When my children were young, I always found the mid-year or winter school holiday break a bit of a challenge. Who really wants to get out of a nice snug bed when the mornings are freezing cold, to go adventuring!
Luckily for us on the Sunshine Coast, though the mornings and evenings are a bit chillier than I would like, we are truly blessed with 'get up, get out and explore' days….nearly every day of winter!
The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary is a nature explorer's haven during winter
The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary in Bli Bli is a nature explorer's paradise during the winter months…the mozzies have gone into hibernation. One can really be adventurous with some Sherlock sleuthing whilst looking out for more than two hundred types of birds; crabs; butterflies and other animals that call the wetlands their home.
Within the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary life somehow manages to thrive on the land, edged by the sea and flooded with freshwater and salty tides. One of South East Queensland's largest groups of Mangrove Ferns grow in these wetlands.
Before European settlement, the Indigenous people gathered their resources from the mangroves to use in a sustainable way. Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities depended almost entirely on fish and shellfish from the mangrove ecosystems for their survival. Many plants were used for medicinal purposes. For example, the fruit of the Grey Mangrove was eaten and the bark used to treat stingray stings and to make shields. Mangrove timbers were used to build canoes, paddles, spears and boomerangs.
Look out for the Fiddler Crabs, with their extra-large orange pincer claws. These Fiddler Crabs form the logo for the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary support group and are usually found on the mud banks close to shade. You have to be very, very quiet to make sure you don't frighten them away! The best time to look out for these shy little crabs is at low tide when the mud flats are exposed - so make sure to check the tides before visiting.
From the 30 June until the 15 July the Sunshine Coast Council and the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary are inviting all budding naturalists to come and explore the wetlands in the Eco-Hunt Adventure - your mission will be to map the life of the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary and to find as many birds, butterflies, crabs and any other creatures that might be living in the Sanctuary.
White-bellied Sea Eagle - Photo courtesy of Robyn Howard Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group FB
It's totally FREE to join the Eco-Hunt Adventure. All you need to do is to download the free outdoor mobile app, QuestaGame onto your mobile phone, I-Pad or other electronic device; take photos on your device's camera and then submit your sightings - animals, plants or fungi - to QuestaGame. You will receive expert feedback and points for your sightings based on their rarity.
The prizes are still to be announced, but there will be prizes for:
🔍 Champion Spotter
Highest overall score for an individual, based on sightings submitted
🔍 Champion Identifier
Highest score from correct ID's provided by an individual (through the in-game QuestaLab or the QuestaGame's Bio-Expertise Engine) during the competition and until the time that all competition sightings have been verified
🔍 Best Find
Highest scoring individual sighting
🔍 Active Adventurer Prize Draw
One QuestaGamer who has submitted at least three eligible sightings within the competition period, drawn at random.
900m of boardwalks ensures that the wetlands are accessible by prams and wheelchairs
Access to this environmental haven is provided by extensive walking tracks and two metre wide boardwalks, which lead from the Information Centre down to the floating pontoon on the Maroochy River, ensuring this whole area is suitable for prams and wheelchairs.
Whether you are a big kid or a little kid, grab your walking shoes, some mozzie repellant - just in case - and your phone/tablet and join in the FREE Eco-Hunt Adventure at the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary these coming school holidays for your chance to win a range of great prizes. The Sanctuary is open every day from 9.00am to 5.00pm, so come on, kids, let's get adventuring and learn some important environmental 'stuff' along the way!
Look at the cute animals that can be found! Yellow-footed antechinus - Photo courtesy of Richard Midgley Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group FB