Report – TO3025 – Field notes

TO3025, 2000-10-03

Field notes and Reflections of the Fieldtrip 2000

Day 1 – Sunday 24 th September

FIRST STOP

We started our journey to drive to Ingham located 111 km north of Townsville to visit the Hinchinbrook Visitor Centre , were we kindly met by Patricia and George. Hinchinbrook Visitor Centre is owned and operated by the local shire council.

We spent about 30 minutes there collecting information and brochures. The visitor centre has wide range of brochures of many operators around north Qld.

The hour drive up to Ingham meant an increase in the rainfall from 1m in Townsville to 2.2 in Ingham. This difference is enough to be suitable for rainforest and that is what Ingham is used to be before it got cleared. The clearing has been extensive the latest months.

SECOND STOP

We stopped for 15-20 minutes at Cardwell lookout and looked at the clearly heavily used path around to the lookout, on the short trail to the look out we found three human faecal deposits, one could wonder if a toilet could be a good idea on this site.

In the highly productive mangrove area below the lookout there are quite large turtle and dugong populations (dugongs are critically endangered in southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR)), apart from that the area is a very good crocodile breeding ground.

To the south of the lookout, one could just see the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere (7.5km), that is used for the sugar industry in the area through the sugar shed visible from the look out.

Another feature visible from the look out, are the Neapa Palms National Park. The Hinchinbrook channel is also a great fishing spot, both recreationally and commercially. A couple of aquaculture farms has been unfortunately given permission to establishment in the channel which contributes with nutrients to the channel which can have profound effects in the future.

THIRD STOP

On the way to Josephine Falls we stopped at Port Hinchinbrook master plan and had a cruise through the harbour that was covered by the mangrove area we saw from the lookout in the 1980s but was chopped down illegally and due to that it was easier for the planners to get permission to go ahead with the project.

FOURTH STOP

At Josephine Falls we had lunch and went for a swim in the middle pool. Some local fellow that was there told me that there used to be a Tarzan swing on either side of the top pool plus that the locals used the falls as slides but now-a-days it’s not permitted to swim in the top pool due to some tourists had died by being sucked down in the force from the water.

FIFTH STOP

Next stop for the day were at Babinda Boulders which are a the locals favourite swimming hole. There is also a walking track, the Goldsborough track leading to our camping ground for the night. This site is also of spiritual significance for Aboriginal people.

SIXTH STOP

Instead of walking the 5km to our campsite through the Goldsborough track to Goldsborough State Forest Park we drove around the spectacular Bellenden Ker Range in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to get there. When we got there we put our camp and walked to Kearney’s Falls through a 800m tar-matted walk through the rainforest.

Day 2 – Monday 25 th September

FIRST STOP

The representative of Lake Barrine’s Wildlife Cruises , Bill Bayne, took us on a 45-50 minute tour around the old volcanic lake, with a very quiet 4 stroke engine, that had some kind of new technology that made it to exhaust 5% of a normal engine, that is an old Maar volcano with flat bottom and with sides sloping at 15 ° . The lake is two km wide on the longest stretch but generally its about one km. The entire park is 495Ha, while the lake constitutes 104Ha of those. The bottom sediment was apparently clear and jelly like and was an excellent place to collect the pollen from the trees surrounding the lake going back many years. The rainforest around the lake is about 100 years old all though there is lots of much older trees like the Rough Pine Carry that was estimated to be around 500yo.

The lake contains some native spp. for example some turtles. The lake has around 1-1.5m of rainfall a year. On our cruise we bumped into two python nests and another little bit smaller snake. Bill stated that there was lots of snakes and lizards in the surrounding rainforest habitat. We also encountered three spp. of Cormans, basket ferns and white breasted sea eagles have also been seen around the lake. Around the lake there was estimated to be 600spp. of tree, 1800spp. of plants. Bill also showed us a really rare fern called skeleton fern, in the bay called Ferries Garden. Different introductions have been made through history but many have died out due to either too cold or too warm climates.

The fee to the National Park is 1.15$ and for a normal tourist it costs 9.95$ for a 45 minutes tour.

The only questionable activity they promote, little now and then, are some feeding of small birds and some to the eels.

SECOND STOP

We did a quick visit to Lake Eacham and found a three km tar-matted walking path around the volcanic lake, when we stopped at one of the entrances to the lake we saw quite a few medium sized fish using clear signs of feeding behaviour indicating that tourists use to feed the fish despite the clear signs telling them not too. At the site toilets, BBQ areas could be found.

