- World Wetlands Day is Friday 2 February
- Cairns' own Cattana Wetlands is home to or visited by more than 150 bird species
- Improvement are on the way via a master plan process
THERE’s no better time to explore Cattana Wetlands than tomorrow’s World Wetlands Day.
Mayor Bob Manning said Cattana remained one of Cairns’ best kept secrets, with many residents unaware of the spectacular series of lakes, walkways and rainforest parklands just minutes from Cairns City.
“As tomorrow is World Wetlands Day, it represents a perfect time to get out and explore the wonders of our own wetlands,” Cr Manning said. “Many locals don’t realise just how amazing Cattana Wetlands really are and, in particular, how highly regarded they are among birdwatchers.”
More than 150 bird species can be seen at Cattana Wetlands at varying times of year, with both resident and visiting species taking advantage of the tropical oasis at Smithfield.
Originally a sugarcane farm owned by Franco Cattana, the site was used as a sand mining quarry and contained several fresh and saltwater man-made lakes.
The land was purchased by the then Mulgrave Shire Council in 1993, primarily to protect the 30 hectares of lowland rainforest on the western end of the site. This forest, described as the Feather Palm Forest, is a remnant of a once extensive forest type that is now confined to only a few remnant patches in the Cairns region.
Council has since undertaken extensive weed removal and planted more than 70,000 native plants to revegetate the area. The construction of boardwalks, walking tracks, viewing platforms and bird hides transformed the wetlands into a recreational paradise.
“It’s evolved into a wonderful place to take the family for a barbecue picnic and enjoy nature at its finest,” Cr Manning said.
A master plan has been prepared for the wetlands, with detailed design for improvement projects currently under way.
“We look forward to further enhancing this great community facility with improved accessibility, new planting and viewing jetties and more opportunities for native wildlife to enjoy the wetland environment,” Cr Manning said.
He added that Council was thankful for the contribution of volunteers, who worked to keep Cattana Wetlands in shape.
“The Jabirus volunteer group is full of wonderful local people who give their time and energy to maintain the wetlands for everyone’s enjoyment,” he said.
The Jabirus meet at Cattana each Tuesday from 9am until noon and are involved in general maintenance of the wetlands such as weeding, planting and revegetation. New members are always welcome. Contact Council for more information.
Cattana Wetlands are open 5.30am to 7pm daily and admission is free.