Australia's Top Tourism Treasures - Lamington National Park

Today, the subtropical and cool temperate rain forests alone harbor more than 170 species of rare and threatened plants and provide habitat for rare birds such as the rufous scrub-bird and Albert's lyrebird, as well as for endangered amphibians like the pouched frog and for mammals near the edge of extinction like the Hastings River mouse. They also host a bewildering array of invertebrate and insect life, including the continent's third-largest butterfly, the magnificent black-and-green Richmond birdwing.

Dedicated in 1915, Lamington covers more than 54,000 acres of the McPherson Range, an eastern spur of the Great Dividing Range. Countless streams have cut into Lamington's volcanic plateau, and their crystal-clear waters cascade down some 500 waterfalls before rushing through boulder-filled gorges to the low country. In addition to rain forests, Lamington encompasses eucalypt forests of tallowwood and blackbutt, bloodwood and scribbly gum, and small tracts of mountain heathland where spring wildflowers bloom in profusion.

All of Lamington's environments can be experienced on approximately 100 miles of marked trails in the northern sector of the park. (The southern sector is a wilderness area visited only by experienced hikers.) Most depart from the historic lodges located at the two park entrances. O'Reilly's Guest House at Green Mountains was built by the five O'Reilly brothers, who arrived here from New South Wales in 1911. Binna Burra Lodge was set up in 1933 by Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey, pioneers of the Queensland national parks movement.

For an introduction to Lamington's subtropical rain forests, follow either of the Rain Forest Circuit Walks at Binna Burra or Green Mountains. In the early morning or at dusk, look for the red-necked pademelon, a medium-sized brown wallaby, sometimes seen bounding across a trail. You might even hear the thump, thump of a pademelon's hind foot as it warns others of your approach. Tame pademelons feed regularly next to the two lodges.

The subtropical rain forest is a place of birdsong. Listen for the repetitive wonk, wonk, wonk of the wonga pigeon and the sharp crack of the male whipbird urgently followed by the female's double-note reply. The loud and melodious song of the Albert's lyrebird often echoes through the forest; you may also hear the wheeooo of the satin bowerbird from some high perch and, around the edges of the plateau, the gentle tinkling of bellbirds drifting up from the valley below. A fluttering of wings high in the canopy normally indicates flocks of topknot pigeons searching for native fruits, while the garrulous chattering is likely to come from crimson rosellas. These and other canopy species usually remain well hidden, but the Tree Top Walk at Green Mountains, with its elevated walkway, gives you a chance to match the sounds to the birds.

Night walks provide intriguing insights into the park's nocturnal community. A view of the evening sky may reveal gray-headed or red flying foxes setting out to forage. Scanning the trees with a flashlight may offer a glimpse of a dainty sugar glider, a small marsupial with winglike flaps of skin on the side of its body that allow it to glide from tree to tree in search of sweet blossoms.

Continued in: Australia's Top Tourism Treasures - Fraser Island

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