Audio tour transcript: Children's Hide 'n' Seek Trail
Welcome to the Hide ‘n’ Seek Children’s Trail audio tour here at the Brisbane Botanic -Gardens, Mt Coot-tha. My name is Paul and I am your guide for this audio tour. By following the green and gold numbers you will discover the hidden secrets of the trail. Each time you find a number listen to the information presented on this tour about what can be found at that number. After you have listened to the information the sound of birds in a forest will be heard and this will mean that you need to pause the tour, explore what’s at your current number for a little longer if you wish and then to move on the next number. When you arrive at the new number start the audio tour again from where you left off.
Our journey begins at the large sandy-coloured sculpture. This the starting point for the Hide ‘n’ Seek Children’s trail. I’ll give you a moment or two to find the sculpture. This land on which you are standing was once an ancient forest. Close your eyes and imagine tall and shady trees, creeping vines and many creeks trickling down from the mountain. The surrounding area was known to the Traditional Landowners, the first Australians who lived here as Kuta, meaning place of honey. The trees that grew at Kuta, part of which is now known as Mt Coot-tha, provided the perfect conditions for native bees and their sweet honey homes. Can you see some of the bees on the sculpture? What other amazing animals and plants can you find? While you’re here sit on the seat and smile for a photo and after your photo move down the trail to seek out number one.
1. Where would we be without bees?
Bees and other insects have an important role to play in pollination. These Australian native stingless bees are one pollinator of our Australian plants, visiting many of our native flowers including Macadamia and tropical fruit trees. On cold days these tiny black bees will sleep in until it warms up to about 18 degrees celsius and then they will get busy foraging for nectar to make their honey. They are often found in the hollows of dead or damaged trees. It would take this hive of bees about one year to make one litre of their deliciously tangy honey.
2. Crikey, it’s a freshie
What’s hiding in the water? Did that log just blink? Can you see the freshwater crocodile? Is he easy to find? Camouflage helps these ancient creatures survive and ... surprise their prey. Freshwater crocodiles are smaller and not as ferocious as the saltwater crocs. Look our crocodile in the eye. If you are lucky he may invite you into his pond for lunch. Does that sound like a good idea?
3. Bamboo Bear
Bamboo is actually a kind of giant grass. There are about 1000 different types of bamboo. Some shoots on the larger species can grow up to 1 metre in one day. The plant is very useful to make things - food, fences, furniture, toys and musical instruments to name just a few. It is also the favourite food of an endangered animal. Can you see them amongst the bamboo? Mum is hiding in the shade with her cub. It looks like they are finding the young bamboo shoots very tasty.
4. The Floss Silk Tree
In its native country this tree has the nick-name ‘monkey-no-climb’ tree. Can you see why? Do you think you would like to climb this tree? The tree produces pods with a beautiful silky white fibre, once used to stuff pillows. Imagine such a spiky tree producing something so soft!
5. Play me a tune (fiddle-leaf fig tree)
What nocturnal animal has woken to play you a tune on their leaf-shaped violins? Can you see how the large, shady leaves of this tree are shaped liked violins or fiddles. Flying foxes love to land in these trees and feast on the figs found there. The large shady leaves also are very good at collecting sunlight to help the plant produce food and grow. We call this photosynthesis.
6. Spot the dragons (dragon bridge)
Water dragons will eat almost anything - fruit, flowers and insects. They look ferocious, but if threatened will jump into the water and hide for up to 90 minutes. Count how many you can see around this bridge. You can sometimes see real water dragons sitting on the head of the large water dragon sculpture on the small island below the bridge.
Look for dragonflies flying over the water and on the pillars of the bridge. Dragonflies have lived in forests for up to 300 million years. Stretch out your arms - this is how big they once grew. Imagine that! Can you see the beautiful bronze dragonflies that have been placed in the water to celebrate these amazing insects?
7. We’re all connected (weeping fig)
Look up in to the branches of this large and beautiful fig tree which provides us and many of the forest creatures with shade and shelter. Can you imagine its criss-crossing branches as the web of life, connecting all things We are all connected to plants and depend upon them for food and the air that we breathe.
These fig trees can grow up to 30 metres tall and their small fruit is the favourite of some rainforest birds. It is a very strong tree and the roots can break up footpaths and even lift up driveways.
8. Battle stations
Scientists know of about 1 million insects and there are still many more that we don’t know about living in the forests of the world. Insects are very important in the rainforest. They pollinate the plants and recycle the nutrients found in the dead and dying matter in the forest.
The two insects found here are munching machines!
The one on the left is the Giant Australian Burrowing Cockroach. It is the world’s heaviest cockroach and can weigh up to about 300 grams, grow up to 9 cm long and digs down about 1 metre in to the soil. It is quite long lived for an insect being able to live for up to 10 years.
