Australian Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2015

Blog site for the 2015 MSU study abroad program.

6/1 – Annie

Hello followers and happy June!

This is Annie Sevec here to talk about our busy day today in northern Queensland. Our day was jam-packed with 3 exciting site visits all before dinner time, in which we visited a banana plantation, learned at a wind farm, and enjoyed a hike at a national park.

Our day started off by waking up early at Weatherby Station to the birds chirping outside. The view of the mountains was beautiful as we emerged from our tents. We enjoyed a good breakfast at the station with our group before packing up our things and tearing down our tents.

Camping area at Weatherby Station

Above is a photo of our camping area this morning just before we tore down our tents.

Before our departure, Kat, who lives at the station, spoke to us about the history of Weatherby Station. The station was built in 1878 and was occupied by the Grove Family. The Grove’s provided a resting and eating place for people who were traveling through the area in search of gold in the west. Kat explained to us that this history isn’t that far behind us, as older Queenslanders remember their parents telling them stories of what had happened there at the turn of the century. It was neat to learn more about the history of Weatherby, and it made us appreciate our overnight experience there even more.

Full group with John, owner of Weatherby Station

Our group with John, a current owner of Weatherby Station. He and his wife Kat were great hosts! John even helped the boys learn how to crack a whip and how to throw a boomerang. Can you spot both of these items in the photo?

Around 9 am, we said our goodbyes to John and Kat, then headed for Mt. Uncles banana plantation. This plantation is 2,200 feet above sea level so it has a cooler temperature and very clean air. This land is also unique because it is uncommon to see other farms with so much active forest surrounding it like Mt. Uncles does. We met with Robbie Watkins who specializes in banana production, and he told us more about the plantation. The plantation is a large producer of Lady Finger bananas, which are similar to plantation bananas but are said to be far more nutritious and high in natural starch.

Robbie of the Banana Platation speaking to our group

The group attentively listening to Robbie discussing the Lady finger banana trees that are behind him.

Lady finger trees are 97% water and have root systems that are designed for mineral absorption for survival. This plantation is sustainable in that it uses a drip irrigation system in order to just water the areas that need watering. Robbie explained that this practice uses 50% less water than standard sprinklers, which saves a lot of water annually.

Mt. Uncles Banana Plantation

Our view as we walked further into Mt. Uncle’s Banana Plantation.

Robbie also works on the development of green banana flour, which is said to have lots of health benefits. This banana flour can replace your original wheat flour in baking, and the green flour is much higher in protein. Robbie stated that they have also developed a nutrient filled supplement of green banana flour to be a natural remedy for a variety of different health problems.

Green Banana Flour Smoothie Mix

The company name for the green flour product is Natural Evolution. As seen in the photo above, you can buy green banana flour smoothie mix or flour from this plantation.

After speaking more to Robbie on different parts of the plantation, we headed to a cafe that is on the land and all received free green banana flour smoothies.

Group drinking Natural Evolution Smoothies!

Some of our group trying out the Natural Evolution smoothies from this plantation. Flavors came in vanilla and chocolate!

We said our thanks to Robbie, then drove to a market to pick up lunch. We ate wraps and fresh fruit with cookies for dessert at a nearby park. After our meal, we drove to Windy Hill wind farm where we met with workers Adam and Leigh. They explained to us that this is the only wind farm in Queensland, consisting of twenty 44-meter tall wind turbines. The energy from these turbines gets fed right into the grid to supply energy to the area. We learned that this wind farm is owned and operated by a coal company in Australia. Adam and Leigh also explained that environmental factors were taken into account when the turbines were constructed so they don’t harm the flight patterns or habitats of native birds. Not only is wind energy a sustainable resource for power but it also is important that the construction of this farm was done with the land and animals of the area kept in mind.

View at the Wind Farm

This photo was taken of our view of the wind farm today. This area of land is a perfect place to have an energy generating wind farm because it is in the dividing range of two mountains, so it often is very windy.

We then drove from the Wind farm to Mt. Hypipamee National Park and took a nature hike together to a scenic lookout over a big volcanic crater.

Mt. Hypipamee Volcanic Crater

Above is a photo from standing on the over look at the volcanic crater, and the green algae on the surface of the water is very apparent!

Group viewing the crater

Above is the group viewing and documenting the unique site of the volcanic crater.

