Cairns is now well and truly in the throes of the annual wet season ‘build-up’ so if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in the wet season, you will be treated to a fantastic tropical experience!
The first monsoonal rain events of the Cairns wet season will supply much needed moisture to the environment and really bring the region to life. Over the last few weeks, the rainforest has changed noticeably which has been triggered by the increasing temperatures – you will also notice the humidity is rising with the exception of Red Peak station , sitting high above sea level, the temperatures are consistently cooler than what is experienced in Cairns and Smithfield.
Wildlife becomes more active as we approach the main fruiting season which provides an abudance of food and is ideal for raising offspring. On the ground, the chicks of Stone Curlews, Plovers and Brush Turkeys are a common sight. Regular sightings occur of the large and beautifully multicolored Wampoo Pigeons between the Kuranda Terminal and the Barron River and even on the boardwalk at Red Peak! Our famous insects and spiders are also making a comeback due to the increasing heat and humidity. It is the time when “creepy crawlies” are out again so keep an eye out for them and be sure to ask Skyrail’s Rangers for information on how they fit into this wonderfully diverse environment!
Golden Orb Weavers, the Cairns Birdwing and the Ulysses Butterfly, huge Stick Insects, Stag Beetles, Rhino Beetles, large dragon flies and Praying Mantises all make regular appearances during the wet season.
From the cableway, lots of large fruits can be seen on the canopy such as the endemic Kuranda Quandong which has green Ping-Pong ball shaped fruits with thick stalks, Blue Quandong with its prominent blue fruits, Yellow Wallnut with yellow egg shaped fruits and Brown Tamarind with grey-green velvety fruits the size of a golf ball to name but a few. It makes sense ecologically for a plant to produce fruits and therefore, seed close to the wet season.
When the fruits are eaten by seed dispersers such as the cassowary, the contained seeds fall onto warm soil which then get wet through torrential downpours and creates the perfect condition for seed germination. Bigger seeds are better adapted to well developed rainforest. Those large seeds contain lots of energy and nutrients for the little seedling trees to develop in the dense shade on the forest floor. Like a battery, they can support the seedling for extended time periods. Some of those seeds are also highly poisonous to fend off seed predators like White Tailed rats and other rodents who might have a bit of a nibble while they are still supplying the attached seedling. This way, some small seedlings can live for several decades as they are waiting for the canopy to open up and allow sunlight into the understory.
Australian Rainforest Facts written by Skyrail Ranger Mike Gailer – Follow Mike on instagram @mikegaia
Categories: Nature Diary