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Whale tales by Paul Chai

Follow Paul's epic journey as he travels along the NSW coastline this whale migration season.

The enchanting forest

Posted by: Paul Chai | 19 September 2012 | 0 comments
Dorrigo National Park rainforest

Still no whales, so we take a trip inland to Dorrigo rainforest for some stunning scenery and some land-based wildlife spotting.

After a beach run along North Beach from the cottage I spend some time on a wooden viewing platform looking for whales, but once again the seas are cetacean-free, so we decide to go to Dorrigo National Park to see some literal rainforest (rather than the littoral – coastal – variety).

It’s an easy, if slightly windy, 40-minute drive through Bellingen to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre and we arrive just in time for lunch at the friendly, both environmentally and otherwise, Canopy Café, We have a couple of delicious Caesar salads and sandwiches and grab the kids some extra muesli bars as we bravely set off on the Wonga walk – a six-kilometre round trip along the shady paths, mossy stumps and cascading falls of this World Heritage-listed rainforest.

But first we go to the lookout, a platform high above the forest floor, and keep our eyes on the trees after a tip from the ranger at the rainforest centre that they often see snakes lazing away at the top of the canopy to find some sun. No scaly sunbakers, but the view is vertiginously beautiful.

Getting on down

It is a speedy descent as we head down the Lyrebird Link track where things get dark and interesting. The forest has giant stinging trees whose leaves have fine, stinging hairs; huge trunks with curtain-like roots; versatile Bangalow palms – and what we presume is a bird that has the folorn cry of a lost child.

Our toddler is also a little folorn after a while begging for “uppies”, so I shoulder him at about the halfway point where we have to start heading back uphill.

However, the second half of the trip is full of distractions for parental packhorses. In a first for all of us, we spot a shy little pademelon, which also happens to be on our eldest’s Discovery list of forest bush tucker. There are vines intertwined like wooden ropes, ferns clinging to rocks like leafy millipedes, actual millipedes – and then we reach the breath-taking Tristania Falls which is crossed by a metal bridge.

Tumbling down

Soon after, we once again hear the distant thunder of running of water and discover the Crystal Shower Falls. We thought Tristania Falls was gorgeous but this is a bigger cascade and the kids can’t believe it when we find the small side track that leads behind the waterfall into a cavern, the falls hiding you behind a curtain of water. And then it’s a short rock scramble to the base of the falls to be lightly splashed by the mist of water as it hits the ground. A couple nearby has picked this as a picnic spot, we leave them to it and cross the suspension bridge and continue our ascent.

The childlike bird call follows us out of the forest as we make it back to the discovery centre where the kids earn themselves a stretchy toy lizard (our five-year-old walked the whole six kms, the two-year-old, well, didn’t) and we all return to the café for a round of drinks.

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    • NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
    • NSW