Cool off under Alpha's leafy green canopy
THERE is nothing more pleasing when travelling than to take a break under the shade of a large canopy tree.
And with the oppressive heat that we have had over the past couple of weeks parks and rest stops across Central Queensland have never been more appreciated.
This week I had a road trip through Western Queensland and joined many other travellers taking a lunch break under the cooling canopies of a shade trees.
The township of Alpha is on the Capricorn Highway and uniquely has all streets named after poets.
The town's main street, Shakespeare Street has one of the shadiest canopies in the region and is a perfect place to take a break. Added to the shade canopy is the renowned Snow's Bakery best pies and sausage rolls in the west.
Then there is Alpha Tourist Information Centre volunteer Nola Halloran. Nola has been a resident of the town for more than 25 years.
The Information Centre is located opposite the shadiest of the trees and out the front of the centre is Nola greeting the visitors.
Nola is also an authority on Alpha's trees and shrubs.
Nola gladly shared her passion for the shade trees of the town starting with the Albizia lebbek or Flea Tree. This deciduous shade tree is one of the dominate canopies of Alpha. The Albizia has a similar habit to Poinciana that is very fast growing.
The tree produces masses of fragrant cream to lemon pom-pom flowers during summer.
It should also be noted that some people find these flowers the cause of sinus problems and allergies. The Albizia is regarded as one of the world most wide spread plant species.
The Ficus hillii or Hills Fig is another feature of the Alpha skyline. Of all the shade trees grown in Central Queensland the Ficus hillii would be the hardiest and most suitable for western conditions. This evergreen tree has bright green foliage and would provide one of the best examples of a natural air conditioner.
This tree does have an incredibly invasive root system, so care is needed in selecting the right position it plant this tree.
Colouring the skyline of Alpha at the moment is the Peltophorum dubium or Yellow Poinciana. There are dozens of these trees in full flower at the moment. The flowers are a rich golden yellow and have a grape like fragrance. This Peltophorum will grow to over 10 metres high if the conditions are right.
The last of Alpha's Shakespeare Street's canopy trees is the Brachychiton australis or Broad Leaf Bottle Tree. Brachychiton australis is an ornamental feature tree for large gardens and makes a spectacular looking tree in the landscapes. Brachychiton australis is deciduous in summer when masses of white bell shaped flowers appear. Most Central Queensland trees will have mauve markings on the flowers. This tree is also useful for bonsai work.
So if you are planning a trip west of Rockhampton make sure you stop in at Alpha and say hello to Nola.