An ecotourist visits wonderful natural areas in a region without damaging or disturbing anything.
The Sunshine Coast is home to amazing parks, nature reserves, beaches and mountains so you can be an ecotourist in your own hometown!
So how about packing a picnic, grabbing the family and heading off on some eco-ventures over the holidays.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
55 hectares of subtropical rainforest is just waiting to be explored at 148 Mountain View Road, Maleny. With walking tracks leading you deep into the heart of the forest you are sure to discover lots of creatures that hop, crawl or fly. Plus the size of some of the trees are pretty amazing! The reserve is also an important refuge for our local wildlife with many species calling it home.
Contained in the reserve is the Discovery Centre, a large picnic area and a café. Added bonus…across the road you will have one of the best views of the Glasshouse Mountains!
The Discovery Centre has lots of interactive displays and an elevated boardwalk so you can see a birds eye view of the rainforest. It is also the best place to learn about our native animals that need our help. You can even borrow a Junior Ranger Explorer kit for your visit.
Get your adult to download the Agents of Discovery. This free digital game has two missions so make sure you choose Rainforest Discovery in Maleny.
Like any good ecotourist you need to do your homework before you go. Discover a list of some of the animals you may see (or hear) at the Scenic Reserve and how you can do your bit to help them.
Richmond Birdwing butterfly
This butterfly is one of the largest in Australia and can have a wingspan up to 16cm. They only live in the coastal and hinterland parts of South East Queensland and northern New South Wales so we are incredibly lucky to have them as our neighbours. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and invasive weed species, these beautiful butterflies are now listed as a vulnerable species in Queensland.
Print off this butterfly version of snakes and ladders and learn how you can help these awesome butterflies.
The tusked frog gets its name from two jutting ‘teeth’ on the lower jaw, only visible when the mouth is open. Male frogs have been observed locking jaws together in frog fights. The frogs are classed as vulnerable in Queensland due to habitat loss and disease. To help protect them from disease make sure you wash the soles of your boots/shoe before you enter the Rainforest walk.
Tusked Frogs are only 5cm big so you may not see one. If you are near a pond or a creek you may hear them though. They make one single ‘tok’ or ‘cluck’ sound.
Download the Australian Museum frog identification app before you go and see how many frogs you can discover on your adventure.
Standing only 40 - 55cm at full height, these little mammals are shy and well camouflaged and can be seen foraging on the forest floor. They are macropods (the same family as kangaroos) and have thick grey-brown fur that covers their head and back. Land-clearing has led to extensive loss of habitat for this species. Being a ground-dwelling marsupial, they are vulnerable to predators such as dogs but the small population living in the reserve is very safe.
If you are very quiet you may be lucky enough to spot them. Hint: if they start thumping their hind feet on the ground, they are feeling threatened and will warn the others before they jump away.
Wompoo Fruit Dove
The wompoo is usually heard first as it likes to hide in rainforest foliage! It makes a deep, reverberating call from up in the canopy of the the trees that can be heard up to 1km away. The first part sounds like a rock being dropped in deep water "womp" or "wolluck" followed by an owl-like "woo".
If you do happen to spot one you will know it is a wompoo by it is rich purple breast, yellow feathers, green wings, white head and a bright red beak.
If you do not get to hear the wompoo on your visit, jump online when you get home and tune into the Mary Cairncross live soundstream.
Top books to read
- Survivor kids : get ready for wild Australia by Peter Macinnis
- What’s out there? : amazing plants, rocks, creatures and cultures that make Australia extraordinary by Nicole Stewart
- A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins
- A world of environments by Karen McGhee
- The Australian animal atlas by Leonard Cronin
Even more stuff
- Use your library card to view all the content on National Geographic Kids. Read articles, find images and view videos on all your favourite animals.
- Visit Adventure Sunshine Coast to choose your next family eco adventure
- Watch Animal Tales with Tim Faulkner on the Australian Geographic website to learn more about our Aussie animals.
- Download the QuestaGame App to your phone or tablet and become a Citizen Scientist on your visit. Simply take photos of any interesting or unusual species you find while walking, submit the photos through the app and expert identification and information about your finds.