We spent a peaceful night in the middle of the rainforest at Tooloom National part and woke up a little later in the morning – surprisingly there was no deafening morning chorus of birdsong. The sun was just touching the top of the canopy so it was still chilly when we set out for a walk before breakfast. The path lead us along a track that divided open forest from the closed canopy of the rainforest, with a spectacular view of the valley below. The rainforest clings to the weather-side of the ridge, milking the clouds as they go past. Looking at both sides of the road and at the dried-out valley below, we realized how efficient a rainforest is: any moisture that gets in, stays in and is endlessly reused between the forest floor and the canopy, only a small proportion evaporates from the canopy. The valley below was brown and gold, with the occasional irrigated field standing out in stark green.
The monsters loaded themselves down with sticks and frightened any marsupial that was not stone deaf into the next county, but it was a nice walk anyway. After breakfast I discovered a different track from the other side of the picnic ground. This one was narrow, hung with vines and led into the rainforest proper. Marjolein cried off, having a crick in her back but boys tagged along. It was a wonderfully twisty walk, under creepers, over tangles of enormous snake-like roots, past tremendous trunks, with the canopy high overhead, filtering out most of the sunlight. The boys crept silently along with me, hunter style but one by one grew uncertain or bored and went back, until I was left alone. It was very impressive, weird bird noises, rustling of small creatures departing, the tremendous mass of interlaced plant-life. It would have been very adventurous, especially given that the path became quite overgrown and hard to discern, had there not been regular neat information boards from the diligent National Parks Service giving interesting and informative facts about the trees. The only problem with them being that they described leaves and berries that were about 40 metres above my head, so it was a sort of “name that trunk” or “barkspotting” contest. The path eventually brought me back to the camp-site, heralded by the raucous cries of the lesser-spotted Noyce child long before I saw the camper-van.
We zoomed off soon after and trundled through some tiny towns and super-wiggly roads before getting on a highway to Tenterfield. We had lunch there, having raided the information centre, where Matthijs charmed the WI-ish ladies (wo)manning it. Apparently Tenterfield can call itself the cradle of the Australian nation, given that Henry Parks gave an address there that lead to the foundation of the federation of Oz. I imagine inflamed colonists storming from the hall, determined to be pretty-independent-really though the Queen can still be on the money and head of the Church: as revolutions go, quiet but successful. From there we sped on to Glen Innes for our overnight and to view an utterly bogus stone circle erected as a monument to the Celtic colonist’s contribution to the establishment of Australia. Apparently some bunch called the Celtic Council of Australia put it out to tender and Glen Innes won. It probably represents a noticeable tourist revenue-stream, hey it pulled us in even…. The camp-site was slightly tatty, but backed by a creek strewn with tremendous granite boulders – the children are looking forward to running and climbing all over it and and shattering their bones tomorrow. Matthijs made a good start during our evening walk by finding a large, dead, pretty gold-brown beetle. Marjolein was engaged in making an artistic macro-photograph of it when it slipped from Matthijs’ palm and rolled towards her. She leapt back with a delightful girlish shriek, wonderfully gratifying for all the male members of the family.