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..)
but the elegant Egret poses for the camera, and the Darter dries his wings…
………we just enjoy a warm and sunny cruise around the lake…thinking of our fellow Canberrans…
…..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.
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.
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…