Deborah Howell is the owner of Litoria Springs Nature Refuge, a property situated in Japoonvale, approximately 100km south of Cairns, Queensland. The property is a residence and wildlife sanctuary, supporting an off-grid lifestyle with hydroelectric and solar power and water sourced from a creek. Deborah recently purchased the property and plans to protect as much habitat as possible while continuing to identify resident species. The property is protected in-perpetuity with a covenant.
The property spans 14.1 hectares, with 12.1 hectares protected as a Nature Refuge. The remainder of the property houses a residence and frog-friendly garden featuring both native and introduced vegetation. The property backs on to Japoonvale National Park, and a permanent creek with several waterfalls intersects the property. Vegetation is described as “simple to complex mesophyll to notophyll vine forest on moderately to poorly drained metamorphics of moderate fertility of the moist and wet lowlands, foothills and uplands.”
Litoria Springs Nature Refuge provides habitat for spectacled flying-foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus), red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica), long-nosed bandicoots (Perameles nasuta), giant white-tailed rats (Uromys caudimaculatus), fawn-footed melomys (Melomys cervinipes), striped possums (Dactylopsila trivirgata), microbats, jungle pythons (Morelia spilota cheynei), spotted tree monitors (Varanus timorensis), Boyd’s forest dragons (Lophosaurus boydii), brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis), Cairns birdwing butterflies (Ornithoptera euphorion), Atherton Tableland bicoloured snails (Hadra webbi) and blue-banded bees, as well as a range of skinks and geckos.
An array of native frogs is present including white-lipped treefrogs (Litoria infrafrenata), orange-eyed treefrogs (Litoria chloris), eastern stony creek frogs (Litoria wilcoxii) and rare green-eyed treefrogs (Litoria genimaculata). The property may also provide habitat for endangered armoured mistfrogs (Litoria lorica), common mistfrogs (Litoria rheocola) and lace-eyed treefrogs (Nyctimystes dayi).
Birdlife is abundant and includes rufous owls (Ninox rufa queenslandica), double-eyed fig parrots (Cyclopsitta diophthalma marshalli), brush turkeys (Alectura lathami), orange-footed scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt), sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita), forest kingfishers (Todiramphus macleayii), metallic starlings (Aplonis metallica) and olive-backed sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis). The property also houses suitable habitat for endangered southern cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius).