A freelance writer who can't resist good food and exploring new places. Visit my blog at www.travelchook.com
Published July 28th 2013
Magic in the Mountains
A magical place where Antarctic Beeches lie circled in mist, and where the Satin Bowerbird collects all things blue for its pretty nest, is hidden deep within Lamington National Park in an unforgettable area known as the Green Mountains.
Just a two hour drive from Brisbane, this awe-inspiring place is often mistakenly overlooked by both tourists and locals alike for the sun drenched coastal beaches and glitzy clubs of the Surfers Paradise. But some might say the Gold Coast strip is merely a fun pit-stop before reaching the ultimate destination, the stunning Green Mountains that form part of the Gold Coast Hinterland.
The last four miles of the winding road that lead to the Park Entrance are intriguingly dark on the clearest of days, with tantalising rays of sunlight streaking through the thick rainforest canopy to beguile and bewitch even the hardest of hearts.
There is a plethora of full day or half day hikes to choose from, as well as short walks including a memorable and unique Treetop walk. But for a perfect half day hike, Box Forest Circuit takes the gold medal, because every corner you turn offers beauty beyond imagination - and just when you think you've seen the very best that nature can possibly offer, you turn another corner, cross another creek and you find yourself in another forest even more enchanting than the last.
Amongst the splashing waterfalls, velvety mossed rocks and Strangler Figs, you get the feeling that if there is such a thing as a magic forest, then this must be it. Childhood fantasies of fairies and mythical beasts cannot help but be revisited here.
The vivid lushness of the Green Mountains is complimented by a definite spark of wildlife everywhere. On a day hike to Stairway Falls and Blue Pool (which are even more picturesque than they sound), I discovered a tough Lamington Spiny Blue Crayfish tussling with a very determined eel over a bit of food. No-one was letting up. It was a match to rival even the closest Grand Slam final.
On the way back, a perky pretty Eastern Whipbird held us spellbound as she zipped along the rainforest floor curiously watching us, in between musically answering her male counterpart's whip-crack call.
Full of surprises, the Green Mountains rewards us with another special sight: a shiny Satin Bowerbird with some sort of blue-coloured item hanging out of its mouth. I quietly follow it back to its nest which confirms beyond any doubt that these birds are indeed obsessed with blue. If you lose any blue-coloured items whilst hiking, your first port of call should be the Satin Bowerbird's abode.
While the Green Mountains offers plenty of short walks including the Wishing Tree Track, the Tree Top Walk, Python Rock, the Booyong Walk, Botanical Gardens and Orchid Circuit Walk, you can also simply follow the pretty Border track for as long as you wish and then turn back when ready - keep a look out for beautiful birds along the start of this trail.
If you want to truly experience the rainforest at its most spectacular, then it is necessary to do one of the longer walks (7km return minimum). Picnic Rock, Elabana Falls, Stairway Falls, Blue Pool and Box Forest Circuit all offer spectacular scenery and a great hike. Pack a picnic lunch and water because some of these hikes take much longer to walk than one might expect due to the nature of the trails and elevations.
For those who are doing short walks, there are BBQ facilities and a Mountain Cafe to keep you fuelled throughout the day. O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat sits temptingly close for those who don't want to go home just yet.
The Green Mountains is certainly my favourite location in the Gold Coast Hinterland and is very hard to beat for a great day out among natures finest.
Location of Green Mountains: Lamington National Park Road via Canungra.
Note: Elabana Falls is difficult to see unless you risk navigating rocks with a steep drop, but the walk to nearby Picnic Rock is gorgeous and extremely worthwhile with gushes of water flying down the rocks against a back drop of amazon-like rainforest.
Note: At the time of writing, some tracks were temporarily closed due to previous storm damage and will re-open at a future date. Check the QLD government parks site to check which trails are open/closed at the time, before you plan your trip.