Charlie Robino: Loving Orchids in Far North Queensland 🌼🏡🎣🌊☀

Charlie Robino at Queensland Orchid International


At least 4 weeks to go. Then it might bloom. Cheers Charlie Robino

✿❀ Click here to learn more about CHARLIE ROBINO CHARLIE ROBINO at Queensland Orchid International ❀✿

With great pleasure, SoundEagle would like to introduce at ✿❀ Queensland Orchid International ❀✿ a very special person who likes fishing at sea and cultivating orchids at home in equal measure. A self-taught, avid grower of orchids, Charlie Robino has been recuperating from a recently invented and complex surgery performed in April 2016 on his right ankle, which has been immobilized and protected in a moon boot to aid in its recovery. This surgery aims to remedy a medical misadventure and to rectify the problems caused by Charlie’s foot injury sustained 20 years ago, so that he will eventually have a better quality of life upon full recovery. Despite the circumstance, the temporary disablement, the prescribed physiotherapy and the many disruptions to his normal routines, he still manages to share with friends photos of his impressive collection of orchids grown under semi-open shade house built by his own hands. As can be seen, both Charlie and his orchids are very much in their element in the wide open space of Far North Queensland countryside, which is blessed with warm and humid weather all year round occasioned by tropical downpours, and which is visited by a severe storm or cyclone once every few years. In sickness or health, and notwithstanding the recurrent threat of destructive natural forces and the drenching power of monsoons in the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Charlie has continued to provide a veritable and decent sanctuary for many orchids over the years. To hedge against the complete loss of an orchid species to the wrath of foul weather, Charlie usually keeps three lots of that species as an insurance policy.

About 60% of Charlie’s orchids are inherited from his late father, Carlo Robino, whose orchids are almost always scented. It is very admirable that Charlie has preserved those wonderful orchids and grow them on with gusto despite having other commitments and major interests, which include fishing, hunting, digging, gardening, travelling, painting, music, movies, and being a handyman in general, plus accommodating some endemic ground-dwelling, well-camouflaged birds named curlews, as photographed above and also further explained in the Gallery on Page 2 of this post. Jane Robino, his other significant half, has been looking after the plants during the recovery from his ankle surgery. In the process, she has been progressing much further in her interest and knowledge towards orchids.

The rest of Charlie’s orchids have been acquired from nurseries over the years. There are also about 25 orchids purchased from Mr Don Mapleton, who intended to reduce the size of his orchid collection after being a grower and judge for many years, and who sold Charlie those plants on a friend’s recommendation. The roughly two dozen orchids were acquired over two separate occasions: the first batch was selected by Don, whereas the second was the result of Charlie’s choice.

Whatever the origins of those orchids, Charlie’s keenness, or rather, closeness, towards his orchids, is evident not only in how well he grows his orchids, but also in how he relates to their blossoms anthropomorphically, given that he frequently describes them with a touch of wit and glee as (the embodiments of) ladies and damsels. Those orchids belonging to the Cattleya alliance are generally the most frequent and favourite subjects of his imagination. Moreover, his most beloved orchids are two unnamed Cattleyas inherited from his late father, which he affectionately named as Cattleya Carlo Red and Cattleya Hoss Pink after his father’s first name and nickname respectively. The flower of the former is about 15cm and the latter about 14.5cm in diameter. Both are fragrant, especially the former.

Hence, it is not surprising that orchids in the Cattleya alliance are Charlie’s favourite orchids, not to mention that they can flower profusely nearly all of the year, slowing down only in July and August during winter, when the average day-time temperatures are in the mid 20s and the average night-time temperatures in the high 10s (Celsius). Numbering around 250, they constitute about half of Charlie’s 500 orchids. Unlike their counterparts cultivated in the cooler, dryer, southern parts of Australia, Charlie’s orchids belonging to the Cattleya alliance are grown in deeper pots with a depth of 25cm to 30cm, and up to 40cm for specimens. The roots of those orchids penetrate the entire depths of their pots to seek moisture and to avoid the surface heat caused by hot sun or high ambient temperature.

Disease control, fertilizing and watering are simultaneous: every ten days, Charlie adds fungicide such as Mancozeb or white oil to his 40 litre of balanced fertilizer solution. He then spends about half an hour on spraying those orchids in the Cattleya alliance, given that the high rainfall and humidity of Far North Queensland can easily cause fungal diseases, and also that there are a lot more insect pests at Bramston Beach than there are in Brisbane. Non-flowering orchids are grown under shadecloth to protect them from direct sunlight, whereas flowering ones, especially those in the Cattleya alliance, are moved to an area affording complete protection from the impact of wet weather so that the flowers remain fresh and undamaged by rainstorms.