We walked further down the trail and came to some beautiful waterfalls. A few people from our group jumped into the falls for a quick swim despite how cold it was, but we enjoyed how refreshing it felt after a busy day.

Swimming in the Waterfalls

Our beautiful view of the falls, after a few boys had already jumped in. This puts the falls into perspective and you can tell how high they are. Several more of our group joined in the water shortly after this.

Jumping in the waterfall

Chrissy and the rest of the group jumps into the fresh water!

After the falls we headed to check in at On the Wallaby Lodge, a fun overnight place in Yungaburra. We had a group reflection, ate a delicious steak dinner, then half of our group headed out on a night canoe trip where we were able to see a variety of Australian animals all along the river bank, such as wallabies, paddy melons and opossums.

On the Wallaby Lodge

Above is the entrance to On the Wallaby Lodge, our lodging destination for 2 nights in Yungaburra.

On the Wallaby Lodge

Another view of our fun hostel in Yungaburra.

Our activities today were all so unique in their own way, and they all tied to certain aspects of sustainability. The banana plantation was neat because it exhibits environmentally friendly irrigation practices as well as creating products that help human health in many ways. The wind farm creates power from a renewable energy source, and helps to reduce several long-term costs when it comes to generating power in the future. And lastly Mt. Hypipamee park exhibits the natural beauty in the area, and seeing things like this help us want to do a better job of preserving as much of our environment as we can.

The events of the day were fun but also all worth while and unique in their own ways. We grew from the experiences we had and are now able to bring back even more knowledge of sustainability when we return to the States in 1 week!

Link to Yungaburra, the location of our two night stay in Queensland :,_Queensland

Link to On the Wallaby Lodge Lodging destination:

Link for Mt. Uncles plantation :

Link for the green banana flour product company:

Robbie of Natural Evolution & Mt. Uncles plantation:

Link for the Queensland wind farm we visited:

Link for Wind Farm in Ravenshoe, Queensland:

Link for the national park crater we visited:

Another link for the crater:

All Photos on this page courtesy of Annie Sevec.


2 thoughts on “6/1 – Annie

  1. Hey great post Annie, I really enjoyed reading this!! It was so cool sleeping outside in tents under the stars. We really got to see that living without electricity is can be really fun. It was also nice knowing that we were reducing our carbon footprint by not using heat or electricity and creating a more sustainable way of living. I really enjoyed hearing john talk about all the practices he uses in order to be more sustainable. I never knew that cattle breeding could be such a complicated process!
    The banana plantation was amazing, I was surprised that one last finger banana has the same nutritional value as two and half normal bananas. Now I know what bananas I’m going to choose in the future. I really liked the way he changed his irrigation system to save 50% of his water usage. Robbie was working very hard to have his practice be sustainable and it seems like it’s working. That banana flour seems amazing, I can’t wait to try some for myself and see if it works!
    Those banana smoothies were really good.
    The wind farm was really cool I couldn’t believe how big the wind turbines were. And they said that those were relatively small ones so I can only imagine what the big ones look like! Wind farms are amazing because of how environmentally friendly they are. Did you know that they can pay for themselves with the electricity they produce in only 4 years? That’s amazing because these wind farms are environmentally and economically sustainable and seem like a great chose for renewable energy.
    Swimming in the pond with the waterfall was my favorite part of the trip so far. It was so beautiful and fun. This really gave me an appreciation for the beauty that rainforest hold and really motivates me to do everything I can to try to conserve it.
    Anyway the days was really fun and you did a really good job expressing it!!


  2. Hey Annie! Wonderful post! This was indeed a busy day, but definitely a fun one! Waking up at Weatherby Station was amazing! It was refreshing to get away from technology and enjoy nature. I thought it was cool how the station was built so long ago and I appreciate that they try to maintain their traditions there. The banana plantation was an interesting experience as well. Although Robbie’s ideas on banana powder were questionable, it was still interesting to hear fr his perspective. At the wind farm, I was surprised to hear all of the environmental factors that were taken into account when the turbines were constructed. I was happy to hear that the wind turbines do not harm the habitats of the native birds. Wind energy is a sustainable resource and I hope it becomes more ubiquitous in the United States. My favorite part of this amazing day was swimming in the waterfall after we were done with the other activities!


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