Following a 10 a.m. press conference at the Hyatt Hotel for the weekend’s Gold Coast Marathon, the entire crew loaded up for the ninety minute drive to Lamington National Park along the border of New South Wales.
Passing inland south from the Gold Coast of Queensland the countryside beyond became a tufted brown patchwork as rolling hills lifted the land with each passing mile. All along the way idly grazing cattle dotted the properties around corrugated-roofed ranch houses outlined by shaded verandas. With little more than a squint one could easily imagine being back in the American Southwest at the turn of the 20th century.
Our destination was O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at the top of the park, a three-generation business which anchored the area’s tourist economy. After a concluding thirty-six kilometer switchback ascent to O’Reilly’s, we arrived high atop the rainforest at an altitude of 7,000 feet.
Overhead the sun hung glazed amongst a formation of cumulus clouds with not a mote of pollution to filter the rays. Yet within the shade of the forest the air reminded us of the season at hand.
We bounded along Indiana Jones-like bridges stretched 50 feet above the brush. Through mesh-encircled ladders we climbed another twenty meters into the treetops, gazing over branches to a lawn of trees stretching to the Richmond Mountain range fifty kilometers to the horizon.
Birds of exploding blues, reds and greens passed close by as winter’s sun began to relinquish its hold, pushed by a rising moon covetous of the cool evening sky. Told of a lovely waterfall by a family of locals, we hustled to the van for the one kilometer drive down the road leading to it before the sun fully set. Once at the trail head American mile record holder Steve Scott and I lit out down the winding path.
The dense tree cover further chilled the light. Our pace met it head on, maintaining an even warmth as we wound down and through the arch of quadruple canopy. Behind came our crew: producer Rich Jayne, along with cameramen Dale Wong, Tom Wall, and Jim ?, equipment in tow, but falling behind the strong pace Steve was setting. Like a shade being drawn, the darkness descended with each passing curve as fewer and fewer swatches of light managed to evade the enveloping cover.
After fifteen minutes we began to make out the slightest whisper of moving water in the distance to our left. Continue reading