Friday, 6 February 2015

Suburb Guide: Parklands

Dark bar-sided Skink (Eulamprus martini), Ferntree Creek National Park.

Featured areas: (1) Jacaranda Drive, (2) Ferntree
Creek National Park, (3) Nambour Golf Course, and
(4) Parklands Conservation Park. Image courtesy of
Google Maps.
Parklands is a beautifully forested area of the Sunshine Coast, with the majority of it protected by a National Park and large Conservation Park. The Bruce Highway bisects it in two, and in the western segment is Ferntree Creek National Park, and on the eastern side is Parklands Conservation Park. The original version of this Suburb Guide neglected to include the Conservation Park, because Google Maps once upon a time drew the suburb boundary so that it encompassed only the section west of the highway. Listed here are four areas where you might find interesting wildlife and plants within Parklands.

1. Jacaranda Drive
This street and the adjacent Oleander Drive are the main residential areas of Parklands, both named after exotic flora. Indeed, the gully at the bottom of Jacaranda Drive has been infested with aggressive introduced trees, particularly the camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) and African tulip (Spathodea campanulata). Despite this, healthy specimens of native cabbage tree palms (Livistona australis) and flooded gums (Eucalyptus grandis) still thrive in the moist soil, providing a home for eastern whipbirds (Psophodes olivacea) and cicadabirds (Coracina tenuirostris).

The native vegetation growing on Jacaranda Drive indicates a high rainfall for the area.

2. Ferntree Creek National Park
This small National Park has been set aside primarily for the conservation value of its endangered vine forest ecosystem. At present, there are no recreational facilities offered here, nor are there any plans to develop them in the future. Walking along Oleander Drive however, I met a local resident who introduced himself as 'The Barefoot Bushman of Nambour'; he showed me a rudimentary park track that begins near the end of Oleander Drive, before the quarry gates. As the friendly Bushie took me down the overgrown track (barefoot of course) to show me a large Australian brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) nest, he filled me in on the local wildlife, including a dingo (Canis lupis) that he frequently sees emerging from the park after sunset. 

Left to my own devices in the National Park, I was particularly impressed by the quality of the forest. The trees are an interesting mix of turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), brush box (Lophostemon confertus) and grey gum (Eucalyptus propinqua), and it's likely they would have covered much more of the suburb before European settlement. Sweet sarsaparilla (Smilax australis) vines grow in abundance on the forest floor, providing shelter for lace monitors (Varanus varius) and northern brown bandicoots (Isoodon macrourus). At the bottom of the sloping hillside is a dam where tusked frogs (Adelotus brevis) are known to occur.

Orange lacewing (Nymphes myrmeleonides), Ferntree Creek National Park.

3. Nambour Golf Course
Though thoughtfully edged with eucalypts and paperbarks, the Nambour Golf Course is - like all golf courses - mostly just playing turf. The break in surrounding forest cover does allow for clear views of raptors like whistling kites (Haliastur sphenurus) and grey goshawks (Accipter novaehollandiae) however, as well as passing butterflies. Along Boronia Street, the edge of both the Golf Course and National Park can be walked, though here the margins of the latter are being invaded by garden plants such as the firespike (Odontonema tubaeforme).

Ferntree Creek National Park, as seen from Boronia Street.

4. Parklands Conservation Park
This large conservation park is a shared-use area with 15km of trails for horse-riders and walkers to enjoy, and yet more for the mountain bikers! The main entry into the park is off a small exit on the Bruce Highway named Radar Hill Road; there are other entry points also, though the one off Atkinson Road is very steep. Be aware that although dirt bikes are prohibited, you will most likely still encounter them on weekends, and they may startle children, horses and wildlife.

Vegetation in the conservation park is mostly a mix of dry and wet eucalypt forest, and the density of each respective ecosystem dictates what kinds of birds and animals live there. Where trees like the blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) are spaced more widely, eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) and fan-tailed cuckoos (Cacomantis flabelliformis) eke out a living, but where the vegetation gets thicker, beautiful gems like the noisy pitta (Pitta versicolor) and four-spined spiny spider (Gasteracantha quadrispinosa) can be found.

Fungi enthusiasts will also find plenty to admire in the park, thanks to the fact that it sits in a high rainfall zone. This same feature however means that the various creeks criss-crossing the park will cut the trails at certain times of the year.

Dusk beside a creek crossing in Parklands Conservation Park.

14 comments:

  1. love the skink! the trees are lush. :)

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    1. Yes it's a cute little lizard! It's lucky to live in such a beautiful area, for sure.

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  2. Love the trees and plants in the forest as well as the critters.

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    1. I suppose it's quite tropical, and therefore reminded you of your time in Australia? :)

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  3. These patches are so important in urban and suburban areas - and we often overlook them on the way to 'proper' locations!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  4. Love the Skink and the Lacewing. Google doesn't like the word 'skink' and is wavy-red-lining it!

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    1. Haha! Maybe it thinks Skinks are Skunks.

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  5. What a fascinating place, rich with native tropical vegetation, and I am sure many birds and animals! I love seeing the skink and the lacewing! Enjoyed your photos and information very much.

    I am pretty far behind in commenting back about comments I have received and I apologize. I was going to tell you that lantana tends to be pretty invasive and is considered a weed also by many here in the Sonoran Desert. It comes in pink also, and also a variety that is pink and yellow flowers mixed. Some people enjoy its splash of color.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Marie!

      I think a lot of casual Aussie bushwalkers also enjoy the Lantana flowers but an increasing number of people are aware of its weed status. Would never have guessed that it would survive a desert climate - what a tough plant!

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  6. Hi Christian. You seem to be doing a tremendous lone job in cataloging the flora and fauna in places that others by-pass.Such areas can often hold surprises and the unexpected.

    Yes, you were correct about Siskins, sorry if I didn't explain it properly. Sitka Spruce grows in large quantities in the forests of mainland Europe and when the seed crop is good, coupled with mild winters, Siskins have less need to travel west and south to the UK.

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    1. Thanks Phil, I think it would be impossible to exhaust the supply of amazing things nature has to offer, that's for sure!

      Interesting how warmer seasons affect bird migration, especially in regards to long term trends.

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  7. Thanks for reminding us that the area west of the highway has been on our to do list for way too long. Hope you get the chance one day to walk or mountain bike ride Parklands Forest on the other side of the highway. We enjoyed walking all the trails there. The skink photo is outstanding.

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    1. Thanks, the skink was a co-operative little photography subject! :)

      Now you've given me something to put on my 'To Do' List as well!

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