I had books of rainforests when I was younger and they fascinated me. I always wanted to walk through one, and whenever I went to some attraction that had a “rainforest” in it, I would walk through the polytunnel imagining I was in the Amazon. Now I can happily say that in the space of 6 weeks I have visited two real ones here in Australia. The first being the Daintree, up in the north of Queensland, and now one of its much younger sisters: the Nightcap national park in The Terania Valley, NSW.
Again I was led through the forest by someone who used to live in the valley and has adored the area for decades. It cost me nothing: I wasn’t on a bus, nor surrounded by tourists, I was just taken on a magical walk through the chilly leafy footpaths, stopping when I wanted to observe the wildlife, take a photo, or even scramble down to the creek to taste the fresh running water.
The vividness of the flora surrounding the walk may never be captured by photos quite the way you see them. The sunlight filters through only in privileged sections and the air is fresh and wet: it’s invigorating. I found myself thinking of shower gels and shampoos I have had that claim to be Rainforest scented, yet I don’t feel it’s an aroma that can ever be captured in a bottle. Nor is it a moment that can ever be captured in a photograph. With all places where nature takes precedence: it’s up to the individual how they see it, how they experience it. And for me, this place had an air of magic and enchantment about it. I wondered if water nymphs might have been skipping along the rocks at the waterfall, or if Unicorns had ever wandered through the leaves. There was certainly something in the air that was captivating.
When we reached the “grand finale”, after steadily making our way upwards, up steps of rocks winding their way slowly to something spectacular, we were rewarded with Protester Falls. Their name is thanks to the group of protesters who bravely stood in the way of bulldozers waiting to do away with this forest, people who recognised, loved and shared its beauty. The waterfalls themselves cascaded from way up above us into a pool of green water, hidden by rocks until you reach the summit. The air was fresher, cleaner and more certain than deeper into the forest, with a breeze that comes from nowhere and makes the waterfall dance.
I feel in my relatively short time in Australia I am getting opportunities to have magical moments and experiences that make everything worthwhile. Mother Nature really did have a good time in Australia and although she also put the world’s deadliest creatures here, she put them in an incredibly beautiful country.