Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane.
Published May 21st 2020
Stunning walk through world heritage rainforest
2020 has been an unusual year with much upheaval, and in keeping with that, Queensland has a forecast for an unusually wet winter. The good news though is that restrictions are easing, and hiking trails in national parks have reopened. The rain over the last week means that this weekend, and likely a fair amount of this winter, will have ideal conditions to see Lamington Spiny Crayfish out and about.
A Lamington Spiny Crayfish at Picnic Rock in Lamington National Park
These unusual, vibrantly blue and white crayfish are endemic to a small area of the Gold Coast Hinterland around Lamington National Park. Although they spend much of their lives hidden in rock pools along the various creeks in rainy weather, hikers are quite likely to come across them on hiking trails.
A cascade at Picnic Rock, one of the many places Lamington Spiny Crayfish like to hang out
Despite their small size, these unusual creatures are surprisingly threatening. They walk along the trails hissing loudly and snapping or waving their claws as a warning to anyone foolish enough to get a finger or toe in their way.
A Lamington Spiny Crayfish displaying and snapping its claws at Picnic Rock in Lamington National Park
A great place to see Lamington Spiny Crayfish is along the 3.3km return trail from O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat to the aptly named Picnic Rock. This delightful spot offers plenty of room for a number of social distancing families to enjoy a picnic, as well as having numerous pools and cascades that are favoured by the crayfish.
A Lamington Spiny Crayfish guarding its space at Picnic Rock in Lamington National Park
As interesting as they are, Lamington Spiny Crayfish are protected and should never be picked up or moved. However, they are fascinating to watch and along with other inhabitants of the ponds provide a great educational opportunity for children about conservation and protected creatures.
Tree frogs are also present around Picnic Rock and love the wet weather as well
The trail to picnic rock is lovely in itself, and ideal for families with children who may struggle with some of the longer hikes. In addition to the Lamington Spiny Cray, the forest is alive with many stunning birds, and wet seasons often provide ideal conditions for many beautiful plants and fungi to thrive in.
Red browed finches are present along the trail to Picnic Rock
To reach this trail drive from Canungra up to the car park at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. There is a ranger station here with friendly volunteer rangers and free maps of the national park trails. Although the accommodation at O'Reilly's has yet to reopen, their tea room is serving take away food, drinks, and ice creams, perfect for enticing younger family members back up the trail.
Vines along the hiking trail near Picnic Rock in Lamington National Park