by Jodi Panayotov
Brisbane is uniquely blessed with its smattering of wetlands, otherworldly water habitats with their own peculiar flora and fauna that are easily accessible to all ages and that make a cool change from the usual bushwalks. Some are mangrove and sea creature dominated whilst others are bird, frog and native animal habitats – visit the former at low tide and the latter at the early morning or late afternoon when they come alive. Here are six of the best, all no more than 30 mins from the CBD:
The 'newest' of Brisbane's water worlds, this one is a magnificent manmade 80 ha wetland on the site of an old sandmine. At the main entrance are state of the art barbecue and picnic facilities and an interpretive centre and its three main tracks (the longest 2.8km) are fully wheelchair accessible and easy grade walking for all ages. She oaks, scribbly gums and melaleucas keep things partially shaded and dotted throughout are bridges, stone benches and little outlooks as well as a bird hide. Best visiting time is early morning or late afternoon for bird, bandicoot and wallaby spotting however pelicans hang around the main lake all day along with the resident lace monitors and dragons.
The biggest remaining wetland in the Brisbane region, Boondall Wetlands is a massive 70 ha coastal expanse comprising salt marshes, tidal sand flats, mangroves and freshwater wetlands. It's also recognised internationally as an important feed and rest stop for migratory birds from China, Japan, Siberia, Mongolia and Alaska. The main easy grade 2km walk starts at the fantastic informative Environmental Centre and meanders (at times via boardwalk) through an at times ghostly changing scene of paperbarks, rust coloured marshlands and lunar salt flats, dotted with artist-made aboriginal totems significant to the original inhabitants, and, overlooking Cabbage Tree Creek is a large bird hide to spot those migrators. There's also the option of biking in from Nudgee Beach or, if really keen, from Toombul.
Three distinct landscapes comprise these highly picturesque wetlands at the edge of Pine River. Although the walk is an easy grade stroll of 2.5 (3.5km with the bird hide) return, visitors get to sample three wildly contrasting habitats, the last of which is home to large Eastern grey kangaroos. To start, the path follows the river where there are fishing and picnic pavilions before the boardwalk tracks over salt marshes whose floor becomes a red and green carpet at low tide; then it submerges into an ethereal casuarina glade that appears to be inhabited by wood creatures and lastly the path to the bird hide passes the grasslands where there's a great chance of seeing the kangaroos.
This stunning mangrove walk just across the creek from Boondall Wetlands on the Nudgee Beach peninsula is blessed with exclusivity as hardly anyone but the locals know of its existence. It is also somewhat exposed, with its 2km boardwalk track raised midway amongst the mangroves, affording no shelter. The main life to see here are the soldier crabs and other crustaceans who scurry about the silty sand below at low tide (fascinating for children and kiddults). Otherwise the main attraction is its exclusivity and the drop-dead gorgeous views over Cabbage Tree Creek and to Shorncliffe from where the boardwalk juts out over the sea.
Victoria Point's best coastal forest walk is Halloran Reserve's Wet'n'Wild Circuit that, in its short wheelchair friendly 1.25km, takes in an extraordinary array of contrasting landscapes. From tea tree copses to a mini red gum forest, a she oak grove to salt encrusted and red claypan lunar landscapes, this is an ideal one for the easily bored, with benches dotted here and there to come to terms with one scene before embracing the next.
It may be short (only 800m) but the jewel in Wynnum's crown is this splendid walk through an ethereal water world. Throughout the boardwalk that winds its way through the thicket of twisted and intertwined mangroves are benches for contemplation and a story book trail telling the story of mangrove life and at one point there's a stunning vista of the sea. Although low tide is the time to see all of the sea creatures come out to play at high tide it makes for a peaceful and reflective experience that borders on holy.
© Must Do Brisbane