March 28th, 2006:
It was about time that I tried a bush walk so today's activity was an 8-10KM hike through a sub-tropical rain forest. Based on the recommendation of the tour assistant in the hostel, I went with "Rob's Rainforest Tours" (www.robsrainforest.com) for the bush guide and the rain forest we trekked through was the World Heritage "Lammington National Park".
On this particular day it was a small group: myself, "Michael" (an English bloke with family ties to Cork, Ireland) and Rob himself. The park is located about 120km from Brisbane and it was an easy/quick drive for the tour operator to get there.
It is possible to walk the rainforest trails yourself but I found having the guide there was very useful: every couple of minutes we'd stop and he'd point out details about the plants, birds or insects in that area that I would have missed had he not been there.
Some of the birds in the area, especially near the main camp (O'Reilly's) were relatively tame and Rob had birds eating nuts from his hand. Similarly Wallabies (smaller, stockier than Kangaroo) came close to the camp, but they were still wild and so we did not get too close.
The walk itself revealed Giant Box Brush trees which really were giant: all three of us managed to fit inside one which had been partially hollowed out in a fire.
We also saw Stinger Trees, which have hairs on their leaves which can inject a toxin into your skin and cause intense pain. They have even managed to kill someone: a woman who was not dressed appropriately for a bush walk (think near swimsuit), slipped down a small slope on top of many of these leaves which were on the ground: she suffered a heart attack from receiving too much toxin. We stayed well clear of those trees(!)
Another odd tree was the Strangler Fig, which starts off life as a seed which is dropped by birds high in the canopy of a tree and which grows its roots down the trunk of the tree until it finally reaches ground, possibly hundreds of feet below. The roots continue to grow until they eventually "strangle" and kill the host tree which dies and rots away leaving just the Strangler Fig with a hollow core.
These interesting trees and other strange birds were set in a varied landscape with picturesque waterfalls and steep mountany slopes.
I found the walk to be rewarding and well worth doing. Be sure to bring proper footwear (such as hiking boots) as, for example, we were jumping from rock to slippy rock at some points on the trail. Also, I did not bother with insect repellent as there were few/no insects to be seen but they may be more prevalent at different times in the year.
So, if you're thinking of doing a bush walk I can highly recommend the Lamington National Park and I will use Rob as my guide if I go hiking in a rainforest around Brisbane again.