnificent Paperbark Melaleuca tree ..

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And back at our hotel…..it is goodnight from the resident Kookaburra…

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and in the dawn chorus of kookaburras, here is Junior Kookaburra just enjoying some early morning sun, and learning the ropes..

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I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you live…..and that you have many paths to choose from…

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mareeba wetlands, birds, pythons and a hitch-hiking quoll…

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Our holiday in Queensland has, sadly, come to an end, and I’m sitting, all rugged up, back here in Canberra, while I write a little more about that lovely part of the the world…. the Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland.

The Tablelands are part of a Wet Tropic World Heritage region, which is home to about 50% of Australia’s bird species.

The Mareeba Wetlands, is an inspired wildlife reserve, covering 5000 acres of savannas and wetland. It lies in the traditional Country of the Muluridji.

As the seasons change so does the wildlife, and at this reserve 221 species of birds have been identified at various time of the year.

Here is the viewing deck of the Mareeba Wetlands…we have arrived at a quiet time  as most of the birds have migrated for the winter (…if they think this is winter…I’ve got news for them..)

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but the elegant Egret poses for the camera, and the Darter dries his wings…

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………we just enjoy a warm and sunny cruise around the lake…thinking of our fellow Canberrans…

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…..and then our guide cheerfully tells us that he had to unwrap a python from around the engine that morning (because it was a cold night.. 4 degrees..the engine was a nice warm spot) and we remember that the reason we don’t live in  North Queensland is because we don’t know how to remove pythons from anything.

Living alongside wildlife in this area is very much a part of every day life. The manager of the Wildlife Reserve shop said  he had some difficulty closing the cash register one day and after pushing for some time, he discovered there was a baby quoll hiding at the back of the till …..but it escaped… with a bit of encouragement.

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Quolls are carnivorous marsupials found in North Queensland (I have never seen one)., and are the largest Queensland marsupial carnivore. The Northern Quoll is the smallest, weighing under a kilogram, and the spotted tailed quoll is the largest, weighing several kilograms and measuring almost one metre long from the nose to the tail tip.

Quolls are wide-roaming and attracted to suburban areas for food. The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland encourages local people to report sighting of the quolls to keep track of the numbers and to preserve quoll populations.

One of the many stories of sightings is of the Quoll who was found under the bonnet of a car that had been driven 5 km to a Cairns garage for servicing.

It took 5 mechanics two hours to strip parts of the engine to get the quoll out. The quoll was okay, and the owner thanked  the barking dog for alerting the garage staff to the problem!

On our way out of the Wetlands reserve we looked in on the Gouldian Finch Reintroduction project. These Finches are one of the most beautiful in the outback region. In the early 20th century there were literally millions around Queensland and the Northern Territory, but as seed and grass eating birds, they are in competition with farming and land development. This project is aimed at protecting the species and reintroducing them into the wild.

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I have many stories about Queensland’s green spaces, and I’ll add a few more as we go along, but in the meanwhile, spring is here in Canberra, the busiest time of the year for all gardeners in this city…

A cool calm garden in the Atherton Tablelands

 

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Friarbird in the Grevilleas

 What I love about visiting other parts of Australia (and the world) is looking at gardens that always reflect the people and their place in the world. My cousin lives in one of the many small  towns dotted across the Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland.

Over the years, with the help of some gardening friends, Theresa has created a cool, tranquil garden full of birdsong.

Many birds visit our garden in Canberra, but there is a difference in quiet country areas….these birds seem to own the garden…here is a Honeyeater with a shrill call louder than that of most big birds.

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The many native shrubs and bird baths in this garden attract a wealth of birds…and some curious onlookers!!

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This handsome fellow has the unfortunate name of Drongo (an old Australian slang word for fool or idiot)….this bird is anything but….it is an amazing bird with a great story, …so more on that in another post.

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The Drongo bird

This garden has three sections, or garden rooms, each flowing from one to the other. The first ‘room’ opens onto a colourful space designed for quiet and contemplation.

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Through the archway the next room has a long stretch of lawn, with wide borders for herbs and vegetables, and  some lovely native plants, the Bottlebrush and the White Penda.

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White Penda bush (flowers in spring) and a Bottlebrush bush…a haven for birds

We were there in the winter, and Theresa had Italian parsley, ordinary parsley, 3 kinds of thyme, mint, basil, chillis, rosemary, spring onions, Italian spinach, tomatoes, passionfruit and pineapple…and hibernating is tumeric and ginger.

As we had just arrived from the frozen south, (Canberra) what a joy to be able to walk into the garden every day and pick fresh vegetables and herbs!

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Theresa’s attention to detail makes this a lovely garden to sit in quietly, or go back to and discover new small surprises in out of the way places.

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The third part of the garden has native plants and a wonderfully scented Gardenia beside the garden bench. It looks very healthy compared to the ones we have in our garden, I feel I should apologise to all Gardenias growing in Canberra, the cold winters do not suit them at all!

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This garden’s design and planting has been a labour of love over many years. It has survived the vagaries of North Queensland weather, rain hail, the tail end of cyclones and sunshine!  Today this calm, lush garden, with cool verandas and continual birdsong,  welcomes friends and family at any time of the year.

 

 

 

Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine….as far away from a Canberra winter as it gets..

 

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During the very cold winter we are having in Canberra, we are visiting North Queensland…guaranteed to be warmer!

North Queensland is known for the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, and the Wet Tropics rainforests.

Most people head for the Barrier Reef and beaches between Cairns and Port Douglas, but we often begin with a visit to the Atherton Tableland. My cousin, Theresa, has been living and working in the Tablelands for many years, and through her we have been introduced to all the wonders of this area.

The Atherton Tablelands is an amazing contrast of rolling hills, farmland, rugged bushland, tropical waterfalls, and volcanic lakes.

Last week we returned to one of the first places we ever visited in the Tablelands, the volcanic lakes Eacham and Barrine.

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Lake Eacham..where the forest meets the sea

One of my favourite books for children is  “Where the Forest Meets the Sea”…… here we are at a place where the rainforest meets the lakes.

A Ngadjonji legend tells of young hunters striking a sacred tree, which angered the rainbow serpent. The earth roared like thunder and winds blew like a cyclone. The ground twisted and cracked and red clouds rose in the sky that had never been seen before.

Scientists believe volcanos were active here until almost 12 000 years ago.

The day we walked around the lake it was hard to imagine the turbulent and violent past that created these lakes. Now they sit, still, deep and quiet.

Paul took some amazing photos which show just how peaceful, calm, and full of food the pelican and cormorants were!

 

A very contented pelican and cormorants .. Copyright Paul Mackey

Much of the original rainforest in the Tablelands has been cleared, but several small fragments remain…

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copyright Paul Mackey

….as it says in the guidebooks..

”green fragile jewels in a sea of farmland’

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Copyright Paul Mackey

It was only when Paul had taken this photo that we realised a baby turtle was in front of the mother… blending into the fallen branch and totally unseen by the naked eye.

We were happy to see the contented bird life and turtles, but this area is also home to some of the most primitive plant and animal species, such as the Musky Rat Kangaroo and the ancient Cycads.

Standing under the magnificent trees in the forests, looking down on the reflections of fallen trees in these deep lakes, was like travelling back in time… snatching a glimpse of the evolution of plant life on the planet.