Skyrail Nature Diary


Green Ants: Combat Engineers of the Rainforest

Guests travelling on Skyrail often ask, “What are those leafy ball things in the trees?” Those marvelously constructed “leafy balls” resembling scaly bladders are satellite colonies of the rainforest’s combat engineers – green ants. Green ants nests are most likely to be... read more


November Flowering and Fruiting

This month it’s getting even warmer and more humid. Several of the trees that had just started fruiting in October, should be getting close to ripening. Brown Tulip is currently fruiting in moderate numbers at Skyrail. The fruits are samaras, a round seed attached to a long... read more


Ancestors of Land Plants

This month we will be looking at the ancestors of land plants and some modern, primitive descendants that resemble them. Algae are the obvious ancestors of the land plants. The question is which ones? Thanks to DNA research, it’s now generally known that algae are a diverse... read more


Spiders at Skyrail

First time visitors to Skyrail and the Wet Tropics may be puzzled by a seeming absence of animal life. Most mammals in this region are nocturnal. Although there is an abundance of bird life, these creatures are difficult to observe in the soaring darkness of the rainforest.... read more


Plant Tropism

This month we will take a look at the ways plants interact with each other and the environment. We will examine how certain plants do the unique things they do and why. The tropical rainforest of north Queensland is known today as the world’s oldest continually surviving... read more


Unseasonal Flowering

Last month was yet another wet one at a time of year you would normally associate with the dry season in Cairns and the associated start of our tropical winter. We’re still mowing the grass! Hopefully July will bring clear skies and some sunshine. There has however been some... read more


A Later Wet Season

Murray’s Laurel flowered in small numbers along the back line last month. The tiny white flowers have a rather unpleasant odour and are borne on small panicles on top of the trees. The fruits are small black berries that are known to be eaten by cassowaries. In all likelihood... read more


Pollination and Fruit Dispersal

This month we’ll be looking at pollination and fruit dispersal. Plants are unable to move and can’t reproduce without assistance. Pollination is the act of getting a plant’s pollen to the ovary. In the rainforest most plants are what we call ‘dioecious’, which means that each... read more


The Skyrail Lake

Immediately after departing the Smithfield station, Skyrail guests will notice a small lake on their right. This lake, coffee-coloured, its edges decked with water lilies, was created 18 years ago during the construction of Skyrail. It supports numerous fish, turtles, aquatic... read more


Palms

This month we’ll be looking at palms. Palms have been associated with the tropics for a long time now, especially coconut palms. They are often thought of as trees but interestingly, this is not the case. Unlike ‘real’ trees which have secondary thickness growth of their... read more


Adaptations to Light

This month we will be looking at various adaptations to differing light conditions in the rainforest. There are four areas of interest here - the forest floor, the sub-canopy, the canopy and the forest edge. Plants on the forest floor are few and far between. At Red Peak the... read more


An Unusually Dry 'Wet' Season

This year the wet season appears to be late. At the moment there is a 50/50 chance there will be an El Nino event. El Nino is a high pressure system starting off the coast of Peru that ends up pushing the monsoon north so that it just misses us. In such cases most of our rain... read more