When the FNQ Nature Tours vehicle pulls up to the Forever Wild Shared Earth Reserve, it’s quickly evident that something special is about to occur. “We open this big locked gate and drive into this huge expanse of land with a wealth of ecosystems,” FNQ Nature Tours owner and guide, James Boettcher, says. “It’s an exclusive experience for our guests and often we don’t see another soul while we are out exploring.”
Brolga gathering at the Shared Earth Reserve. Image: Mareeba Wetland Foundation
The Shared Earth Reserve is effectively an ecologically intact landscape that is used for multiple purposes, and tourism is a crucial constituent. “If you come to our reserve you will have the opportunity to learn about the cultural heritage as well as the ecology of the place,” CEO of Forever Wild – an organisation managing and protecting a number of wilderness reserves – Fiachra Kearney explains. “And if you’re there as a tourist the revenue you bring in is contributing to the management of the landscape. We’re effectively a social and environmental enterprise.”
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Sometimes guests might bump into Fiachra while out exploring, but a day here is all about nature and wildlife. “We usually spend four to five hours exploring the Shared Earth Reserve and pass through eucalyptus forest, savanna and woodland,” James says. “It’s this habitat diversity that results in us seeing a huge variety of wildlife. The reserve is home to over 220 species of birds and a healthy population of Northern Quolls.”
The Shared Earth Reserve is home to 220 species of birds, including Rainbow Bee-eaters. Image: FNQ Nature Tours
Guests are welcome to sit back and relax as they enjoy wildlife sightings, or if they want to become more involved, they can assist James with identifying individuals within a certain species. “We help the Forever Wild team with wildlife identification by documenting what we see, as it’s a good way for all of us to monitor the health and wealth of these incredible ecosystems,” James says.
Check out additional Q&As with James here
Tropical Wetlands Birdwatching
FNQ Nature Tours has exclusive access to the Shared Earth Reserve, encompassing 5000 acres of lagoons, trails, bird hides and dirt roads containing an abundance of bird watching opportunities.
With more than 450 Avian Species recorded across this area and surrounds (more than half of Australia's total bird count), including 12 Endemics, it’s Australia’s twitching mecca!