Australian National Botanic Gardens staff member Sally Ingham has joined the Bush Blitz team on their latest expedition to Olkola, Cape York, Queensland. Sally shares her thoughts from the field with us.
As I drove to meet the team of scientists it struck me, not for the first time, that I was about to depart on a trip of a lifetime. I was heading on my first Bush Blitz expedition into Olkola Country, located in southern central Cape York, Queensland.
The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation work to look after country and culture on Olkola traditional lands. These include part of the Great Dividing Range from the Coleman River in the North to the King River in the South and overlap with the western Mitchell Plains and the eastern Laura Plains.
As I drove to Olkola country with John ‘The Snail Whisperer’ Stanisic I heard his stories from the field; vast and varied filled with adventure and intrigue told by a man who loves what he does and does what he loves.
As I listened to John I became increasingly enthusiastic to meet the rest of the team of scientists and the Olkola people who all share the same levels of knowledge and passion. I was blown away when I learned that John had discovered over 900 new species of Australian land snail. Throughout his career he has completely changed what we know about this unassuming gastropod. I learned a tonne of fantastic facts, that – A lot of the species are only a few millimetres across, that snails can store water inside their bodies in their lung cavity while they go into hibernation (aestivation). But my favourite was the great snail love story; a snail longingly looks for a mate by moving through the landscape emitting pheromones and hoping to run over another snail’s mucus trails that it can follow until it finally comes across its lucky partner to be.
Sally Ingham, Bush Blitz, Olkola, Cape York, Queensland
Bush Blitz is an innovative partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia. For more go to our website www.bushblitz.org.au