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Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Home > Sunshine Coast > Animals and Wildlife | Escape the City | Outdoor
by Elaine (subscribe)
Impromptu adventuring, exploring our backyard and then putting pen to paper, hoping to entice you to try one, if not all, of our escapades, is my true reward!
Published September 11th 2016
Nature’s Own Art Gallery
A palette of colours, ranging from the browns underfoot to the variety of hues of green, to the azure blue of the heavens and we have a range of shades that would tantalise any artist's creative side - welcome to Nature's own Art Gallery.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Reaching to the heavens, a Palette of Colour - Image: Elaine de Wet


Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve - and specifically the Rainforest walk - was our aim for this trip to relish what Mother Nature's treasure trove was happy to share with us. This stunning Rainforest Walk is within the subtropical rainforest, comprising fifty-five hectares of remnant rainforest in the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve - a living and breathing menagerie of multiple plants and animal life - an oasis of tranquillity and serenity.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Nature's Own Art Gallery - Image: Elaine de Wet


This scenic jewel comprises more than two kilometres of walking tracks, boardwalks and viewing platforms, with benches set out strategically so that one can sit back, relax and enjoy the myriad of bird calls or the Red-Legged Pademelons, basking in the early morning sunlight as it streams through the treetops.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Can you see the Pademelon? - Image: Elaine de Wet


The Rainforest Walk is only 1.7km return, but is a world of its own, an ecological island, growing in optimum conditions on flat deep basalt soils in a high rainfall area.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Twisted Vines - Image: Elaine de Wet


On entering this sub-tropical rainforest, you are greeted with a cacophony of sounds - nature's own orchestra. This bird sanctuary is a haven for a variety of birds (139 recorded species) including the Green Catbird (sounds like a baby crying in the distance); the Eastern Whipbird; the Wompoo Fruit Dove and even the Rufous Fantail - it truly is a thrilling experience to try to locate where the sounds are emanating from.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Dappled Sunlight to Tantalise any Artist - Image: Elaine de Wet


Another fascinating inhabitant of this Rainforest is the Giant Earthworms - luckily for us, they're nocturnal, but did you realise that they can grow up to a metre in length with a diameter of almost 2mm. This worm uses its body to rake up leaves, which is their food source. This is causing an ecological problem in the Reserve as the leaf litter is almost non-existent; the leaf litter protects the soil from erosion and is also a habitat for insects and other invertebrates, which are all critical to the ecology of the rainforest. This, of course, has a flow-on effect as without leaf litter the Brush Turkeys are unable to build their nests resulting in a declining number of these birds (not sure how many of us perceive this as a problem) but are still a very important ingredient in the health of the rainforest through their dispersal of seeds.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Raked up leaves from the Giant Earthworm - Image: Elaine de Wet


The streams around the Reserve are home to a little crayfish, the Mountain Freshwater Crayfish, which lives in upland streams of the Blackall and Conondale Ranges, at altitudes of above 240 metres. During the day it lives in burrows dug into the creek bank with usually only one crayfish occupying each burrow. These Crayfish are listed as endangered due to urban development, water pollution, disturbances to stream banks and burrows. Look out for the burrow openings surrounded by mud balls along the Piccabeen Boardwalk section of the Track.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Mountain Freshwater Crayfish Habitat - Image: Elaine de Wet


The main Rainforest Track is open daily from 7.00am to 6.00pm (a gold coin donation on entry is appreciated); and plenty of parking spaces available too, if you get there early enough. Please note that not all the tracks are accessible by wheelchair. The entire Track is well-signed with the botanical information on the variety of trees. We were fascinated by the Rose Gums - there are only two left in this Rainforest and are purportedly 800 years old. A viewing platform here allows you to enjoy without intruding on the surrounding bush.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Even the Fungi have Colour - Image: Elaine de Wet


This beautiful walk came to an end far too soon and if it wasn't for the fact that I was feeling a tad cold and was looking for a spot of sunlight (much like the Pademelons) I would have considered doing it again. With the heat of summer just around the corner, this would be a truly magnificent walk to do to escape the heat and enjoy the lushness and coolness of the Rainforest Walk.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
A remnant of Rainforest - Image: Elaine de Wet


On exiting, one has to cross the road and the Glass House Mountain's stretch before you in all their glory. This truly is Nature's Own Art Gallery and well worth a visit.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Rainforest walk, ecological island, bird haven, giant earthworms, pademelons, an oasis of tropical fauna and flora
Views to Glass House Mountains - Image: Elaine de Wet
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Why? To take a walk on the wild side!
When: Every day 7.00am to 6.00pm
Phone: 07 5429 6122
Where: 148 Mountain View Road Maleny, Qld 4552
Cost: Gold coin donation
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