THIRD STOP

On the way to Mareeba Wetlands we past the Curtain Tree Fig – This world famous fig tree is of the species Ficus virens , it is a strangler fig tree. Really nice, many tourists there, with a 50m boardwalk down to the fig with a board walk going away from the fig, so people can take photos without leaving the boardwalk and destroy the surrounding area. The boardwalk goes around the majestic trees and the fig. There are interpretative signs, which describe how the curtain tree fig grew, and some additional interesting information.

FOURTH STOP

Our stomachs was starting to get empty so we headed for Mareeba Wetlands Bird Sanctuary where we were greeted by Tim Nevard and we filled our stomachs before Tim gave us a run down on the how’s and why’s concerning the wetlands.

And that’s is exactly what the tourists ask when they are visiting. Tim explains that the only reason they are involved in tourism is to gain money. The only other way is to grow sugarcane and Tim feels that is not the way to go, though he is looking for the long lasting conservation. Around the lakes there is a 2m evaporation per year.

Tim and Mareeba Wetlands Bird Sanctuary has raised $3.8 Million so far since the start. He uses indigenous Savannah guides – and thinks that QLD should use more indigenous names on toilets and other normal signs so people/tourists learn something new and also by that conserve the existence of the fading knowledge of the Australian indigenous population.

They are conserving some species more than others and one particular is the Golden Finch that Tim estimated to become extinct within 3-4 years due to the incredible dumping of 80% of the gene pool. They are aware that they are not ecologically pure but they have the philosophy that of “Duty of care” meaning “if we hurt them – we have to heal them”.

Tim Nevard are thinking about building a small hut village for about 200 people on the other side of the reserve. Mareeba Wetlands Bird Sanctuary have had about 2000 visitors since the opening in April this year. The Sanctuary is a voluntary organisation financed only from sponsors and visitors.

Later this year they are planning a huge burn out to get rid of the Melalokas that are a bit of concern for them.

FIFTH STOP

After a long day we arrived at the purposed development of Red Hill Enviro-Park , a.k.a. Hilary & Geoffrey Kuhn’s place, in the middle of the rainforest. They are developing an ecotourism destination on their property, and Hilary took us kindly around their property to show us what her plans and problems were. Both the Enviro-park and the Kuhn families private house utilises (and will utilise) renewable energy sources (wind/solar).

The whole park will be financed through user fees which will cover the cost plus contribute to the research that will be conducted at the center. Large quantity of the area is in rehabilitation from a former dietary farmer.

The Kuhn’s are going to put in $300.000 on boardwalks and other facilities in the area. That will be the first time ever a private business does that.

Due to personal values and experiences with drunk people I could not get my head around to understand and listen to Geoffrey’s dribble and therefore I presumably mist out on some information I might have had some use of now, but so be it.

Day 3 – Tuesday 26 th September

FIRST STOP

The two representatives for QPWS in Mossman, Fay Adams and Frank Gleeson, greeted us early Tuesday morning. Frank was telling us that QPWS in Mossman is responsible for the protection and management of the most heaviest used recreational area in Australia (The Wet Tropics) and the high endemicity in with this area makes this task very important. With national parks like Daintree and Mossman gorge. My question to Frank was if he considered user pays to be an option in the area due to the high expenditures for management and protection, he answered that he did not like the idea.

SECOND STOP

Mick and Richard welcomed us to the Bamanga Bubu Aboriginal Trail which started 1987.

The Kuku-Yalanji are the aboriginal inhabitants of the land and their name Kuku (pronounced [gogo] ) is the clan name, and Yalanji is the language. Mick was telling us that there was 6-7 clans in this area. The indigenous people take the clan of their mother and the guys take the clan after their wives. Mick introduced us to the Sticky Bean Tree, that they used the beans and grind them up to produce glue to be able to catch birds, especially pigeons.

Mick and Richard also gave us an insight about how it has been as a [Bama] (aboriginal word for the indigenous people, though they feel put down if you call them aboriginals) down south in NSW, where the Bamas had their tongue cut out if they didn’t speak english.

1967 was the year when the indigenous people were classified as Australians.

They also told us that men use to work 5-6 hours per week while the women basically worked 24hours per day.

The medicine man was the highest man in the clan, he could set spells on people that did wrong and even take away spells.

