At mid-afternoon on this warm and sunny July day, the sun had already well and truly set when we arrived at the bottom of the valley where the raging creek has carved out the geological phenomenon known as Natural Bridge.
A dank chill was rising through the gloom from the rushing stream below. Maybe we'd arrived too late to see anything. Or maybe the sun NEVER descended down this far…
Natural Bridge is part of the spectacular Springbrook National Park in Queensland's South East corner.
4 km from the New South Wales Border and an easy drive from the Gold Coast, it's accessible from a 1 km walking trail circuit. The creek flows through a hole in the rock and rushes via an impressive waterfall into a grotto below before continuing its downward path through some of the most lushly magnificent rainforest in Australia.
In the dim light, Australian Brush-turkeys scuttled through the undergrowth like a pack of giant winged rats at the end of a hunger strike.
Although a common bird in almost any given sub-tropical picnic area and car park, my shots of Australian Brush-turkey in the dark depths of the Natural Bridge walking trail all had something missing. Clarity! But that didn't stop their relentless forage for food – the July school holidays meant rich pickings in the car park and picnic areas!!
Natural Arch National Park preserves a small sample of the rainforest native to this area and is part of the 0.3% of Australian rainforest left after colonisation. So wandering through this rare fragment of magnificent rainforest is sobering – and awe-inspiring.
Although its resident glow worms weren't lighting up the darkness of the cave yet, the unearthly glow as the water falling through the hole above the grotto was lit from the last light of day created a splash of colour in the gloom. Its roar drowned out all other background noise for a moment of solitude before continuing the circuit by climbing back up the creek gorge to a vantage point overlooking the top of the arch, now well below us.
Enhanced by mossy logs, rocks, vines and epiphytic ferns, the impenetrable rainforest was quiet and peaceful but for the scratching of the Brush-turkeys – and other awe-struck visitors, of course!
A rare opportunity to experience some of the best rainforest Australia has to offer, as well as the extraordinary beauty of the Natural Bridge itself, the park's Brush-turkeys provide some comic relief - and some great shots for photographers more skilled than I!
As we left the National Park, the otherworldly gloom of this abundant and spectacular rainforest reserve fell behind us as we emerged onto the New South Wales road – aglow with bright, late-afternoon sunlight.
And not a Brush-turkey in sight!!
Travel tip shared by Red Nomad OZ