Two hours drive south of Sydney is a magnificent stretch of ancient rainforest (protected as part of Budderoo National Park). A four kilometre loop boardwalk and forest trail leads through the towering trees of this rainforest remnant that once coated this highland area. Tangled vines of strangler figs, huge buttress roots, vibrant birdlife dancing among the branches and dense green moss on primeval rocks litter the pathway leading to the veil-like elegant Minnamurra Falls.
Strangler figs are remarkable, germinating in a niche of another tree and spreading its roots in a knotted gnarly tangle down the sides of its host in search of nutrition and upwards in search of light in a battle a share of the sun’s life-giving rays.
Highlight of walking in Minnamurra Rainforest is searching for the Superb Lyrebird. Well camouflaged in the dingy light-deprived forest floor, these greyish-brown ground dwelling birds can be heard scratching and pecking through the leaf litter of the forest undergrowth constantly hunting for little insects flinging leaf matter aside with its powerful claws. Excitingly we didn’t wait long for our first sighting, a lone female scratching and digging for a meal expertly dodging the thicket of branches and sticks near the start of the trail.
Outstanding mimics, the lyrebirds tuneful songs are mixed with convincing copies of many other bird calls along with any human sounds it experiences. Chainsaws, barking dogs, clicking cameras, chatting forest workers, mobile phone rings and car alarms are blended into its wonderful symphonic repertoire (David Attenborough presents a video example here). Throughout the walk, the melodic tunes can be heard echoing through the rainforest canopy.
Further along the path, a male lyrebird (see top photo) walks near the trickling river. The male boasts an aristocratic fan of tail feathers that it presents in a mesmerising courtship dance to attract females. With two striking orange feathers and a bridal veil of delicate feathers, it supposedly appears like a Greek lyre that gave the bird its name (personally, I can’t see it). The lyrebird’s distinct plumage is denoted on the Australian ten cent piece.
Arriving at the end of the trail, Minnamurra Falls throws fine silky streams of water tumbling down a layered cake of rocks. Glittering in the dappled sunshine, rainbows dance in the misty spray as the water carves its way through the rainforest floor.
Not on many visitors’ agendas, escape the bustle of Sydney and enjoy walking the refreshing ancient Minnamurra Rainforest keeping an ear for the telltale haphazard scratching and the choral rhapsody of this superb Australian bird.