An extinct species named Cassowary Lydekkeri was distributed in NSW during the Pliestocene 60,000-40.000 years ago. Fossil evidence was found in the Wellington caves. These megafauna species dispersed large seed of rainforest trees –Cassowaries don’t chew the seed just the fruit then poo out whole seed to regerminate. There is no animal now dispersing large seeds in this way limiting the range of Rainforests. Cassowaries survived in Daintree & N Guinea
Aust had vast rainforest twice size of amazon, it stretched to Lake Eyre. As Australia's climate dried rainforest survived on this volcanic remnant sheltering unique flora & fauna. More recently its total area has been further drastically reduced by the impacts of agriculture and development.The Tweed Caldera Border Ranges has the highest number of endemic rainforest plant species of subtropical Eastern Australia. Bangalow palms, ferns and soft wood tree species thrive on the red basaltic soil
The montane caldera rim has areas over one kilometre altitude attracting annual rainfall of 2000mm Rare Antarctic Beech Cloud Forest exists unchanged in 40 mill yrs. Trees do not have growth rings but estimated 3000 years old! Get 40% of moisture from clouds. Spiny Crayfish have been here for 60 mill years. They branched into many different types whilst we were still connected to Sth America. Today 11 different types occur in the Border Ranges – more than anywhere else in Australia
Lowland Subtropical Rainforest occurs close to the coast. It has the most diversity of any forest on Earth supporting plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. Only pockets are left today. The Wompoo pigeon has the largest beak of any bird to eat the large seeds of rainforest trees. The male Brush Turkey has a thermometer in beak to keep mound at 2* by scraping & removing leaves. Diamond python preys on the eggs. The hatched young must survive on their own.
Gliding marsupials included the greater glider -at 1m the longest in world has a permanent smile & is very sleepy like a koala doesn’t move when spotlighted. It no longer lives in this region preferring the Southern highlands. Yellow bellied glider is quicker and smaller. Koalas are related to wombats from thousands of years ago. They are very sick at moment & in serious decline. Aboriginal hunting grounds made clearings of grass using fire to hunt animals and changed landscapes dramatically.
The large spectacular coastal swamp orchid, Phaius australis is now a threatened species. Birds such as Magpie Geese, Jabiru and Brolga still visit our wetlands, however the northern wet tropics is now their main refugia Wetlands her were like Kakadu – magpie geese brolgas jabirus all existed here but the swampland was drained for sugarcane. The native water lilly is extinct here now and can only be seen Nth of Gladstone
Magpie goose is in lineage of its own – not a goose or duck or swan – no close relative. Jabiru or Black-neck Stork has an iridescent neck in sunlight (not black at all) It is Australia's only stork – has been seen at Tweed Heads There are two species of cranes in Australia - one being the Brolga with a very graceful mating dance. The other is Saurus Crane - a beautiful bird almost as tall as a human - only seen out West. We really need to restore our wetlands – how good is sugar after all?
The Tweed Caldera coastal fringe has some remnant evidence of sand dunes. The windswept banksia shrubs and pandanas (screw pines) with large edible bright yellow orange seed clusters remain prominent in the beach side landscape. Images of Wallabies and Goanna remain the copyright of local indigenous artist Danielle Sussyer. Hundreds of generations of Aboriginal families have dined on pandanus nuts, bush tucker and an abundance of fish and shellfish as seen in these middens in the sand.
At Tweed river mouth the Fingal Rocks stand as a spectacular, cluster of large polygonal shaped basalt rocks. These rocks formed from massive basalt flows meeting the coast 20 MYA. The lava then solidified into massive pillars – like Irelands giants causeway. Sawfish were fished out by hunting in the 50s 60’s Cook island had millions of birds nesting like the Galapagos. Aboriginal images depict turtle & jellyfish stories. Australasian humpback dolphins