at The Botanical Ark Retreat
When we bought this property in 1982, it was eight hectares (20 acres) of nothing but grasses, weeds, rocks, erosion gullies, and virtually treeless. While some wildlife visited, only a few species called our place home.
But ever since, through constant soil conservation, keeping out fire, establishing water gardens, and planting many thousands of plants, the wildlife has moved back in.
Wildlife in the water
The only fauna we introduced into our water gardens was fish from the adjoining creek. On our property, we now have saw-shell turtles, yabbies, eels, and platypus taking refuge. We’ve counted 20 species of waterbirds so don’t be surprised if you see a cormarant or duck landing on the water.
We so much water around The Botanical Ark Retreat, you will see numerous species of water beetles, dragonflies, and damselfly, including the floursecnt green damselfly.
Wildlife in the air
Butterflies, some yellow, some green like the green spotted triangle butterfly and, of course, the startling blue of the Ulysses are seen throughout the garden. In winter, it is common that our saraka tree, right outside The Botanical Ark Retreat, attracts dozens of Ulysses butterflies at the one time. We mean at least over 100! Though counting these dancing blue lights is tricky, the overall effect is intoxicating.
We host lots of birds, at least 75 species but we don’t always record new sightings.
Wildlife on the ground
If you are very lucky while you are walking around the perimeters of The Botanical Ark or over the fence in the Daintree National Park, you may see the symbolic flightless bird of the Daintree, the southern cassowary. These remarkable birds, up to two-metres-tall, have lost so much of their natural habitat that they are now an endangered species.
We have a one-metre-long goanna in residence. They are harmless and shy creatures who will run away at the first sign of people.
You may well see wallabies, a small version of a kangaroo, and pademelons, a small version of a wallaby.
Echidnas, about the size of a big hedgehog, are sometimes known as a spiny anteater. They are the funny things on the reverse side of Australia’s five-cent coin.
Wildlife at night
At night, you may see a quoll, a meat-eating marsupial. The striped possum is more like a furry squirrel with a racing stripe. The rat to rabbit sized furry thing with a pointy face is the bandicoot. This marsupial carries its young in a backward opening pouch. After or during heavy rain, it is difficult to count the species of frogs by their array of calls, but it’s not difficult to hear them!
Also in the night chorus are the baby-like cries of the orange-footed jungle fowl and the beach stone-curlew. And you may hear squabbling bats.
One night, we saw a barramundi, a predator fish that can grow up to 1.8-metres and weigh 60kg, leap from our large lake to chase a flying fox, a fruitbat whose wingspan can reach up to one-metre, as it came in for a drink. Quite a sight and something we don’t expect to see again.
Help keep wildlife wild
It can be tempting to feed a cockatoo or a bandicoot. It’s cute. But please do not feed anything. While staying at The Botanical Ark Retreat, we ask that you keep the wildlife wild by not feeding them or leaving food to tempt them. Thank you.
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Garden Tour reviews
You can book a garden tour when you book your stay at The Botanical Ark Retreat on this website.
"The visit at the Botanical Ark was ..................... we can't find words for it --- more then exceptional --it will stay in our mind as a long life experience. It was amazing and we learned a lot (which is truly under estimated to say it in this way)."
Andrea and Manfred, Germany.
“The best experience yet on our Around The World Trip, Thank you.”
Roy and Sam, USA
Winner of Channel 7's Australia's Best Backyards 2007.
Read more about this and other awards.
“An amazing garden”
Sunday Life Magazine
“A Noah’s ark of plants.”
“A rainforest garden sanctuary.”
Asia-Pacific Troical Homes
Read more from the media
Our (approx.) location
Precise location and directions are emailed for confirmed bookings.