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Student Perspective: Wallaman Falls World Heritage Site

June 15th, 2017

McKenna Scott, a Baylor University Sustainability in North Queensland student blogger, writes: The things we choose to experience are the the backbone of who we are. This past week, I had a chance to do something that stretched me physically, but left me awestruck in the end. Let me start out by saying, yes, I am a Recreation major, but no, that does not mean I am by any means athletically inclined. I still tire after long walks and sometimes steep inclines make me feel like I would rather just roll back down the hill I am attempting to conquer. So when we were told about the hike we were going to take, my head instantly filled with dread. What if I can’t do it? What if I’m the last one? What if, what if, what if…what if it was the most beautiful thing and because of these thoughts, I missed out?

This hike was to Wallaman Falls, and let me tell you, the destination was stunning. At the top, you look out over a vast valley lined with cliffs and green trees stretched as far as the eye could see. In the middle stood a cascading waterfall, not unlike the waterfall in Pixar’s Up. I still can’t comprehend how something that big and powerful can exist so peacefully. As part of the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, Wallaman Falls is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To qualify as a World Heritage Site, the location must meet at least one of the following natural criteria:

  1. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  2. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  3. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  4. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

[Credit: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]

The UNESCO World Heritage recognition protects the area from development and keeps Wallaman Falls in its natural state, preserved for those who wish to come and see it.

So back to the hike! This was the steepest hike I’ve ever been on and each step down into the canyon had to be well thought out. And on the return, I ran out of breath multiple times and I’m sure my face was as red as a tomato. But, it was beautiful! Once at the bottom of the canyon, it appeared as if we had stepped into a whole new world. Rocks stretched into the sky and a thin mist sprang from the waterfall, covering the rocks and forming a rainbow that was as magical as the Falls. It was truly an incredible experience I will remember forever.

Categories: 2017 Student BlogsAustraliaAustralia: North QueenslandStudent Perspective

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