The botanical flora on the Atherton Tablelands is as diverse as it is astounding.
The few pockets of dense subtropical forest aren’t short of greens in any way.
The vegetation type indigenous to the area is mabi rainforest, now classified as endangered.
The name “mabi” is derived from a local Aboriginal word for the rare Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo.
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.
The forest was quite dense here and I couldn’t get very close.
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.
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.
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.
One of these incredible structures of nature grows just outside Yungaburra in the heartland of the Atherton Tablelands.
In the case of this strangling act, the original host tree lost its strength and tilted on to a neighbouring tree.
The fig’s roots are still growing from that leaning position at a 45 degree angle to the ground.
Its curtain of aerial roots are up to 15 meters in length.
The strangler fig consumed the neighbouring tree as well, which explains it’s impressive proportion.
This strangler fig is approximately 50 meters high with a trunk circumference of 39 meters.
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.
In December 1988 the Curtain Fig became part of the newly created ‘Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’.
The Curtain Fig Tree is a welcoming viewpoint by visitors from near and far.
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.
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.
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.
The loop boardwalk keeps visitors sure-footed and decreases environmental damage to flora and fauna.
In my opinion, this boardwalk adds nicely to the dense surroundings too.
It is a fabulous spot to stop and smell the figs after a busy day exploring surrounding natural viewpoints of the Atherton Tablelands.