On-site guided and self guided nature walks: Pandanus Walk
Please walk from Reception through the main building to the Restaurant. Immediately as you enter the Restaurant, take the path to the right and go down the garden steps to the Pool area.
At the bottom of the stone steps on the right hand side there are some magnificent specimens of Footstool Palms (Livistona rotundifolia): The large fan-shaped fronds are overhanging the path. There are many vines growing up the adjoining trees. Look closely and you will see the roots clinging to the bark. In the rainforest, vines use trees to climb towards the light. As the vine grows taller notice how the leaves get larger to take advantage of this extra light
As you approach the pool, you will notice a clump of palms with bright red leaf bases. These are the famous Lipstick or Sealing Wax Palm (Cyrtostachys renda). One of the most spectacular members of the whole palm family. This is a multi-stemmed palm which continually sends up new shoots from the base in a similar manner to bamboo. Run your hand over the trunk immediately below the red leaf base and feel how smooth it is; almost as though it has been polished.
Move forward another 7 metres on the paved path on the left and you will see a large Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa); growing on the corner of the restaurant. It looks as if mice have eaten holes through the leaves ! You may be familiar with this as it is a common indoor plant, but you are never likely to see one this big!
Follow the path around to the left and stop before the first step. Immediately on your left, you will see a Black Palm (Normanbya normanbyi). It has a thin trunk and has extremely hard wood. It is used by local Aboriginals to make spears. This magnificent rainforest palm is only found in tropical North Queensland. These palms often have large clusters of bright red fruit, the size of a small egg. Just behind the Black Palm, you will see a large Birdsnest Fern (Asplenium australasicum) with large strap-like leaves. This is another common rainforest fern. Have a look under the fronds and you might see a brown herringbone pattern of fertile spores.
Standing at the top of the steps look ahead in front of the restaurant where you will see a the largest tree in that area with dark green leaves. This is the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata). Often it is laden with large figs, which unfortunately are inedible to humans.
From this point at the top of the steps walk across the lawn towards a palm tree that has a conspicuous white sign at its base. This is the Teddy Bear Palm (Dypsis leptocheilos): so called because of the soft red fur-like material at the base of the leaves. This is an opportunity to have your photograph taken with a living Teddy Bear!
From here face the swimming pool walk across the lawn towards the swimming pool and you will see a small palm that looks like a bottle. This little Bottle Palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis) comes from the Mascarene Islands. It is interesting because it is now virtually extinct in the wild because many years ago sailors released goats onto the islands. The goats have eaten all the small palms.
Just to the right of the Bottle Palm, you will see a tree with bunches of leaves that hang down like fingers on a hand. This is the famous Queensland Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla). There are millions of these trees sold around the world as they are one of the best indoor plants. The unusual bright red flowers attract many types of birds. Sometimes in the hot sun, the fruit ferment producing alcohol. Parrots feeding on the fermented fruit can get quite drunk, often falling to the ground staggering around in a boisterous fashion.
As the effect of the alcohol wears off, they fly away unharmed!
From the Bottle Palm (facing the swimming pool) turn left and walk down the narrow paved path. Just a few metres down this path on the right hand side, you will see some magnificent Ruffled Fan Palms (Licuala grandis).
The large tree above you is a Mango Tree (Mangifera indica). This tree carries large amounts of delicious fruit which ripen in November and December. Spectacled Flying Foxes ( a large fruit eating bat) frequently feed on these fruit at night and can be heard squabbling amongst themselves to get the choicest fruit.
Pause at the timber fence ahead of you. On the left you will see the clumping Raphis Palm (Rhapis excelsa). Another very popular indoor plant. Proceed through the fence and have a good look at the clump of Bananas on the left hand side.
Another 10 metres further on is a large hedge with clumps of magnificent purple flowers. This is Duranta repands and a beautiful variety called Geisha Girl.
Walk up the path ahead, passing bungalows #49 #50 & #51, right up to the grassy area opposite bungalow #45. Walk out onto the lawn to your right and you will see a large area of Mangrove forest. This area has many different mangrove species. Look carefully and you will see how the above-ground root systems and leaves differ from one species to another. These amazing plants enjoy living by the sea and are valuable nurseries for many species of fish.
The row of very large palms alongside the path are Royal Palms (Roystonea regia). The trunks of these stately palms can reach 30 metres in height. In South America, this palm was placed on the Spanish coat of arms and could only be planted by royalty: Hence its name.
Look closely at the trunks at eye level and you will see many species of lichen. They look like a fluffy carpet growing on the trees. A healthy population of these lichens indicates excellent air quality as they are amongst the first species to suffer if there is any air pollution.
Retrace your steps for about 30 metres and where the path forks, go down the right hand side. Another 20 metres and you will see a small path going off to the right. ( Here there is a sign 90-97 ) . Just a few metres along this small path you will notice a large tree on the left side right next to the path. This is a Rain Tree(Samanea saman). You might be surprised to learn that this large tree is only 20 years old. Imagine if we were able to grow that fast ! An aerial root comes down alongside the trunk. You probably think of roots as being entirely underground; however in the Tropics there are many plants that have some parts of their root system above ground. This root belongs to a Queensland Umbrella Tree, which is now growing in the fork of the Rain Tree. This has happened because a bird has at some time dropped the seed here. Grasp this single root in your hand and you will be able to feel the enormous tension. You can imagine the enormous strength provided by the whole underground root system of a tree, which can be made up of hundreds of roots similar to this one.
Walk a little further down the path towards the footbridge. At the entrance to the bridge, you will see two Weeping Tea Trees(Leptospermun longifolium); one on each side of the path. These trees produce an aromatic oil which has healing properties. Take a leaf and crush it in your hand and smell the aroma for yourself.
Spend a few minutes on the bridge. Look into the water and you are likely to see many fish.
The impressive palms that are at the waters edge are Nipah Palms(Nypa fruticans). They grow with their feet permanently in the water. From Northern Australia to South East Asia, these palms have many uses, including making very durable traditional roofing material for houses. They produce a massive seed on a single stork that grows from the base of the palm. Fossil Nipah seeds have been found in Europe so they must have been very common at one time.
On the other bank to the right of the bridge is a Beach Almond Tree(Terminalia catappa), recognisable by its large leaves. It is the largest tree on the right hand side. This tree produces edible fruit which, Aboriginals roast over fires. The trees are often found along beaches because the seeds float and can be spread by currents. The tree is also a good source of dye.
We hope you have enjoyed yourselves. This is the end of this walk and you can retrace your footsteps over the bridge to the main building, or continue to explore the gardens and beach.