What better a topic to open my blogging account with, than a day trip to Springbrook National Park?
I woke up to the 7am JJJ news and promptly hit snooze, because you’re allowed to do that on Sundays. 7:07 arrived far too quickly, but I was soon looking on the bright side when I opened my blinds and saw a cloudless blue sky. Breakfast and some packing and I set off for the drive to Springbrook with my mum (awww). The happy, tripped out tunes of the Flaming Lips set a relaxing tone for the drive up Pine Ridge as we cruised out to the Best of All lookout. It’s certainly a big name to live up to, and the 300m walk to the lookout was surprisingly cold. My meterological ‘skills’ deduced that the cool, overnight valley air from the Northern Rivers area was being funnelled by the fresh southerly straight up to where we were standing. Shivering, I appreciated the 180 degree view.
Crossing my fingers that the day would warm up (it’s Queensland damn it!) I went back to the car. There’s always so much to see in a rainforest, and a fungus caught my eye on a rotting tree trunk. Fungi and bacteria pretty much run the planet, along with photosynthesisers (none of this Illuminati crap), and they don’t get the credit they deserve!
After warming up back in the car we pulled up to the Tallanbana picnic area and headed off onto the Twin Falls circuit. As soon as we got out of the car we surprised an unfortunately Paddymelon, which promptly bolted straight into a fence in a panic. Twice. The poor thing looked a bit dazed as it ran off, but at the same time it was a bit of a laugh. As we made our way down the track and off the plateau, the wind calmed right down and I started feeling much more comfortable. The walk is pretty simple, nothing too tough, but there’s some spectacular sections, where the path passes under rock arches and through a fairly narrow cleft. The first set of falls we came across were fairly minor, but the sunlight through the trees was making a pleasant rainbow at the base. I’d never tried to shoot a waterfall before and wasn’t prepared for the biggest pitfall: the water! I had to compose my shot mentally, meter and focus looking the other way, then spin around and fire off a few frames before the spray of misty drops covered my lens.
Continuing our trek, we arrived at the star feature of the track, the base of the Twin Falls. They’re pretty spectacular, though the bright sun beating down and my lack of tripod and gear to mute the light meant I couldn’t get any of those classic cotton candy waterfall pics – maybe another day. Instead I had to settle for a couple of different angles, again frantically dodging the omnipresent spray!
After taking in the sights for a while we started the walk along the base of the cliff towards Blackfellow Falls. It’s mostly very lush rainforest, with random water cascades both over the cliff face and at its base. I always marvel at the age and diversity of the vegetation – it’s easy to walk past a tree which is 3m around but when I stop and think that it’s been growing there, in the same place, since before my grandparents were born, it spins me out more than a little. We rounded a bend and just about bumped into Blackfellow Falls, the not-quite-as-picturesque main falls on the track.
The harsh light again confounded my attempts at photographic genius so we ran behind the falls and started the climb back up to the top of the plateau. It was surprisingly dark in the dense, lower part of the forest, which made the sound of the wind more noticeable. Big gusts would rip across the valley towards us, and the sound of the canopy thrashing in the distance would build and build until the trees above us started swaying wildly for a few seconds. As we climbed higher, the forest was a bit drier and more sparse, and we were soon walking back the way we’d come, only this time we were on top of the ridge. We went past the top of Blackfellow Falls and I climbed to the edge to try to get a shot of the valley.
As I leaned down to put my camera back in its bag after taking a few snaps, my sunnies fell out of my shirt and tumbled down over the ledge! There’s a few metres of boulders and shrubs before the full vertical section of the falls, and they lodged teasingly in a plant a couple of metres from the top. I sized up my chances of getting them and figured I’d be able to get them safely, to my mum’s abject horror. The rescue operation went off without a hitch, though I think I’ll leave rock climbing to enthusiasts. Sunnies safely back on my head, we made our way back along the edge of the ridge, enjoying the view all the way out to the ocean. There would be some great sunrise/moonrise vantages, but not much caught my eye in the mid morning sun, other than a nicely framed view of a distant waterfall.
So, about two hours after we set out, we jumped back in the car for the return drive. It’d been a really enjoyable walk – surprisingly we only saw one other person until we got back to the easy-access viewing platforms, so we’d been able to have the solitude needed to really appreciate such a place. The Flaming Lips were still spinning in the CD player “…let them know you realise that life goes fast, it’s hard to make the good things last…”, a stirring call to get out there and experience life while we have it!