A most unusual and unexpected find in the middle of the world’s oldest rainforest – a 1965 Wolseley Mark II. An original advertisement states: Owning a new Wolseley Mark II is a luxury you can afford … at only £1,280! For this you get distinctive styling, deep pile carpeting, deep foam seat padding, instrument fascia and door cappings in burr walnut, plus heater, de-mister, reversing light and a host of accessories. Elegant? Definitely. Powerful too, with its Blue Streak Six motor. Question is, what is it doing in this World Heritage rainforest?
Well, first of all, this biological treasure-trove was not always World Heritage-listed. The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, developed from the post World War I idea of creating an international movement for the protection of heritage. Merging two separate movements, the first focusing on the preservation of cultural sites and the other dealing with the conservation of nature, led to the World Heritage Convention. Australia became a State Party to the Convention on the 22 August 1974 and was subsequently successful in its nomination of Wet Tropical rainforests of Northeast Queensland onto the World Heritage-list, on 9 December 1988. The Wolseley was parked within the rainforest long before World Heritage-listing and even before the 1984 gazettal into Cape Tribulation National Park. The vehicle was probably driven or towed in via an access track to a former Landing Reserve established for the processing of timber logs onto barges.
The Queensland Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla), with the root structure growing around the Wolselely and anchoring it to the forest floor, is protected as a native inhabitant of World Heritage rainforest. Producing thousands of nectar-rich flowers, Umbrella Trees attract honey-eating birds, Musky Rat-kangaroos, Red-legged Pademelons and Spectacled Flying Foxes. Its leaves are a favourite food of the extremely rare Bennett’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus bennettianus). Under such binding protections, the Wolseley has become ensconced into World Heritage, where a browsing Tree-kangaroo might cast an admiring eye across the burr walnut fascia and cappings.