The Windsor Tableland lies to the north-west of Mt. Carbine, between the Cooktown Road and the coast in far north Queensland. It is isolated from the Mt. Lewis rainforest by the deep McLeod River valley. It is a truly beautiful area of magic creeks and peaceful rainforest.
Some years ago a number of SGAP members took part in an excursion to this area during a weekend in October. At that time it was under the control of the State Forestry and entry was severely restricted, with permits required to access the area.
Lunch was eaten beside a lovely creek,- excellent for children to swim in - and there was no need to walk any distance at all to find plenty of interesting plants. Surrounding the creek were several members of the oak family (Proteaceae), a family which attracts wide interest because many of its members are well known in cultivation, eg. Grevillea, Stenocarpus (Wheel of Fire), Buckinghamia (Ivory Curl Tree).
The Proteaceae found here included a Carnarvonia sp. overhanging the water, with beautiful furry copper-coloured new growth (this is an unnamed species which is found on Mt. Lewis). Carnarvonia have unusual compound leaves which are often described as tri-digital. There was Placospermum coriaceum with its very distinctive and attractive foliage in the juvenile stage - large, lobed, glossy, pale green leaves edged in pink. There was Lomatia fraxinifolia, Neorites kevediana (the Fishtail Oak), Orites excelsa in flower, and Banksia integrifolia - all Proteaceae as well.
Callistemon viminalis (the red bottlebrush) was along the creek bank in sunnier, more open spots. The turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera), a stringy barked tree closely related to the eucalypts, was very common in transitional zones surrounding the creek, in company with Callitris macleayana (a cypress pine of the rainforest margins). Polyscias murrayi, the tree with the very distinctive palm-like habit of growth, especially when young, was common along the roadsides everywhere.
Camp was set up in a clearing in the rainforest which was dominated by hundreds of young Buckinghamia and Darlingia darlingiana, doing their utmost to revegetate the area. (Two more Proteaceae species for the list!).
Along a forestry guided track in the rainforest close by lots of interesting things were found! Toona ciliata (Red Cedar), Davidsonia pruriens (the Davidsons Plum), Alphitonia petriei (Sarsaparilla Tree), Neolitsea dealbata, a couple of Flindersia spp., an Austromyrtus sp. (distinguishable by its smooth narrow trunk), and yet another two Proteaceae! - Cardwellia sublimis and Opisthiolepis heterophylla.
Opisthiolepis is simply beautiful as a young sapling - the large compound leaves are covered by silky silvery hairs when young, changing to brilliant gold beneath when older. The clumsy (and unprintable!) attempts at pronunciation should ensure that all members remember this plant!
Then there was Acmena resa, the Red Eungella Satinash, with its beautiful red new growth, and Syzygium danzii looking confusingly similar to the more well known S. luehmannii.
The creek near the camping area was truly beautiful - quite pristine in its unspoiled beauty. Ferns abounded, including four different tree ferns (C. cooperi, C. woolsiana, C. rebeccae and C. robertsiana), Todea barbara and Marattia. The creek bank was lined with clumps of lily-like Helmholtzia and overhung by large Maidens Blush trees (Sloanea sp.).
Linospadix minor (a walking stick palm) and Calamus australis (one of the lawyer canes) were the only two palms in this area, but, further into the Tableland, Calamus motii became common.
Believe it or not, another three members of the Proteaceae family were found! Alloxylon flammeum, Musgravea heterophylla (with its distinctive lobed leaves, which are pale grey beneath) and a Helicia sp.
Sunday was, however, dominated by the genus Syzygium. Of particular interest were two species with winged stems - S. alatoramulum (with large wings) and S. trachyphloium (with smaller wings) - both growing together along a creek, as well as S. endophloium and S. corynanthum.
On the way home, many climbed up a big granite hill to get a terrific view across the Tableland. Stenocarpus sinuatus (the Wheel of Fire Tree) and the Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) were common on this hill. Of particular interest was a clump of pink-flowering Callistemon Tinaroo growing near the top on granite boulders.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.
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