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Category Archives: tropical weather & climate

JIGURRU – STORM SEASON: NEW BOOK SHOWS THE WONDERLAND OF FNQ RAINFORESTS

jigurruI’ve just seen an advance copy of a beautiful new book about one of our far north Queensland rainforests. It’s called Jigurru – Storm Season. It takes you inside the rainforest during November and December, the build-up to the tropical wet season, when the temperature starts to climb, storms rumble across the region, and we all start to look forward to the relief and renewal the monsoon will bring.

At first glance, it’s a book for kids. But turn the pages, follow the two youngsters as they wander through a Cassowary Coast rainforest, and you’ll find yourself drawn into their journey, their story, no matter how old you are. You’ll learn about rainforest plants and creatures, pick up some indigenous language, and experience what it’s like to be in such a spectaular place in such a dramatic season – what they call the “nose of the wet season”.

Jigurru is a collaboration between local authors and artists and the Mandubarra rainforest Aboriginal people who were nurtured by these forests. One of the authors is Yvonne Cunningham, who has lived at the mouth of the Johnstone River in Innisfail for 45 years, where she runs a plant nursery

LISTEN to my interview with Yvonne

More about Yvonne and Jigurru at her website

Jigurru will be launched at a NAIDOC week function at the Johnstone Shire hall at Innisfail from 10am on July 8th

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, indigenous, tropical weather & climate

 

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DAINTREE RAINFOREST STILL A WORLD-BEATING ATTRACTION – BUT IS THE PRICE OF THE CAR FERRY PUTTING PEOPLE OFF?

DAINTREE - THE WORLD'S OLDEST RAINFOREST (pic courtesy Daintree Discovery Centre

DAINTREE – THE WORLD’S OLDEST RAINFOREST (pic courtesy Daintree Discovery Centre)

The world’s oldest rainforest is just a 90 minute drive north of Cairns. The Daintree continues to be one of the main reasons visitors come to far north Queensland. It runs right down to the sea between Mossman Gorge and the Bloomfield River – Australia’s largest area of continuous rainforest. But when you do the drive from Cairns, the first road sign you’ll see with the word “Daintree” on it is just before you get there – as you approach the Daintree River car ferry.

It’s a wonderful journey and the rainforest is breath-taking. But visitor numbers have dropped and some local businesses have closed since the global financial crisis. The people who run tourism related concerns in the Daintree are a determined lot, who have long lived with the waxing and waning visitor arrival numbers – perhaps that’s just a fact of life in the industry. But there are concerns the Daintree has lost some of its lustre, that it needs to be much better promoted as a destination than it currently is, and barriers to tourism should be reduced.

ron and pamOne of the pioneers of tourism in the region believes the price of the short ferry trip across the river is a significant barrier. It’s the only way in from the south by road – it will cost you $23 for a return trip, and while you might spend some time waiting to get aboard, the crossing lasts barely two minutes. Ron Birkett is the director of the Daintree Discovery Centre – and he’s offered to pay the ferry fare for visitors to his Centre during the usually quiet FNQ wet season. Ron has made the offer to drum up some business, but also to make a point about a fee he believes deters visitors and adds to the already significant cost of living and running a business in the Daintree, where people have to generate their own power and provide their own water and sewerage systems.

LISTEN to my interview with Ron Birkett here

Ron first came to the Daintree in the 1980s, having seen TV news coverage of the blockades staged there by people opposed to the Queensland Government push to build a road through the rainforest. More about the blockades here

And you can take an online audio-visual tour of the Daintree Discovery Centre here

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HOW MANY SEASONS ARE THERE IN A TROPICAL YEAR? IN KAKADU, THE ANSWER IS SIX

YELLOW WATERS LAGOON

YELLOW WATERS LAGOON

Here in far north Queensland, indeed, right across tropical Australia, we tend to count just two seasons – the wet and the dry. In the wet, the monsoon brings huge amounts of rain and the possibility of cyclones – and it’s all that water that makes this place such an attractive home to our wildlife. During the dry, the days are hot, nights are warm and the place is chockers with tourists. Of course, it can rain during the dry, but the rain comes from a different direction and in usually much smaller amounts. But within those two broad “seasons”, there are subtle changes, periods when change is on its way and signs of what’s next become more apparent. Indigenous people in tropical Australia identify several distinct seasons – in the lush wetlands of Kakadu, in the Northern Territory, the local mob recognise six distinct seasons.

COMB CRESTED JACANA

COMB CRESTED JACANA

Our wildlife correspondemt Dr Martin Cohen is in Kakadu this week, working with a Japanese film crew who are documenting the region’s most famous wetland – Yellow Waters – and some of its wildlife, including Norm the comb crested jacana, who Martin reckons should get the dad of the year award. LISTEN to Martin explain the critters and the seasons of Kakadu 

Dr Martin Cohen is ABC Far North wildlife correspondent. Hear him on radio Wednesday afternoons at 445 or search for him on your podcast app

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Aboriginal, EFFINCUE, environment, indigenous, tropical weather & climate, wildlife and animals, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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GET READY CAIRNS – WET SEASON IS ON THE WAY

monsoon trough

You’re looking at a pretty typical wet season weather chart. That blue line of dots and dashes across the top of Australia represents the monsoon. It’s a line of unstable weather that shifts, with the seasons, north and south of the equator. During the Australian summer, it surges south of the equator, pushing in to northern Australia. Along the monsoon trough, you get areas of low barometric pressure, heavy to phenomenal rainfall, and the perfect breeding conditions for cyclones.

