Walking in White Mountains

Every time I have visited White Mountains National Park I have wanted to explore beyond the identified visitor areas. Camping at Cann Creek was lovely – but what lay on the other side of the ridge? Looking out over Sawpit Gorge wasn’t enough – I wanted to hike down into it.

But I was always suitably intimidated by the warnings saying things like, “Only suitable for strong, well-prepared groups of experienced bushwalkers,” and citing heat, lack of water, rough country, etc, which I always interpreted as, “Don’t try this on your own!” So when the Townsville Bushwalking Club offered an Anzac weekend walk in remoter areas, I made time for it.

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Paper wasps again

Most people don’t like paper wasps because they have such a painful sting but I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to dislike them (the wasps, that is, not the people).

I find them interesting because their lifestyle bridges the gap between the social insects, like honey-bees and most ants, and the non-social majority. Paper wasps are technically semi-social, as shown in a chart borrowed from an introductory entomology course.

“Primitively eusocial wasp colonies, such as Polistes, are commonly inherited by dominant workers on the death of a queen,” according to a short but fairly technical article on Scitable about evolutionary advantages (through kin selection) of sociality.

All of which is an introduction to these recent photos, taken on one of the regular Wildlife Queensland walks. The first shows a paper wasp adding to its family home.

Paper wasp Polistes stigma
The wasp with construction material

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Rowes Bay wetlands

I took my camera down to the wetland boardwalk behind Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre and the (new) Landcare Nursery a week ago. It was a very hot day but I found a good shady spot with views to nearby swamp and perches, and waited for the birds to forget I was there.

They did, and I got nice photos of half a dozen species. The best of them have already been shared online so I will just post links to them as they appear on iNaturalist: Sacred Kingfisher, Masked Lapwing, Koel (female), Hornbill Friarbird, and Pheasant Coucal.

But I’m a bug-hunter too, so here are some of the smaller creatures I saw from the boardwalk.

Leaf beetle
Leaf beetle

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Ravenswood and the mine

Ravenswood is a heritage town dominated by an enormous gold mine, and tensions between its history and its future are inevitable.

The town was founded 150 years ago because of its gold and flourished for 50 years. Then it became a ghost town, drowsing for 70 years before coming back to life 30 years ago, again because of its gold. Now it is threatened by its gold.

When new technology made the gold profitable again in the early 1990s the mine re-opened as an open-cut pit south-east of the town. Another pit has now opened to the south-west, raising a long wall just a couple of hundred metres from the main street.

Ravenswood hall and shop
The community hall (restored) and shop in the main street with the mine wall behind them

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