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Monthly Archives: October 2012

TOLGA BAT HOSPITAL – FNQ WILDLIFE CARERS IN ACTION

Far north Queensland is home to large numbers of flying foxes and bats. If you’re lucky enough to see one up close, they’re adorable little creatures. But not everyone loves them. Fruit growers see them as a real threat to their crops and livelihoods. Flying foxes can spread the potentially deadly Hendra virus. And the old horror films have planted some spooky images of bats deep in the human psyche.

 So not everyone will understand why Jenny Maclean and her team at the Tolga Bat Hospital work so hard to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured bats and flying foxes. The hospital is based near Atherton, open to visitors at certain times of year, and relies on volunteers and community support to keep going. http://www.tolgabathospital.org/

There’s no shortage of bats needing help. The most common problems are ticks – the same kind that make your dog or cat very sick. And then there’s encounters with tree-netting, or worse, barbed wire. On one recent mission, Tolga Bat Hospital volunteers rescued more than 100 bats that were stuck on a two kilometre stretch of barbed wire. You can watch a video of that rescue mission at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVObo95iGvA

It is possible to make fences and nets that don’t cause so many problems for our wildlife. You might get some ideas at www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com

AUDIO You can take an audio tour of the Tolga Bat Hospital with Jenny Maclean and the ABC’s wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen by clicking on the red arrow. You’ll learn a lot about bats, like their incredible heart rate, and why they hang upside down when they’re resting.

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CAPE YORK DEBATES WORLD HERITAGE LISTING

RIVER CROSSING LOCKHART RIVER ROAD CAPE YORK PENINSULA

Cape York seems to go on forever — and that’s not just because the roads require a fairly gentle pace of travel. It’s big — almost 15 million hectares — but it’s sparsely populated. Just 19 thousand people call the place home, living in an area of unique beauty and sometimes confronting challenges.

UNESCO OPERATES THE WORLD HERITAGE LIST

One of the big talking points on Cape York right now is the prospect of the area being included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list In 1972, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization met in Paris and devised a process by which national governments could nominate places and structures for protection by declaring them part of the World Heritage List. Natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value could be listed by virtue of scientific and conservation values or natural beauty.

The Federal Government is working on a nomination for Cape York Peninsula that could be lodged with UNESCO within months, and claims to be consulting residents.The Federal perspective on World Heritage can be found here http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/about/world/index.html

The Queensland Government recently distanced itself from World Heritage consulations, but its position paper is online at http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/cape-york/pdf/cypwh-booklet.pdf

There’s a diversity of views among Cape York residents on World Heritage listing. There’s support for environmental protection, but not at the cost of jobs in the few industries on the Cape – like mining, agriculture and cattle. There’s a lot of questions being asked about the way the Federal Government consultation process has been conducted. And there’s a sense that decisions are being made in Brisbane or Canberra – or the international capitals – a long way from Cape York Peninsula.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to hear some views from the Cape on World Heritage listing.

We heard, in order, second generation cattleman Cameron Quartermaine at Watson River Station, Brad Allan at the Archer River Road House, and Glen Shephard from Lilyvale Station, near Princess Charlotte Bay, with the ABC’s Charlie McKillop.


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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, indigenous, tropical weather & climate

 

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MEET FREDDY CHRISTIANSEN – WATSON RIVER STATION CAPE YORK PENINSULA

CHARLIE MCKILLOP YARNING WITH FREDDY CHRISTIANSEN BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD TO WATSON RIVER STATION

There are plenty of cattle stations on Cape York Peninsula – most of them welcome visitors, some offer the chance to stay a while and do some work. It’s a seven day working week in tough conditions – very hot in the dry season and the wet will challenge even the hardiest of souls.

But if you do get the chance to spend some time on a station, grab it with both hands. You’ll get a real feel for what it’s like to live on the Cape – it’s a very different experience from even the most adventurous Cape York holiday. When cattle station folk start telling you about the daily challenges they face, you will begin to wonder why they stay here. But despite the hardships, they stay because they love the place and the way of life they’ve created for themselves. You’ll often hear the phrase “the Cape is in my blood”.

That’s certainly the case for Freddy Christiansen at Watson River Station, 140 kilometres south-east of Weipa. Freddy and his family have an association with far north Queensland and the Cape going back to the 1930s. Freddy has done it all, including his fair share of old-fashioned cattle droving from Kings Plains station, further south near Cooktown.