The monsoon can begin to head south anytime from late November, but at present it’s still to the north, where Typhoon Haiyan is roaring through the Philippines. It’s one of the most powerful tropical weather events in a long time, and a very timely reminder to us of the need to prepare for the coming Australian wet season.

get-ready-queensland-logoYesterday in Cairns, ABC Far North was involved in the latest Get Ready Queensland event. Local emergency management, disaster responders, local & state government agencies took part, talking about their roles in an emergency and how each of us can prepare for cyclones and floods. The clear message is if you live in far north Queensland – now is the time to get ready. Early and comprehensive preparation dramatically improves your chances of getting through a weather emergency unscathed and back on your feet in a shorter period of time.

KEY MESSAGES

HOW WET WILL THIS WET BE Richard Wardle is supervising forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology

WILL THERE BE FLOODING Andrew Preece is senior hydrologist at the Bureau of Meteorology

WHAT IS GET READY QUEENSLAND Cheryl-Lee Fitzgerald at Emergency Management Queensland

SHOULD I GO TO A CYCLONE SHELTER Ian Fell from Cairns Regional Council says shelters should be a last resort

WILL THE ROADS BE OPEN Jim Harding-Smith is with the Department of Main Roads

WHAT ABOUT DOCTORS & HOSPITALS Brad McCulloch is with the Cairns & Hinterland Hospital and Health Service

DISASTER PREPARATION LINKS

Atherton Tablelands residents go here

If you live in the Cairns Regional Council area go here

For Cassowary Coast residents, this is the link for you

And if you live in Cook Shire go here

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SCIENTISTS LOOK FOR “HOME” OF BUG THAT CAUSES FLESH EATING ULCERS IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

DSC_0682Midway through 2011, doctors in far north Queensland began seeing people presenting with nasty ulcers that were turning surrounding tissue into sludge. It was an outbreak of what’s known locally as Daintree ulcers – a condition that’s been known for many years now, but no-one’s really sure how humans acquire it, and thus how it can be prevented.

By the end of that year, GPs & surgeons had treated many cases – with strong antibiotics and surgical procedures. It can be cured, but it can take a long time and sometimes there’s lasting damage. In FNQ, Daintree ulcers occur only in a very contained and specific area of the Daintree region – no-one yet knows why. It’s a more common problem in parts of west Africa – so the common theme is tropical climates. But the mystery deepens – these ulcers also occur in the very not tropical East Gippsland district of Victoria, where they’re called Bairnsdale ulcers. The World Health Organisation now calls them Buluri ulcers, in acknowledgement of their incidence in west Africa.

We know what causes them – a bacteria called mycobacterium ulcerans. It’s a bacteria commonly found in the lush tropical world, but for reasons no-one can yet explain, they cause flesh-eating ulcers in just a few relatively small, quite specific but widely separated areas, one of them not at all tropical. We don’t know how the bacteria gets into humans. Mosquitos, march flies, possums and other critters have all been suspects – there’s no definitive answer and some believe the rainforest itself could be the vector. And we don’t know why some people who’ve been exposed don’t get sick, while others develop serious ulcers.

A team of researchers is in FNQ at the moment trying to answer those questions. They hope to develop a blood test to detect exposure and help us prevent future outbreaks. Professor Paul Johnson, from Melbourne University & Austin Health is one of the researchers. LISTEN to my interview with Paul here

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, health, tropical weather & climate

 

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THE RICH BIODIVERSITY OF FNQ WET TROPICS WORLD HERITAGE AREA

wet rtopWe have an incredible range of wildlife here in far north Queensland – flora and fauna species that have flourished in our tropical climate for millions of years. We have one of the most diverse range of creatures and plants of any distinct region. We rate very high on the biodiversity scale.

There are some complex evolutionary and environmental reasons for that, which we’ll talk about in a minute. Basically, we are an ideal place for flora and fauna –  a tropical environment with plenty of water and food, but not so close to the equator as to make for much more oppressive heat.

Our ABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen paints a very detailed picture of our rich biodiversity. He tells me Queensland makes up about one per cent of the earth’s 150 million square kilometres of land. The Wet Tropics World Heritage area of FNQ is just a minute fraction of that one per cent – at just under nine thousand square kilometres. But within that area, most of it rainforest, there is an abundance of plants and animals, some of them going back to the very dawn of time.

What lives in there? Why is life so abundant here? And what does the future hold? Dr Martin Cohen has the answers LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Martin explore the biodiversity of our Wet Tropics World Heritage area

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MANGROVES ARE EVERYWHERE IN FNQ – BUT WHAT EXACTLY IS A MANGROVE?

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You don’t have to go very far in FNQ to find mangroves. Queensland is home to almost half of Australia’s mangrove areas, and a fair slice of that is here in far north Queensland. They’re not the gentlest of places – stifling hot, teeming with mozzies and sandflies, and there’s a good chance that slide mark in the mud was made by a crocodile who’s had an eye on you for a while now.

Mangroves are not everyone’s cup of tea – but I love them. Great for a get away from it all wander, and if you go with some info on just how these plants live in such harsh conditions, it’s a fascinating journey.

Mangroves are various types of trees up to medium height, and shrubs, that grow along our coasts in saline sediment habitats. The plants live between the high and low tide lines, where trees ought not flourish. But these species have adapted to a tough environment and play a really important role in the life of our sea creatures. About 70 per cent of the fish and seafood we eat uses mangroves for breeding or shelter.

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear ABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen explain why mangroves exist, how they work and why they’re important.

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2 martDr Martin Cohen is ABC Far North wildlife correspondent. He’s on my radio program Wednesdays at 4.45pm. Read more about Martin at http://www.wildaboutaustralia.com/

 

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