Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome 2012 - Bushwalking at Springbrook National Park

 Happy New Year everyone, wishing you a wonderful 2012.
We started the year by heading out to Springbrook National Park for some bushwalking. Springbrook National Park forms part of the World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia with many walks in various environments. We started at Natural Bridge with a looping walk descending through lush rainforest with strangler figs (above), huge hoop pines, Araucaria cunninghamii, and epiphytes in the canopy, down to the creek level cave and waterfall of natural bridge. I'll be heading back here again to take a longer look at the dense rainforest with it's layer upon layer of vegetation.

 Next we headed to 'Best of all Lookout' which sits on the escarpment top on the border between Queensland and New South Wales. With a name like this it seemed a definite choice for our day, but there is more to this short lookout walk. The area is renowned for having a small stand of Antarctic beech, (above)Nothofagus moorei, a remnant Gondwana species from a time when Australia was closer to Antarctica and a wetter climate. A shroud of mist enveloped the road as we neared the walk carpark, we had left home on the coast in brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the high twenties. As we left the car we donned jumpers for the fifteen degrees now outside. It was like entering an enchanted forest on this walk, every surface of plant and rock was encrusted, smothered and dangling in luminous green life, from lichens, moss and vines to fungi, ferns and 'old mans beard'. I loved the feel of the place, quite magical. The lookout has spectacular views, though slightly cloud shrouded on our visit, but definitely worth the visit.
 Our last walk for the day was at Springbrook Plateau on the Twin Falls track which took us along the top of the escarpment and then down to the base of the rock escarpment to walk behind waterfalls, through rock crevices and then up to the escarpment top again. It was a very enjoyable walk with dramatic changes in vegetation between the top and bottom. The higher areas were drier with banksias, grass trees, casuarinas and trees shedding volumes of bark.

 The lower walk was damp with low light entering through a dense canopy. The trail takes you past and behind several waterfalls, keeping the air cool even on a hot summers day.

 Back on the escarpment top we stopped at this spot for lunch with views to the Gold Coast and Pacific Ocean beyond. It was a great start to the year.