Tag Archives: natural world

Xanthorrhoea and Banksia Track Loop- Chermside Hills Reserve

Welcome to the Whistling Kite Collective’s Great Places to Visit series. This is where I review bushwalks and natural areas. Enjoy!

The Chermside Hills Reserve is a great natural area of Brisbane. This beautiful area is only 12 kilometres north of the CBD. Honestly, residents of this city are just so lucky to have such wonderful habitat places on their doorstep.

This wonderful area provides critical habita linkage and a variety of walking and cycling tracks.
This wonderful area provides critical habitat linkage and a variety of walking and cycling tracks.

This important bushland area provides a critical habitat link between the mountains and the coast (known as the Mountains to Mangroves Corridor). The Downfall Creek Environment Centre (open Monday to Friday at 815 Rode Rod, Chermside West) is a good starting and finishing point, as the site also offers a resource centre, track maps, indoor aquariums, activity sheets, touch and feel tables, water, timber playground, undercover bbqs and picnic tables and open grassed areas). The side of the Environment Centre wall is a painted mural of native animals in their habitats. My toddler loves this mural.

Lots of animals and bright colours attract little people to the wall.
Lots of animals and bright colours attract little people to the wall.
The shaded timber playground suits a variety of ages.
The shaded timber playground suits a variety of ages.

This Eucalyptus forest offers a variety of bikeways and walking tracks. The Xanthorrhoea and Banksia Track Loop bushwalk is a good distance for small children (about 1.2 kilometres and also suitable for prams as it is bitumen).  There is a good diversity of vegetation structure and floristics supporting abundant wildlife to engage the whole family.

Wide, sealed paths are suitable for prams in a natural forest setting.
Wide, sealed paths are suitable for prams in a natural forest setting.

Sensory play provided by this forest  include large logs, a timber bridge, small branches, crunchy understorey, rough grass trees, smooth eucalypt trunks and branches, shimmering tree sap from the iron barks, colourful leaves, glistening spiders’ webs and birds’ nests.

In autumn and winter the Banksias are in flower. These large, golden “candlesticks” are full of nectar. Little fingers and tongues retrieved the nectar from these flowers. “Very yummy nectar mummy!” We managed to leave some behind for the sugar gliders! This was a highlight of the walk through the Banksia track section

Banksia nectar is delicious for sugar gliders and toddlers! Photo courtesy of anbg.gov.au
Banksia nectar is delicious for sugar gliders and toddlers! Photo courtesy of anbg.gov.au

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The Xanthorrhoea track runs along the southern section of a small gully where we have seen swamp wallabies on a few occasions. “If we pat him, he might jump away”.  There are also plenty of bush turkeys, lizards and other birds in the area.

This area provides a good half day out when combined with a picnic or bbq lunch afterwards at the Environment Centre grounds. You can build your own adventure in this forest as several tracks can be linked for larger walks. Track maps are available online (http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/documents/environment/bushlandandwaterways_chermside_hills_reserves_track_map.pdf) or from the Environment Centre Monday to Friday.

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How we rock the forest

You don't need to pack the kitchen sink when rockin' the forest with small children.
You don’t need to pack the kitchen sink when rockin’ the forest with small children.

We love bush walking as a family. We adventure almost weekly. It brings us together and provides for beautiful shared experiences. Our standard kit is shown below. Various items are added to subtracted depending on the conditions and duration of the walk.

Ergobaby soft carrier
What would I do without this carrier? It is by far my best ever baby purchase. Mine has a handy zip pocket that can carry a nappy, mobile phone, small camera and keys. Our infant is carried in this. She can breast feed, sleep, chat and admire the surroundings. Of course, she wears her Whistling Kite Collective bonnet for enhanced bushwalking comfort!
ergobaby

Kathmandu framed carrier
Our lovely toddler can generally walk great distances for a little person, but sometimes she needs to be carried for a rest.  This carrier is good, but there are many on the market. This carrier also has a zipped storage area that can carry most items required for a half day walk. She is up high and can see over Dad’s shoulders.
kathmandu carrier

Insulated lunch box
Healthy snacks and more substantial lunch items.  For a half day walk we usually take sandwiches, fruit, crackers, natural yoghurt, crackers, assorted dried fruits and nuts; packed with an ice brick.
lunch box

Melobaby nappy change wallet.
There are lots of brands available, but I love this as it has removable microfibre change mats. I holds four disposable nappies, plastic bags for used nappies, small bottle of hand sanitiser, wet wipes and a spare flannel cloth. Now we have two children, we use disposable nappies for bushwalking.

Camera
We have a Sanyo video and still camera, plus the cameras on our phones. My Ergobaby carrier pouch holds this camera for quick access. I find that my Nikon DSLR is too large for on-the-go photography when we are with our children. It only comes on particularly scenic walks or when I know flowers are on display.
camera

One pair of spare pants for each child.
If we are beach or creek walking, then I pack a whole replacement outfit!

Water- two bottles

30 + Sunscreen
This is applied prior to our walk and we carry some with us. Its absolutely essential for young children in Queensland, Australia.
sunscreen

Small microfiber travel towel.
images

If I am taking the girls for a walk by myself our walks are shorter and our kit is very minimal! We always have suitable footwear for each adventure…

Green, glorious green (quiet please, I’m learning!)

Check this out! Stop.
Check this out! Stop.

Welcome to the “A more natural life” series. In this series of posts I explore how I am attempting to have a wonderful life based on my appreciation of nature. So let’s see how nature will set you (and I) free!

What a wonderful thing, to be able to go outside and be surrounded by the Australian bush. Today I packed the children up and we went exploring with a beautiful friend in a Eucalyptus forest. As we walked up the path, there were so many plants to see that I had to hold back from starting a science lesson! Being a botanist by trade I find it difficult to refrain from naming all the plants I recognise (in latin).

The thing is though, when I watch my children in the bush, their quiet joy tells me to hold my tongue.

Children have a special way with nature if they are allowed to explore it at their leisure. I find my children’s’ experience is diminished when adults try to interpret nature for them. They really don’t need to be told to “feel this bark, it’s rough”, or “smell that flower”. Phrases like “stay on the track” or “keep on walking” really take away from their experience. My toddler spent 5 minutes today looking for the spider that belonged to a delicate web we found. She spent another 5 minutes following an ant along a fallen log. Another stint was spent walking back and forth across a timber bridge over a dry creek bed. I started to feel a bit unsure as the group was waiting for her to do her thing, but she loved it. On the way home in the car she told me “I love bushwalking with you Mummy”. How lucky I am.

So here is my plan to let my children and learn what they need to, when they need to each time they are exploring nature:

  1. If I point out something cool, like a web/beetle/bird/flower, stop it there. I will take a step back and allow their natural curiosity to take over. I will let them learn what they wish in that moment and not describe something for them. I will shut my mouth!
  2. My children will stop and burst into song at the trees. Let it happen. There is no need to sing along. Let it be their moment in the sun.
  3. If my children take what I think to be an excessively long time doing one thing, I will remember that they are making memories. These memories form connections that help them find their place in the world.
  4. Enjoy the moment. It will never be repeated.
  5. Plan the time, so I have the time. There is no need to rush a walk if we have no other plans.

I’m sure this approach can apply to other parts of my life too.

A treechange in the city

I have a wonderful life. Unlike most of the worlds’ population, I have secure housing and food at every meal time. My children are healthy and well cared for. My problems are first world problems. Some days though, I catch myself feeling like a caged animal and all the good stuff seems to disappear from my mind. I start to care about inconsequential crap. So as a long term solution to some short term “problems” I am in the process of enriching our habitat. Yes I am attempting a treechange in the city.

Granted, I am extremely lucky to live in the suburban outskirts of a well-placed city, Brisbane. There are plentiful options for day trips and weekends away to beautiful locations that are very low cost (more on this soon). So, how does one attempt a tree change in the city I hear you ask? I am incorporating the following steps into our life. So far it’s been really fun.

  1. Enrich the indoors by incorporating natural elements for play. We have a treasure branch. On our journeys into the world we collect little “treasures”. When we are home we string them onto the treasure branch. I believe it links my toddler’s little world at home with the bigger world. I approach it as a way of being grateful for our little adventures and my toddler gets to remember and link places together.
  2. Enrich the outdoors at home. There is no need to install an animal sanctuary in the back garden for a space to feel engaging and natural. I have so far avoided plastic play equipment. We have just installed some new logs for balancing acts and tactile engagement. I suspect these will soon be painted!
  3. Get tree planting! This can easily be herbs in a plant pot that are brought inside to live if you have no outside space. Our current plantings are edible herbs and cat grass. My toddler has her own garden of herbs and flowers in pots that she waters and tends to. This is a wonderful time for all involved, especially if you like playing with water…
  4. Tell joyful stories at bedtime. I incorporate a made up story each bed time along with her usual favourites. My toddler is the main character and she has wonderful adventures through the bush and beach. Last time a cockatoo taught her how to fly after she’d made wings of branches and discarded bird feathers. You get the picture.
  5. Make time for gentle reflection. I like this in the afternoon. If I’m a bit pressed for time this also has been known to occur in the bath or shower!
  6. Incorporate a visit to a natural area once a week if possible. The benefits to children and adults are widely published. Our family enjoys getting getting out and about together. It builds and reinforces connection with each other and establishes gratitude towards the natural world.
  7. I guess this last item is the one that has helped me reduce my everyday stress levels and contribute towards the “feeling” of having a treechange. I just do one thing a day. I get in and out of the car once with the children. I don’t run around town anymore. Sure I compensate by doing more online when they are asleep but the difference to our lives has been profound. Of course, this is not always achievable, but a nice goal!
    Bringing the natural world home
    Bringing the natural world home
    Playing in nature forsters gratitude and a sense of belonging.
    Playing in nature fosters gratitude and a sense of belonging.