Well, downhill wasn’t bad, though it was steep in places. It was endlessly fascinating. The vegetation changed frequently and remained dense. We passed massive boulders and strange formations where different types of volcanic rock collided millions of years ago. The trail actually took us through the center of massive, split Kong Gong Rock.
We crossed (carefully) Riflebird Creek and Chiminya Creek. Aside from all the information shared by Glen and Jenny, I got a running commentary of where we were from Ken and Mike, two locals who are regulars at Binna Burra who know the tracks well.
Several quail, log runners, and a little shrike thrush dashed in to divert our attentions. As beautiful as our surroundings were, we mostly looked at the track: vines, rocks, and sometimes very close cliff edges made watching our steps advisable.
Huge red cedars, tallow trees, flooded gums, and brush boxwoods towered over us. Some of these trees are estimated to be 1,200 or more years old. The root systems were fascinatingly diverse: the large, gnarly “paws” of the tallow trees; the braid-like, enveloping roots of the strangler figs; the strange, sea-urchin-like root clusters of the piccabeen palms; and the amazing buttress roots of a variety of trees.
We finally reached Nixon’s Creek, at the bottom of the descent. The valley was crowded with palm trees. Here, we sidetracked to Lower Ballanjui Falls. It has been a dry winter, so the falls were not lush, but were still attractive, with a shimmering veil of water trailing down the sides of the cliff that towered above us.
We stopped for a fruit and water break (you can drink from the streams, so we took the opportunity to fill our water bottles, since this is the only water source we’ll encounter on this hike). Here, we were suddenly accosted by a very cheeky brush turkey, who was certain that anywhere you found humans, you found handouts (he wasn’t wrong). He even started to go into packs, when we stopped feeding him. It was pretty funny.
Then it was time to head up the other side. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who was not able to race up the valley wall. The track was pretty well graded, and was only really steep in a few places, but even a gradual climb of 1,500 feet is still 1,500 feet going up. But it still remained fascinating. We’d exchanged the incredible lushness of the rainforest for dense eucalypt forest. Glen pointed out the wonderful scribbly gums. This species is attacked by a very particular beetle, which burrows under the bark in wildly squiggly patterns, and then, when the bark is shed, you have a smooth, pale trunk covered with rust-colored scribbles.
(I hope you realize that these small pictures are “thumbnails” that, when clicked on, take you to full-size images. I don’t see a lot of clicking reported by WordPress, so I’m wondering if folks are missing all the details. For this image, you probably won’t be able to see the “scribbles” at all without going to the larger image.)