Our first night in the Bunya Mountains was my favorite sort of night: rain pouring, wind whipping, me warm and dry in my tent reading a good story by lamplight. It was like sleeping out in a fort again and I loved it.
We woke the next morning to overcast skies and air just chilly enough to need flannels and scarves. What a treasured thing after so many hot summer days back home.
We laughed with delight at the novelty – well, I was delighted, my Kiwi friend Sue pulled on layers and thought “What is this madness??!!” – and set the kettle on to boil.
There are few ways better to start a chilly morning in the mountains than hot, strong coffee and buttered slices of Sue’s homemade raisin almond cake. Sheer bliss I tell ya.
The night before we’d perused a map of the rainforest, tracing various trails to see which ones we’d want to trek. Since neither of us had much experience hiking in rainforests, we decided to go for a short walk before breakfast to check the condition of the trails before making up our minds.
So we sipped the last of our coffees, donned boots and hats, bid good morning to our neighbors, and headed into the woods.
It was gorgeous, lush and green with wide trails that made walking a pleasure. Recent rains made everything damp and cool, but thanks to years of leaves and twigs falling on the trails, they weren’t slippery or treacherous.
It only took minutes before we decided to take the longest 10 km trail. Who could resist walking for hours among such spectacular vines that disappeared into the canopy that towered above us? To put the vines into perspective, each of those strands is as thick or thicker than the average leg. Incredible!
Smaller vines crept along the ground, clambering up trees, dangling down from unseen branches high above like beaded curtains.
I couldn’t get enough of the ferns. So vibrant, shimmering with raindrops, looking so wondrously alive.
We saw massive Bunya Pines – keeping a wary eye skywards for the soccer ball sized pine cones that like to drop without warning – the sinewy tentacles of Strangler Figs, and the luminous glow of the occasional Ghost Gum.
If the rainforest was this beautiful next to our camping spot, we could only imagine how fabulous it would be further in and higher up.
So we headed back to camp to prepare ourselves for the 4-hour hike with a hearty breakfast: soft boiled eggs, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, walnuts and cashews, and a cup of strong tea.
Thoroughly sated we then packed up camp, tucking away dishes and furniture, locking the van, zipping my tent securely closed. We filled the backpack with water bottles and snacks, cameras and first aid supplies, map and whistle, sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and then we were off.
I can’t wait to show you what we saw. xo