Greetings fellow travellers - 'Namaste'
there has been a few slight technical issues with my photography of late, which should all be sorted in the coming week.
(though i do have some recent shots from Hinchinbrooke Island & the adjacent mainland mountain ranges of "Kirrama", so if you're like me and more visually inclined, skip the 'bla bla' and scroll straight down to the eye candy!)
So alas, the life of Cycling across the land has come to a halt (for the now) and I find myself living in a little coastal village called 'Cardwell'. If I had the money and funds I would have made the dash for Darwin before the wet-season kicks in, but alas it isn't to be (yet).
I've scored a really sweet job, which is basically the epitome of 'Conservation & Land Management' (a course I've done @ TAFE). It is a property development just north of Cardwell, with a green ethics base, aptly named 'Cardwell Gardens', an area that is home to one of the Earths most rare and endangered mammals, the 'Mahogany' Glider. (and I had the absolute blessing of seeing one of these little critters up quite close and personel at a friends house the other night.)
So the job involves planting native trees in certain key areas and general watering/mulching/nurturing duties to assist them through the dry season. It also involves huge areas of weed management and the use of a big red tractor to slash the areas designated for 'development'
So I live in a nicely retro-fitted shed and have fruit trees in the backyard (mostly avocadoes and mangos, with a few of the more unsual stuff that we get back home on the nursery)
I've started a new vegie garden with Herbs, Corn, Tomatoes, Beans, Cucumber and Watermelon growing. And so having been here for almost 2 cycles of the moon, I'm really stating to fall in love with the place (after quite a challenging 'integration' period).
The natural world within and around Cardwell is just asbolutely gorgeous, despite the extreme levels of ecological degredation.
There is something about 'BLUE' in the natural world, and within my first few weeks of blue-skys and sunshine, I walked outside one morning and spotted a 'Blue' Tree snake ...
The Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) is only found on Cardwell Gardens along the south eastern boundary where there is gallery rainforest along a seasonal creek.
another kingfisher that is also found along creeks, mangroves and estuaries is Australias smallest kingfisher, the 'Little Kingfisher' (Alcedo pusilla). this little cutey only grows to 11cm
From one of the smallest to one of the largest birds on Earth, the Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is in serious risk of extinciton due to the clearing of rainforest habitat. Dad and I saw the incredible flightless bird up @ Cape trib, where this unforunate boy had a serious looking limp.
Current population is estimated to be less then 1000 individuals in tropical north queensland, with very few long-term viable populations. Mission Beach is the last stronghold with maybe 100 or so within a continuous area of suitable lowland rainforest habitat.
I have seen one Juvinile (they don't have the blue colouring) a few kilometres from where I live, on the way to Edmund Kennedy National Park.
Blue animals have been complimented by the beautiful blue skies and liquid blue oceans, and my first trip out to the Islands was nothing short of breathtaking.
My awesome neighbour Geoff and I and a few other local fisherman went out to the Reef about a month ago. To Geoffs dissapointment we didn't catch any fish, though I just felt blessed to be out on the Ocean, something a boy from the bush doesnt get to experience very often.
'Gould Island' - this place is paradise and there really was hardly a single other boat as far as the eye could see. Just around the corner is one of Australias largest colonies of Dugongs (Dugong dugon). They too have suffered major declines over recent years, yet the marine Sancuary has obviously helped give them a fighting chance @ long term viability.
We woke up just off 'Brookes' Island, the last collective of landmass before you reach the Great Barrier Reef. This small group of Islands is home to a significant colony of Pied Imperial Pigeons (Ducula bicolor) every day they fly in massive flocks to Kirrama Range on the mainland to eat the fruits of the rainforest. A beautiful 'White bellied Sea Eagle flew over the Island whilst we ate breakfast on the back of the boat, stirring up the Pigeon colony.
Check out the rugged mountain ranges of Hinchindbrook Island far off in the western Sky. At this stage I hadn't set foot on the Island and I made an oath to myself that I would walk the great 'Thorsborne' trek before the wet-season kicks in.... and that I did !!!!
