An unbroken canopy of ancient eucalypts rides over the ridges of the Atherton Tablelands and disappears into the horizon. Queensland’s wet, tropical ecosystem is like nowhere else on Earth, the sacred remnants of the ancient Gondwanan forest that covered Australia before it separated from Antarctica 100 million years ago. Chalumbin Forest survived the axes of Queensland’s early settlers with its ancient ecosystem virtually intact. Yet a brutal reckoning with modernity could be just months away.
“They’re going to put the windmills in there, aren’t they?” said Tommy, my Aboriginal guide, as we looked down at the forest from a secluded bluff. “They want to really rip this whole country up.”