Plants and Wildlife
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Sep 2016

An abundance of unique plants and wildlife thrive along the Maroochy River Trail.

Plant life

Alongside the upper estuary, there is a patchwork of sugarcane and other small crops. They occupy the floodplains that were once a mixture of eucalypt forest, paperbark forest and sub-tropical rainforest. Since the closure of the Moreton Sugar Mill at Nambour in 2003, alternatives to sugar production are continually being explored.

Downstream, Coolum Creek and the middle and lower Maroochy River estuary are covered in dense mangrove, paperbark and Casuarina forest. The abundant mangrove fern at Coolum Creek is like an ancient landscape. The native hibiscus (often referred to as the cotton tree) grows alongside mangroves. It is easily recognised by its typical hibiscus flowers – vibrant yellow, aging to orange – which bloom in late spring and early summer.

These plant communities are vital to river health because they:

  • prevent stream bank erosion
  • filter runoff
  • provide shade
  • reduce evaporation
  • moderate water temperatures
  • reduce the damaging effects of flooding and provide habitat for land and aquatic wildlife.


Some common birds of prey you might see include the Brahminy Kite, Osprey and White-bellied Sea Eagle.

There is an abundance of waterbirds, such as:

  • Cormorants
  • The Anhinga (Darter or 'snake bird')
  • Spoonbills
  • Ibis
  • Black Ducks

You may see the vibrant Forest Kingfisher and White-faced Heron, and the screech of the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is unmistakable. Other birds to look out for include oystercatchers and the rarer Black-necked Stork (Jabiru).

Paddlers should not disturb the flocks of terns resting on the sandbanks of the lower estuary. This is because constant rising and landing reduces the energy reserves of these birds to the point that they may not survive their migration. Some of these birds migrate from as far away as Siberia.

Although well camouflaged, paddlers may see Water Dragon at the water's edge, and the lightning-fast crabs on the mud banks. Mullet jumping are common.

Ringtail and brushtail possums and wallabies are rarely seen in daylight hours.

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