Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beach craft | Pandanus People

The Pandanus palm is one of the iconic plants of the Sunshine Coast.  Around Rainbow Beach, Pandanus palms cling to perilious positions along the ever changing sand dunes.
Our beach craft Pandanus people were made from the phalanges of the large fruit, bleached by the ocean and washed up onto the beach.  At some stage a worm or insect has bored holes through the flesh -- often in incredibly fortuitous positions!   We could not believe how easily they looked like funny little people.

We added some creative touches to turn the stringy fibres into arms, skirt and even plaited hair.  The outer case of the Pandanus phalanges is so fibrous it is even used as a natural dental floss.

To finish our beach craft, we glued the Pandanus onto a cork board.

More about Pandanus tectorius

Pandanus plams found on the Sunshine Coast have a large orange fruit made up 40 to 200 wedge-like phalanges.  The Phalanges contain the seeds, can remain viable for many months while being washed around the ocean currents.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and is a major source of food on some island nations. The tree's leaves are often used as flavoring for sweet dishes (you might have seen Pandanus often featured in Alvin's dishes on MasterChef . The leaves are used by Polynesians to make baskets, mats, outrigger canoe sails, thatch roofs and grass skirts.

Jamella leafhopper dieback
The Jamella leafhopper has been responsible for the dieback and death of many Pandanus along the Cooloola coastline but has so far not been noted on Fraser Island.  The leaf hopper can be controlled with pesticides, but needs constant vigilance. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sand city and driftwood aliens

Winter at the beach is beautiful in its own blustery, bracing way.  It's a chance to appreciate the rich colours of nature not washed out by a harsh sun.  It's fun to walk along the beach rugged up against the chill and not bake in the heat.  Then it's home to a lovely warm shower, cup of tea and game of Monopoly.  Happily, we also had days that were warm enough to swim and lay on the beach in our togs (swimmers for non-Queenslanders!).

These images were captured by the children on an afternoon beach walk.  They were fascinated by the "sand city" - like a distant view of city skyscrapers.

Rainbow Beach has loads of driftwood washed up against the rocks.  The sandscape along the beach changes so often that it appears and disappears daily.   We love exploring the distorted, weathered shapes and discovering alien creatures.

And capturing bleached white driftwood against the black coffee rock.