Lamington

I spent the past week in Lamington National Park. We stayed in a bunkhouse in the middle of the rainforest. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far in Australia. It all started getting up at 5:30 in the morning to catch the bus leaving from Uni at 7. We piled into a bus and started a fairly standard drive out of Brisbane. Then we headed up a long and winding mountain road. That was a bit nerve wracking, especially when someone pointed out the “car skeletons” that lay off the side of the road where they had clearly rolled off. We got to the bunkhouse and found out we’d be staying nine to a room. The bunk rooms literally had three sets of triple bunk-beds built into the wall and nothing else. That first day we hiked about 5 kilometers, stopping every so often to get acquainted with the rainforest around us. It was beautiful, but by the end we were a bit tired and cranky. We got to eat in the resort’s restaurant, which was really nice, although it got a little repetitive by the end. We were then asked to line up by star sign, in alphabetical order. I thought it was weird, but it was just a random way to mix us up. We counted off and were divided into 3 teams: Alpha, Delta and Omega. I was on team Alpha and everyone on it was really cool. The next day, Team Alpha was assigned to the “Dusk to Dawn” or “John Hall” hike. We got up at 5 am to listen to bird calls and see the sunrise. (2km hike) We took a break for breakfast, and then it was an all day 12km hike with our professor, John Hall. He is pretty amazing. He makes the littlest things seem huge and important. He’s a fantastic story teller, and it’s really a privilege to learn from him. This hike took us through a huge variety of rainforest environments, up and down and all over the place. It culminated with a show put on by the glowworms. These tiny larvae glow blue at night, turning the hillside into a facsimile of the night sky. They even twinkle. By the end of the first day, we were exhausted and ready to sleep. The next morning we were able to sleep in until 7:30, which felt like heaven. This day was Alpha’s “independent day”. We could choose from 3 hikes. A few members of the team decided to do the two shorter hikes, but most of us decided to hike 17 km. That was probably my favorite day of the experience. It was really nice to be able to set our own pace. We felt like we could be kids, and just enjoy. By the end of it, I was in pain from the hips down, but I was so proud of what we accomplished. The next day was our “waterfall hike” with our tutor Josie. She is a really cool person, and I am a little jealous of the way she lives her life. She is essentially a nomad, traveling where she can find work that interests her. She is really fun to talk to, and I wish I was in a better mood to enjoy our hike. I was still hurting from the day before, and several times wished I had stuck with my original plan of doing the shorter hikes the day before. We first did an assignment, analyzing biodiversity (that was about 2k), then went for a 12k hike to the base of a waterfall and back. That night after dinner we learned “bush dancing”. It’s sort of a mix of Irish and Scottish dancing and American square dancing with some Aboriginal influence thrown in. Learning these dances was hysterical. For the first dance, I was paired with John Hall and I could not stop giggling the entire time. It was so much more fun than I was expecting, everyone was breathless and laughing by the end of the night. We then trooped back up to the bunkhouse and had a small campfire. John told a ghost story about the min-min lights that haunt the outback, it was really spooky and awesome. A few of us dragged our mattresses outside and slept under the stars that night. It was pretty magical. I woke up with the sun, and watched a pair of parrots play for a couple of hours. We then packed up and drove a few hours to a littoral rainforest. Good news: littoral means “by the sea”. We had a little time to play in the ocean and lay on the beach before heading back to Brisbane.

After a good night’s sleep, Sarah and I headed out to the West End Market. We met up with our friend Alex and browsed the market for a little while. It was really cool, all kinds of fresh produce and artisan products. We then walked across the pedestrian bridge into the city. I bought a new camera since mine got broken during Lamington. Then we came back to study for a while, and that’s what I’ve been doing since. It was a great week, and for those of you keeping score at home, I hiked 50 kilometers in five days. Pretty damn good.  

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