We clean up after ourselves, take photos and leave only footprints and all the other things respectful campers to do safeguard the environment. Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding the outdoors and we are mindful, despite how pretty the flowers are, not to collect plant material. What was new were signs along Queensland roads requesting us to clean the underside of our vehicle and caravan and wash down our vehicles before entering the region.
Other signs urged drivers of road trains to ‘slow down and drop’ whatever weeds may have attached themselves to the truck and trailers. We were perplexed. Where to slow down, stop and drop and where were we to wash our vehicles and where were the boundaries of these regions? Some town brochures have a traveller’s checklist to raise awareness of weed control.
But where were we to wash down our vehicles? And what if we were simply passing through? Not being able to have these questions answered we followed the cue of others and kept going. I know, I know. But why do that when you have been requested not to? Being told to do something is one part of the conversation. Showing us how to comply is the second part and that was missing from the brochures. So, yes while we would have obliged we didn’t know how to.
The region we are travelling through now is known as The Desert Channels region described as largely ‘unmodified’ environment with robust pastoral, mining and tourism industries. The region covers 510 000 square kilometres of Queensland and home to 14, 5000 people. A not for profit organisation called Desert Channels Queensland (DCQ), with input from all sectors of the community, works to sustainably manage natural resources of the area.
Part community development, part land conservation and part biodiversity maintenance, the group helps protect the local habitat, minimise soil erosion (a challenge in these dusty parts), takes care of rehabilitation of native vegetation as well as delivers education programmes school and community groups. Without the dedication of such enthusiasts the understanding and value of this unique region’s natural resources would be lost.
One of the unique ways the DCQ educates is to provide interactive ways for visitors to learn how different plants and ecosystems fit together and the importance of taking care of them for the health and wellbeing of country and local communities. An innovative education programme is the linear Botanic Walkway in Longreach. The walkway and cycle track connects the town centre with major tourist attractions and is within easy walking distance of most areas of interest. The walkway is planted with trees, shrubs and grasses that provide habitat and food resources for a range of creatures including insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.
In the afternoon we cycled out to Thompson’s River, a round trip of about 10kms through scrubland to the water’s edge. Each town offers unique attractions making it impossible to do and see everything in every town. We will remember Longreach for the informative walkway that taught us about the outback biodiversity; and the bike ride out to Thompson’s River. We have left plenty to do and see for our next visit.