When NG Kids landed in Queensland, Australia, we couldn’t wait to explore the great outdoors! So grab your sun hats and sunscreen, and join us as we venture to a super-special place of breathtaking beauty - Fraser Island...
Located off the coast of eastern Australia, Fraser Island is the largest island in the world made from sand. Today a World Heritage-listed area, this super-special place is home to a whole host of wonderful wildlife, natural lakes and brilliant beaches.
But what makes this island really unique? Well, gang, from the island's dunes rises a majestic sub-tropical rainforest where some fascinating - and truly quirky! - flora grows. And so, leaving the ocean and the long stretch of golden sand behind us, we voyage into the depths of the rainforest to explore.
Take a look at these three types of groovy greenery that are far from your regular pot plant!
Check out the silent assasin of Fraser Island's rainforest - the strangler fig! This peculiar plant begins its life as a sticky seed left on a high tree branch by an animal. As the young strangler lives on the tree's surface, it grows long tree roots that descend along the trunk of the host tree and enter into the soil. These roots entwine together and enclose the host trunk in a thick strangling lattice - hence it's name, strangler fig.
And now for the deadly bit - the host tree's leaves are shaded from sunlight (essential for a plant's survival) by the thick fig foliage, and its roots are forced to compete with those of the strangler fig for nutrients in the soil. The result? The host tree dies, leaving the strangler fig behind standing strong!
Look closely at the scribbly gum tree in the photo above. What do you think those markings are? Graffiti? Perhaps some mysterious ancient writing? Well, they had people stumped for years, but these zig-zag patterns are actually tunnels made by larvae of a moth - the Scribbly Gum Moth. Eggs are laid between layers of old and new bark, and the hatched larvae then burrow into the new bark. And check this out - the tracks reflect the life cycle of the insects, with increases in the tunnel diametre showing that the larvae is growing, and the end of the track indicating where it has stopped burrowing and started its transformation into a moth. Cool, eh?
Get ready to feel the heat with the brilliant Banksia, gang - because this incredible evergreen bush has adapted to survive fire! This Australian wildflower has brightly coloured flower heads, formed from a spike or cone of hundreds of tiny individual flowers. Birds and other marsupials pollinate the plants - but in some banksia species, seeds are held in a thick woody capsule that will only open with the intense heat of fire. In the presence of bushfires (which occur naturally in Australia), the scorching flames cause the capsule to open, releasing the seeds. This ensures the seeds fall on rich soil fertilised by ash, allowing the Banksia to grow again. Cool, eh - or should we say hot?!
The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island. They occupied the island thousands of years ago and called the island K’gari, which means 'paradise'.