We drove up to Lamington National Park from Brisbane and as you leave the valley and start climbing the mountain, the road, often single lane and narrow, prepares you for living in the forest for a few days. The trees, the ferns and the bushes grow up and over and envelop you in almost a tunnel of green and if they do not meet at the top, they reach out from the sides to welcome you in.
Once upon a time we know that Australia was part of the land mass of Gondwana. Australia broke away about 55 million years ago and has been moving north ever since. There were seas and volcanoes on its land mass and the volcanoes left mountains rich in nutrients which in turn gave rise to some of the areas on which the rain forests grew. Lamington Rain Forest is one such. In 1915 Lamington was declared a National Park. A few dedicated men had fought for this but it took many years before it was passed. In 1994 Lamington National Park was listed as a part of the World Heritage Central Eastern Rainforests. Today it stretches over a vast expanse of some 20,000 hectares, is surprisingly close to the ocean, and is literally a skip and a hop away from our doorstep.
We spent the Easter weekend at Oreilly's Rainforest Retreat and had a wonderful time exploring the tracks and the forest, the waterfalls, creeks and rock pools. Saying that we were awe struck by what we saw does not even begin to convey the majesty of the trees, the richness of the canopy, their height and the variety of species found there. There are maps and discovery centres to help you find the walks that suit you or your family, always well marked and for the most part very walkable with the most spectacular views of the border with New South Wales or the Gold Coast and the valleys below.
One of the many beautiful symbiotic plants
All those years ago a man called Francis Edward Roberts had been asked to survey the border between New South Wales and Queensland and he worked on this between the years of 1863 and 1866.He was helped in this by Aboriginals who had lived these areas and knew them well. Most of the place names are Aboriginal. In some areas the vegetation was so thick that they could barely see daylight. We walked along this Border Track, a distance of some 22kms but extended somewhat as we dipped in and out of the beautiful Coomera falls and meanderings across the river bed which saw us crossing water courses maybe eight or so times along our path.We came across breathtaking look outs and old forests of Atlantic Beeches which look strangely prehistoric and mixed with one of the world's oldest conifers the hoop pine, araucaria cunninghamii, and strangler vines, hosting everything from crows nests to orchids, to stag horn ferns, they engaged our fantasy as well as our thirst to find out more about what birds might nest there and what strange creatures call them home.
The tree fern and behind it one of the Atlantic Beech trees.