In the late Silurian - more than 400 million years ago - there was a mass of land called Gondwana. The immense continent was covered in rainforests, but when the continent drifted in the oceans and fragmented, most of the rainforest did not survive. Today you can walk in the relic Gondwana forest that survived in some areas of Australia, an ancient ecosystem supporting the life of many unique species.
The Lyrebird Trail takes the hikers through beautiful eucalypt forests and heath, through temperate forests and along cliffs of basalt rock. There are little rainforest brooks, waterfalls and historic places.
The narrow walking trails run in the pre-historic Gondwana Rainforest, amongst trees and rocks covered in soft moss.
Lyrebird trail on its own is about 5km loop, then add 2.2km of Eagles Nest trail and 2.6km return of Robinsons Knob trail, making a total of about 10 km.
Walk the trail clockwise, allowing about 7 hours to enjoy the walk, taking notice of all the different vegetation, wildlife spotting and for admiring the views from the lookouts.
Entry points to Lyrebird Trail.
Walking along walls of rock.
There are a few entry points for hiking Lyrebird Trail which connects with Eagles Nest Track. Lyrebird is easily accessible from Thungutti campground, from Tea Tree Falls trail, Banksia Point and Point Lookout.
Starting the hike at Robinsons Knob. There is also an informative board with details about the trails.
The Heath and the Banksia Section.
Robinsons Knob is a large trail and it makes Lyrebird accessible, New England Wilderness Trail, Cascades and Wrights Lookout.
After hiking for a while you are going to walk on a plateau with heath vegetation and banksia shrubs. The flowers of the plants attract birds and insects creating a vital ecosystem.
Banksia are well known for their beautiful flowers and the richness of nectar that feed a great variety of wildlife, especially birds and insects.
There are awe-inspiring views from the plateau with wisps of clouds rising from the rows of mountains.
The heath community is made up of resilient plants that provide shelter and food for many species.
The banksia flowers have the colours of the sun.
Structure with a solar panel and a camera.
The Group Hiking South East Qld and More on the plateau of the Lyrebird Trail.
Just in the heath area, you can see a structure with a camera working on a solar panel. The camera may be useful for research and monitoring the park. For example, it can be used for fire management and climate change observations.
Banksia Point Picnic Area
A structure with a solar panel and a camera.
About one km after the intersection with Tea Tree Falls trail on the west side and Treefern Valley trail on the east side, you come to Banksia Point.
Banksia Point is one of the access points to the Lyrebird trail. It is possible to drive to Banksia Point on Lookout Road.
At Banksia Point there are two accommodations belonging to the national park called The Residence and the Chalet.
is a nice cabin for a great getaway in nature. Positioned on the edge of the escarpment, The Chalet is right on the walking trails and not far from the spectacular views of Point Lookout.
The Residence is a modern cottage able to accommodate ten guests. It is ideal for a group of hikers or families who want to experience directly the connection with nature. The large windows allow us to admire the surrounding rainforest and wildlife.
From Banksia Point after a short walk, Lyrebird Trail connects with Eagles Nest Trail.
Banksia Point in New England National Park.
The Chalet in New England National Park. Photo fromhttps://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/the-chalet
Eagles Nest Trail.
The Residence in New England National Park.
Eagles Nest Trail is a relatively easy walk in the extraordinary Gondwana Rainforest. Not far from the southern intersection with Lyrebird trail is Platypus Lookout and then Point Lookout. Both lookouts offers magnificent views across the rainforest.
In particular from Point Lookout in clear days is possible to see the ocean in the distance. Don't miss a sunrise at Point Lookout, it is a great opportunity to take fantastic photos.
Point Lookout has a great picnic shelter with a cosy fireplace, informative boards with the history of the making of New England National Park. The park was officially opened on the 24 May 1935 by His Excellency Lord Gowrie.
There are also toilets and Point Lookout is accessible by wheelchairs and reachable by car via Point Lookout Road.
Point Lookout is at 1563 m above sea level. From Point Lookout the Eagles Nest trail continues to the north.
The picnic shelter offers a fire place and informative boards about the history of the national park. Point Lookout also has toilet facilities.
Section of the Eagles Nest Trail.
Eagles Nest Lookout and Weeping Rock.
The trail is well maintained and it has safety rails.
Eagles Nest trail continues south to the Eagles Nest Lookout and to the Weeping Rock.
The trail is well marked and there are stairs over sections that otherwise would be slippery and difficult to climb.
The forest has trees and rocks covered in moss. The water trickles down from wall of rocks and it freezes in winter creating icicles gleaming in the sunlight.
Eagles Nest trail connects with the loop of the Lyrebird trail. Once at the intersection with Robinson Knob, return to the campground.
Eagles Nest trail offers the best of the Gondwana Rainforest.
Weeping Rock is a natural marvel along the trail.
Returning by the eastern loop of the Lyrebird Trail.
The Omnipresent mosses and fungi in the forest .
Epacris longiflora, commonly known as Fuchsia Heath, is a shrub of New South Wales. It adds a note of warm colour along the trail.
