There’s a lot of wildlife in Broadbeach the feathered variety…
Do you ever get the feeling something is watching you, but you can’t see it. Well this happened to me recently, and of all places near the Transit Centre in Broadbeach. It was one of those days; I wasn’t feeling great, a little flat for no particular reason. Well suddenly I felt compelled to look at the palm trees and there it was, staring and standing motionless with its big eyes trained on me. It was so close and larger than I expected, it was a Curlew, and I believe a “Bush stone curlew” this was the last place I expected to see one.
During the day, bush stone-curlews tend to remain inactive, sheltering amongst tall grass or low shrubs and relying on their cryptic plumage to protect them from predators. When disturbed, they freeze motionless, often in odd-looking postures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_stone-curlew
My mood instantly lifted… It started me thinking… these were wetlands a hundred years ago and this very spot would have been alive with birds. So I decided I would walk to Cascade Gardens following Little Tallebudgera Creek, there is a footpath all the way to the gardens and this walk is one that should be put on your list of Gold Coast walks to do.
But first I just want to talk briefly about our wetland areas.
The Gold Coast is known for its beautiful beaches and coastline, however not a lot of people come to see its wetlands. Wetlands still have a sort of stigma attached to them. Most people immediately think of mosquitoes and snakes and stinking water, or useless land that needs to be drained. But the reality is that much of the Gold Coast beyond the beach was wetlands a vast wetland area. This is very visible in Broadbeach; it seems funny to say that this tourist mecca is home to a delicate balance of wildlife, most locals and visitors don’t think about Broadbeach in this way.
I’ve never heard of anyone say we are going to check out what remains of one of the Gold Coast’s vast wetlands in Broadbeach.
When all is still and the traffic noise dies down you will hear the wetland wildlife sounds and now the haunting eerie, wailing cry of the Curlews. Everything from fruit bats to water birds and much more is still clinging to its heritage. This area was also home to the Kombumerri people, (saltwater people) however early history indicates that even a hundred years ago few would have been here, this rich landscape full of food and resources only echoes their past. A feasting ground for the aboriginal people was found at Cascade Gardens, along with a large burial site, indicating the importance of indigenous history and culture attached to this location
Gold Coast Wetlands
For centuries this land beyond the beach was home to an abundance of flora and fauna. It was said that in the early days the Nerang River was a carpet of yellow from the fallen flowers of the native hibiscus (cotton tree). They are still there on her banks in places, their branches cascading into the water below.
Pockets of wetlands still exist all over the Gold Coast, Palm Beach and Elanora along Tallebudgera Creek and further west Schuster Park and Eddie Kornhauser Recreational Reserve. A small picturesque pocket at David Fleay’s further north we have Coombabah Lakelands which boast an extensive wetland area, not to forget Macintosh Island and Gold Coast Botanic Gardens to name just a few.
However the vast Miami Swamp no longer exists, it was a place renowned for its beautiful wildflowers particularly Christmas Bell that grew even alongside the South Coast Road, which now is the Gold Coast Hwy.
The Islands of Broadbeach – Main Beach
When you take a look at Google maps, you can clearly see that this area would have been a vast mangrove swamp and many of these natural islands would have been covered with mangroves, secluded and off the main channel of the Nerang River. I’m not sure which or if any are man-made, however remnants of the wetlands are still clinging on… the colony of bats at Cascade Gardens is another example.
- Surf Street
- Broadbeach Island
- Florida Gardens
- Isle of Capri
- Girung Island
- Paradise Island
- Chevron Island
- Cronin Island
- Macintosh Island
What makes Broadbeach so interesting and unique is that nowhere on the coast that I can recall is a location full of high-rises, restaurants and bars, including a casino and monorail and Transit Centre with light rail and buses, but still surrounded by wetlands and now the eerie night calls of the Curlews.
If I was a tourist visiting the Gold Coast and loved nature and birds, this walk along the Gold Coast Hwy, following ‘Little Tallebudgera Creek’ to Cascade Gardens would be one I would love to know about.