4 June 2008

Bunya Mountains & Western Downs

"There are no strangers
only friends we haven't met yet"

Well well well, I've already lost track of the days

... according to the computer I'm on, it's January the 17th, 2004 ???

I'm in one of the most friendly towns on Earth, Chinchilla, a couple of days west of the Bunya Mountains. Were I've just had a 'Yarn' with a few locals who stocked me up with a big bag of SOL Food (Sustainable Organic Local).

yummy food in my tummy

The further off the beaten track I travel, the more friendly and open the people seem to be.

and, so alas, After leaving Toowoomba, a week or so ago, I rode towards the Bunya Mountains, averaging 38km an hour (with the help of a powerful tailwind).

3 flat tyres in a row meant I had no other choice but to sleep in the school grounds at Oakey, were a painting reminded me of a simple teaching the aboriginal elders up in Arnhem land give to the young ones.

They took the young to the highest mountain in all the land, right on sunrise, and pointed as far as the eye could see ...
"you see this ... this is all you need to know ... this is who you are"

It is just incredible that tribal groups from as far south as the Clarence River (in northern nsw) would Journey north to the Bunya Mountains, every 3 years, for a massive Bunya Nut feast, to celebrate the life-giving "Mothers Milk".

So it is with a great sense of achievement that I fulfill a goal I've had for a few years now, to cycle from home to the Bunya Mountains.

Although I keep in mind that the indigenous people sourced all their food and medicine from the land around them, not from an unsustainable food system that is reliant on ancient fossil fuels
(of which are A) running out and B) causing climate change)
to; fertalize, produce, package and transport an average 1600km from the Earth to the Belly
~ So in the spirit of eating directly from the Earth ... I munched on a common 'weed' in Queensland, the Prickley Pear

similar in texture to the Dragon Fruit

Bushtucker vitamin suppliment

This landscape is vastly different to what it would have been 200 years ago, it is now mostly farmland, with remnant woodland being spared along the roadside and relic 'Bottle Trees' (Brachychiton rupestris) in amongst the crops.
The Woodlands of the Western Darling Downs are now considered a regional Endangered Ecological Community, with many species that once thrived here becoming more and more rare.

This is the same situation back home, as the Rainforest has quite an exotic flavour, people forget other ecological communities, of which our own Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornus) Woodland is now very uncommon.

just 10km from the top of the Bunya Mountains, evidence of European land(mis)management

I was fortunate enough to pass some woodland remnant, and thus began to see a whole new spectrum of birdlife.

Different coloured lorikeets and parrots ... and budgerigars ... lots of Eagles and Kites ... and Herons ... and tiny little fairy birds that remind me of Petrie's family from 'The Land Before Time".

If I stopped to photograph all of them, I'd still be in the Darling Downs country !

So eventually I made it to the bottom of the Mountain, as the main climb was in the last 7km ...

with a very steep section that apparently isn't fit for trailers !

this just doesn't quite capture how intense a climb it is to get up into the mountains

The Bunya Mountains is truly an Island of Bio-diversity amonst a sea of ecological degradation

It really is another world up there, 1100 meters above sea level, In a mountain range that contains the worlds largest stand of Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwilli).

Hoop Pine on the left Bunya Pine on the right

Araucaria cunninghamii ~ Araucaria bidwillii

These eco-systems are most similar to what the dinosaurs would have walked amongst...

Ferns trees and Conifers ... imagine a world before the evolution of flowers ~!

I spent 4 days up in the clouded mountains, with weather ranging from thick mist to heavy rain to intense gale force winds.

The National Park office is one of the best I've ever come across, with really friendly staff and loads of videos and books all freely avaible to learn from, which I did when the rain became heavy. (I almost spent a whole day in there) and would love to study ecology more in-depth.

the 'Noisy Pitta' ( Pitta versicolour) is a ground-dwelling bird that is found within the Rainforest understorey

typical of the Rainforest is the 'Strangler fig' (Ficus spp.)

The seed is dispersed by numerous birds, including fruit pigeons and the Coxen's fig-parrot that is believed to be regionally extinct within the Bunya Mountains. The seed germinates high in the canopy, eventually sending its roots down with the intent of slowly but surely strangling it's host.

we can identify this as 'Small-leaf Fig' (Ficus obliqua) due to the ... ahh ... small leaves (and fruit)

The un-mistakeable scales of the Red Cedar (Toona ciliata).

Red Cedar trees many times larger than this one would have been widespread in the Rainforests up and down the East Coast of Australia. But are now much less common

If a tree falls in the Rainforest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

think about it.

Fungi is a major player in the Rainforest, being able to break down lignin (the substance in wood that makes it so strong and durable). most often we only see the fruiting body

~ so cute ... see the little baby wallaby poking its head out ... awww ~

A Male Bowerbird nest, with his collection of blue toys to lure the Female bowerbird

the Crimson Rosella, a common bird in the Bunya Mountains, and most Rainforest eco-systems.

so .. after a good few days up in the Mountains I now head west for the Arcadia valley & Carnavon Gorge, passing through towns that are inhabited by a most friendly people.

They call this land 'The Western Downs'. Home to one of my favourite trees, the 'Bottle' Tree!

A massive old-growth 'Bottle Tree' (Brachychiton Rupestris)

with a subspecies of Human (Homo sapien subs. greenii)

Until next time,

May the Peace be with You

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover"

- Mark Twain


Anonymous said...

Hey Paulie,
may the wind be always at your back cause if it isn't bike riding sucks.

Matt said...

Hey Brethro, Great Vision, Great Courage, Great Person, Great Blog. Than kyou for caring and sharing.
Is that a picture of you composting a bottle tree Ha Ha Ha Or are your legs so tired you can't help but squat.
I wish you well on your journey.
You will always have a friend in me.
Matt Shooting Star