Whilst back in Cairns on sabbatical and helping to look after my ageing, elderly parents, I visited my usual haunts. The incredibly beautiful Cairns Northern Beaches and then up to the now glamorous Port Douglas and beyond. “Beyond” as the locals realise, means magical, old FNQ locations like Newell and Wonga Beaches or the globally appreciated, Daintree Rainforest. Heritage protected and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Wet Tropics region stretching from Townsville to Cooktown.

On my fourth return trip of several months since 2019 — barring the pandemic period when I resumed theses visits in April 2022 — I was struck by the condition of the beach edges. The erosion of the sands laying bare the roots and teetering trunks of the trees literally knitting the shore to the land. It is worst at Machan’s where a dyke effectively salvages the divide between earth and ocean.

Progressing to Holloway’s Beach we can see the exposed, tortured root system gaping at the air and being submerged in the exceptionally high tides. For me, knowing how idyllic it was to play on these golden, fine grained sands below shady, sheltering trees, I feel a great loss looking at the excavated shore line.

Climate change has wreaked this havoc of beach erosion. Global warming means warmer seas — it is the ocean water that has been compensating for the heat produced on land. Trapping it in its top layer. That vaporised heat has begun to seep back out, causing more environmental disasters, unexpected and severe.

Let’s be more specific; in defense of the majestic “beach oaks” called calophyllum, 400 year old paperbark melaleucas at Palm Cove with its magical fir-like trees filled with technicolour lorikeets and parrots of the rainforest. It is our kind, humans, who continue to wreak this climate chaos. Our destructive habits of industrialisation and colonisation of nature. Build and be damned. Damned we have become if we cannot control our urges to subjugate our natural resources to careless, damaging construction.

We need to be aware of our trees being lopped, their roots being exposed at the ocean shores. Valiantly some attempt to grow horizontally and into the waters lapping at their fundament. Mycelium has a wisdom of the roots, the trees networking among themselves. They must be communicating about who is to blame for their decimation. We can’t wipe out such stories.

The writer has been inspired by the influential book “Finding the Mother Tree” by Suzanne Simard.

image from the wix library / creative commons

Originally published at on July 12, 2023.



Tania Peitzker: New Tech / AI Strategist & Author

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