They continued teaching us about fruits from the Finger Teller Tree who has red fruits that are edible, you can eat as many as you like but make sure that you do not get the fruit juice into you eyes, though it will blind you permanently. The Milky Pine was used for making canoes due to the ease of carving the timber, the leaf sap was used to reduce fevers by swallow a couple of drops of the sap together with some water. The bark of the milky pine is used for fishing.

Stinger tree roots were used (crushed and grinded) to relieve the pain from the toxic stingers from the leaves.

Trees are very special places to indigenous Australians, because they are born next to one and the birth remains are buried around that particular tree and becomes therefore part of the Bama peoples body and life. If the tree is chopped down parts of the Bamas die with the tree too.

Two weeks ago they constructed a de-tour around a female healing place, which was a direct incentive from the elders.

The Bamas are using painting, as many other clans, on bark, rock or bodies. The rock painting is repainted every 2-3 years to re-experience the event and to pass the experience on to younger members of the clan. The body painting is to represent the clan, this particular clan is the rainforest clan and have therefore lots of dots (raindrops).

The white colour are made by clay and that is also used by pregnant women to increase the calcium in their bodies.

Mick and Richard talked to us about indigenous tokens, while sitting on a cemented trail over one of the creeks, that if the clan had a cassowary as a token the clan could not eat, touch or in other ways relate to the cassowaries.

The fire was used to protect against evil spirits, insects and also for cooking.

They showed us a 900-year-old strangler fig. Silver quongdons is edible fruits with a blue colour, and was quite like apples in the sense that one have to wait to harvest them until the right moment otherwise they are just full of tannins.

Mahogany trees are used to make swords, shields, boomerangs etc.

Lastly they showed us this rock painting that was claimed to be 12000 years-old. The same site was used as a initiation site for members of the clan by cutting in the breast.

During our lunch, Shawn put up a nice feature by playing the digeridoo for us.

THIRD STOP

It was time for us to investigate the third R that many tourists do not think about, Reef, Rainforest and R iver. We did this with Peter Cooper using the Daintree River Boat Cruises and the river experience started 8km from the ocean. This area around the river inhabits about 200spp. of fish, 70spp. of crustaceans, 29spp. of mangroves.

Peter also told us that the largest crocks in the river grew to about a ton and 5m, while in comparison in captivity the crocks can grow up to 9meters and 3.5tonnes. The crocks mate once a year.

We saw three crocks in total during the one hour cruise, the largest two meter and the other two about one meter each. One of the small crocks were sitting in the surf and just waiting for the fish to jump into its mouth.

The mangrove apple was also showed to us but it did not look that great, but the explanation was given that the mangrove apple only flower during the night with nice red flowers.

The mangroves produce 10 tonnes of leaf litter per ha per annum. Peter also stated that the fish was taking care of large quantities, but as anyone with some knowledge in marine science knows, fish do not eat leafs, but crabs are very productive in mangrove areas.

70% of the fish spp. use the river sometime during their lifecycle, indicating that rivers are very important habitats for both terrestrial animals and aquatic.

There was a large collection of the “blind-your-eyes” tree that was pointed out for us.

Many birds was also pointed out, great egret to mention one.

FORTH STOP

After some really meandering driving through very nice areas we had reached Maardja Boardwalk . Where Andrew Spooner who is the Ranger in Charge of Cape Tribulation Region and took us around this beautiful spot where the rainforest meets the mangrove areas very nicely. No notes was taken at this site due to heavy rainfall at the time when we were leaving the cars. But the boardwalk has interpretative signs giving the visitors a good glimpse of the biology and ecology of the flora and fauna in the area.

FIFTH STOP

After long distances driving in 20km/hour through gravel roads we finally reached Kulki which is the Aboriginal name for Cape Tribulation. The beach can be seen from the corner of the car park where the boardwalk also starts. After five minutes walk Alastair gathered the group around a bush, that was commonly called during the fieldtrip as the “headache plant”, containing a very rare animal that looks like a walking stick with grasshopper legs and leaf green called “phatoh – peppermint”. The boardwalk leads to a lookout where one can see the beach in a very nice view.

Between the beach and the car park there was a dozen, or so, sets of tables with cemented floors to decrease heavy erosion.

SIXTH STOP

To experience the difference we looked at the Dubuji ‘s 1200m boardwalk which was created relieve the pressure from Kulki where there is heavy usage. We reflected over the amount of infrastructure and the cemented start around the area. Large grass areas and free electric grills for large numbers of visitors and BBQs.

Day 4 – Wednesday 27 th September

FIRST STOP

After a late night it was time to visit the reef. The largest day trip operator on the Great Barrier Reef is Quicksilver. Quicksilver’s General Manager & Executive Director Max Shepherd very kindly took us aboard and spoke to us regarding the issues of tourism operators working in natural areas.

Today we went out to Agincourt Reef located on the very edge of the Continental Shelf. Agincourt Reef, belongs to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage area.

Four of us (Jason, Liam, Rune and me) was picked, by value our snorkeling skills, to go further out to a different part of the reef called The Gap with a scientific part of the Quicksilver company called Reef Biosearch. If the swell from the Pacific wouldn’t had been that hard we would have gone further out to the wall of the continental shelf. Our JCU Marine Biology graduate guides Jutte & Erica took care of us in the boat and Jutte that came from Germany took us for a snorkel tour with six other tourists where two also where marine biologists or under training to become one (one of the tourists and me).

SECOND STOP

After a long day on the reef we finally made it back to shore and had a chat with John Rumney the owner and manager of Undersea Explorer , Tina Alderman (staff onboard the UE) and Brandon Walker (Aboriginal training program).

Day 5 – Thursday 28 th September

FIRST STOP

After an even later night (or early morning for some) we packed up from U.E. office space and headed to the Rainforest Habitat to have a lovely breakfast with the birds and go through their enclosure of 140 spp. of wildlife including, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, birds and crocodiles. When we were having breakfast lorikeets flew around and begged for food and some even landed on the shoulders on people. There is 25 tables in the dining room with room for 6 on each which gives about 150 people, today there were about 80 persons having breakfast.

The wildlife walk was divided up into three sections, one totally enclosed with nets to keep the birds inside, another with kangaroos and wallabies without the roof net.

SECOND STOP

On the way south we did a quick stop at Rex Lookout on James Cook Hwy to take some photos. This is the jump site for some companies doing paraflying and they land on the beach below.

THIRD STOP

Not far from Rex Lookout we stopped at Hartley’s Creek Crocodile farm that is on of the wildlife attractions in Far North Queensland that been established longest. Hartley’s Creek Crocodile farm are producing meat and skin for export and domestic consumption.

The guide Christine told us that the large crocks had a 3tonne per inch pressure in the jaws. The crocodile can keep there breath for 2 hours. The reason the crocks use the famous “death-roll” is because the crock wants the animal of their feet so it can drag the prey into the water.

But they have more than daily crocodile shows, they have also Koalas, Cassowaries, Dingoes, Kangaroos, reptiles and other species native to Australia.

The overall picture of the place was it was ‘compartmentalised’ not much of the natural setting that was found in the Rainforest Habitat or Billabong Sanctuary.

FOURTH STOP

After a hour drive south to Cairns we reached Wet Tropics Management Authority where Max Sheppel, Lisa Stagoll, Cambell Clark and Hilton Nodle greeted us with a very nice conference room with coffee, tea and cookies.

Lisa Stagoll started out because she had to leave early for another meeting.

They talked about the growing management issues due to the increasing pressure from tourism that grows with about 5-8% per annum.

They also considering using user pays to contribute to the subsidies that the government is giving out.

Wet Tropics has also problems with their own organisation with what is decided among the managers and executives is not applicable at the “grassroots” (rangers) so instead of taking information and research from JCU and other research centers, the research should be based from the information that the rangers report in to the managers and a plan of action is given back to them dealing with what is reported.

They also went into the cultural aspect of the tourism and gave us some handouts about Wet Tropics Nature Based Tourism Strategy, Aboriginal Perceptions of the Tourism Industry and the last handout was from Cambell Clark that was talking about the process of management process of walking tracks, and mentioned the Wet Tropics Walking Strategy and the plans of implementing a user friendly homepage where recreationalists can click on where, how long, and how difficult the want to walk and press “find” the database will give 10-15 suggestions where to travel to do these walks and how to get there, what to expect in terms of natural attractions, swimming holes, waterfalls etc…

FIFTH STOP

Not far from Wet Tropics’ office in Cairns is EPA ‘s / QPWS ‘s office were Mark Herman had arranged for us to talks with rangers.

