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Diversity walk at Cape Hillsborough

Updated: Jan 24

Before you start

Level: Easy

Distance: 1.2 km, 40 min return.

How to get there: Follow the Bruce Highway to the Seaforth exit (about 50 km north of Mackay), and follow the signs to Cape Hillsborough National Park. The diversity walk is well sign posted, and is on the right about 2 km prior to reaching the nature tourist park.

Accomodation (read this): Find accommodation in Cape Hillsborough.

Facilities: No facilities (nearest toilets are located at Cape Hillsborough). Wheelchair access.

This is another post of our adventures on the Central Queensland Coast. Cape Hillsborough National Park was a great destination and both the landscape and the feeling of going back in time helped to make these walking trails amazing. There is so much natural history in the area around this National Park that it was hard to grasp it all in one go. Welcome to the diversity walk!

The boardwalk meandering through the mangroves

A bit of ecology:

species diversity is an ecological term which describes the number of different species present in a given natural community. In ecological terms, species diversity consists of three components: species richness, phylogenetic diversity and species evenness. Species richness means how many species you can count in one place, while phylogenetic diversity is the diversity in the genetic relationship between the different species. Lastly, species evenness tells you how equal the amount of the species are in a given area.

The diversity walk is an excellent example (and representation) of the diverse coastal ecosystem. This short trail hides a very diverse vegetation. As you walked along the trail, the landscape changes at nearly every corner. The trail starts in a eucalyptus forest, then changes to a melaleuca (tea tree) dominated forest that is more tolerant of marshy anoxic soil with some exposure to salt (ask people in Florida where this is an invasive species).

As we walked deeper into the trail we started to see the shape of the tangled brown-grey root system of mangrove trees along the boardwalk. On the top of the mangrove trees the fleshy leaves hanged and some of the trees were decorated with pink elongated flowers.

Mangroves are a very important part of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. They provide nursery place for young fish, crustaceans and other aquatic life. If you go at low tide, you can see the mud crabs crawling around, and if you go at high tide you will see fish making their way into the mangroves to forage. At this time of the year the trees were flowering and we saw long seedlings hanging from some of the trees, ready to lodge and grow when they are dropped in the mud below, or be transported away to a new site if tidal water sweeps them away.

We walked through the boardwalk above the ground to encounter the root system of a mangrove forest. The track takes you to an aboriginal site of great importance, the shell midden. This place was the land of the Yubiera (Yuwi), they gathered here to eat shellfish found on the coast. The shells were left behind after eating and with time, the pile of shells built up into a huge pile of shells. This shell midden was near a boulder, perhaps as this boulder provided protection from the harsh sun, or was a prominent landmark that was easy to find. This area is fenced and protected.

Overall, the walk is quite easy and very enjoyable for children as there is constant changes in the landscape and a number of animals and plants to see. Furthermore there are benches along the trail for rest stops. As this walk goes through the mangroves, be warned, take your mozzie repellent or it will turn into a run through the mangroves back to the safety of your car!

Laila stands in front of the aboriginal site. Shell midden.

Thanks for reading!

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OutdoorHobbits by P&F photography

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