Sunday 24 January 2010

Nude Day at the beauitiful Cairns' Cattana Wetlands

On Friday afternoon I received a stupid "community announcement" from Cairns Regional Council...
  • "Due to wet weather conditions Cattana Wetlands is closed to the public until further notice. For further information please call Customer Service 4044 3044."
How silly are the folk who make these decisions, especially closing it over an entire weekend?

The best time to view a wetland is when it's wet, for God's sake. Sure, the car park area probably had a few extra inches of Dihydrogen Monoxide on Friday morning, but the panic to close down the place for the weekend is nothing short than brain-dead.

The biodiversity in a wetland, especially in the natural hothouse on the tropics, is simply stunning. It isn't a place to lock up after a little bit of rain.

So, I thought, what a better time to visit when its wet and when there's no one there. Off I went for a visit. I wasn't the only one that had the idea, it seemed. There were a couple of other cars parked outside the two-meter high locked gate.

As I walked along the entrance path, a beautiful colourful snake came out of the bush to greet me. I'm not that good at identifying these creatures, but I'm sure there's some herpetologist out there to tell us all if this one could carry Azaria Chamberlain away or just live in a high-rise apartment in Lake Street. I suspect Paul from Reptipost blog could easily identify this reptile. [It's a Yellow-Faced whip snake.]

In around 30 minutes I spotted flying stick insects, snakes, various water birds, storks, spiders, frogs, creek fish and even a pair of Tawny Frogmouth. Don't forget to wander along the stunning forest boardwalk, one of the highlights of Cattana Wetlands. It's where some of Kevin Byne's bodies are buried, or so the story goes.

I took along my Canon Legria FS200 to capture the magic and serenity of our very own wetlands. As I've only recently picked up this camera, which is not as discreet as the 007 model we used last week to expose the mad captain at Cairns Community Radio, I don't think I'll get an AFI nomination for cinematography.

The music is "Between two worlds" from Terry Oldfield's Spirit of the Rainforest.

I hope you'll get off your TV popcorn butt, grab your kids, or someone else's, (better still, leave the kids behind) and experience something unique right on our doorstep. One final bit of advice, you'll need to be quiet, have patience and be very observant, so there's a high chance you won't run into any politicians.


    You can locate Cattana Wetlands either on the Captian Cook Highway heading north of Cairns via either the Yorkeys Knob roundabout (turn left into Dunne Road), or from the JCU roundabout at Smithfield ( McGregor then into Dunne Road).
  • Right Click on the map to enlarge.


Hornithologist said...

They would be Papuan Frogmouth Mike. We don't get Tawny Frogmouth around here. Thanks for the mention of the wetland though and silly, as you say, of council to close it without sensible reason.

Judi Corcoran said...

Love it Mike -can't wait to show the tawny frogmouths to the kids!
and was that a snake to the right of the green frog on the log?

Oliver Redlynch said...

I visited Cattana the other day, and the place is a little gem in Cairns where I've got to take the family, but I can see that the council is simply protecting its backside against the health and safety police by closing it when "wet". Fine - user beware if you drown, or sink your car in the carpark when wet - don't blame the council. (I can also recommend the FS200 - smashing little video camera - though I don't put it to any covert use - for that you need something out of range!)

Michele Terrain NRM said...

The snake is a yellow-faced whip snake (Demansia psammophis); thanks for the link to the Cattana site! From there you can go to the JCU students' project site designed to promote community awareness of the Wetland, with fact sheets and video clips of interviews with local specialists. The CRC have done a great job revegetating the wetlands, certainly well worth a visit.