World Wetlands Day 1999 in Australia
Activities reported for World Wetlands Day 1999
A fun day in the wetlands
World Wetlands Day has special significance in Kakadu National Park, in tropical northern Australia, as the wetlands of Kakadu are Ramsar-listed. Abbie Spiers (eriss), David Norton and Marion Caulfield set up wetlands displays in the local town council office and library, and organised wetland-related activities on Saturday 6 February. Here is a report of the days events.
On Saturday 6 February our World Wetlands Day activities were very successful, despite a somewhat monsoonal start! Rain washed out the first "ramble round the Lake" scheduled for 8am. The rain was pouring down in buckets and created little wetlands everywhere! But by 10am it was cool and grey and drier, and a group of determined wetland ramblers arrived, armed with binoculars and a sense of fun. We spent a few pleasant hours birdwatching, circumnavigating Lake Jabiru and identifying 30 bird species, including spindly-legged jacanas, chirping honeyeaters, colourful finches, a majestic pair of sea eagles, a melodious golden-headed cisticola and a gang of gregarious squawking corellas.
In the afternoon, a party of 16 children and adults boarded a bus and were chauffeured out to Mamukala, where a bird-hide overlooks part of the kaleidoscopic South Alligator River floodplain. There we saw many birds, frogs, fish and flowering lilies. A thunderstorm loomed over the floodplain, so we hightailed it to Kakadu Holiday Village and stood under the verandah, watching the rain and lightning and eating ice cream! On the way back to Jabiru, we called in for a look at the South Alligator River boat ramp, where smiling fishermen were cleaning their days catch.
On Saturday evening, Mr Greg Miles talked to us about 'A Year in the Life of a Wetland', describing the dramatic changes throughout the wet and dry seasons in Kakadu, and the survival strategies of the native animals living in and around the wetlands. Greg has been a ranger in Kakadu for twenty years, and is a keen naturalist and photographer. He showed some fantastic slides, and told many entertaining anecdotes (to the disbelief of several gaping children who adorned the floor, seemingly beneath his large-sized boot). Everyone had a great time and learned something new about Kakadu's wetlands.
Overall, the response to our World Wetlands Day Activities was very positive, and Jabiru residents have expressed interest in being involved in similar events in the near future. We will certainly follow this up. We'd like to thank all those who helped on the day, and special thanks to local business Kakadu Air for donating a bus and driver for the Mamukala excursion.
Thanks also to the Ramsar Convention Bureau for providing plenty of information on their Web page to help in our publicity efforts!
Abbie Spiers and Max Finlayson
Wetland Protection and Management
Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss)
Locked bag 2, Jabiru, NT 0886 AUSTRALIA