The forest is full of birdsong and insects are buzzing on high. The trees are flushing new growth: so much bright, young, green. It lights up the darkness of the rainforest.
A white-browed scrubwren hops along the forest floor from twig to fallen twig. Close to me, where I stand on the path, holding grubs in his beak. Then he pokes his head into an invisible hole in a tumble of leaf-litter, and there’s the sweet shrill clamour of baby birds. His nest is less than a metre from the main walking path that heads south from the Binna Burra trail head. It looks just like a pile of leaves on the ground, merging with the rest of the forest floor.
How many hiking boots and walking poles stride past this place each day? How many bare ankles, between the fluoro joggers and the ‘active wear’? How many dingos trot along this track at dawn? Sometimes, you can hear them howling in that indistinct time, that dusky light, between day and night. How many feral cats prowl by? Perhaps even a quoll.
I feel hugely blessed by this tiny insight into scrubwren life. I share the secret of their tumble-leaf home. Perhaps not many do.
Spice-bush flowers peep from the sides of the track, scented like nutmeg, with a whiff of gardenia. All around is noise, and movement, and thrusting life. Gleaming black land mullets in sunlit gaps. Cat birds wailing, noisy pittas ringing out their ‘walk-to-work’ calls, riflebirds rasping, wompoo fruit-doves whoo-ing deeply from on high.
I catch a glimpse of Ray walking ahead of me, through the towers of trees, and I pause to scribble a sketch. It’s an ongoing challenge – trying to capture the immense richness of this forest, its bewildering complexity, in an image. A little further along, where the track forks three ways (to Coomera Falls, to the Border Track, to Tullawallal), is a broad bench worn smooth by the derrieres of thousands of walkers. This is where I stop and spend a pleasant hour or so, painting the rest of the picture.
The birds are going about their spring business all around. Some walkers stop for a chat, and tell me how they’ve been coming here for 30 years, and how much they love the place. As the afternoon ripens, the grumbles of thunder grow louder from the west. But finally we make it back to the carpark, before the rain, and in time for tea and scones from the cafe.
A perfect day in a most wonderful place!
And now of course, I need to remind you of the nature journaling workshop I’m running this weekend at Binna Burra. It’s slowly filling up, but there are still some places left. So book your ticket now if you’d like to experience the joys of Binna Burra in the springtime, and try your hand at nature journaling.