Cocoa Creek

Cocoa Creek is one of many mangrove-lined creeks which run into the southern part of Cleveland Bay, and in fact it is the nearest of them to Cape Cleveland. National Parks maintain a gravel road from the Cape Cleveland (AIMS) road to a string of no-facilities camping grounds along the creek almost to its mouth. Having seen a little of that area with Native Plants Qld recently, I returned for more.

mudflats and mangroves
The old farmhouse was in the trees on the right


The road runs between the hills and the mangroves, just above high tide level, and the (slightly!) higher ground between the road and the hill is covered with open woodland (see map).

Poplar Gums (Eucalyptus platyphylla) dominate that area, with a good sprinkling of Pandanus and Fan Palms in the wetter spots and figs, cocky apples and other species higher up the hill. Poplar gums lose their leaves before the wet season but much of the area had also been burnt recently. The ground was black, with green shoots of new growth, and the trees were nearly bare except for bright green new leaves and the browns and bronzes of burnt foliage.

It’s always a strange landscape, with expansive mudflats going under water at high tide and draining back down mangrove-bordered creeks as the tide recedes. At present the aftermath of the fires makes it weirder than usual.

In a few months the higher ground will be lush and green, much prettier but also much harder to move through. The little hill near the first campsite, for instance, was a very easy scramble because I could see where I was going and where I was putting my feet. In six months’ time I might need a machete.


There was once a farm beside the old Townsville road (which is now the first turn-off after leaving the AIMS road) and it is still marked by half a dozen big old mango trees and a couple of tamarinds. There are no remnants of any buildings or stockyards, however – just the tanks and trough in my photo, and another pile of concrete on higher ground which was probably another tank. This would be difficult country for farming and I don’t know how long the attempt lasted – perhaps 1920s – 1950s, going by what’s left.

Camping and fishing

The network of tracks exists mainly for the benefit of fishers who come down in 4WDs towing boat trailers. I saw four such rigs but no signs that anyone was actually camping there; perhaps they do on weekends, though.

The main track continues, in dry enough conditions, over the western tip of the ridge to Laun’s Beach. I left that for another time, having spent quite a while around the old farm.

Waders on the Common

It isn’t very long since my previous post about birds on the Town Common but water levels there have dropped and some different species, especially small waders, are taking advantage of the shallows and mudflats.

waders on a shallow lagoon
Distant waders including Stilts, Sandpipers (Marsh and Sharp-tailed), Dotterels and Masked Lapwing

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Introducing mogoer munya

John Elliott led a group of native plants enthusiasts on a trip to Cape Cleveland last weekend. The excursion prompted me to write about his recent book, mogoer munya, because a rock shelter which we visited features in the book.

Poplar gums, magroves and mudflats
The view from the rock shelter

mogoer munya

mogoer munya – man from the clouds is an account of the life of James Morrill, an ordinary English seaman of the mid-nineteenth century who was shipwrecked off the Queensland coast in 1846. He was one of four who survived the raft journey to the coast and were rescued by the Birri-Gubba people of Cape Cleveland.

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Breakfast on the macaranga

The Macaranga or Heart-leaf is a native tree, locally quite common in the wild. I will say more about it later but, first, here are some birds enjoying breakfast on the one beside our suburban driveway this morning.

Figbird in tree
Australasian Figbird

Figbirds travel in family groups and like figs (obviously), palm seeds and other fruit and nuts. This male and his entourage came for the macaranga seeds.

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What do I really think is going to happen?


A friend asked what I really thought is going to happen to the world as a consequence of climate change. It was a good challenge because it forced me to put my thoughts in order and clarify loose ends, so here we are.

What follows is based on thirty years of observing, as an interested lay person, climate science and the political debate around it. Key inputs are mostly listed on my climate change page. (Hansen’s ‘pipeline’ paper (introduced here, full pdf here) is the latest addition. It’s a real wake-up call: 10 degrees baked in! And Hansen has a long history of being right.)

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