Brisbane Forest Park is one of the largest and most accessible reserves of its type close to a major city anywhere in the world. Starting at Mt Coot-tha, the forest covers more than 28,000 hectares. The park provides a beautiful natural backdrop to Brisbane and more than 2 million people visit the park annually.

Brisbane Forest Park is a large expanse of publicly held land which includes National Parks, picnic grounds and a water reservoir. It stretches from within 7 kilometers of the heart of Brisbane to a distance of about 40km away. As well as being the site of several local television transmitters and communications towers, Mt Coot-tha includes numerous picnic and other recreation facilities and is the nearest part of Brisbane Forest Park to the city. Mt Coot-tha has an elevation of 218m and is a 10-minute drive west of the University of Queensland. At the summit there is a souvenir shop, a restaurant and a more casual cafe overlooking the city.

Coot-tha is an aboriginal word referring to the place of wild bees and the small, black and stingless native bees Trigona are still common in the area. There is a good view of the city of Brisbane from the top of the mountain, and it is a popular place with young people at night as the lights of Brisbane twinkle below!

To help get acquainted with some of the environmental questions and field techniques that would be important throughout the program, on the third day of classes, there was a half-day field trip to Brisbane Forest Park. Drs. Mike Pole and David Yates and honors student Boyd Wright led the group through a series of discussions and data collection exercises.

Here, Mike Pole from the University of Queensland discusses some issues concerning various Australian vegetation types near Simpson's Falls in Brisbane Forest Park.

Most of our discussions were held trail-side. Here Mike Pole discusses the boundary between some rainforest species and the more open eucalypt forest types.

Collecting species area along a stream bed and on a drier hillside.

After the exercises were complete, there were small group discussions of projects to be carried out either here or at Stradbroke Island based on the questions arising from the day's activities.

A typical eucalypt with its open canopy.

Dacelo novaguineae, "Laughing Kookaburra"

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Family: Alcedinidae
The Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaguineae) is the largest kingfisher. They have a loud, maniacal laughing call and are often heard in "chorus." They feed mainly on reptiles and large invertebrates. They are common in woodlands and forests in eastern Australia and are often seen in pairs.

Length: 46cm.

Other birds seen included Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos, Brush Turkeys, Noisy Miners, and Currawongs.

From the top of Mt. Coot-tha on a clear day, you can see the distant line of Moreton and Stradbroke islands, the Glasshouse Mountains to the north, the mountains behind the Gold Coast to the south.

There are several nice trails around Mt Coot-Tha and its foothills, such as the one to JC Slaughter Falls starting on Simpson's Rd. The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, at the foot of the mountain, have an enclosed tropical dome, an arid zone, rainforests, and a Japanese garden. The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, the largest in Australia, is also located in the Botanic Gardens.

Hobart & William Smith Colleges and Union College
Partnership for Global Education: Queensland Term 2001