Wildlife Land Trust / Sanctuaries / QLD / Melissa and Sinead’s Refuge

Melissa van Herk and Sinead Davies are the owners of a property situated in El Arish, approximately 20km northwest of Mission Beach, Queensland. The property is a residence, dedicated wildlife sanctuary and rainforest regeneration site. Melissa and Sinead wish to maintain the land, focusing on cassowary protection by regenerating native forest species, improving wildlife corridors and removing invasive weeds from the land. They also wish to create a buffer for damaging edge effects for the adjoining Wet Tropics World Heritage site. In the future, they plan to establish syntropic gardens in the property’s cleared spaces.

The property covers 9 hectares within Smiths Gap (a priority cassowary corridor) and bordering Japoon National Park and the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics. The land is largely comprised of native vegetation, with a small open area for the homestead and garden.

Vegetation is characterised as mostly remnant rainforest with some areas of regrowth. Three regional ecosystems are present: Closed vineland of wind-disturbed vine forest of metamorphic slopes (7.11.24); Mesophyll vine forest on lowlands and foothills on metamorphics (7.11.1a); and a small area of Mesophyll vine forest on moderately to poorly-drained alluvial plains of moderate fertility (7.3.10a). The rainforest is in largely good condition, with some weed-damaged areas on edges and regrowth areas.

An abundance of wildlife is present on the property including southern cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius), striped possums (Dactylopsila trivirgata), short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), amethystine pythons (Morelia amethistina), a range of tree snakes, agile wallabies (Notamacropus agilis), red-legged pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica), monitors, tawny frogmouths (Podargus strigoides), emerald pigeons (Chalcophaps longirostris), goshawks (Accipiter spp.), kites and over ten species of frog including white-lipped tree frogs (Litoria infrafrenata). The property is also home to Cairns birdwings (Ornithoptera euphorion), Ulysses butterflies (Papilio ulysses), fireflies and an array of native spiders.