Figs and curtains, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

 

Botanical diversity at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Botanical diversity at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The botanical flora on the Atherton Tablelands is as diverse as it is astounding.

Green and blue at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Green and blue at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The few pockets of  dense subtropical forest aren’t short of greens in any way.

Endangered Mabi forest at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Endangered Mabi forest at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The vegetation type indigenous to the area is mabi rainforest, now classified as endangered. 

Thick forest at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Thick forest at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The name “mabi” is derived from a local Aboriginal word for the rare Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo.

Shadow and Light spectacular at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Shadow and Light spectacular at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

I didn’t see a tree kangaroo in this particular spot, but noticed something else moving out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t quiet work it out what I saw at first and had a closer look.

No way through Mabi forest st Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

No way through Mabi forest st Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The forest was quite dense here and I couldn’t get very close.

Mysterious tree hugger at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Mysterious tree hugger at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Actually, I still can’t work it out. I thought it could be a ‘sugar glider’ but it’s to heavy built. It doesn’t have the body shape of a tree kangaroo either. It just clung to the tree trunk, trying to stay undetected.

Strangler Fig Tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Strangler Fig Tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Another one of these natural curiosities is the Strangler Fig Tree. As the name suggests, Strangler Fig Trees wrap themselves around host trees once the seedling established itself.

Independent fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Independent fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

It then grows roots to the ground and thrives vigorously independently. Literally strangling the host tree, fig trees can grow to considerable size over centuries. 

Curtain Fig Tree from a distance, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Curtain Fig Tree from a distance, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

One of these incredible structures of nature grows just outside Yungaburra in the heartland of the Atherton Tablelands.

Fig tree castle at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Fig tree castle at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

In the case of this strangling act, the original host tree lost its strength and tilted on to a neighbouring tree.

45 degree angle architect at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

45 degree angle architect at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The fig’s roots are still growing from that leaning position at a 45 degree angle to the ground. 

Curtain of roots at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Curtain of roots at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Its curtain of aerial roots are up to 15 meters in length. 

Oversized fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Oversized fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The strangler fig consumed the neighbouring tree as well, which explains it’s impressive proportion.

Curtain Fig Tree in sepia, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Curtain Fig Tree in sepia, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

This strangler fig is approximately 50 meters high with a trunk circumference of 39 meters.

Impressive dimensions, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Impressive dimensions, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The canopy extends in a radius of roughly 30 meters from the trunk of the tree. The host tree has since rotted away and the fig is now free standing.

Fig tree wonderland at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Fig tree wonderland at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

In December 1988 the Curtain Fig became part of the newly created ‘Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’.

Popular by visitors at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Popular by visitors at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The Curtain Fig Tree is a welcoming viewpoint by visitors from near and far. 

Fig tree in blue skies st Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Fig tree in blue skies st Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

It has been a major tourist attraction for the Atherton Tablelands since the beginning of the 19th century. This fig is believed to be 500 years old. Due to its diversity, fig-trees host an abundance of wild and birdlife, as well as insects.

Surrounding trees at curtain fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Surrounding trees at curtain fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Fig trees are not only popular for their many nesting and resting options, but they also play an important role as a food source too. Wild figs are a welcoming delicacy by most forest dwellers.

Loop track boardwalk around curtain fig tree, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Loop track boardwalk around curtain fig tree, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

A boardwalk was constructed in 2001 to allow wheelchair access for the disabled and to provide further protection for the tree and its surrounds while permitting visitors to view it from all angles.

Less environmental impact, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Less environmental impact, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

The loop boardwalk keeps visitors sure-footed and decreases environmental damage to flora and fauna.

Well fitted boardwalk around curtain fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Well fitted boardwalk around curtain fig tree at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

In my opinion, this boardwalk adds nicely to the dense surroundings too.

Great resting spot at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

Great resting spot at Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland, Australia

It is a fabulous  spot to stop and smell the figs after a busy day exploring surrounding natural viewpoints of the Atherton Tablelands. 

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