According to Charlie, the peak flowering of his Oncidiums (including the intergenerics), Cattleyas and Phalaenopsis orchids happens in springtime. Fewest orchids are in flower during summer, when the heat is most intense. His larger Cattleyas tend to start flowering in autumn, whereas his miniature Cattleyas tend to flower anytime of the year.

Charlie considers that the best time to repot his orchids is between February and May, when the worst of summer heat is subsiding and there is plenty of rainfall to sustain the newly repotted plants.

Charlie’s favourite growing medium for potted orchids is scoria (also called quincan or cinder), which is a porous, densely vesicular, dark volcanic rock that is basaltic or andesitic in composition. Given its high surface area and strength with respect to its light weight, and its availability in eye-catching colours, scoria is frequently used in landscaping and drainage works, and is excellent for growing orchids and bromeliads in the tropics. Charlie pots all of his Cattleyas, Oncidiums, Cymbidiums and Phalaenopsis orchids in scoria, except his Dendrobiums, which are potted in a mixture of tree fern, charcoal and pine bark placed on a bottom layer of quincan. According to Charlie’s own comment:

The big wet has started again in F.N.Q. This happens every year sometime between December and March.… For the Orchid enthusiasts, it can be a troubling time. Especially if you are growing in shade houses open to the elements. Rot from excess rain, spot, fungus. Insects plague the grower. However the worst being rot. This situation can be mostly over come by potting in a medium of gravel called Quincan. This is a semi porous gravel witch allows the rain to drain through the root system and thus keep them well drained.

To propagate or divide a potted orchid belonging to the Cattleya alliance, Charlie splits the plant into two halves by cutting its creeping rhizomes in such a way that one half of the plant contains mostly young leading rhizomes, and the other half mostly old rhizomes. The whole plant is left to grow on in the same pot as usual until the old half has produced at least one or a few leading growths. The new half is then removed and repotted with fresh mix in a new pot; whereas the rhizomes of the old half is sprayed with diluted vinegar, and the pot space previously containing the new half is filled with fresh mix over which the new lead(s) of the old half will continue to grow in the same pot.

The other half of Charlie’s 500 orchids comprises mostly Oncidiums, Vandas, Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums and Phalaenopsis orchids as well as other orchid genera, some of which can be seen here and other pages of this multipage post. Whilst many native and species orchids have been mounted on tree trunks and branches in the landscape, hybrids are grown in pots with heavy media to provide stability against the toppling forces of strong winds during storms, and to allow them to be moved into cyclone-proofed shelters if necessary.

So far, Charlie has not had the opportunity nor the desire to procure plants at crowded shows and meetings held by orchid societies, many if not all of which are far away from where he lives, as Far North Queensland is a sizeable area whose remote communities face the tyranny of distance. Whilst Charlie used to visit Innisfail to purchase orchids on the Market Day and at the Feast of the Senses festival, the latter being North Queensland’s premier Tropical Food Experience, nowadays, he buys much less and prefers to exchange orchids with some of his closest friends, with whom he also enjoys his other major interests and pastimes, which come in pairs, as listed here in the order of fondness: orchid and fishing, hunting and digging (rocks, crystals and mineral specimens), as well as travelling and gardening (predominantly in summer). In his spare time, Charlie is a competent painter (of the canvases of his collection as his artistic heart desires, and also of the walls of his house as his handyman mind requires) as well as a connoisseur of fine music and movies.

According to Wikipedia:

Far North Queensland, or Tropical North Queensland, is the northernmost part of the state of Queensland, Australia. Centered on the city of Cairns, the region stretches north to the Torres Strait, and west to the Gulf Country. The region has Australia’s only international border, with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea.

The region is home to three World Heritage Sites, the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics of Queensland and Riversleigh Australia’s largest fossil mammal site. Far North Queensland lays claim to over 70 national parks, including Mount Bartle Frere with a peak of 1,622 metres (5,322 ft) it is the highest peak in both Northern Australia and Queensland.

The Far North region is the only region of Australia that is home to the two oldest continuous cultures on the planet, the Aboriginal Australians and the Torres Strait Islanders.

Far North Queensland supports a significant agricultural sector, a number of significant mines and is home to Queensland’s largest wind farm, the Windy Hill Wind Farm.

Queensland Regions

Far North Queensland is highlighted in green on the map of Queensland.

