Gems of the Rainforest

Living colour in the tropics

Bronwen Scott

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Nine blue, mauve and purple fruit in my hand. I kept dropping them, so this photo took longer than it should have.
Nine ripe Athertonia fruit in my hand. © Bronwen Scott

Look at this handful of amethysts and lapiz lazuli! These jewels are fruit of the Atherton Oak (Athertonia diversifolia, Proteaceae), a tree that grows only in a few rainforest areas of Far North Queensland — the Atherton Tablelands, Mt Lewis, and Mt Sorrow. A friend picked these from trees on her property. Most of the seeds will go to a botanic garden for their living collection. The rest I will grow at home.

In the build up to the Wet Season, the unsettled atmosphere brings afternoon storms. These storms appear from nowhere. Lightning slices the sky and thunder cracks and roars, crashing against the granite walls of choorechillum (Mt Bartle Frere) and wooroonooran (Mt Bellenden Ker). The rain is heavy and sharp, rattling on corrugated iron roofs and pounding against red earth. When the storms die, they leave behind stifling humidity.

The build up is a time when plants thrive and people go troppo.

We’re all waiting for the monsoon to sweep down from the north.

It is raining here. It has been raining since Thursday, when Tropical Cyclone Jasper ambled in from the Coral Sea. Variously described as ‘barrelling’ (it wasn’t) and then ‘inching’ (it wasn’t), TC Jasper wavered in intensity, finally making landfall near the Daintree as a Category 2 system.

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Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: bronwenscott.com