When I was at Woodford Folk Festival a few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of going on the Butterfly Walk, guided by local butterfly expert, Frank Jordan. Both Frank and the walk had been featured four years before in a delightful film I saw.

The image below is not of the Butterfly walk (though you can see it in  “The Butterfly Kiss”), but it gives a feeling of the Woodford walkways and the happy lanterns which are one of the many loving touches at Woodford.

Lois Lane Walkway Woodford Jan Smith Flickr

It was at the 2006/2007 Woodford Folk Festival, that I saw the heart-warming documentary   “The Butterfly Kiss” at the  of the “Spirit of Woodford Film Competition” Finals.  It deservedly won first place. The film told the story in particular of Frank Jordan and his great passion for butterflies. One day Frank had an epiphany. He remembered that when he was a child, there were far more butterflies. He remembered how much he had delighted in watching them. Now, it seemed, there were far fewer. Instead of just wishing there were more butterflies, he decided to do something about it. Lots of work had been done over the years at Woodfordia the site of the Woodford Folk Festival, planting particularly for the Richmond Birdwing. Frank along with other butterfly enthusiasts expanded the project to plant a wider range of native, butterfly-attracting plants at the site to provide food for the caterpillars of a range of other butterflies. (This has developed into a last Sunday of the month working bee onsite.)

Photo of Birdwing Butterfly: Crystal Creek Nursery, Murwillumbah

They planted them throughout the property, but they planted them more densely within The Butterfly Walk- from the festival ticket office to the front gate. The Queensland Folk Federation currently owns 400 hectares of land near the small town of Woodford. It was once a degraded cattle property. It is now referred to as “Woodfordia”, and the landscape is completely transformed. By now 80,000 native trees have been planted, including a native food garden and many butterfly food plants and trees, plus countless possum and other nesting boxes. As Festival Director, Bill Hauritz commented, the festival site is becoming an arboretum for native species of flora and fauna. But that is another story. As Frank lead us along, I realised I hadn’t walked around in this particular part of the festival for five or six years. (The festival site is so large, that that is possible!) I loved seeing the height the trees have now reached. They are now arching more densely over the walkway, to form a rainforest-like canopy.  I have been going to Woodford since it began, so I remember it when it had just been bought from the farmer. Each year, like many Woodford patrons and performers,  I have made donations towards a tree or two. I have also planted trees in teams at Woodford’s winter-time Tree Planting Festivals, along with my partner and two children, which really fun. We went to perform for children there. Not having planted as many trees as my partner Max, who has planted thousands of trees, I didn’t anticipate the enormous satisfaction it would bring, not only that weekend, but also have as the years have passed.

Blue Tiger’ Creative Commons Flickr Photo by Jan Smith

It was lovely not only to see how the trees had grown, but butterflies flitting about, butterfly grubs and their wildly varying cocoons. Even more butterflies are flourishing now than when Lachlan Forsyth made his ‘Butterfly Kiss’ film.

Blue Tiger emerging Jan Smith Flickr

What did I learn at the Butterfly Walk? Well I’ll save that for my next blog post! Click the title here and you can view a short sample of the film “The Butterfly Kiss” and also buy the full video. You can read more about butterfly food for Northern NSW at Daley’s Fruit Tree Nursery website. I have lots of native and exotic fruit trees in my garden bought from Daley’s Nursery. I hope you enjoy your local butterflies wherever you are. If there are not many, perhaps you can encourage them by planting more of their food plants, so you can take a butterfly walk! Many THANKS to Helen Schwencke who checked my posts for accuracy and suggested a few changes which I have made, but I take full responsibility for any details I got wrong. If you are a butterfly enthusiast it would be great to hear your comments!

This years inspiring poster