June 4 – Leo

This is the Mossman River which was one of the main water sources for the aborigines of the area.

The Mossman River

On June 4th we were in the town of Dimbulah, Queensland. This town was historically established by a gold mining company in the late 1800’s. The population of Dimbulah is near 4,000 people according the 2006 Census of Australia. This town has historically been a top producer on cash crops such as tobacco and now-a-days it produces many other cash crops such as sugar cane, coffee, and tea trees. Sugar cane is the most popular cash crop in this region as we experienced while driving through this area. The sugar cane fields went on for miles at a time. We visited two different sites in this town.

map

Our first stop of the day was the Botanical Ark. We were greeted by the owners Alan & Susan Carle which provided us with some very delicious Guyana juice. This amazing piece of land was once a cattle ranch 30 years ago. Through soil conservation Alan and Susan were able to make the land fertile once again and began to grow exotic plants on the property. They currently have 20 acres of their land planted with exotic plants. The owners of this garden have traveled to most of the tropical areas of the world to find exotic plants and fruits. They have also spent time with many indigenous tribes of the rainforest across the world to see their way of life. On their journeys across the world they have brought many exotic plants and fruits back to Australia. Quarantine laws on plants and fruits are very strict in Australia due to its very unique isolated environment. Alan and Susan have managed to bring these exotic plants to Australia and grow them on their lands.

During the 1980’s The Botanical Ark was the largest exotic flower producer in Australia. They have left that business behind and now only focus on tours of their premises by invitation or request only.

This was one of the few exotic flowers grown in the garden. It's shape is specially design for beak of the Hummingbird that pollinates it. With out the Hummingbirds this plant wouldn't  survive.

This was one of the few exotic flowers grown in the garden. It’s shape is specially design for beak of the hummingbird that pollinates it. Without hummingbirds this plant wouldn’t survive. This is the case with cassowary bird of the Daintree Rainforest if this bird becomes extinct the bio-diversity of this rainforest would decrease dramatically.

Alan explained to us he hopes to educate people on the importance of the rainforests of the world through showing the economic gains these areas can have for people. Many products come from the rainforests across the world such as dyes, fibers, rubbers, and many other natural products. There are many more uses the rainforest can provide for people but science has not yet discovered them because we’ve only scratched the surface. The cure for cancer can be hiding somewhere in a rainforest but people continue to cut them down every day. One football field size portion of the rainforest gets cut down every 20-30 seconds.

These are some of the exotic fruits grown at the Botanical Ark. There are many exotic fruits found every year that are not known to science.

These are some of the exotic fruits grown at the Botanical Ark. Every year new fruits and plants are found in rainforests across the world that are not known to science. It’s important to conserve the rainforests of the world.

Our second stop during the day was the Mossman Gorge Centre which was located in the in the Daintree Rainforest. This rainforest is the oldest surviving rainforest in the world dating back to 135 million years. Aborigine  people roamed and lived off this rainforest for thousands of years. Rodney our tour guide welcomed us to his country and showed us the way of life in the rainforest for his people the Kuku Yalanji. We saw the trees and plants that his ancestors used for tools, food, weapons, burials, and shelter.
This bend in this tree was used for directions in the rainforest. A simple but yet very effective navigation instrument.

This bend in this tree was used for directions in the rainforest. A simple but yet very effective navigation instrument.

The Aborigines of this area used most of the products the rainforest offered and found useful uses for them. This was vital for their survival which lasted thousands of years. The Aborigine tribes had enormous respect for the environment and only took what they needed. They wanted to leave behind a good place and natural resources for the upcoming generations of their tribe. “Never dominate the land, live in harmony with it, let it be its own boss and pass it on to future generations” Rodney stated to us during the tour. This is the mentality the aborigines had for the environment they lived on.
Traditional houses for this area which were made out of vines, tree bark and mud.  These shelters lasted up to 12 months. These shelters didn't require too much resources and were very effective.

Our guide Rodney is showing us a traditional house for this area which were made out of vines, tree bark and mud. These shelters lasted up to 12 months. These shelters didn’t require too much resources and were very effective.

Both of the first two field visits were related to sustainability in an environmental, social, and in an economical perspective. Using your resources wisely, effectively, and only taking what is needed is very important approach to sustainability in an environmental approach. Once sustainability is achieved in an environmental way, social and economic sustainability will follow along. This is the setup of a strong sustainability model because the environment and the biosphere come before everything else. As a society we need to work along with Mother Nature not against it. This will ensure we leave something good behind for our future generations such as our children and grandchildren. Lets not leave a mess behind for future generations and be more considerate on how we use the resources Mother Nature provides us with. Taking shorter showers, using energy-efficient light bulbs, using reusable shopping bags, and using green energy are all ways we can help the environment. This is not a main concern for many people now-a-day but it will be in the upcoming years as natural resources deplete and climate change continues. Currently we have a stronger focus on economics more than anything else. That has to change as we strive for sustainability across the world.

This is a strong sustainability model.

This is a strong sustainability model. The environment comes before society and the economy. This is the approach of the Aborigine of Australia. This allowed for their survival for thousands of years.

The final Place we visited on June 4 was a historical gold mine site. We had to travel several  hours west towards the outback to reach this mine. The Tyrconnell Goldmine was once home to 10,000 gold miners during its peak of operation. Gold mining was very common in these regions of Australia in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The gold mine site now is just a tourist attraction that receives around 2,000 visitors per year. To end the night we sat around a campfire and told stories all night long. We also slept in tents and swags which allowed us to have the entire Outback experience. The stars were beautiful at night since we were so far away from the city.

Michigan State University on the Mossman River. Go Green!

Michigan State University on the Mossman River. Go Green!

Related Sites:

This is the website to the Mossman Gorge Centre. The website has information on the activities it offers and how the Centre is run:

http://www.mossmangorge.com.au/en/Experience/Dreamtime-Walks

The Tyrconnell Goldmine’s website and brief history on the site:

http://www.tyrconnell.com.au/

The Botanical Ark’s website:

http://www.botanicalark.com/about-us.10.0.html

http://www.cairns.com.au

http://www.yalanji.com.au/

This website has information on all the tropical foods Australia has to offer around its tropical regions:

http://www.australiantropicalfoods.com/index.php/exotic-fruits/

Information on the Daintree Rainforest and its unique environment:

http://www.daintreerainforest.com/

An example on all the restrictions Australia has for fruits and plants:

http://australia.gov.au/topics/tourism-and-travel/customs-and-quarantine

This website explains the importance of the Cassowary has for the Daintree Rainforest and how it’s at the verge of extinction:

http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ourprojects/daintree-cassowary.html

1 Comment

One thought on “June 4 – Leo

  1. Thanks for providing a great background on the Botanical Ark, Leo! At first I was surprised to learn that people like Alan were traveling around the world to bring back exotic fruit to grow in Australia, as this seemed like more of a hassle, to both his family and the environment, than it was worth. After hearing Alan speak, though, it made sense to want to grow nonnative species that were well suited for the environment in his backyard. Alan stated that not only is there no need for pest or disease control, but he also hasn’t used synthetic products or any type of fertilizer on the plant species. Clearly, his land and the climate provide exactly what these organisms need! Maintaining this type of biodiversity on his land not only decreases the amount of chemicals he has to put into the earth but also encourages rainforest species’ spread into more people’s food preferences and culture. Like you said, improving appreciation for such species is the key to saving global biodiversity.

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