Today we spent our entire day with Professor Jack Grant learning about the wet tropical rainforest, Mabi, in this area. Mabi is in fact a complex notophyll vine forest that has many isolated sections throughout the area. Jack and others are currently working to make the sections more sustainable and have created some corridors connecting similar relatively close (1-2 km apart) sections. This has also led to questioning if connecting them is the most sustainable way to go due large amount of capital investment required.
The fragmentation is causing issues with the ecosystem since there are barriers to migration for many species (Williams, 2008 and Grant, 2012). One example is the Cassowary which is no longer in the area due to this large seeds have no way to be dispersed putting up to 150 trees at risk of low seed dispersal . In the last 15 years awareness has increased. This has led to even more volunteers which helps make projects like planting corridors socially feasible, as well as more economically sustainable because there is no labor cost.
In the spirit of volunteerism we spent our afternoon out in the corridor between Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine. This time was spent pulling weeds that have been brought over and often out compete the native rainforest vegetation. It was awesome to see all the progress we had made in the hour we spent out there, being one of the 7 or 8 groups who will tackle a section of this specific corridor this year.
We began our day at Betta Burra Fish Hatchery and Technology owned by our guides Les and Lorraine Rogers. They raise Black Perch and Barramundi fish until the fingerling stage and then sell them to restock dams. There are less and less true wild Barramundi due to the destruction of their natural growing area in the mangroves, so Les and Lorraine are doing their part at keeping the creatures going. Not only are they helping the environment but they also help other hatcheries. The Barramundi Industry is a very interconnected community that works closely together and often cooperate in research as well as help when one has an issue with having enough algae or rotifers. There is a definite social sustainability among the hatcheries. Les and Lorraine are only a small hatchery putting out 110,000 and 120,000 fish a year. Because of the size of the hatchery all of their fish have to be pre-ordered to be economically sustainable, while larger ones can afford to hatch extra and then grow them all the way out at other facilities if not bought.
From the hatchery we headed to Milla Milla Falls, making a stop along the way at Lake Eacham Roadhouse, which had some amazing burgers. Milla Milla Falls is where the old Herbal Essence commercial was filmed, if you remember the girl flipping her hair back. The water was really cold but all the students took a plunge to swim out by the waterfall and the view was amazing!
Next on the list and the final thing for the day was a visit to Gallo Dairyland. We were lucky when we arrived to be able to watch a milking if we wanted and also a cheese and a chocolate tasted. The cheese is made on site from their own milk and has won awards. The agri-tourism part of their business has become a large part of staying economically sustainable. Following this we got the chance to talk with Frank Gallo, the owner, about his operation.
He was able to give us some insight on the unique economic problems facing the Australian dairy farms. The deregulation by the government in 1998 has played a large hand in the issues, from the sounds of it. Another and currently the biggest problem in his areas is the cost of marketing, which opening up for tourism has helped market the cheese better. Currently with only 2 dairy processors, Southeast Asia seems to be the future of the industry, owning one of them, as well as showing interest in buying some production from farms directly. On the environmental side of things the manure is spread on the paddocks as well as catching the runoff in the lagoon and using a center pivot to disperse on paddocks.
Our day at Gallo Dairyland ended and we headed back to On the Wallaby. A few of us then went platypus watching to no avail. But still a fun and relaxing way to end the day!
August 4th and 5th we will be continuing our stay at On The Wallaby Lodge in Yungaburra, Queensland. Yungaburra is a medium sized town, that is small enough to walk around but yet hosts a wide variety of activities for visitors enjoy.
The Wallaby Lodge
We will be spending August 4th working on a Rainforest corridor service project. The first part of the day will be spent on tours and presentations. Then the second part of the day we will be getting hands on actually working on the project.
The next day we will be travelling to Gallo’s dairy, chocolate and cheese factory for part of the day. This dairy is located on 1000 acres. Since it is an operational farm as well as chocolate and cheese factory, they milk approximately 500 head of cows, twice a day. Giovanni Gallo, an Italian emigrant purchased the farm in 1937 and had a rotary dairy, but his son Frank had bigger plans for the farm. In 2007, Gallo Dairyland was opened as an educational dairy farm. Visitors are able to see how cheese is made in a working factory, as well as learning more about the dairy itself. They produce enough cheese that they are able to market it in multiple locations across Queensland.
Later that day we will be visiting the largest tea plantation in Australia and have a chance to buy any of their products. Nerada tea plantation is currently the largest Australian tea, with more than 1,000 acres of tea that produce 6 million kilos of fresh tea leaves, every year. Nerada Teas has not always been so large, when Nerada plantation began in 1962 just 20 acres of tea were planted and many of these died due to drought. Slowly acres began to be added to tea production and mechanical means of harvested had to begin being utilized in 1970. Over time Nerada has grown little by little to get to where it is today.
This will be the last night we spend in Yungaburra, so I’m sure our group will be busy in the evening trying to see everything we want to that’s right around the Lodge!
- “Accommodation.” 2010. Web. 10 July 2012. http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/accommodation/on-the-wallaby-lodge/index.cfm
- “About Us.” 2009. Web. 10 July 2012. http://www.gallodairyland.com.au/index.html
- “The Nerada Story.” Web. 10 July 2012. http://neradatea.com.au/