A wonderful assortment of beautiful tropical seashells lies on the coral beaches around Normanby Island. Normanby Island is one of the Frankland Island group which lies on the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland Coast of Australia. As it is a National Park, you cannot collect and take away anything from the island. All these photographs were taken on the beach during the visit. Access to Normanby Island is somewhat limited and only one company was running trips to the island when I was there. Most of the visitors sailing to the island from the Mulgrave River were intent on diving and snorkelling on the living coral reefs around the island, a pleasure that was denied me as a non-swimmer. I contented myself with exploring the shores and enjoying the fabulous picnic provided.
Another taste of the hot, steamy rainforest in Queensland, Australia, in the hills around Kuranda. It is the end of November and starting to get wet but not so bad as it will be in a month or two. Tall trees reach up to a dense canopy of leaves through which sunshine occasionally bursts with blinding intensity. Up high, epiphytes like the Basket, Bird’s Nest, and Asplenium Ferns are wedged in the angles of branches, feeding on falling debris.
Creepers, climbers and vines twist around the trunks or hang as spiral-shaped lianas clinging to ‘ghost’ branches. Fierce spiky stems and barbed tendrils of Wait-a-While Palms spread among the undergrowth waiting to snare passers-by. The odd bright red flower strikes a vivid contrast amongst the varying shades of green; and isolated clumps of illuminated leaves become gloriously translucent amid the shaded vegetation. There is a fleeting glimpse of a Monitor Lizard as it makes its way through rotting leaves on the forest floor, where striped woody shelf or bracket fungi decorate stumps of decaying wood. This is Djabugay Country.
A bit of a walk on the wild side today. These photographs were taken on a stroll through the wet tropical rainforest in the mountains of Queensland, Australia. We took a fantastic ride with the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns on the coast up to Kuranda via the Barron Gorge National Park. Although the town itself is very much dedicated to tourists and tourism, and that has its own appeal and interest, it is also surrounded by natural forest with walkways so that you can at least experience Nature up-close and personal in a safe way.
I hope this gallery of photographs will give you a flavour of what it was like to be in the hot and humid rainforest with its luxuriant vegetation of peeling Paperbarks, Wait-a-while Palms and Palm trees of all sorts, Staghorn Ferns up in the boughs, twisted vines wrapping around the tree trunks, and occasional trailing tendrils with vibrant flowers.
The Corpse Smelling plant is getting ready to flower and release its pungent aroma into the gardens! Check out our Facebook page for updates or come down and practice holding your breathe while you take in all its glory!
The Amorphophallus titan (Latin for huge deformed penis. Who ever said Botanists didn’t have a sense of humour?) is the largest unbranched flower structure in the world. The Cairns Botanic Gardens is pleased to have previously had 4 other flowering Titan Arums.
The flower opens at night creating so much heat it releases steam and a foul scent that lures in carcass eating insects to come pollinate it. BE QUICK- when the flower does open it is only for 3 days!
The Beach Casuarina or Coastal She-oak (Casuarina equisetifolia) is a common plant on Australian tropical beaches. It can occur as a shrub or a tree. It is often the first plant to colonise this basically unfriendly habitat and, although wispy and fairly insubstantial in growth, it provides welcome shade. It looks as if it might be some kind of pine with long drooping needles but in fact the ‘pine needles’ are thin articulated branchlets. In the close-up photographs below you can see that the branchlets resemble the stems of the Horsetail plants (Equisetum spp.) – primitive plants dating back to the Carboniferous Period from which we know them in fossil form in coal measures and similar rocks – they even share similar Latin names.
The leaves of the Beach Casuarina are barely noticeable, being very small indeed and growing with even spacing along the stems from which the branchlets arise. You can see these scale-like leaves if you click to enlarge, for example, the photograph in the gallery below Beach Casuarina 7. The plant has unobtrusive and separate male and female flowers. Male flowers are white at the end of the branchlets while the female flowers are small and red and grow on special side branchlets. The fertilised female flowers develop into small, hard spiky fruits, with some similarity to pine cones [and also strikingly reminiscent in outline shape of the hairstyle favoured by Lisa Simpson and her baby sister Maggie].
These are images of the Mangrove, Nipa, or Nypa palm (Nypa fruticans) which is the only palm thought to be fully adapted to growing in the mangrove biome. It is shown here growing in soft mud under brackish water at the edge of Freshwater Lake (one of the Centenary lakes) at Cairns Botanic Gardens in Queensland, Australia.
The leaf stems of this particular type of palm tree in Queensland, although I have not been able to identify it to species yet, have these fearsome recurved teeth on both sides. I photographed the sharp ‘teeth’ or spines on the dead stems that still criss-crossed around the tree trunk. They remind me of the blades of double-edged hand saws, or even the jaw bone of some kind of shark. Pretty amazing anyway.
Cairns Botanical Gardens created the Centenary Lakes from coastal swampland in 1975. One lake is freshwater and fringed by Melaleuca (Paperbark) wetland; and the other is saltwater fed by a tidal inlet. These beautiful lakes have matured over the years to provide habitats for many plants and creatures but the lilies and aquatic plants are outstanding.
These photographs show some of the lovely water lily and other floating leaves. At the time of my visit, some of the larger leaves, well over a metre in diameter, were exhibiting various stages of development, emerging from the water and unfolding – changing shape and changing texture – from an intricately crumpled and in-folded form to a smoother rounder shape. The under surfaces were a mass of spikes while even the upper surfaces were studded with a regular pattern of red thorns.