All About the Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station (continued)

More recent research projects:


Extending lead-acid battery life

This project started in 2002 in response to the Daintree area's ongoing need for robust and sustainable individual power systems based on storage batteries and/or solar power (the entire area is off-grid). We developed a “high-current” desulphator which uses pulsed electric current to break up the lead sulphate crystals which build up in lead-acide batteries and which, over time, cause the degradation of the batteries' performance. The system worked well on “Gel” type lead acid batteries (but not on flooded). As “Gel” or AGM (Adsorbed Glass Mat ) batteries are becoming the norm, this technology appears to at least be able to double their life. We’ve even had students from the UK and China working on this project.


Hau, an intern from China, working on the desulphator

Output pulse from the desulphator – 1000+Amp!

Littoral Forest Survey

Valerie and Guido, interns from The Netherlands, surveyed the plant species distribution of the littoral forests from Emmagen Beach to Cow bay. This type of survey is important as it calls attention to an area which has been underrepresented in past surveys, and whose true environmental vulnerability compared to the rest of the Daintree Wet Tropics World Heritage area is essentially unknown.


Guido and Valerie collating the data – they became excellent rainforest botanists.

But they had to camp - when you have 2Km of beach to survey and it’s a long way to Trib! At least they had fine weather!

Environmental Weed Control

We have been researching the impact of the low toxicity (and low cost) herbicide MSM (met-sulfuron methyl) for control of broad-leafed introduced weeds, for which it is proving to be really excellent. It appears to affect neither grasses nor most native species of flowering plants.

Singapore Daisy (Sphagneticola trilobata) – scourge of the north- but easily controlled with MSM

“Hippie” vine (arrow vine) – the ones with leaves shaped like this are hard to eradicate.


Arrow vine in full swing. Unfortunately, it is spread by birds – and will invade intact forest and take over. MSM controls it.

Now, the the beaches from Cow Bay to Emmagen are almost totally free of Singapore daisy (introduced from South America as a lawn substitute). It has taken many years, but we are getting there. Our problem now is to reduce the “upstream” infestations which reside in people’s properties. If you’ve seen the roadsides of Kuranda and North Cairns overflowing with Singapore Daisy, you will appreciate the difference we've produced here. We are also eliminating a host of other broad-leaved weeds.

South Noah beach, 2012

Melinda, an intern from Switzerland, spraying Singapore Daisy on South Noah.

Singapore daisy on the way out...

Singapore daisy dead and native flora recovering. However, there are always little bits missed, so for the next two years, we have to do “spot” spraying.

Spraying Singapore Daisy at “Fernies” (rear paddock) five years ago. Now it’s completely clear – and is being replanted.

Planting same area at Fernies (three years ago)

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