We hadn’t slept much at Perth airport but come the morning we were ready for the next part of our adventure. We boarded our 4 hour flight to Brisbane and were surprised by the complimentary breakfast, drinks and entertainment. We both laughed along to Paddington 2 and the time passed quickly.
Landing in Brisbane we could tell that the East Coast was a little different to the wide open spaces of Western Australia. We were lucky we had Jon to meet us at the airport so we didn’t have to worry about where to go next. We spent the next two days with Jan and Jon, mainly eating good food and drinking good wine. It was great to catch up again after 15 years. It was lovely to stay with them in their very Australian family home and to meet Jack, Jade and the furry family members. Brisbane seems to be a very liveable city with lots of parks and good place to eat. We really enjoyed Eat Street where we shared food from all over the world.
Before we left we had time for a little walk around the city centre before boarding a bus bound for the Gold Coast. Now the Gold Coast is not our scene at all. The beach is beautiful but the high rise apartments overshadow it completely. Maybe the surfers don’t care but the beauty is long gone. We had a much better reason to stop by, a friend we met in Mongolia was there and we had a great catch up over lunch.
At home with all the J’s
The next morning we picked up a hire car and drove inland from the skyscrapers and into the forest. We had found a great deal for a low season stay in Binna Burra lodge complete with a full buffet breakfast. Binna Burra sits on a hill on the edge of Lamington National Park which is full of scenic walks and rainforest. Our accommodation was one of the old foresters cabin rooms but they have been done up since the lodges forestry days. We quickly settled in and had time for a short walk before afternoon tea. The walk was great as within metres of the lodge the forest started and led us to a cliff edge lookout before returning to the restaurant. The sunset over the valley was beautiful as we sipped tea and ate cookies on the terrace (if only all of our backpacking was like this). We also joined in on the cheese and crackers after the sun set and had just enough space left to squeeze in some dinner before the evening activity. We went on a guided spotlight walk around the lodge area in the hope of seeing some of the nocturnal wildlife. All of the grassy areas were full of pademelons which are like a rabbit-sized kangaroo and we also saw a tawny frogmouth (a bird with a wide mouth). We weren’t lucky enough to see any possums or koalas but that probably had something to do with the fact that a six year old girl had taken over the walk and didn’t leave the light in one spot for a second. A little chilly we went back to our cosy cabin and into bed.
The less natural scenery of Gold Coast
Our first full day of walking was fully fuelled by the buffet breakfast which included bacon, porridge, fruit, pastries and cereal. We actually ate a little too much and struggled through the first kilometre feeling a little too full. Once our stomachs caught up, we made our way through the forest and onto the ships stern circuit. This route turned out to be a 20km walk through different forests with some magnificent views. It was interesting how the forest type changed from dry eucalyptus to a jungle like forest and then back again. We came across a few more pademelons and caught glimpses of the birds making all of the weird and wonderful noises.
One of the biggest trees in the forest
The next day we liked the sound of the sustainable cooking talk so we planned our day to be back in time. We managed to fit in a 12km walk around Daves creek circuit and even identify an eastern yellow robin with the help of another walker. We also discovered that the birders were all looking for Lyrebirds which are famous for mimicking many different bird songs. Back at the lodge we spent the afternoon with an Irish singing chef who cooked some vegetable soup and chicken with Baileys sauce. Neither dish was particularly sustainable but at least the songs were entertaining and we got a bowl of yummy soup once it was done. Although the chef was pretty good at singing, he wasn’t so good that we needed to hear all the songs again that evening.
We weren’t really sure what to do with our final day at Binna Burra, but we ended up making the most of our time in the park and setting off on the Coomera circuit. The Coomera circuit winds through the park crossing creek after creek and around almost every corner is a beautiful waterfall. The falls all have tongue twister names like Neerigomandalala waterfall. We both really enjoyed clambering over rocks and trees to get the next waterfall view. The birds were singing around every creek but our lack of Australian bird knowledge meant we were just guessing what they might be. Back at the lodge we had time for tea before we drove back to the busy Gold Coast.
Most visitors are in a hurry to get out of Brisbane and to the beach, but we quite liked the city and would highly recommend Lamington national park for some great hiking and beautiful forests full of birdsong. We liked the laid back feeling at Binna Burra, but we heard that the other side of the park is a lot more touristy and has a few more waterfalls.