The next weekend I felt to go and explore the Kirrama ranges, up in the misty mountains behind Cardwell. This tropical rainforest community is home to the southern limit for the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, and although the road is officially closed, you can still get up there if your keen.
water that is too pure ~ has no fish in it
soil that is full of shit ~ produces abundant crops
These trees were quite common along the creek, they are the beautiful red 'Paperbark Satinash' (Syzygium papyraceum). the deep purple 'Lily Pily' fruit are all over the forest floor.
Hinchinbrook Island - the 'Thorborne' trail
And so the inevitable moment came to walk the 'Thorsborne' Trail, named after the late Arthur Thorsborne and his wife Marget Thorsborne. This 32 Kilometre wilderness walk has recentdly been voted as one of the worlds top bushwalking destination.
Australias largest Island National Park, this is one of the last remaining untouched wilderness Islands in the world, surrounded by incredibly diverse mangrove communities and covered in fragile mountain heath. The lower lying areas contain interesting ecotonal tropical Rainforest, Melaleuca wetlands and Eucalytus woodlands.
what an experience, words can't really express how special my time on the Island was. Not only from the perspective of a naturalist, but also from a spiritual point of view. I'm often asked by people how I go travelling alone, and it's quite obvious the people asking these questions probably haven't actually given themselves the opportunity to spend much time in nature just by themselves, so it's difficult to explain the sense of freedom that is apart of a solo-journey, especially when you've just set up camp and you've cooked some dinner next to a fire.. and you sit back, completely buggered from walking all day... and it's just that incredible sense of simplicity and contentment as your mind and body takes rest...
... the fire crackles away... mmmm, peace.
*as you pull march flys out of your hair and beat away the mozzies and sandflies* LOL
yet there is also the challenge or illusion of 'seperation' that all humans experience, whether alone in the bush or surrounded by millions of fellow brothers and sisters in the biggest communal areas on earth, Cities. The first night on the Island was confronting on many levels, I couldn't help but resonate with a Leunig Poem from a book my wonderful sister Carlie gave me just a few weeks ago (called 'The Travelling Luenig').
(the words are below if you can't read it)
When the heart is cracked, or cut or broken
do not clutch it, let the wound lie open
let the wind from the good old sea blow in
to bathe the wound with salt and let it sting
let a stray dog lick it
let a bird lean in the hole and sing
a simple song like a tiny bell
and let it ring
So the walk took on many different feelings and emotions, and simply having the space and environment to allow it all to unravel was a blessing, indeed. This is a magical Island
By the second morning I felt clear and connected, aware of the gift within the being.
Me and the Sun, we smile as One.
And halfway through the walk, I came across a most resonant soul, Petrina*. she was heading north and I was heading south, and after a good few hours sharing thoughts/feelings/perspective/possibilities (in other words, a couple of a greenies who really get a feeling for each others 'feelings' towards life and direction and trying to make a difference in this strange world.
Petrina had worked with quite a rare parrot in her homeland of New Zealand, and this was more inspiration for me to study conservation biology, as her discovery of a new colony of these parrots (I've forgotten the name) has clearly helped in their recovery.
She was a great person to share with and I hop we can stay in touch~
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle."
-Thich Nhat Hanh
the ancient fruiting conifer, Podocarpus elatus, is widespread in moist gulleys and rainforest across the eastcoast. I'd really love to go over just after the wet-season when they are fruiting, the anti-oxident levels are supposedly through the roof!
lush freshwater boggy palm wetlands, this bit was exciting, wondering if crocodiles could be hiding amongst the goop.
the rare beach stone-curlew is indiciative of pristine habitat, as they are now very uncommon along the east coast of Australia, where they used to be found down to Victoria and now are extremely rare.
The National Park burn areas of the Island off every year in an effort to immitate the Aboriginal fire regime, but I don't think aboriginals had helicopters ? my feeling is that it's a simple waste of energy, though makes for pretty photography; this Grass Tree (Xanthorea johnsonii) is coming back to life after being scorched quite recently
Mt Bowen rises to 1130m above sea level,
as the walk came to an end, the Palm Islands came into view on the southern horizon~
totally magnificant, highly reccomended wilderness walk ~