Saturday, 24 January 2015

On the Musgravea Trail

Walking trail leading up to Licuala
Next weekend will mark the fourth anniversary of Cyclone Yasi's crossing of the coast in the Mission Beach to Cardwell region, an area with a special place in my heart since my holiday up here in 1999, and where I almost decided to live on moving.

A few weeks after Yasi struck I went down to the area to see what damage had been done, and was shocked by the effects on the forest of the area - it was as if a giant with a whipper-snipper had gone through. I remember finding the scene very depressing.

I haven't been down to Mission Beach since March last year, so today I slipped down for the afternoon to have a look. The forest has thickened up at lower levels quite well, but the canopy is still a long way from returning. The El Arish to Mission Beach road, once like a tunnel in the forest, is still bathed in light. I don't think any branches make it out over the road at all.

I went down to Licuala, on the Tully to Mission Beach road, and wandered along the Musgravea Track that links Licuala to Lacey's Creek. The low level forest, helped along by increased light levels, is very thick - perhaps thicker than it was previously. Some trees are starting to reach up to what once was the canopy, but they're rather sparse.

Although it was a pleasant stroll, I think I've previously been over-optimistic as to how long it would take for Mission Beach's forests to return to their pre-Yasi splendour. It may be another five to ten years or more. Let's hope for some more wet but cyclone-free seasons for the area.

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