Queensland is the only state in Australia whose floral emblem is an orchid. Refer to the article entitled Cooktown Orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum, Dendrobium phalaenopsis, Vappodes phalaenopsis): Floral Emblem of Queensland, Australia to learn more.

Specifically, Charlie Robino lives at Bramston Beach, Queensland, a town located about 1,620km (1,007mi) northwest of Brisbane, 66km (41mi) south of the regional centre of Cairns, and about 20km (12mi) east of the Bruce Highway. At the 2006 census, the town had a population of less than 200.

Queensland Native Birds and Orchids

Charlie Robino’s fondness for those roadrunner-lookalike ground-dwelling Australian birds named curlews and his collection containing a number of orchids endemic to Queensland can be seen in the Gallery on Page 2 of this post.

Those who are interested in contributing photos or videos can upload them to the Queensland Orchid International Facebook Group.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Related Sites and Articles

19 thoughts on “Charlie Robino: Loving Orchids in Far North Queensland 🌼🏡🎣🌊☀

  1. We’ve missed you Charlie & hope your recovery is a speedy & highly successful one .How very thoughtful of you posting some of your gorgeous orchids for our benefit , I’m sure I talk for everyone when I say thank you ! Do you know Charlie ? it’s not just the orchids I enjoy but it’s the well informed insight to -life in the tropics , seeing the giant fish you catch , getting to know those Australian road runners (cerlews) &
    meeting your lovely wife Jane( via FB) & talented family – gee , your son can play , he’s such a good musician .The way your family rallied when Jane fell ill was inspirational to say the least ! – it showed us all how families should be , how a successful marriage operates & how amazing the results can be even when you live isolated . Love concurs all . All these positives help all of us to cope with the horrors , anger , hatred & killing that goes on in the world . I look forward to the day in the near future when I can sit with you & Jane enjoy a drink & have a good laugh coz that’s what life is really all about :-))


    • It is again delightful to hear from you here, thenakedflorist! SoundEagle would like to congratulate you on your penchant and willingness to extend the scope of discussion within this recently published multipage post even further, touching upon family life and love, showing your sensitivity with respect to what matters to Charlie and his life and family, as well as our crossing paths and appreciations of each other through our love affairs with various orchid genera and species. Perhaps, all three of us, namely Alison, SoundEagle and Barbara, are, in a spiritual and relational sense, ✿❀Charlie’s Angels❀✿.

      May an…❤.❤*`•.¸¸❤ƸӜƷ❤.¸¸•❤.❤ ¸.·´¯`✫
      *•(¯`’•.¸ //(~_~)\\ ¸.•’´¯)•* ¸.·´¯`✫
      (¯`’•. ╔╗╔╗╔╗╔═╦¸.•’´¯)✫´¯`✫¸¸.·´¯`
      (¯`’•. ╠╣║║║╦╠═║¸.•’´¯)
      (¯`’•. ╝╚╩║╚╝╚═╚═╝.•’´¯)¸¸.✫T..¸.·ღ . ƸӜƷ ✫
      ¸¸.·´¯`…✫´¯`✫¸¸.·´¯` ♥♥!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥✫´¯`✫¸¸.·…
      Protect you every day, Charlie!


  2. Hello kw , how very nice to hear from you again ❤ . I think you struck a chord when you made mention
    Of 'Charlie's Angels' – not just because you are the music man ,but I feel almost as if I've acted along side of you all in several
    movies ! Tarzan has to be one of them !! & maybe something will several bar scenes in it – James Bond ? I have very fond memories of our FB experiences together -that is for sure ! David Attenborough would be proud of our appreciation & celebration of feathered birds & other astd animals .When you read this Charlie , I hope it cheers you up & helps you relax to
    let your ankle heal well .xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, thenakedflorist! Welcome again to our Queensland Orchid International Avian Fold, in which we have had many great times, humorous moments and diverse amusements:
      SoundEagle the Master of Ceremony is hereby granting Craig the Clever Harrier another 12 months of Poetic Licence to Kill the Mockingbird alongside Atticus the Finch as well as Barbara the Cat Bird, Alison the Rock Chick, Charlie the Cock Robin, James the Jabiru, Corina the Bower Bird, Bob the Brolican (Brolga x Pelican), Santi the Darling Starling, Cherie the Canary, and Steve the Kingfisher or Kookaburra. . . .

      ☆.´ `. ☽¸.☆
      ( , ,)( , ,)


    • Hi thenakedflorist! Happy February to you and our Queensland Orchid International Avian Fold!

