Adventure – the forest, the mountains beyond, and possibly a pub lunch? With such an itinerary I was soon bounding out of the house and into the car towards Nightcap National Park, about an hours drive north-west of Byron Bay.
Not long after, we were driving through a large valley flanked by subtropical rainforest, which was interrupted only by glades and the odd farmhouse. It seemed as if a large prehistoric creature might step out from an ancient crevice at any moment. It’s a striking and very old looking place.
After thirty minutes we arrived at the entrance to Protestor Falls. The walk there takes only twenty minutes, although two minutes in you feel as if you’re far into the forest, as the foliage is dense and the sounds of the outside world are suddenly gone. It’s also worth making the trip for the forest smells alone.
Unfortunately my battery ran out before I got to Protestor falls, but here’s a picture to give you a better idea. The walks ends by confronting a towering cliff face, lined with palms, while sunlight shoots down, hitting the falls as it descends before lighting up the stream below. It’s an inspiring place that reminded me why I need to get out more often.
Nightcap National Park, as I found out, is indeed an old place, formed by the erosion of a large shield volcano – the Tweed Volcano. It’s also part of the World Heritage Site Gondwana Rainforest of Australia and houses some extremely rare inhabitants.
Apart from the Koonyum Ranges, the Nightcap National Park is the only place on earth that hosts Peach Myrtle and Nightcap Oak. It’s also home to the extremely rare and threatened Fleay’s Barred Frog, and swimming at the site is discouraged to keep their numbers from disappearing forever.
Returning home we stopped at the Channon Tavern for a fisherman’s basket and a Cooper’s Pale Ale. I sat their reading the local gazette and thinking about what I’d just seen. A beautiful, primeval world inhabited by rare lifeforms, just down the road from my couch and the local pub.