Doting grandmother and grey nomad who should join Volunteers Anonymous and is greatly in favour of a ten day week. So much to do, so little time.
Published April 9th 2017
Explore the natural and built environs of the Brisbane area
I have had many a guided tour of bird habitats in countries as far flung as Ireland and Taiwan, and I have taken like-minded visitors to Brisbane to various birding hotspots. I thought I knew all of the latter until l took a day trip with Annette Foy of Create-a-Tour.
My husband spent all of his school holidays with grandparents in the Bayside suburbs, but he didn't know about the birding opportunities of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and its environs in Wynnum until I enlightened him. He spent years working in the banana ripening rooms at the Brisbane Markets (where we spent many of our courtship dates – 45 years later and still going strong), but he wasn't aware of the Oxley Common just up the road.
Taking a day trip in Annette's very comfortable Mitsubishi 4WD Outlander with air -conditioning was just like going on an outing with a friend. Her company was also extremely comfortable. The four guests were so relaxed and the conversation flowed freely as Annette answered all of our questions about the natural wonders of our own city. In the book How to be a (Bad) Birdwatcher, Simon Barnes maintains that everyone is a birdwatcher, and my three fellow travellers certainly believed this by day's end.
First stop was the Port of Brisbane, where Swan Lake lived up to its name. There was a contentious proposal to fill in this man-made feature to construct a park for imported vehicles. The furore this raised with conservationists means that 143 different species of birds still have a beautiful home where visitors can enjoy the variety.
Another man-made feature is the wader wetlands which are serviced by two bird hides. Here we saw a wide variety of avians our fledgling birdwatchers were able to identify through the informative bird charts on the hide walls and the binoculars thoughtfully supplied by Annette.
Morning tea was taken in the Visitors Centre where a spectacular view of the Port was to be had. It also gave the opportunity to see how Nature rubs along with the built environment. All the while Annette was sharing her passion for and deep knowledge of the natural environment.
Next stop was the wetlands of the Wynnum North Reserve Circuit where we observed a mix of flora and fauna. Annette pointed out how essential mangroves are as breeding grounds for a thriving eco system. We were able to observe many examples.
This circuit takes you through a variety of habitat from manicured lawns to a 350m red and grey mangrove boardwalk via a bird hide. There are other animals to see as well as bush and beach birds including White-faced Heron Royal Spoonbill
· Great Egret
· Australian White Ibis
· White-browed Scrub Wren
· Eastern Curlew
· Bar-tailed Godwit
· Black-winged Stilts
· Australian Pelican
· Torresian Crow and
· Pied Cormorant
Continuing the emphasis on birdwatching, we travelled across town to Oxley Common. No need for a GPS. Annette knows all the highways and byways. Oxley Common is home to many birds such as the Tawny Grassbird for which grasses are a favoured natural habitat. Annette pointed out that mowing an area prior to tree planting does no favours for these birds. To have a variety of birds, one needs a variety of habitat.
With the weather closing in and a great picnic shelter at hand, this was an ideal place for lunch. Annette caters for all dietary preferences, and we feasted on a diet friendly, tasty salad, fruit, dips, biscuits and breadrolls washed down with a glass of white wine. Water, hot drinks and fruit juice were also available.
Bad weather, except maybe in cyclonic conditions, is no obstacle to Create-a-Tour. Annette knows her hometown and surrounds so well she is able to gear her tours to accommodate the vagaries of the weather. The schedule she had planned for us was quickly altered when the weather turned sour.
Create-a-Tour does not limit its expeditions to birdwatching tours. How about a trip to the Gold Coast for surfing lessons, a bush walk through Brisbane Forest Park, some retail therapy at the Eumundi Markets, or some craft beer tasting? Annette has you covered from the Sunshine Coast to the Queensland border.
Create-a-Tour is ECO Certified in line with Annette's respect for the natural environment. Examples are the hand washing of her vehicle and the use of recyclable containers for meal breaks. This reflects her commitment to sustainable practices. Create-a-Tour conducts Ecotourism Australia Certified Day Tours. These are Half and Full Day PRIVATE TOURS for Singles or Small Groups of up to 4 People. Prices start from a low $120pp for a Half Day Tour and $150pp for a Full Day EcoTour. Lunch is at your own cost, but can be included for a fee.