      Within half a year, this very special post about Charlie and his orchids as well as fishes and birds has grown to 14 pages!

      Since you like terrestrial orchids, you will find Charlie’s adorable terrestrial birds endearing. Many of those curlews are shown in the Gallery on Page 2 of this post. Let’s give in to the enigmatic CURLEW in you without any curfew!

      Furthermore, amuse yourself on the first page with the Fish Wishperer video recommended by Charlie, plus an extra paragraph dedicated to growing orchids with quincan!


  3. Well what a perfectly lovely tribute to a really special man to my heart. Charlie Darlin’ as I call him is a dear man of many talents as disclosed here. I have personally enjoyed his posts on orchid groups like Queensland Orchid International and many others. More recently on our group Orchids, Chat, Information and Pictures. His orchids are so beautifully grown and flowered. He has a remarkable collection I often enjoy private interaction via email with Charlie Darlin’ as he sends some funny and awsome pictorial emails to me. I am glad he has finally had his foot repaired and hope he recovers completely in rapid time. I hope his beautiful lady wife Janey is in good health now too! Thank you K.W Soundeagle for giving everyone such a mavellous insight into a truely special man and friend. Best regards Barbara.💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Barbara, for your timely acknowledgement of Charlie’s friendship, and for your good will towards his health and convalescence. May we continue to celebrate his resilience, positivity and productivity on his journey of recovery!

      For your information, SoundEagle has finally found the time and energy to publish another new article today for one of our most regular and chummiest Queensland Orchid International Avian Fold members. This time, the hot destination has moved from the expansive region of Far North Queensland to the island life of Bali, where you may wash someone right out of your hair and meet a stranger on some enchanted evening!


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    • •´¯`•.¸¸.•♪♫♪•.¸¸.•´¯`•.♥.•.¸¸.•´¯`•.❤.•´¯`•.¸¸.•.♥.•.¸¸.•´¯`•♪♫♪•.¸¸.•´¯`•

      Hello Charlie! Welcome to Queensland Orchid International! Click here to contact SoundEagle SoundEagle would like to congratulate you on successfully creating your Gravatar and submitting your first comment to this website in general, and to this article bearing your name in particular! We look forward to enjoying more beautiful photos and stories from you!

      May the recovery of your heel be smooth so that you will regain full command of your ankle and foot as soon as possible! May your sole (and soul) be blessed always!



    • Happy Father’s Day to you, Charlie! Click here to contact SoundEagle SoundEagle would like to inform you that this post has been fully updated to present your latest photos, which you can see on both the first and second pages. May you enjoy your catch and have a lovely seafood dinner with family and friends as they celebrate Father’s Day with you whilst being surrounded by your beautiful orchids and affable curlews!


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  9. Thanks all once again for your kindness. The big wet has started again in F.N.Q. This happens every year sometime between December and March. The wet season brings good and bad tidings to the North. On one hand, the rain causes floods witch can damage crops, and on the other, the crops must have the rain. The swollen rivers flush out debris which has collected in rivers and creeks, and also deepen river mouths witch have silted during the dryer months. North Queensland would not have the thick jungle and rain forests if not for the wet. Tourism would suffer as would the Flora and Fauna, and lets face it, they go hand in hand.
    For the Orchid enthusiasts, it can be a troubling time. Especially if you are growing in shade houses open to the elements. Rot from excess rain, spot, fungus. Insects plague the grower. However the worst being rot. This situation can be mostly over come by potting in a medium of gravel called Quincan. This is a semi porous gravel witch allows the rain to drain through the root system and thus keep them well drained.
    Fisherman in the north also benefit from the wet. Prawns, Shrimp, and a myriad of other bugs and insects are flushed out to sea feeding corals, coruscations, fish, and many other species of marine life.
    Well cheers for now and keep safe.
    Charlie Robino

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Charlie, for commenting here for the second time, and for explaining to our readers about the effects and impacts of the wet season on not just orchids but also the floras and faunas in general, plus tourism and ecology insofar as the wet season promotes the growth and nutrient cycles. All in all, what a dramatic contrast your current input is to your very first comment, which is only a sentence.

      Click here to contact SoundEagle SoundEagle wonders whether you would call the wet period between December and March the monsoon season. Happy February to you and Jane!


    • By the way, Charlie, you would be pleased to know that a substantial part of your current comment is now permanently incorporated into the contents on the first page of this post, where scoria (also called quincan or cinder) is mentioned.


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