There was talk of blood on my ear. I wiped it but Jason said there was more. I wiped again and, indeed, more came off. I enquired as to exactly where on my ear it was and he said in lots of places so I wiped again and more came off. I figured the leech must have had a wonderful time up there, maybe even singing “Glory, Hallelujah”, who knows?
I already knew about the other streak coming off my forehead, the ones on my stomach and the bits of pie hanging around my lips but I didn’t care though it must have been a less-than-pretty sight to the French waitress who was serving us as she enquired about my upcoming French trip.
I was reminded of the last conversation I’d had with someone I didn’t know about 7 hours ago; then it was the ranger saying, “There’s a lot of water down there, one track has been closed due to a fallen tree. There’s a lot of leeches, as you’d expect, and some of the river crossings may require you to take off your shoes and roll your trousers up. It’s also supposed to rain heavily this afternoon.” He had been right of course; but we weren’t taking that route, no, we were going for just a short walk down and back to just beyond Elabana Falls. A couple of hours and we’d be back for lunch.
We’d started out already when I noticed a piece was missing off the tripod and had to retrieve it from the car; then I left my back pack behind when we came across our first endangered Lamington spiny crayfish and got all excited; so that cost us an extra 15 minutes already. However, it got worse when we reached the bottom of the canyon after two hours and it suddenly dawned on me that we’d come the wrong way.
In fact, we were on the Canungra Creek Trail, over 11 kilometres and listed as a full day and that was the one the ranger had spoken of. Naturally, at this time as I reflected on his words, we noticed our first leeches and it started to rain. We’d only done 5 kms and all the rest was uphill and crossing the creek, so called, though today the water was roaring. It looked so unlike a “creek” and more like a “torrent”.
I figured since we’d gone that far it would be a shame to waste a chance to see all the waterfalls I’d never viewed before so we pushed on alongside what is probably Australia’s finest rainforest walk; well, at least if you get it on a slightly better day than we were having.
Still, the rich tapestry of moss laden fallen giants, colourful fungi, piccabeen palms, brush box and lilies wrapped in a variety of vines and Spanish moss draped on overhanging branches was a magnificent backdrop to the water, bubbling white with the fresh.
Most times we only had eyes for the sodden ground though and after rock hopping across the river three times, where one slip could literally have been fatal, we finally reached one of the “have to take your shoes off” sections. Luckily the water wasn’t cold and it was quickly over but you couldn’t help notice when your shoes came off that your socks were already drenched anyway. I led for much of the way, neglecting to tell Jason that the leader invariably gets less leeches on him, probably because he tends to wake them up and then they’re ready for the next customer. Still, I did give him the Vaseline to rub around the top of his socks; problem was, they went everywhere else.
By the time the third shoe removal section came I simply walked straight ahead and was rewarded with the squelch, squelch, squelch that only comes when everything is truly saturated.
We viewed the impressive Boxlog Falls that the ranger had told us about and that was the last time we stopped for a waterfall.
Fondest memory: By now neither of us cared and photography was getting ever more difficult with the resulting fogging of the lens. We had nothing dry to wipe it on, which could have been one reason I didn’t take a picture of the snake I nearly trod on, and eventually I gave up just before we reached Elabana Falls, my original destination except we were about three hours late now and still had the zig-zag climb out.
For about an hour I strode on up the hill, only stopping once to wait for Jason because he had a plastic bag I needed to put the camera in as the forest canopy was more open now and the rain more heavy. After that I left him; he wasn’t in a really good state as he’d been training hard for a triathlon and hadn’t been catching up on sleep. I figured this walk would do him the world of good inasmuch as he would sleep tonight.
I had to wait for 3-4 minutes for him at the top before we could get in the car together and at least shed our drenched tops and put on spray jackets to stay warm. Then we headed off for one of the pie shops at Canungra, which is where I came in.
First set up in 1915, the park, of 20,950 hectares, is set in two areas on the McPherson Range, Green Mountain (read O'Reilly's) and Binna Burra, which is the closer of the two to Surfers Paradise.
Both are accessed via road going through Nerang.
A third option is also a well known spot called the Natural Arch which is a much smaller area with a relatively short but delightful walk that is eminently suitable for families and children.
The Lamington area has walks equal to some of the best in Australia but, bear in mind, if you're not into hiking, most of them involve up and down hill trekking though on excellent trails.
Fondest memory: All the areas have wonderful examples of rainforest and are popular with walkers. Both Binna Burra and O'Reillys have accommodation and food as well as picnic spots.
One of the most popular opening walks is the Box Forest Circuit that takes roughly 4 hours and measures 10.9 kilometres. It reaches Picnic Rock that sits above the picturesque Elebana Falls after about half an hour and then continues past Brush Box trees that have been carbon dated at over 1,500 years old.
The road up the mountain to O'Reillys is narrow (quite often one lane) and very windy with many "S" Bends.
Be careful to keep your eyes on the road, and drive slowly, with care.
The views are fantastic, and there are quite a few pull offs, so you can stop and take photos. At the start of the mountain climb, you may encounter stock on the road.
Nearer to the top, you go through rainforest, and great stands of tall trees.