It is enjoyable and inspiring to participate in the excitement of a young child actively exploring the natural environment. Small children are fascinated by the world around them, ask innumerable questions and in doing so practise their maths, their spelling and begin to develop a basic understanding of science. Our patches of bushland, our parks and especially our Land for Wildlife properties are a fantastic resource.

A tree to climb
A Tree to Climb.
Sign indicating the start of Gwens Adventure trail
The start of the never-ending trail of adventure and discovery

Our seven year old Brisbane-based granddaughter is a regular visitor and likes nothing more than to go on ‘adventures’. She has her own notebook in which she writes down plant names (great spelling practice) and a collection box for interesting rocks and coloured leaves (carried by her grandmother, of course). She is, naturally, team leader down steep slopes, rock hopping through creeks and clambering over buttress roots. The reason wallabies and parents take a path across slopes is explained.

The beautiful Granny's Cloak Moth
The beautiful Granny’s Cloak Moth
The strange, fungus-looking plant Balanophora fungosa.
The strange, fungus-looking plant Balanophora fungosa.

A recent highlight was the discovery of a colony of Granny’s Cloak Moths (Speiredonia spectans) living in the concrete pipe that takes a small creek under our driveway. Talk about excitement as the moths fluttered around her head! Photos were taken and it was found that these apparently brown moths are very colourful in the light of a torch. They were later identified via a computer search. Intriguing little specimens of the parasitic plant, Balanophora fungosa, were found on a moist slope, photographed, counted and recorded. Colourful rainforest fruits are collected, identified and occasionally planted. Small waterfalls have been negotiated and rock pools searched for insect larvae. Our wonderful neighbours are happy to have her explore their property also, so our adventures are extending ever further. It’s becoming a challenge to locate more areas to explore! Fortunately there is a national park reasonably close by.

We now have a box for assorted butterflies and other insects and a box for vacated birds’ nests. Soft rocks have been ground up to see what colours might result. Grandparents are of course expected to have all necessary tools at hand such as pestle and mortar, containers, camera and requests to write it all up as a story. Who could complain? Science at its best: discovering, recording, research, identification and continuing curiosity. Article and photographs by Joan Dillon Land for Wildlife member Hunchy, Sunshine Coast

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