Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve – Cool Summer Escape


It’s summer time, and things are starting to heat up. Most people will either stay home in their air-conditioned houses, slip into their pools or head to the beach to cool off this December. And all that is great, but if you’re looking for more, wanting to get out and explore nature, without overheating, then Maleny has a little secret to share with you. The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

This Reserve is renowned locally for its beauty and endangered species of both native animals and plants – not to mention being a cool break from the oppressive heat of the Australian summer. It is a rainforest after all. This cool climate plays home to a number of species rarely seen, including the endangered Red-Legged Pademelon. This creature is very similar to a Wallaby, but much smaller, and incredibly timid. They are identifiable by their shorter, thicker and sparsely haired tails, and of course their smaller stature. While walking the beautiful trails through the breath-taking rainforest found at the Reserve, I came across a number of these little guys, hiding in small caves, hollow logs and the undergrowth in the distance, watching the people walk by with the most adorable expressions of curiosity. One of them even worked up the courage to come a little closer, his curiosity obviously becoming overwhelming. The little creature slowly crept up to a little girl very calmly squatting at the edge of the path, returning his gaze with just as much curiosity. The sound of approaching tour groups quickly scared him off, and he bounded back into the undergrowth.


The most memorable moment from my trip to the reserve occurred when I was lucky enough, not only to see the Victoria’s Riflebird in its natural habitat, but to also observe the male performing his display. This bird of paradise is small, roughly 25cm tall. The males of the species having the most striking plumage, that would appear blue-ish black, but when struck with shafts of light, gives off a beautiful purple sheen across his body and wings, with a golden accent introduced in his lower breast. During his display our little bachelor threw up his wings, puffed out his chest and began his almost comical song and dance. The way he danced from side to side gave the impression almost as if he were merely a mechanical puppet, repetitive and sharp, as he let forth his admittedly unsettling call. It was an event that left me speechless for many minutes longer than it lasted, and it must have worked for his target as well because they soon hurried off together.


The walking trails themselves come to just two kilometres in total, including boardwalks and viewing platforms, but with plenty of seating with glorious views of the stunning Glass House Mountains and the surrounding fifty-five hectares of rain forest, it is well worth taking your time to really take it all in and fully explore all the nooks and crannies of the pathways. On site there is also a quaint little café stocked with beverages and snacks as well as an information centre staffed by local volunteers. The information centre offers a lot of information and dioramas on the local wildlife and flora you might spot on the tracks if you’re curious to learn more. They also offer bookings for schools, tour groups and those looking for a more in-depth tour of the site, led by a volunteer happy to answer any and all questions you might have. For more information on the reserve and its content, visit their official site.

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