I'll let you in on a secret - up until October of this year, I couldn't actually drive a car. As a result, most of the locations featured in this blog and on the Facebook page are public-transport accessible, though next year will see more out-of-the-way places making an appearance! This blog has given my outdoor jaunts such a welcome sense of purpose this year - thank you so much to anyone who has read and enjoyed my writings.
1. Lake Samsonvale, Joyner.
Outstanding for its natural beauty alone, Lake Samsonvale is a great place to visit at any time of the year. Bullocky's Rest is a popular location for family picnics and
fishing from the shore, but a trail running from there to Forgan Cove is also great for the serious bird-watcher. It was here in August that I saw over sixty species of birds in one morning, though at other times, I've simply just sat by the lake edge and let the wildlife - including beautiful Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus) - come to me.
2. Dowse Lagoon, Sandgate.
I'm often undecided as to what forms the 'centrepiece' of the Sandgate area - is it the extensive foreshore, or the network of lagoons? For the wildlife enthusiast, it has to be the latter, particular Dowse Lagoon, where this year a number of rare birds have been sighted. Most notable was the January appearance of an Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Moticilla tschutschensis), a songbird from northern Asia. Common lagoon inhabitants include Brisbane Short-necked Turtles (Emydura macquarii signata) and Eastern Dwarf Tree Frogs (Litoria fallax).
3. D'Aguilar National Park, Mount Glorious.
This was always one of my favourite places as a kid, and re-visiting it this year revealed that time has not dulled its wonders. A misty 'Maiala' morning spent with Logrunners (Orthonyx temminckii), Australian King-Parrots (Alisterus scapularis) and a Carpet Python (Morelia spilota) made downtown Brisbane seem more than just 45 minutes away.
4. Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island.
Put simply, this is absolutely the best place I've found to watch marine life from the land. Showing some inter-state friends of mine the area in January, we saw Reef Manta Rays (Manta alfredi), Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) and a Whaler Shark (Carcharhinus species) drift below us in a matter of minutes.
5. Melaleuca Environmental Park, Lota.
I'm always surprised at how careful landscaping and clever bush-regeneration can make even the smallest place on the map seem like an extensive wilderness. This beautiful location in South-east Brisbane has picnic tables, a sports field and an intricate web of well-maintained walking tracks to enjoy.
6. Purga Nature Reserve, Purga.
Located out past Ipswich, this tiny reserve holds the only protected stand of Swamp Tea-Tree (Melaleuca irbyana) forest in the world. A sunny winter afternoon there revealed 'dry-country' animals such as Lively Rainbow-Skinks (Carlia vivax) and Wolf Spiders (Tasmanicosa species).
7. Noosa National Park, Noosa Heads.
Possibly the best stretch of coastline for wildlife on the Sunshine Coast, this is the most popular National Park in Australia, with over 1 million visitors per year! With common sights including Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), Lace Monitors (Varanus varius) and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus), who could blame people for wanting to spend time there?
8. Hilliards Creek, Ormiston.
The Redlands shire has managed to retain many 'natural corridors' throughout its suburbs, and this is one of the best. I was honoured to have my photographs of this location feature in the Bayside Bulletin / Redland Times photo gallery.
9. 'Reedy Creek Reserve', Varsity Lakes.
I put the name of this place in inverted commas because it's a name I have made up myself. This beautiful reserve, with a series of walking tracks meandering by water-lilied lagoons and picnic shelters, is not officially named. Maybe the locals want it kept secret, but I'm spreading the word!
10. Mount Ngungun, Glass House Mountains.
It's a steep walk to the summit of this volcanic lava-plug, but the soul-stirring view is worth it! The breezes spiralling up the sides of the mountain make this a good spot for observing insects like the beautiful Joseph's Coat Moth (Agarista agricola), but mind the occasional flying ant swarm!