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Flying Fox, working in Finch Hatton Gorge - QLD


Suspended 25m above the forest floor, in the middle of Finch Hatton Gorge is a Flying Fox - a high wire!
My job was to settle people into heir harness, and hook them on to the wire at the top

They then descended the two wires, the first 230m long, to a platform and on along another 110m to the finish, where Ning or I would un-hook them

To get an idea of this unique experience, have a look at my video here

The office was a few meters walk from the house, and a pretty special place to work from
all built by Dave
complete with resident skink
As people arrived, we would give them the gear the needed, harness, gloves a pully and a break and Dave would demonstrate and give them chance to have a go before walking up (75 steps plus) to the top of the wire
Dave would set off first, ready to meet them at the platofm
and send them on to the end platform by the counter weight

Every morning Ning and I would walk the entrance
and then go down the wire,
scaring the bats to move on to other trees - and the best way to scare big fruit bats - snap branches!!
It was nice to get down to a welcome party of Lucky and Tyke!

Some mornings there was a beautiful mist over the hills at the top of the wire

The difference with this flying Fox (high wire) to many others is that you are given a break, so you can go at your own pace, stop and have a good look around, not only at the scenery in the tree top, but at the bats, which can settle pretty close to the wire

Flying-foxes (also known as Fruit Bats) are the largest bats in the world, and they’re quite different from the microbats.
They use night visions instead of echolocation to navigate, they feed on fruit and blossoms rather than insects, and they roost in large groups called camps, hanging in tree branches rather than in caves or tree hollows.
They have excellent vision.
There are about 60 species of Flying-foxes world-wide, found primarily in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
Australia has four species of flying-fox, all of which are protected species.
Flying foxes travel up to 50km to find food.
Though it seemed we weren't the only ones to enjoy the fresh oranges off the tree...
Most camps are found at low elevations, on flat land or moderate slopes and near waterways
There are only 3 species of vampire bats and they only occur in Central and South America.
Despite myths, bats are clean animals that groom themselves regularly.
Although some bats do naturally carry diseases, the vast majority of bats are not likely to harbour a disease.

Posted by charlystyles 13:26 Archived in Australia Tagged flying_fox fruit_bats finch_hatton_gorge Comments (0)

Flying Fox, living in Finch Hatton Gorge - QLD

Finch Hatton Gorge in Pioneer Valley is in an area that is the centre of the country's beef and sugar industries.
Recognising the land's potential, pastoralists followed hard on the heels of the explorers who opened up this region in the 1840's. Sugar production had begun by 1869 and by 1880 it was a flourishing industry. Marian is home to the region's largest sugar mill, which operates constantly during cane crushing season, from June to November.
In tandem with the agricultural boom, southern Queensland thrived in the latter half of the 19th century when gold was found in the region. Although much of the gold has been extracted, the region is still rich in coal and has the worlds largest sapphire fields.
In the mornings and afternoon I enjoyed accompanying Josh to schookl as he was leanrign to drive, and I got to drive back through the beautiful landscape
Amid the mineral landscape there are also some beautiful national parks.

Tucked into the hillside near finch Hatton Gorge, Dave had built a beautiful property, using stones found on the property.
The house was completely off-grid and self-sufficient. Water was sourced from the nearby creek and power was sourced form the sun or water wheel in the creek.
Veggie's were grown on the green roof, and the property was full of fruit trees including grapefruit, orange, lemon, avocado and mango.

Within a few hours of arriving, I'd been introduced to three other workaways, (two of whom would be leaving the next day) and was taken rock hopping up the gorge with Betty, Ning and Manis by family friend Ren.
Pioneer Valley is a wonderland of waterfalls, lush flora and volcanic boulder formation contrast against as tapestry of sugar cane fields.
Ren & Manis made it look easy
but Ning only has little legs, and was glad of Ren's help over the large jumps!
Betty, wasn't so sure about the activity
But it was great to be in a beautiful national park
where trees grow in the river at low water levels
and rock pools are perfect for swimming in, in the summer months!

I got back into playing chess, and learnt a new, more simple version using only the pawns. But one highlight was the best egg cup I've used so far in Australia...

One of the on-going jobs was building a new set of steps at the front of the house
using local materials found on the property

It was great to get to know two dogs of the infamous breed The Australian Cattle Dog (ACD), or simply Cattle Dog.
Lucky & Tyke
A breed of herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain.
In the 19th century, New South Wales cattle farmer Thomas Hall crossed the dogs used by drovers in his parents' home county, Northumberland, with dingoes he had tamed.
The resulting dogs were known as Halls Heelers
It has been nicknamed a "Red Heeler" or "Blue Heeler" on the basis of its colouring and practice of moving reluctant cattle by nipping at their heels.

The other local resident was Nibbles, the guinea pig, who was particularly squeaky if he heard anyone eating an apple!

One un-tamed resident was a Carpet Python who liked to curl up on the invertor for heat
or maybe somewhere else in the warm tin shed

We had a day out to do the weekly shop and see the sights of Mackay, the main access point for Eungella and a prosperous sugar town.
Some-what low key from a tourist point of view but has thirty beautiful white sand beaches, lined with casuarinas.
The second largest coal-loader in the world is at Hay Point, where trains more than 2km long haul coal from the western mines for shipping overseas.
The A-Team with Dave & Ning

In true Aussie style, I was welcomed with a BBQ, to celebrate Dave's birthday, which was a great chance to get into Dave's home brew, which was never in short supply!
and Josh had made an amazing cheesecake...
It was a great opportunity to try and catch the meteor shower, but there weren't any passing where we were at this time. However, I did get these star trails

I was then given a true Aussie send off - with another BBQ at the neighbour's, Warren & Rosine's. I met their cats, Shelly
& Spike
who decided to join the party at people height by climbing a nearby step ladder

whilst standing enjoying some of Dave's home made beer, it was a fitting end to my stay to watch over 4,500 of 'our' flying foxes leave camp to look for food
more on them in the next blog!

Posted by charlystyles 13:44 Archived in Australia Tagged flying_fox finch_hatton_gorge Comments (1)

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