Attending people were: Mark Herman, Mike Prociv, Brent Vincent and Andrew Hoffman (but he left due to his wife is going to have a baby).

Mike Prociv started out talking about the same as Cambell Clark did at Wet Tropics about the homepage they want to make. Mike was really straight forward and said what he though and was picking an most things that the governments had to do with. He blamed them delaying construction and management plans for more than 10 years! Stating there is lots of bureaucracy.

Stephanie Golden that is an old honors student of Alastairs’ that now works with the marine parks issues and is the boss over Ian Osborne that we will talk to later tonight. She is responsible for Green Island National Park.

She also stated that the bureaucracy in and around national parks are very high. Around Green Island there are at least five governmental institutions to control it; GBRMPA, State & National marine parks, national parks and not to forget the World Heritage listing has implications too.

To bring people to the island commercially it costs companies $1.80 per person in a national parks levy. This levy covers the management of the park e.g. bulldozing the beach ($10,000/year) due to heavy erosion from the dredging of the channel….

They are building an interpretative walk with the history of the island with a anticipated carrying capacity of 2000 visitors / day.

Brent Vincent – Senior Wildlife Ranger , spoke to us after Stephanie was done, he has expertise in capturing and handling wildlife. His work is to collect animals that has been classified as dangerous of the public or local councils.

They are using harpoons, to capture crocks, that are about 30mm long and they are shoot in the back of the neck or in the base of the tail. Brent also told us that the myth that crocks have very weak opening pressure is not true, though in fact the crocodiles have a very strong opening pressure, but the closing pressure is massive.

The rangers have problems with trophy hunting from youngsters that go out with 4WDs and shotguns and shoot crocks of both species, often cut there head of and take it home.

Mark Herman continued after Brent saying basically what Mike said that agencies, authorities and other governmental institutions have to stop the jargons and start evolving and producing workable packages for the businesses of the simple reason that strategies, reports or scheme are too long and complicated for the businesses to understand and work from. Basically write short and concise . Mark continues stressing the same handbook and webpage that both Mike Prociv and Cambell Clark talked about.

Mark also mentioned the new national questionnaire with three parts, one ANZAC part, one regional part and one local part.

SIXTH STOP

After a long day and long discussions we drove to Freshwater Caravan Park were we sat up our camps and when waiting for the dinner to get ready Ian Osborne, EPA Ranger , showed up and talk to us about Green Island.

Ian is the temporary replacement ranger on Green Island and he shared with us what a ranger does e.g. clean out weeds, stop illegal fishing, put up new signs when/if needed but generally it is a lot of contact with the resort/tourists telling them the do’s and don’t’s.

General maintenance takes up lot of time.

65-70% of the visitors are Japanese. The most serious problem is the shell collection on Green Island. Large problem between and within aboriginal communities and authorities with hunting.

Day 6 – Friday 29 th September

FIRST STOP

Today was the day when it was time to head out to Green Island and we used Great Adventures – Cruises Fast Cat owned by the Japanese company Daikyo.

Our guide from Great Adventures Robyn Aiello is a marine biologist gave us a nice tour around the island.

The tour took us past the monument in memory of Noel and Kitty Monkman that started a research station on the island. Robyn gave us an handout called “Environmental codes of ethics” and she talked about Green Island Naturalist guide compendium, that goes through; water, leaves, trees, other plants, animals etc. She also raised the issue of the coconut trees being a hazard for the tourists through the falling nuts. The whole nature walk was on a boardwalk except for the start around the built up areas where it was paved and cemented to meet the high visitation numbers.

Robyn was telling us about the Makarenga plants sap could be used as glue and turned dark maroon when dried. Lots of interpretation while walking and unfortunately the persons in the back couldn’t really hear what the guide said due to that she was talking while walking. She mentioned that she did not tell any scientific names due to the increased confusion among the tourists. Robyn continued talking about the coral tree is very smooth and similar to balsa wood.

In the logbook of pioneers and explorers in 1903 wrote that there was no high vegetation on Green Island, only low growing vegetation. This tends to indicate that the vegetation on the island today have not had more than 100years to grow to the size the forest have today.

We were introduced to Native Jasmine which smelled good. We also saw the Australian equivalent to the hummingbird. Other plants encountered were Cassorina tree, that had its leaves hanging down to reduce sun exposure. Beside the Cassorina there was some Sea lettuce whose berries can be used for mosquito and other insect bites, cuts etc. It had waxy leaves to reduce the harm from the UV light from the sun.

