Our Future lies in our Pint-sized Power Rangers - A journey to Emerald Creek Falls

I went to Emerald Creek Falls the other day and always get a little upset if I find rubbish lying around beautiful parts of Tropical North Queensland. So, unable to accept it any longer I packed in a ‘rubbish kit’ (plastic bags and plastic gloves), making sure there was enough for others if they chose to help out. I also accepted that I might be the only one who would do this job. I didn’t count on the pint-sized Power Ranger however, that took up the challenge wholeheartedly……

I’m sure people look at you oddly when you have a plastic bag dangling off your backpack and pull out the gloves to pick up stuff on the track or in the bush, scouring for bits of plastic and bright objects like some demented Bowerbird. Thankfully Emerald Creek Falls is off the beaten track so rubbish is never really a major issue here. As compared to places where people park and admire the view, now that’s another matter…. don’t get me started!

Fortunately, the rubbish at the Emerald Creek car park was minimal, and thanks to the recent rains we mainly saw mushrooms, toadstools and a HEAP of wildflowers. David, a Nature Play facilitator was busy collecting and pressing wildflowers and happily waiting for other members of the Tree4Reef Nature Play QLD Family Nature Club to rock up.

Most other people who arrived in the car park didn’t dally around and missed the Frilled Neck Lizard that was the highlight of my trip (I’ve never seen one in the wild before). Its amazing camouflage and ability to pose like a piece of wood meant that most people didn’t spot it when they walked past. I love coming up to the tablelands just for that reason, there’s such a difference in the flora and fauna, and I’m a BIG fan of checking out the birdlife that you don’t spot regularly down on the coast.

The good news is that whilst scouring for rubbish around the car park I inadvertently enlisted the help of ‘Violet’, a little Power Ranger who was all of 9-years old and who was totally into finding colourful objects that didn’t look right in the environment. My pint-size Power Ranger found stuff around that car park that eluded my eyesight and she didn’t even need ‘gloves’ to handle them.

Along the track to the waterfall we found all manner of stuff. Paths leading off to other places to swim, grasshoppers more colourful than the suburban variety, dragonflies, a segment of the river that looked like it belonged in a Peter Jarver gallery plus we stumbled across loads of slippery rocks and big boulders with scary drop offs that the kids (and us) took all in our stride.

Meanwhile my pint-sized Power Ranger was still scouring the environment for things that didn’t quite fit the picture – we left the sock and the busted thongs for their rightful owners in case they may return and pick them up later.

Up at the base of the waterfall we found a few people sunning themselves and the waterhole empty. Personally I didn’t blame them, the waterfall was pumping thanks to the recent rains and most were happy to just watch and enjoy the views. It didn’t take us long however to jump in and play and frolic in the foaming waters, slowly getting to grips with the power of the falls cascading down the granite ledge.

In the meantime, I donned my mask and fins and went snorkelling, scouring the swimming hole for a mislaid beer bottle or lunch wrappers. Instead I found freshwater shrimps, loads of native tadpoles clinging to the rocks and an eel. My pint-sized Power Ranger however was

hunting around where we threw our towels and was slowly filling up my rubbish bag with plenty of lunch wrappers, cans and all manner of discarded items. She wasn’t ready to take on the water just yet, just happy collecting stuff that looked out of place.

Later I lent Violet my mask and she popped her head in for a peek at what lay beneath the surface and was swimming around in the eddies, despite the formidable looking waterfall that was tumbling off the rocks nearby.

Trekking back out after a big day snorkelling, jumping off rocks and playing at the falls, I finally catagorised (i.e. took a photo) all that we shipped out. As I laid it out like a Bowerbird and took the shots I realized that 10% of the items was collected by little ol’ me. Violet, the 9-year old had collected the other 90%! It dawned on me she wasn’t a ‘little’ Power Ranger at all BUT a full blown superhero mingling among us adults. I have to say I felt humbled in her presence, knowing full well that this is the generation of Earth Guardians that will stay on long after my lot (and others) have moved on.

Good Things to Know

David Witherall, the Coordinator of the Nature Play QLD Family Nature Club called Tree4Reef regularly holds adventures to learn about the environment and to encourage natural play and exploration outdoors for all ages (adults included). Tree4Reef promotes the Great Barrier Reef and the value of trees especially near waterways.

Adventure Mumma is a Nature Play Qld ambassador and is often found exploring her backyard, Tropical North Queensland at every opportunity. More details on her family-friendly adventures can be found at

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