Australia // Hiking in Lamington National Park’s dazzling rainforest
When you say Australia, a lot of people (including ourselves before we got here) think about a huge country consisting of the enormous outback desert surrounded by endless strips of pristine beaches and perfect waves for surfing. But we soon discovered that Down Under has a lot more diversity than we could ever imagine…
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
A couple of weeks ago we ended up in Lamington National Park, a beautiful subtropical rainforest in the South of Queensland. We spent two nights at the incredibly awesome O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat located deep in the rainforest. The O’Reilly family arrived in the area more than a century ago and turned their land into a superb place to stay and explore the Lamington National Park.
To get to the park, we had to drive up the long and winding road starting at the small trading town of Canungra. The mountain views got better and better with every curve, and the cute wallabies that hop around in the area made this a truly exhilarating drive.
But wait! It gets even better! As we made our way to the top, the vegetation changed from “common” grasslands and forest to utterly dazzling rainforest. There, deep in the southern Queensland rainforest, we finally discovered the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
After checking into our rooms, we were immediately welcomed on the balcony by a couple of colorful parakeets in search of some nutty treats.These guys sure don’t feel too embarrassed to beg for food!
Evening hike in Lamington National Park
That evening, we went on a night walking trip through the forest to witness one of nature’s most spectacular sources of light: glow worms. As we were walking in pitch dark through the rainforest the only thing we could hear was the deafening sound of thousands of cicadas chirping to the MAX! These little buggers definitely confirmed their status as the loudest sound producing insect in the world :)
After a couple of minutes the trail ended at a small creek and as soon as we switched off our flashlights, we started spotting little dots of light. As our eyes became more and more adjusted to the darkness, the number of lights started to increase until it looked like one of the best star-filled skies that we had ever seen. Spectacular to say the least! We could only take a mental picture at this place, so you’ll have to go check it out yourself ;)
Morning Bird Walk
The next morning we woke up bright an early to join the Morning Bird Walk with one of the guides. Lamington National Park is home to some of Australia’s most extraordinary birds, and lots of them can be spotted around the O’Reilly’s Retreat.
The awesome Bowerbird
Our all-time favorite has to be the bowerbird. The bowerbird is not the most colorful of birds, although when the light hits his dark feathers at the right angle, they look luminescent blue! The most extraordinary characteristic, is that the male bowerbird builds an impressive bower using twigs and decorates the surrounding area with all kinds of blue objects (feathers, flowers, bottle caps…) in order to attract the females.
Once a female bowerbird considers the bower and blue decorations luxurious enough she takes place inside the bower to enjoy the best part of all: a dance performance by the male bowerbird! We were lucky enough to witness one of the bowerbirds starting his little show, until he got interrupted by one of his rivals. Better than any soap opera :) !
Right after our bird watching adventure we followed the Booyong Walk towards an awesome treetop walk. As we were walking 16m (52ft) above the ground on the wobbly suspension bridges we got an even better view of all the flora and fauna around us. But the best had yet to come – again. Just between two of the suspension bridges a ladder alongside an ancient giant tree took us 30m (100ft) above ground level so we could have a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest around us. Breathtaking!
We couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the rainforest so we had a good look at our map and decided we still had time to take a short hike towards the Moran’s Falls lookout. After walking about an hour through the jungle we reached the lookout and gazed at the awe-inspiring Moran’s Falls dropping dramatically in the Moran’s Gorge 80m below. Waaaaaaaaaaw!!!
Python Rock Track
The next day we hiked the Python Rock track to get another good look at the Moran’s Falls (this time from further away) and the beautiful Moran’s Gorge. Along the way we stumbled upon an enormous strangler fig that had killed its host tree a long time ago, resulting in a giant columnar fig with a hollow central core. Very cool!
Our time in the Lamington National Park was coming to an end, but before we said goodbye we jumped in O’Reilly’s fabulous infinity pool near the over-the-top luxurious villas we were staying at.
We took the long winding road back down to Canungra and headed for a totally different environment: the hustle and bustle of Brisbane (or Brizzie as Aussies like to call it)! Stay tuned!