SECOND STOP

What other way would a tour of the resort be done better than by the Operational Manager him self; Robert Ring . Robert took us around the resort showing of the resorts private pool one of their 46 – 4.5 star hotel rooms. He also told us that the island was about 6000years old and the construction of the resort was done by the very strict rules from all the management authorities. Robert also stated that their “ultimate goal is to be sustainable”.

The resort has both day and night interpretative walks, which about 80-90% of the overnight visitors attend to. Fish feeding on the jetty is a daily occurrence and has been going on since long time back. The walks has both marine and terrestrial interpretation.

Today there was about 500-600 people on the island, and that is considered very empty though the normal visitation numbers are around 1100-1200 people.

The resort has 73 working staff, 20 of those stay on the island. The resort makes out 37 acres or 73 Ha of the total area of the island.

Robert mentioned that there were seven agencies that control the island. The building cost of the of the resort was $36Million. Earlier this year they had a cyclone coming through that hit pretty bad but gave mostly roof damage. The resort was finished and opened in August 1994 and it has about 65-75% occupancy per year. The majority of the visitors bot to the island and the resort is Japanese (40% of the overnighters) and about 35% Italians. The reason they claim to be 4.5 stars and not 5 is due to the lack of seclusion and privacy which cannot be reached as long they are on an island. The rooms (which were REALLY nice) cost 550$ per day. But the most normal package they give is room + breakfast for 375$ if they are two people. The room contained only full-flush toilets .

Robert believes that the diving both around the island and out at the GBR is a clear advantage for the Green Island resort also around the island a lot of turtles are present.

Robert proudly showed us around both the resort it self and over to the restaurant called Emerald, which had a large veranda with lots of tables so the resort guests can have to choice of dining inside in the air-conditioned area or outside in the nice breeze from the coral sea.

The resort works with the local community by giving the local schoolchildren a so called “free month”.

Robert finished of by stating some more facts about the island, that it was 27km from the mainland. And that the resort had an annual turnover of $600,000.

Robert left us with the Maintenance Supervisor – Chris Chapbell , that started talking about the water tanks and that the resort got 120,000 liters of water barged over to the island twice a week and that costs about $3000 per barge. The resort use about 45,000 liters per day.

After the huge water tanks we came to two diesel tanks with a volume of 20,000 liters each, they cost about $9,000-10,000 to fill up.

After the diesel tanks we came to the tertial treatment plant. We got some interpretation about all the pipes and valves and the basic run through how it worked. The four generators (that the diesel is used for) do not run on full capacity (400kW / generator), but only on about 75% on two generators. They only use two generators at the time and use the other two under maintenance so there will not be any power shortage. The generators are built into a sound proofed building of to reasons, one – not to disturb the wildlife and secondly – not to disturb the guests of the 4.5 Star resort.

They also do water-table checks so they do not interact chemically with the other plants on the island. Recycling on the resort is done in the normal unsophisticated Australian way .

THIRD STOP

After lunch under the trees at the Ranger station we had scheduled to do a walking tour with Alastair but due to the tides we swooped and decided to do the snorkeling tour with Alastair first before the walking tour. The snorkeling tour at Green Island were quite different to what we saw out at Agincourt Reef, Green Island had more dead corals and lot less of them, the fish life was greater though than the out barrier reef.

FOURTH STOP

After lazing on the beach for a while after our snorkeling tour it was time head back to do the walking tour around the island. Alastair showed use endemic palms an humpback whale vertebrate. AB also told us that the reef flat around Green Island extended 3miles out in a SE direction. On the beaches there was something quite unusual called beachrock which showed where the beaches used to be (hundreds and perhaps thousand years ago). They have lots of fossilised bivalves in them.

Day 7 – Saturday 30 th September

FIRST STOP

On the way to the “best rainforest experience” Skyrail we stopped at Lake Placid , which was really nice and a couple of kids was enjoying the swing and the lovely swimming.

SECOND STOP

In the foyer to Skyrail we were met by computer interpretations explaining how the rail was built and so on…

It was built by the Chapman family, many conservation activists were hugging the trees when they first started.

The Skyrail cableway contains 4 sections with the start in Caravonica Terminal (Cairns) second stop at Red Peak Station, Barron Falls Station and last stop at Kuranda Terminal.

