Yesterday, Dean and I hopped on the ferry and went across the Clarence River to Iluka. True to what my friend Sue had said, the area is flat and easy-going riding around on a bike. We left when I thought it was still early enough, however didn’t anticipate the ferry ride taking more than 40 minutes and by the time we got there it was already 10:30 am and the heat of the day had well and truly settled in for another scorcher.
Iluka was more than noticeably hotter than Yamba, being situated up river and around the bend from the river mouth, it was immediately evident that it lacked the cooling breezes that we’ve been enjoying for the last week.
We really didn’t know what to expect, or what to do, so we rode our bikes out to Iluka beach. Back on the coast, over the protective sand dunes, the area is wind blasted and the vegetation reminded me of the stunted shrubs that grow on Rottnest Island in Western Australia.
To say it was hot was an understatement and just as I was beginning to think the day was going to be spent seeking shade and applying layers upon layers of sunscreen, we found ourselves at the Iluka Nature Reserve, a World Heritage rainforest and part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
We chained up our bikes and walked the easy going 2.5 kilometres from where we were to the Iluka Bluff Picnic area. Surprisingly, this took 45 minutes but, as we were feeling rather hot, it was so refreshing entering the track and walking beneath the protective canopy overhead and the time it took to get there really didn’t matter.
(Originally) Coming from North Queensland, growing up so close to the wet tropical rainforest wildernesses like the Daintree Rainforest, I failed to make the connection between this area and my own preconceived ideas of what a rainforest is.
I had to remind myself that rainforests have different categories and not all of them are of the wet tropical variety. Once I did this, I found the area to be beautiful in its own way, albeit I thought it was merely dense bushland.
I was fascinated by the Strangler Figs (Ficus watkinsiana according to the sign posted by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service). They were everywhere strangling their host trees into non-existence.
Today, I’m equally as fascinated by one of it’s more common names – the Green-leaved Moreton Bay Fig having lived for the last 21 years nestled in Moreton Bay.
We heard plenty of Eastern Whipbirds calling backwards and forwards to each other, their whip-cracking call so familiar a sound. Try as we may though we weren’t able to actually see one. Dean spotted a few lizards, but they were more afraid of me than I of them, and I didn’t see one of them.
I must say, this is the first time I’ve been on a bushwalk and not seen any wildlife. Beyond the call of the Eastern Whipbird and the occasional scurry of a lizard, the forest itself was very quiet and I guess that had something to do with the time of day.
We entered the pathway at 11:00 am and after spending time exploring the Iluka Bluff, the return journey saw us exit the reserve around 1:00 pm. By then, it was time to head to the local pub for a (very) cold lemon squash and a bite for lunch.
Our days’ adventure saw us doing something far from our thoughts when we boarded the ferry, something we’ll fondly remember – taking a short, unplanned bushwalk through the Iluka Nature Reserve.
I have uploaded more images to the Photography page if you’d like to take a look.