IF words like “voluntouring”, “purposeful travel”, “socially responsible travel” and “sustainable tourism” are commonly part of your holiday plans, this opportunity may be a dream come true.
Natural Resource Management group NQ Dry Tropics and Conservation Volunteers Australia have joined forces to offer a special holiday experience in North Queensland for people who want to make a positive impact on the environment.
It’s an opportunity to explore and nurture a very special ecosystem – the vulnerable beach scrub communities growing in small pockets on ancient sand dunes along the Queensland coast.
The beach scrub communities targeted by NQ Dry Tropics are between Crystal Creek north of Townsville and Bowen.
Since 2016, the NQ Dry Tropics Protecting Biodiversity team has been working with enthusiastic volunteers, landholders, Traditional Owners, as well as State and local governments to tidy up, and restore, endangered beach scrubs.
Project Manager Thijs Krugers said beach scrubs maintained an important barrier between the sea and coastal communities.
“They also host a rich palette of plants and animals, and are culturally significant,” he said.
Beach scrub is a dry rainforest vine thicket and the closed canopy helps form an environment in which a huge diversity of flora can thrive.
It is so diverse that many coastal indigenous groups refer to beach scrub as the “supermarket of the bush”.
Mr Krugers said the number of ancient middens found in beach scrub pointed to its significance in Aboriginal culture.
There is a dwindling number of beach scrub communities remaining along the Queensland coast, much of it on private property accessible by invitation only..
Volunteers working in a particularly beautiful patch of this endangered dry rainforest on private property near Rollingstone found a spangled drongo trapped in a pisonia tree – the sticky-seeded “bird-eating tree” – and were able to free it.
At Cape Upstart Station, near Bowen, there is a beautiful patch of beach scrub that is part of a former cattle station now set aside for conservation.
For more than 30 years, the area has been accessible only through locked gates and volunteers tending to the beach scrub are privileged to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the area when they finish the task.
They can explore the 9km beach, or take in the amazing views of the scrub from a waterfall nestled in the mountains of Cape Upstart National Park.
NQ Dry Tropics, in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), and funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program cares for 18 beach scrub communities.
Conservation Volunteers Australia Team Leader Adriana Uzqueda said volunteers removed weeds and marine debris impacting the beach scrub.
“Conservation Volunteers Australia always has room for more people on camping trips lasting several days, or, on one-day outings,” Ms Uzqueda said.
She said anybody keen for adventure with a positive impact should contact either CVA or NQ Dry Tropics.
View of Cape Upstart beach scrub
Volunteers getting busy
Some Townsville beach scrub