Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve Tropical North Queensland

McKenzie Falls, Tumoulin Forest Reserve. Photo credit: Ian Holloway, Queensland Government

Nature, culture and history

    Yellow-bellied glider.

    Yellow-bellied glider.

    Photo credit: Lisa Still

    Magnificent broodfrog.

    Magnificent broodfrog.

    Photo credit: Keith McDonald, Queensland Government

    Towering rose gums.

    Towering rose gums.

    Photo credit: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

    Natural environment


    Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve protect several vulnerable and near threatened (rare) species like the yellow-bellied glider, magnificent broodfrog and the southern species of rufous owl.

    Yellow-bellied gliders Petaurus australis, like so many animals found in wet sclerophyll, have close relatives in similar habitat further south but have been isolated from these populations long enough to be considered a separate population.. The southern populations feed on sap from over 20 different tree species but the ones in the north eat sap only from red stringybark Eucalyptus resinifera trees. Their diet also includes arthropods and pollen and nectar from a wide range of rainforest and open forest trees and shrubs. Also known as the fluffy glider, yellow-bellied gliders are known for their particularly long bushy tail. They use this tail to carry leaves to line their communal den inside tree hollows. In most cases these trees are rose gums E. grandis but they do occasionally use other species.

    The magnificent broodfrog Pseudophryne covacevichae is only known from areas in and near Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve. This strikingly-coloured, frog’s call is a short, squelch-like ‘ark’ repeated at regular intervals. Habitat loss and degradation are the greatest threat to the species with 97 per cent of the frogs’ habitat on unprotected land.

    The southern subspecies of the rufous owl Ninox rufa queenslandica feed on large insects, freshwater crayfish, other birds and small- to medium-sized mammals. Their survival is thought to be threatened by the use of rat poisons and the loss of nest and roosting sites.

    Forest type

    Climate, geology and their resulting soils determine the forest type found in Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve. The granite rocks are acidic and have produced less fertile soils than those found in the basalt areas on the northern tablelands.

    Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve’s vegetation is tall open forest of white stringybark Eucalyptus reducta, red stringybark E. resinifera, yellow messmate E. acmenoides, pink bloodwood Corymbia intermedia, turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera with Bakers oak Allocasuarina torulosa and stringybark pine Callitris macleayana. There are also small patches of brushbox Lophostemon confertus on exposed, rocky slopes and rose gums E. grandis line the creeks.

    This endangered forest type, also known as wet sclerophyll, is fairly abundant in south-east Australia but in the north is restricted to wetter areas above 600 m. In North Queensland it is limited to a narrow, broken strip, 400 km long, bordering the western edge of the rainforest.

    Culture and history

    European history

    Tumoulin State Forest and Tumoulin Forest Reserve have had a varied and interesting past.

    After the first declaration of the State forest in 1941 extra parcels of land have been gradually added, expanding the total area. Some parcels were actually obtained by the Queensland Government when the owners failed to pay their rates.

    During this time, a small sawmill operated near Coolabbi Creek and forestry barracks were established near the southern boundary of the forest. A 2 ha experimental plot of well-established rose gums Eucalyptus grandis is still visible at this site. Tobacco growing trial blocks were established not far from Smith Road.

    Aboriginal culture

    The Jirrbal people are the Traditional Owners of Tumoulin State Forest. Their dry forest and rainforest country extends from Herberton in the north, west to Ravenshoe, east to Evelyn Central and south to Davidson Creek at the bottom of Tully Gorge. Jirrbal people have an intimate knowledge of traditional country and close kin affiliations with neighbouring groups.

    Traditionally, the Jirrbal people lived in the rainforest in semi-permanent villages of dome-shaped huts. The rainforest was rich in resources and the Jirrbal people gathered a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, roots, stems, tubers and leaves, which were either eaten raw or processed and cooked.

    Hunted food included fish, eels, snakes, wallabies, goannas, possums, flying-foxes and birds—particularly cassowaries, Australian brush-turkeys and orange-footed scrubfowl. Hunting tools included fishing lines and hooks, fish traps, nets, nooses, hunting spears and toxic leaves. Fish and eels were wrapped in ginger leaves and cooked in ground ovens or placed on racks and smoked.

    The Jirrbal people manipulate and craft an extensive array of implements and decorations including stone axes, shields, swords, spears, cooking utensils, baskets, woven blankets, nets, traps, fishing lines, hooks, bags and children's toys.

    The Nganyaji Interpretive Centre in Ravenshoe showcases the Jirrbal's traditional lifestyle, their rainforest base-camp villages, hunting and gathering practices, food processing, rainforest cuisine, community life and contact history.

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