Mosses are ancient plants with stems and leaves, but they don't have flowers and real roots. Tiny hairlike structures allow them to grow on rocks, bark and soil creating a fairy like landscape.
They are very interesting plants able to get nutrients and water from rain. Mosses are paramount to maintain moisture to allow other organisms to live and thrive.
Long moss is widespread in New England National Park.
Mosses manage to colonize different environments helping to retain water vital for other organisms.
Fungi are vital in the environment since they release enzymes that allow them to digest organic matter. They break down organic matter making nutrients available for plants.
There are many different types of fungi in the forest.
Tiny, beautiful and scary encounters
Life supporting life, lots of little plants develop on the bark of trees, including moss.
Wildlife is certainly a great highlight of the day.
Along the trail we spotted a bunch of larvae of sawfly all huddled together and oozing a yellow fluid. Probably the group of larvae was looking for a protected place where to pupate, generally in bark or in the soil.
Sawflies are insects in the same order of ants, bees and wasps. Their name come from the shape of the ovipositor, which the female uses to drill through the vegetation where she lays her eggs.
A group of sawfly all piled up together on the ground.
Australian native slugs are terrestrial with the triangular shape on the back near the head. The breathing pore - called pneumostome - is located in the triangular area. Slugs feed on algae and fungi.
Orange slug with red triangle on the back near the head.
The marsh snake was right in the middle of the trail and we kept at a safe distance. It is also called swamp snake, it has two distinctive pale yellow stripes on each side of the face.
It is mildly venomous, but all snake bites need to be treated immediately and with proper first aid.
A small marsh snake right in the middle of the trail.
The male of the superb lyrebird was busy digging with its powerful claws to find worms and other delicacies. It was absolutely amazing that the bird allowed us to get close enough to take good photos.
The superb lyrebird is an Australian songbird very good at mimicking sounds, especially other bird calls. The lyrebird is famous for its splendid and elaborate tail which is used for courtship displays.
The quality of the trails.
The stunning lyrebird with its amazing long feathers.
The trails are well maintained and the footpads are clearly visible all along. Especially in wet sections there are wooden boards covered with metallic mesh so they doesn't get slippery when wet or frozen.
The wooden boards are great to protect the environment, to control erosion and to avoid damage to the terrain. They allowed the hikers to walk through without sinking in the mud or ruining the vegetation.
There are signs along the trails, especially at the intersections with other trails, though sometimes it was very confusing. Take a map with you and if you have a tracker make sure to turn it on at the beginning of the hike.
The trail on the heath section is made up of natural rock.
In the most wet areas of the trail there are wooden boards covered with metallic mesh.
A lovely brook on the trail and a nice little bridge to cross it.
There are a few signposts positioned on intersecting trails, but it is a good idea to have a good map or just take a photo of the trails on the signboard.
Leeches and stinging Trees.
Despite the very high rate of humidity in the rainforest I did not encounter many leeches at all. I had only one small leech on my boot when returning to the camping site.
One early afternoon it rained and even then the leeches where nowhere to be seen. Maybe the absence of leeches was due to the low temperature since in late April it was already cold reaching 6 degrees in the night.
Along the trails I could not see any stinging trees. When brushing a stinging tree it delivers a very painful sting. The plant have stinging hairs and produces a neurotoxin similar to the toxins produced by spiders. The pain unfortunately can persist for a while.
I explored the beautiful New England National Park with the group Hiking South East Qld and More at the end of the month of April.
To make the walk longer we hiked together Lyrebird and Eagles Nest trails. We started the hike from Robinson Knob trail which departures from Thungutti campground, that was the base camp of the hiking group. Robinsons Knob trail connects Lyrebird track which heads north into the national park.
We had a map with us taken from the official website of the New England National Park. There were a few signs at the intersections of the trails but we had to check our map a few times to make sure we were heading in the right direction. In particular the maps on the post were very small making it difficult to see the trails and the signs were sometimes confusing.
Hiking in group gives me the opportunity to share the experience with like minded people. It gives me also more energy and motivation.
It was a cloudy day when the group set up for hiking the northern trails in New England National Park. It was a cold morning, but soon we warm up walking uphill.
The mist was everywhere, in the forests, around mountains and the lookout presented a view of clouds which would open up when the winds was strong enough to blow them away.
The encounter with the lyrebird was a fulfilling experience. I have seen lyrebirds before but they were running so fast that I could only catch a glimpse of those magnificent birds.
In the early afternoon the clouds that threatened rain decided to let down their cargo of water and for a little while we hiked in the light rain. We returned to the camping site wet but happy. We light a fire and change the wet clothes. And then we were ready for more adventures.
A touch of colour in the cloudy sky and in the evergreen canopy of the forest.
The plateau of Lyrebird Trail with views over rows and rows of mountains.
The group at Platypus Lookout.
More article by the Author.
New England National Park - What to Do and Where to Stay
Thungutti Campground in New England National Park
Wrights Lookout Walking Trail - New England National Park
Discovering Ebor and its Stunning Surroundings
Cathedral Rock Hiking and Camping
Wonga Trail in Dorrigo National Park