A Bridge Too Far? Not on your Nelly!
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park, Queensland
This morning started today much as it did yesterday. Last up again... I guess when you have a two-year old in the house, long lies are a bit of a luxury.
Today after breakfast (but before my tea, of course) I was introduced to Flynn's dig-dig. It had been the first thing he wanted to show me yesterday, but it had been missing. Recovered and ready for action this morning, I was led out to the front garden to be shown just how effective it was. And boy, was it ever! Before long, Flynn had a mound of earth piled upon one of the path stones with a nice big hole appearing between it and another. I definitely think that he has a future career mapped out in either construction or demolition. In an effort to stem the tide of the current excavations, which had seen him move from one dug hole to start another as I scrambled to return the earth back from whence it had come, I suggested that he build a house instead, expecting some stones to be piled on the path instead, but a house we were going to get. Stones for the walls, sticks for the roof and earth for the garden, kinda all piled on top of each other. Ok, so another look at the architect's drawings might have been in order, but Flynn seemed happy enough with the result. With Gitama calling for us to be on our way from inside, Jaiya came out to inspect the damage, and took it all in her stride. "That's fine. Just leave it." I suspect it hadn't been the first house Flynn had built...
Today, G wanted to take me to one of her special places, the Natural Bridge in the Springbrook National Park, but that was to be a few hours away yet, the final call in another amazing day of discovery. First port of call was Clarrie Hall Dam. We couldn't believe our luck, on this beautiful day, to have the place to ourselves, but aside from a couple of cars that arrived later on, we did. The sun was out once more with not a cloud in the sky to provide respite from its rising power. It was from here that I caught my first view of Mount Warning. As the day progressed, it wouldn't be my last, and such is the shape of the peak that it changes form dramatically as we skirted it's base on our way out through the Numinbah Valley. Secluded and tranquil as it was, it would have been easy to fall under it's spell but time was pushing on, even this early in the day and we set off to our second destination, Byrrill Creek. While I strode off downstream to try and capture some long exposures back up the creek (something which unfortunately the high contrast of the day did not allow) Gitama had chosen to stay up stream to shoot from the shade. By the time I got back she had also collected the makings of a fine seed pod boat, complete with mast and leaf sail. An experiment from which future adventures with Flynn would arise. Alas, the current sent it crashing down the falls before it had a chance to make much headway and the remaining pods were put in the boot for future use. There was quite a bit of driving between spots today, so it was already lunchtime by the time we reached Chillingham. Of course, we had to stop off for a bite...
The landscape through the valley was amazing. We stopped off briefly at the edge of the Tweed Valley to admire it. Looking across the caldera which formed some 20-30 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity in the area, was a breathtaking sight. All around us were the layers of rolling forested hills, cliffs, peaks and plateau's that form this wonderful landscape. It was time for another first today too. For all the time I have spent on the road, I had never crossed a state border on the ground. As we travelled on towards Springbook, I did just that. My first tentative steps into Queensland.
When we arrived at the Natural Bridge, there were quite a few cars in the car park. It's a relatively short, but great walk down to the bridge itself, through an amazing wood. Among the sights are the hollowed out remnants of a tree, long since succumbed to the parasitic vines that had entwined themselves around it before reducing the host to nothing. To see straight through this giant of a tree and wonder at how it still stands was incredible. Passing over some creeks, it was I think the first time I'd seen one almost dried up. The rain in Victoria had refreshed all their water features and the tidal waters around Yamba and up the east coast meant there was never a lack of water to see there, and even Byrrill Creek earlier was flowing, but we encountered a few waterways here that were very low. When we finally arrived at the bridge itself though, the water was flowing freely. It was such an amazing sight to see. The light falling through the shaft and onto the blue/green tinted water below was sublime.
The bridge itself was formed through the erosion of the creek behind the lip of a waterfall. As a result of this and the action of the falling water onto the softer bedrock beneath, a cave formed creating the vision we see today. The tree trunk that currently resides in the cave is a recent addition, from a storm six months or so ago, according to Gitama. It makes for a beautiful composition with the water streaming down and around it. There could be no doubt as to what the subject of today's blip would be but there was so much experimentation with settings and so many different results from them, it was tricky to choose which one to use. At the end of the day, I settled on a darker, wider angle to allow the darkness of the cave to encroach on the light and frame the image. G has been here when the glow worms have been out too. That must be an amazing sight on its own, but combined with this setting... wow!
Before long it was time to head back to the car and begin the journey home. Once again, we were spoiled rotten with a lovely dinner prepared by Jaiya while we'd been off gallivanting. A very yummy chicken and leek pie... "Wait a mo'!", I hear you say. "Was that chicken and leek pie?" Yes it was, and yes, it was the perfect time to recount my chicken leg pie story from Portland! The last of the crumble filled me to the brim. You just can't beat home cooking. Thanks so much J, it was delish! :-)
It was the end of a massive day. I haven't really discussed distances so far, but the round trip today, a local jaunt remember, was around the equivalent distance between Edinburgh and York, some 320 km. This country is vast and it's not something you truly appreciate until you've been out here. When I finally leave, I will do so having missed out on so many things I wanted to see and do, but knowing that I crammed in as much as I could , while still leaving me time to appreciate what I could. Tomorrow would be an altogether different prospect. A travelling day, with a straight drive of 436 km (roughly Edinburgh to Portsmouth) up to Hervey Bay.