The insect on the right with the horn is the Rhinoceros Beetle. It is one of the largest beetles on Earth. The males use their horns to battle other males when fighting over the females. They are also the strongest animals on earth for their size being able to lift up to 850 times their own weight. Would you be able to lift up 850 people the same size as yourself all in one go!
9. Find some feathered friends
The Bandstand Mosaic shows some layers of the rainforest - the canopy and the understory. Birds are very important to the rainforest as they move seeds around. You might not see many birds in the forest as they are often high up in the tree tops, the canopy, where there are lots of fruits and flowers.
How many rainforest birds can you count in the bandstand mosaic? Some birds have flown out of the forest .... perhaps to chase insects on the wing. Walk around the bandstand to find them.
10. Lovely leaves
Rainforests are home to about half of the world’s plant species. How many different shaped leaves can you see? Hopscotch your way down the leaf trail, moving on when you can see each leaf shape on a tree in the forest. When you have completed the hopscotch have a rest and make some music on the magical king fern seat at the end of the hopscotch.
11. King fern
King ferns once shared the forest with dinosaurs. They are very ancient plants that need moist, shaded environments to thrive - beside a creek like this one is a perfect spot. The king fern produces some of the largest fronds in the world growing up to about 7 metres long.
Can you match the fern frond on the fossil rock to the living king fern near the creek?
All ferns grow in a similar way, their new fronds uncurling from tight spirals called fiddle-heads. Can you find some?
12. The root serpent / funky fungi
Can you see the large tree root snaking through the soil? Below the surface of the forest floor is a large web of roots taking nutrients to every part of the tree. This sleeping serpent, therefore, is actually hard at work, pumping water and nutrients up through every branch to every leaf of the tree. Follow the root’s path. Can you find the tree it belongs to... the Cigar Box Cedar. See how tall it is.
Before you leave turn around and l ook for the Funky Fungi sign near the old tree stump. Fungi and lichen are excellent recyclers. They decompose the dead and dying matter found on the forest floor back into the soil so that the trees and other plants can reuse this food.
13. Frogs Forever
Most of the world’s frogs need the damp conditions of rainforests to survive. Their skin is very thin and absorbs water easily. Keeping frog’s habitats intact and unpolluted may help frogs to resist disease and climate change and help to keep them from disappearing.
This frog is called Gary. Crouch down low and look him in the eye.
14. Make a wish (bo tree India)
The bo tree is a rainforest fig tree with beautiful heart-shaped leaves and long, thin drip tips. Its scientific name is Ficus religiosa.
In the Buddhist religion the bo tree is important because it is the tree that Buddha sat under when he became enlightened. He then taught people to live with compassion and kindness. Hindu people also believe that their god called Vishnu was born under a Bo tree. So the Bo tree is a sacred tree to many people. Bo trees are quite often planted in front of houses as many people believe that this will bring them prosperity and happiness. Hindu followers who wish to have children in their families sometimes visit Bo trees on Saturday mornings and walk around these trees 108 times repeating Mantras as they go.
Look closely at any Bo leaves lying on the ground.
Can you see some that have been decomposed and only have their skeletons left? These are the veins of the leaf that once carried food and water throughout the leaf. These leaf skeletons can be quite beautiful.
Pick up a bo leaf from the ground and make a wish, and do something wonderful for someone today. (... but remember to return the leaf to the forest after you have made your wish).
15. Sleepy leaf eaters
This tallow wood tree is a koala food tree. Can you see any koalas?
I’m sure you have found Amy and Oliver resting in the shade of this tree. They may be asleep as they get tired from so much eating! Koalas need to eat about two buckets of leaves a day to get enough goodness from the oil-rich, nutrient poor gum leaves. They sleep and rest up to 20 hours a day to conserve energy needed to digest their meal.
Sadly about 4000 koalas are killed each year due to the loss of their trees, being hit by cars or being attacked by dogs.
Amy and Oliver are safe here though in the Botanic Gardens. Sit by their side and give them a cuddle. They really enjoy it. Ask someone to take your photograph.
16. Logs Alive!
What’s hiding here? Fallen logs are very important as they provide homes for many rainforest creatures. They are a dry place to escape from the rain and a ready source of bug snacks. Look in the each end of the log. Can you see the spotted quoll and the bandicoot? If you see a fallen log in the forest it’s best to leave it there as it may be someone’s home.
Can you read the poem near this log.
17. Slippery ssSSS sssSS Snakes
Snakes find plenty to eat in food-rich rainforests. Can you see what creatures this likes to eat. This orange car part snake has just eaten. He might enjoy seconds, though. Watch out!
Well everyone this brings us to the end of the guided tour of the Hide ‘n’ Seek Children’s Trail in the beautiful Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha. I hope you had fun seeking out our amazing plants and animals and this is your guide Paul saying bye for now.