John McDonald is the owner of Papillon – The Butterfly. The property is located in El Arish, approximately 120km south of Cairns, Queensland. John has lived on the property for 55 years and has planted over 100,000 rainforest trees in the past 30 years, managing invasive species with minimal pesticide use. He is currently pursuing a Voluntary Declaration on parts of the property to protect its natural values and wildlife. John also utilizes the property for maintaining beehives, a vegetable garden, a home and an exotic tropical fruit orchard for local and commercial sale. He also raises chickens and breeds turkeys.
The property spans 150 hectares and features remnant vegetation of Lowland Wet Tropical Rainforest and Licuala Ramsayi Fan Palm Forest, two threatened ecological communities. Native forest species present include the southern silky oak (Grevillea robusta), fan palm (Licuala Ramsayi), red cedar (Toona ciliata), Queensland maple (Flindersia brayleyana), yellow walnut (Beilschmiedia bancroftii), blackbean (Castanospermum austral), milky pine (Alstonia scholaris), Davidson plum (Davidsonia pruriens), cedar wattle (Acacia elata), satin ash (Syzygium sp.), red tulip oak (Argyrodendron peralatum), bloodwood (Corymbia sp.), blue quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis), umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla), native figs and wild ginger (Alpinia caerulea), along with tree ferns, palms, orchids, mosses, lichen and fungi.
The pandanus swamp is home to teatrees, pandanus, bottlebrushes (Callistemon spp.), grass trees (Xanthorrhoea spp.) and native grasses. The surrounding open woodlands feature bloodwood trees, red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha), yellow stringybark (Eucalyptus muelleriana), sally wattles (Acacia salicina), teatrees, grass trees, native figs and native wild rice.
An abundance of wildlife is present including red-legged (Thylogale stigmatica) and red-necked (Thylogale thetis) pademelons, dingoes (Canis dingo), agile wallabies (Macropus agilis), short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), giant white-tailed rats (Uromys caudimaculatus), musky rat-kangaroos (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus), sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps), rakali (Hydromys chrysogaster) and striped possums (Dactylopsila trivirgata). Freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni), green tree snakes (Dendrelaphis punctulatus), brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis), carpet pythons (Morelia spilota), amethystine pythons (Simalia amethistina), coastal taipans (Oxyuranus scutellatus), king brown snakes (Pseudechis australis) and red-bellied black snakes (Pseudechis porphyriacus) are also present, along with a variety of native frogs, insects, spiders and butterflies.
A wide range of birdlife is also found on the property including southern cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius); laughing (Dacelo novaeguineae) and blue-winged (D. leachii) kookaburras; forest (Todiramphus macleayii), sacred (T. sanctus) and little (Ceyx pusilla) kingfishers; rainbow bee-eaters (Merops ornatus); little (Philemon citreogularis), noisy (P. corniculatus), silver-crowned (P. argenticeps) and helmeted (P. buceroids) friarbirds; noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala); sulphur-crested cockatoos (Cacatua galerita); red-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii); tawny frogmouths (Podargus strigoides); sooty owls (Tyto tenebricosa); pheasant coucals (Centropus phasianinus); white-bellied sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster); brahminy kites (Haliastur indus); eastern ospreys (Pandion cristatus); and Pacific bazas (Aviceda subcristata).
A wide range of honeyeaters are also present, including Lewin’s (Meliphaga lewinii), yellow-spotted (M. notata), graceful (M. gracilis), white-gaped (Lichenostomus unicolor), bridled (L. frenatus), yellow-faced (L. chrysops), Macleay’s (Xanthotis macleayanus) and dusky (Myzomela obscura) honeyeaters.
The rainforest is also home to Pacific emerald doves (Chalophaps longirostris); Wompoo fruit doves (Ptilinopus magnificus); Torres Strait (Ducula spilorrhoa) and top knot (Lopholaimus antarcticus) pigeons; pied butcherbirds (Cracticus nigrogularis); brush turkeys (Alectura lathami); pale-vented bush-hens (Amaurornis moluccana), green catbirds (Ailuroedus crassirostris); superb fairy wrens (Malurus cyaneus); and red-backed fairy wrens (Malurus melanocephalus). Nesting king parrots (Alisterus scapularis) have also been spotted, along with sunbirds, quails and finches.
The swamp provides habitat for jabiru (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), plovers, curlews, wild ducks, water hens and Australian bustards (Ardeotis australis).