These days, Freddy starts before dawn, seven days a week working  for friends at Watson River. He does it because he can – not because he he has to. Freddy is 74 this year, and has no intention of retiring. He tried it once but didn’t much care for it.

FREDDY & BRAD RYAN ON THE ROAD TO WATSON RIVER STATION

In the days before our visit, the Watson River folk had done a few all-night shifts fighting scrub-fires, a common hazard this time of year and just part of life on a remote FNQ cattle station. Click on the red arrow to hear Freddy Christiansen talking to the ABC’s Charlie McKillop.

More about Watson River Station at http://www.watsonriverstation.com.au/

FREDDY DOING THE “LICK RUN”

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, People, tourism, tropical weather & climate

 

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TIME FOR SMOKO AT THE ARCHER RIVER ROAD HOUSE CAPE YORK PENINSULA

ARCHER RIVER ROAD HOUSE PDR CAPE YORK PENINSULA

As you make your way around far north Queensland, you’ll hear people talk about stopping whatever they’re doing to have “smoko”. In the old days, it meant stopping work for a cigarette break, and was probably a term introduced by sheep shearers. In FNQ these days, smoko means “morning tea” break, or any adjournment of work for the purpose of refreshment.

Smoko was a much looked-forward to thing on our long road journey from Cairns to Weipa and back – sometimes three or four times a day. The Peninsula Development Road has road houses at regular intervals, with fuel, food accomodation and info on road conditions. We pulled in to most of them, including the Archer River road house. It’s a short ride from the turn-off for Bamaga and the Northern Peninsula Area, about 200km from Weipa. http://www.cooktownandcapeyork.com/stay/cape-york-peninsula/accom/archer-river

It’s a short walk from the road house to the Archer River, which is completely dry at present, but floods during the wet season. It came lapping at the road house doors after cyclone Monica crossed the Cape in 2006. The Archer flows from the McIlwraith Range and runs through Mungkan Kandju country to enter the Gulf of Carpentaria near Aurukun.

AUDIO Brad and Modena Allan run the Archer River road house. Click on the red arrow to hear Brad talk about life, running a business on the Cape, and the challenges of the Peninsula Development Road. Brad’s talking to the ABC’s Charlie McKillop.

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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Cape York Peninsula, community, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, People, tourism, transport & roads, tropical weather & climate

 

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KAREN COOMBES CARING FOR TREE KANGAROOS – MALANDA FNQ

BENJAMIN IN HIS POTTED FIG TREE. MALANDA FNQ (Pic Martin Cohen)

If there’s one creature Australia is famous for around the world, it’s the kangaroo. They bound through our scrub and across the wide open spaces, very much a ground dwelling creature. So it may be hard to imagine a kangaroo that lives a much higher life – up in the trees.

They’re called tree kangaroos. And you can see them here in far north Queensland. Mind you, they’re fairly shy creatures in the wild so don’t expect them to pose for your cameras. You can see them at Karen Coombes home at Malanda, on the Atherton Tablelands, a lovely hour’s drive from Cairns. Dr Coombes has been nursing injured and sick tree kangaroos back to health for years. They may have been hit by a car or attacked by dogs – getting them healthy and back to the wild can be a long, hard and expensive effort.

Like many wildlife carers, Karen is a volunteer. Local vets help her out, but she needs funds to keep rescuing these beautiful creatures. She’s started a fund-raising operation and will soon have a website with info on how you can help.

ABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen took me to meet Karen and some of her tree kangaroos. Benjamin likes to play in a potted fig, while former “patient” Willie likes to wander in for  a feast of milk and sweet potato.

Why is it so important to help preserve tree kangaroo populations? And why do they live in the trees? Click on the red arrow to hear Karen & Martin explain. AUDIO

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More about tree kangaroos at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree-kangaroo

 

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COEN FNQ — ON THE QUARANTINE FRONT LINE

DRIVING ON CAPE YORK IS NO EASY THING – DEPENDING ON THE STATE OF THE ROADS, A COUPLE OF HUNDRED KILOMETRES CAN BE AN ADVENTURE, OR A GRUELLING FEAT OF ENDURANCE.

Any chance for a stop is welcome, and if there’s something to see and a yarn involved, even better. One place you’ve got to stop at, and if you’re south-bound it’s compulsory, is the Coen Information & Inspection Station. Biosecurity Queensland runs the station on the Peninsula Development Road, about 20 kilometres north of Coen, near the turn-off to the Coen airstrip.

Biosecurity Queensland runs the station as a buffer against plant and animal pests and diseases that could spread into Australia from our northern neighbours. They’re a very real threat to agricultural industries and could spread serious diseases to humans.

If you’re driving south you’ll have to stop and be checked for produce that might be carrying dangerous critter passengers. The process doesn’t take long, and you’ll find Scott Templeton & his team love a yarn and are a treasure house of information about the Cape, sights to see and road conditions. Scott has 26 years experience on Cape York, and I hope he’s going to write a book one day, because it would be a must-read.

There’s a good display inside the Centre with plenty of info about the pests and critters they’re looking for – the red banded caterpillar, citrus canker, banana skipper, foot and mouth disease, screw-worm fly and the papaya fruit fly. You’ll get plenty of tips on how to travel wisely on the Cape, and how to make sure your journey doesn’t help spread pests and diseases.

AUDIO FILE Click on the red arrow to hear Scott Templeton in action at the Coen Information & Inspection Centre, Scott’s talking to the ABC’s Charlie McKillop.

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More about the Coen Station at http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/4790_21373.htm

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, health, tourism, transport & roads, wildlife and animals

 

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SOLAR ECLIPSE 2012 — COUNTING DOWN AT PALMER RIVER FNQ

SUNRISE FROM GRASSY HILL COOKTOWN FNQ. CLOUDS OFTEN BUILD UP ALONG THE COAST BY SUNRISE

We’ve been hearing talk of the 2012 solar eclipse for years, but now it’s just three weeks away and Far North Queensland is the place to be on Wednesday November 14.

PATH OF THE 2012 SOLAR ECLIPSE ACROSS NORTHERN AUSTRALIA

Just after 0630 local time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, and we are in the heart of the very narrow band of land area that will experience the total solar eclipse. Large numbers of visitors are coming to FNQ from all over the world, and many of them hope to see the eclipse on the east coast at places like Cairns and Port Douglas. But cloud is common on FNQ’s east coast in November. As the picture above shows, it looks stunning, but could be enough to prevent a clear sighting of the eclipse.

ROAD SIGN OF THE TIMES. MULLIGAN HIGHWAY COOK SHIRE FNQ

Some folk reckon you have a much better chance of clear skies inland that morning, on the high country west and north-west of Cairns. It’s lovely country up there, and depending how far you go, it’s remote, and the limited accomodation options have been booked out for ages. One popular choice is a music festival on a cattle station on the old Palmer River gold fields. More info at http://www.eclipse2012.com/

The site sits close to the centre-line of the eclipse zone, where totality, the time the sun is completely obscured, will be longest. I hear six thousand tickets have been sold so far and it’s probably 150 years since the area has seen so many people all at once. Back then, thousands of fortune-seekers were trying their luck here in the Palmer River gold rush. Only a handful of people live in the area these days, and apart from the festival camping area, the only other place to stay is the Palmer River road house.

PALMER RIVER ROADHOUSE

It’s a camp ground, fuel and food stop, on the road between Mt Carbine and Lakeland. Andrew and Karen Stewart run the place, which is popular with travellers heading for Cooktown via the Mulligan Highway or on to Cape York Peninsula. The camp ground here is booked out for eclipse day and it’s expected many people attending the dance festival up the road will pull in here for meals and some of the souvenirs, like stubby coolers, t-shirts, tea towels and 3-D postcards bearing the 2012 solar eclipse logo.

AUDIO Click on the red arrow to listen to Andrew Stewart tell Brad Ryan about preparations for eclipse day.

PALMER RIVER ROADHOUSE FNQ

GONNA BE SOME THIRSTY DOGS ON ECLIPSE DAY

More about Palmer River road house at http://www.cape-york-australia.com/palmer-river-roadhouse.html or http://www.cooktownandcapeyork.com/stay/lakeland_and_laura/accom/palmer-river-roadhouse

Read about the eclipse in FNQ at http://www.trc.qld.gov.au/whats-on/solar-eclipse-2012 or  http://www.cook.qld.gov.au/

More about the Palmer River gold rush at http://www.cairnsmuseum.org.au/gold.htm

LOOKING IN DIRECTION OF THE ECLIPSE FROM PALMER RIVER ROADHOUSE FNQ

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, tourism, tropical weather & climate

 

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