Australia could be a worn-down continent, rubbed away to hot brown stubs by many years of tectonic battering, floods, winds, and sun. But here and there are lush green pockets, landscapes of unimaginable age linger on.
We’re talking landscapes that were here long before humans. Before birds evolved. Before dinosaurs came crashing through. In fact, landscapes born before Australia itself declared its independence from the super-continent Gondwanaland.
You don’t need a telescope or geologist’s hammer for your peek into the distant past. you’ll get there within an hour’s drive of cities like Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. Right here on our East Coast are a number of the world’s oldest landscapes, and positively the world’s oldest forests.
The easiest thanks to getting there’s to drive 50 minutes from the Gold Coast to Tamborine park. you would possibly call this Gondwanaland Lite because of all the encompassing cellar doors and fudge shops, plus tourist attractions like Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Skywalk, which gets you among butterflies drifting like confetti within the tree canopy.
But the rainforest remains serious. The zigzagging Witches Falls track will bring you between stranger figs and waterfalls to a powerful view, though at the value of heaving lungs.
South towards the NSW border, glow worms wink from cave ceilings near the Natural Bridge rock formation in Springbrook Park. But the simplest Queensland slice of Gondwanaland is in Lamington park, whose high plateaux bring comfortably cooler hiking through huge stands of strangler figs and mossy beech trees, all under the watchful gaze of king parrots.
Gondwana rainforest once covered most of the super-continent that began splitting up 500 million years ago to become Australia, India, Africa, Antarctica, and South America. Most of the rainforest shriveled because the new continents drifted.
In Australia, surviving patches – like time capsules of the Earth’s early evolution – cling stubbornly to the good Dividing Range, a remnant of that geologically active era. The rainforest shelters living plants and animals almost like those found in fossil records – plus many new species like upstart mammals. a big number are threatened or rare.
Gondwana rainforest is now World Heritage-listed and scattered across some 40 national parks and other protected areas in south-east Queensland and north-east NSW. In Queensland, you’ll also find the Gondwana rainforest in Mt Barney park and therefore the deeply eroded escarpments and valleys of Main Range park, which are both graced with crystal-clear waterholes and giant trees overflow 2000 years old.
Main Range’s chief attraction is Queen Mary Falls, whose mist provides a refreshing spritz against the warmth. However, in cooler weather, remote hikes for knowledgeable bushwalkers, like the four-day Scenic Rim Trail, will really get you back to ancient biological history and deep among the tree ferns, palms and figs. Look out for spotted-tailed quolls, many frog species, and gorgeously patterned Richmond birdwing butterflies.
In NSW, nearly 30 national parks and reserves preserve the Gondwana rainforest. For a simple option, follow Waterfall Way between Coffs Harbour and Armidale and you’ll admire spectacular trees without getting out of the car as you undergo Dorrigo, New England, and three other national parks.
Dorrigo Rainforest Centre has another Skywalk above the cover and a few easy rainforests walkthrough 40-metre red cedars, tallowwoods, and carabine trees. Less well known is that the incredibly rugged Oxley Wild Rivers park, whose Wollomombi Falls lookout allows you to gaze over untouched landscapes.
You can also absorb several Gondwana national parks on the Hastings Forest Way that heads northwest from Wauchope near Port Macquarie. Carabine enter Werrikimbe park provides an honest example of the rainforest’s diversity in both plant and bird species.
In Willi Willi park, the straightforward 30-minute Palm Grove walk between slender blue-gum trees is beautiful, while Botanic Walk showcases Gondwana trees like green palms, cedar and yellow carabine. a number of the trees have spectacular cathedral-sized buttresses.
Barrington Tops park north of Newcastle is as far south as you will find old Gondwanaland. Tackle the 4WD and mountain-biking Barrington Trail to actually get in amongst it and luxuriate in the rugged views.
The eight-kilometre Gloucester Tops walk will have you ever plunging back to geologic time, starting in snow gums and sub-alpine woodland then getting into temperate Antarctic beech forest that shelters ferns, mosses and swamp-loving plants.
These are equivalent forests that the very first indigenous Australians saw, which dinosaurs once munched on. There’s nothing love it anywhere else within the world, right here on our doorstep.