Thursday, 29 December 2016

Best Wildlife Locations of 2016.

From the Queensland/New South Wales border right up to Noosa, and out west to the Lockyer Valley, I had a great year exploring as much of South-east Queensland as I could manage! Some places stood above the rest, however, offering unique wildlife-viewing opportunities that I hope to take advantage of and share with you in 2017.

1. Springbrook National Park, Springbrook.
The edge of the Springbrook Plateau offers stunning views to the east, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Aided by a massive yearly rainfall average and the rich soils of the extinct Tweed volcano, the extraordinary forests of Springbrook form one of Australia’s best biodiversity hotspots. Home to tropical animals from the north, temperate creatures from the south, and a huge array of South-east Queensland / Northern New South Wales endemics, there is an exhausting amount of wildlife and plants to see at Springbrook, no matter what your area of interest is. The 4km Purling Brook Falls circuit offers a great introduction to the National Park, starting at the top of the plateau and winding down into the rainforest-clad valley below. Keep an eye out for bar-sided skinks (Eulamprus tenuis) in trackside eucalypt hollows, wompoo fruit-doves (Ptilinopus magnificus) in the rainforest, and stunning whitewater rockmasters (Diphlebia lestoides) whirring about Gwongorella ('Dancing Waters').

2. Plunkett Regional Park, Cedar Creek. 
Sandstone outcrops in remote sections of the park give Plunkett an 'ancient' atmosphere.
Ascend the sandstone ridges of this beautiful, quiet reserve and your location will change from “the southern end of Logan” to “a million miles from anywhere”. The dry eucalypt forest of Plunkett is home to a few regionally uncommon birds such as the speckled warbler (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus) and buff-rumped thornbill (Acanthiza reguloides), and I suspect the same is true of the mammal and reptile fauna. On the rock outcrops in higher parts of the park, keep an eye out for tongue orchids (Dockrillia linguiformis), basket ferns (Drynaria rigidula) and other lithophytic plants.

3. Lake Cooroibah Environmental Park, Cooroibah. 
Mullet, whiting and rays frequent the shallow waters of Lake Cooroibah.
One of several lakes that form what is colloquially known as the ‘Noosa Everglades’, Lake Cooroibah is an expansive, shallow, estuarine waterbody surrounded mostly by coastal forest. While the Noosa beachfront (including the National Park) can be packed with visitors at all times of the year, this nearby Environmental Park usually remains quiet and peaceful, save for a few local dog walkers. When said dogs are kept on a leash, look for wetland birds such as the black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) and collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris).

4. Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta. 
Many of the fish in the rockpools are juveniles seeking protection from larger predators.
The rockpools at Snapper Rocks have become my favourite snorkelling spot in South-east Queensland, but visiting at the right time of year is essential. For the past two years, a deep pool has appeared during the Easter school holidays that is filled with at least twenty-five species of fish; at other times of the year, sand can fill the area up. Bring on Easter 2017!

5. Mount Ninderry Bushland Conservation Park, Ninderry. 
Ninderry, Coolum and the Maroochy River all have their origins explained in local Aboriginal storytelling.
Walking the steep summit track in this Conservation Park will take you through a scenic forest featuring red bloodwoods (Corymbia gummifera) and native sarsaparillas (Hardenbergia violacea). Alternatively, a track at the end of Ocean Vista Drive will offer a more distant view of the mountain, advancing up a grassy clearing above which grey goshawks (Accipiter novaehollandiae) soar.

6. Alexandra Headland, Alexandra Headland.
The reef platform at Alex Heads provides good fishing for a local osprey (Pandion haliaetus) family.
The intertidal rock platform extending out below Alexandra Headland is one of the best places in South-east Queensland to see the rare wandering tattler (Tringa incana), as well as a plethora of marine invertebrates. Don’t ignore the headland itself however—Burton’s snake-lizards (Lialis burtonis), eastern water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii) and lively rainbow skinks (Carlia vivax) all live among the cliff-face weeds.

7. Keperra Bushland Reserve, Keperra. 
The walking circuit is best approached clockwise, acsending on loose stones and descending on bitumen.
At first glance, this patch of eucalypt bushland seems very ordinary, but I end up seeing something intriguing on every visit! The challenging uphill walk offers rewards in the form of pale-vented bush-hens (Amaurornis molucca), red-winged stick-insects (Podacanthus viridiroseus), nobbi dragons (Diporiphora nobbi) and more.

8. Kondalilla National Park, Witta.
Fan ferns (Sticherus sp) line moist sections of the track.
Kondalilla Falls in nearby Montville is the most well-known feature of this National Park, but earlier this year I found a little-used western entrance in Witta. If visiting, look forward to a variety of wet forest birds such as the spectacled monarch (Symposiachrus trivirgatus) and eastern spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris), but beware the almost non-existent parking and tricky turning circle at the end of Schultz Road.

9. Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Maleny. 
A gigantic wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana) is suspended above the boardwalk.
As the name suggests, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a treat for the eyes, with subtropical rainforest and Glass House Mountain views ready to impress approximately 200,000 visitors each year. The wildlife, including red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica) and grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) seem fairly comfortable with the pedestrian traffic.

10. Dunethin Rock, Maroochy River.
Bar-shouldered doves (Geopelia humeralis) waddle over the rock outcrop in search of seeds.
This riverside reserve is named after the small rhyolite outcrop it protects, upon which interesting plants such as native basil (Plectranthus graveolens) and Hill’s velvet bush (Seringia hillii) grow.

11. East Mount Mellum Nature Refuge, Mount Mellum. 
The walking track in this Nature Refuge is short but fairly steep.
Entered via an obscure track opposite a pineapple farm on Old Gympie Road, East Mount Mellum Nature Refuge is a quiet, rarely-visited patch of bushland, home to beauties like the Australian king-parrot (Alisterus scapularis), Botany Bay weevil (Chrysolophis spectablis) and tall lobelia (Lobelia gibbosa).

12. Duncans Road, Flagstone Creek. 
Shelterbelts provide shade for cattle and habitat for wildlife in an otherwise scorched landscape.
The farms out in this Lockyer Valley locality are linked by gravel roads lined with ‘dry country’ species like the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and narrow-leaved bottletree (Brachychiton rupestris).

6 comments:

  1. Incredible and beautiful country you've explored. What a lot of fun to be had at Snapper Rocks... no wonder you can't wait until Easter! The boardwalk at Maleny looks so inviting. Cheers now :D)

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    1. Thanks Sue, sorry it took me a while to reply, had a little break from the computer for a few weeks. And yes, I cant wait to get into the water over Easter! 😆

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  2. Thanks for the hints on where to go. Must try the places that I haven't been if I can dig the old man out of his chair.

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    1. Thanks Diane, glad it inspired you to want to take a look. Sorry it took me a while to respond, I had a little computer break to start the year with.

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  3. Great locations! with some being nearby I'll have to take a look!

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