The first section offers a great view over Cairns and Alastair told me and Rune that that side of the range was very often exposed to cyclones and was thereby a quite disturbed area, this could be noticed on the high amount of lawyer vine (wait-a-while).

Red Peak Station

At the first stop we went of to an 175m elevated interpretative boardwalk with Kyo, a Japanese guide that had learnt a lot of information about the area. He had guided for 1.5years. This boardwalk can be done without a guide and still be interpretative due to information signs put up. The short walk offers over 160spp of rainforest plants and a nice lookout.

Some of the plant Kyo talked about were:

  • Ginger plant
  • Kauai Pine – highest tree sp. in Qld. This one about 500yo.
  • Hairy Mary – vine related to the Wait-a-while.
  • Weeping brown pine – used as firewood
  • Basket ferns
  • Native mango steam – native people used this as yellow paint, very sticky.
  • Milky wood – white body paint, also used for fishing where the milky wood absorbs the oxygen in the water and the fish can be collected very easily. Does not kill the fish, just ‘stuns’ them. The fish not collected will just swim away when the oxygen is restored in the water.

At this interpretative walk there is six guides working. Kyo stated afterwards that he was the guide that took care of the Japanese tourists and even though he new the rainforest plants he lacked the cultural aspect of it that he cannot interpret.

The station has toilets and handicap access.

Barron Falls Station

Was built around the existing hydroelectric plant and lookouts. The lookouts over Barron River is quite impressing, and we were told specially during the full floods in the wet seasons.

At Barron Falls Station CSIRO and JCU got $30,000 to put up an interpretative center, with the history of the rainforest, its features with touch panels of different items. Sounds and pictures had a general dominance throughout the center, with four touch screen computers for both young and old and one film loop on a TV telling the story of the rainforest. The language in general was quite simple to let everyone understand. The whole center has many interpretative signs and flow-schemes.

They deliberately kept the cultural aspect out due to Tjabukai Aboriginal Cultural Park where we will go later today.

Kuranda Terminal

If one feel that one wants to go for a leg stretcher they can do that in Kuranda, but as for this course trip we just around the carrousel and went back to Caravonica Terminal (Cairns).

SECOND STOP

….for the day is Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park .

The first room (air con = NICE!!!) we came into where filled with paintings and other artifacts, the whole room had a very mystical and strange powerful feeling over it… the feeling grew during and after the first movie. The movie was telling the story of the aboriginals before, during and after (?) white people came to Australia. It was telling the story about Mona mona which was the mission built by the aboriginals for the missionaries. All the aboriginals that stood up for their right was deported to prison camps on either Green Island or Palm Island. (These islands were very significant for the aboriginals as holy places and also the issue that many different clans were packed together in the same camp had its complications).

My personal conclusion of the movie/story is “very sad but unfortunately true”. The interpret was REALLY good with the choice between seven languages.

The theatre following the movie was really nicely structured with the settings appropriate with trees on the side and so on. The choreography and structure of both the show and the high-tech visual aid and the combination of video and live performance was just EXCELLENT!!

VERY IMPRESSING!!!

After this astonishing performance we went on to look at the making of and the playing of the didgeredoo . The illustrator showed us that it sounds almost as good with a PVC-plastic tube.

Just around the corner was the presentations from a very happy lad of bush food and medicines .

He went through black beans (poisonous), yellow pea, hairy jam (hotter than chilly), if one suffered from diaria one could crush termite mounds and mix with water and drink (contains Mg, Fe and Ca), lemon myrtle (good for headache, flu etc (make tea from it or just sniff it)).

The fourth event for the day inside the culture park was a live show, where they illustrated hunting through intensive dance and clapping with boomerang-look-a-like instruments. They also illustrated how they make fire with sticks. The whole show was as the rest of this visit very impressing!

After the dance show we went a bit a side to try spear throwing at hay-bales with the Qantas Airways kangaroo on it. This art was quite hard to master, even though I tried multiple times (6 or 7) I never got it to go straight. Our guide said in comfort that it takes 3-6months of intensive training to master it so I should not feel bad about it.

Next event was to throw boomerang . This I felt more secure with and already on the second it came back and I could catch it!

One Response to “Report – TO3025 – Field notes”

  • Stuart Washburn:

    Woah this blog is magnificent i really like reading your posts. Keep up the great postings! You understand, a lot of individuals are looking around for this information, you can help them greatly.

Leave a Reply