The Green Behind the Gold

Nicole, Monique and I were looking through lots of information material about tours into the hinterland of the Gold Coast. One flyer especially caught my attention, it sounded really great: MountainTrekAdventures

Reading the description made us all want to go on exactly that tour. A group of max. 8 people in a 4WD through the rainforest? Sounds great!

Nicole suggested to ask the reception at our hostel for the booking, because they had a big sign telling “Come here first – discounts on your bookings”.
Well, they had never heard of that operator before. But they called them nevertheless and asked wether they could offer us a discounts because of our VIP Backpackers membership. It was quite a long call, and the result was not as good as we had hoped: they are willing to give us a discount ($120 instead of $147 per person), but they were booked out a week ahead. But the operator promised to ask another tour guide who had helped out before.

Later that day we were called to the reception again and asked wheter we would like to do the tour the following day – perfect, exactly what we wanted!

So, 8am this morning our tour guide for the day named Glen arrived. He told us to put on enough warm clothes. In the jeep we introduced each other and Glen told us that nobody else was on the tour – only us 3 Germans from the hostel and Glen our guide. Awesome! He asked us what we would like to see and adjusted the route accordingly. So we got a unique day tour with an awesome guide fully suited to our wishes. Aren’t we spoiled?
Glen is originally from Africa, but grew up in Australia, right here behind the Gold Coast. He is an ornithologist and works part time at the university here. He knew everything about the forests, the animals, the grounds, … You cannot find a better guide for this tour. He knows lots of the farmers personally and could take us across private roads that only 4WD jeeps can manage. Great fun! But let me tell the details in the right order.

We headed into Lamington national park up in the mountains, which took us 1 – 1.5 hours. On the way Glen told us not to go near the canals at the Gold Coast because they’re full of dangerous sharks that can live in salt water as well as in fresh water. Good to know!
Our first stop was at a place with where we could see the biggest “bats” in the world: flying foxes. They’re not real bats, because they don’t have radar like bats do. But they’re the same family.

The next stop was at an Alpaca farm where we could pet an Alpaca, see lots of them and buy clothing made from the wool.

The next stop was only few minutes later on, in the heart of the Lamington National Heritage Park, on top of the mountains, about 958m about NN (Glen knew that exact number 😀 ). We had an awesome view into all directions. We could see the skyline of Brisbane 100 km away as well as the upper half of the Q1, the highest tower on the Gold Coast. It was beautiful, it was calm, nobody there but us – and freezing cold! Only 6°. We had a lovely morning tea/coffee with lots of biscuits, crackers and cheese. All food was included in the tour. Did I say in my last post that the breakfast with Katie singing and playing was the best in my life? This morning tea was even better, though very different and hard to compare. Simply awesome!

The next stop was further along the mountains at O’Reilly’s Guest House. A beautiful place in the mountains to stay, preferred by couples who ware looking for some private time. There we entered the rainforest walk, where Glen told us everything about the plant life, the animals (especially the birds), the trees and the figs (ficus). It was great to have such a good guide for ourselves. Inside the rainforest walk there was the Tree Top (Canopy) Walk. The hightest platform was 30 meters above ground in the tree tops. We had a breathtaking view across a huge valley. Amazing!

Back to where we parked, we saw lots of colourful birds, parrots and such. Now Glen gave us 2 options to choose from:

  1. stick to the original tour, go back the way we came, have lunch in a nice spot and go see an unspectacular waterfall
  2. go sideways across private roads with lots of bumpy 4WDing, see lovely valleys, lots of kangaroos and wallabies and have lunch by a nice river

We quickly agreed on the 2nd option.

So we went sideways, past the sign “Road closed”. I must have been about an hour until we arrived down in the valley. The street was in really bad shape, heaps of holes and furrows, but Glen as an experienced driver managed to get us well down the mountains. He stopped everytime we asked him to so we could take photos. We learned so much about the nature out there, I can’t write it all down here.

We had a really good BBQ for lunch at a really lovely river on a camping site. The birds there were eager to get some food, and after lunch we fed them a little. Glen the ornithologist told us to intensely clean our hands afterwards because the birds transfer diseases to the humans that can be very unpleasant.

Then we continued driving through the bush across private property. We saw heaps of kangaroos and wallabies, we stopped counting after around 50 of each. Here and then Glen would greet somebody we passed, and Nicole had to open and close several gates because she sat in the front. We made our way through the bush back onto normal roads and around 5pm we arrived back at our hostel. We thanked Glen for the awesome day and everything he had tought us and said goodbye. He had enjoyed the day as much as we did. It was a perfect day!

A few more notes:

  • Glen has a brother in law in Austria and knew quite a lot of german words. He spoke english all day but used as many german words as he could. Really funny and entertaining!
  • The tour was well worth the money: $120 x 3, for us 3 with our own guide in a 4WD all day, awesome morning tea and BBQ for lunch included, the tour well adjusted to our wishes
  • Unfortunately we did not see Koalas
  • We saw trees that were many centuries old – e.g. the grass trees, that only grow 1 cm per year. Seeing a 3meter one means it’s at least 300 years old. And we saw ones that were up to a millenium old!

I am still flashed from that day, so are Nicole and Monique. That tour was worth every penny. And as Glen told us, it was a unique one. When he has a group of up to 8 people from different places he has to stick to the route as advertised. But because we 3 were friends from the same hostel, a “family” as he described it, he could offer us this awesome day. He was more than enthusiastic and this day together was a gift from heaven to all of us.

Simply beautiful, pure awesomeness. My photos can’t transport what we experienced that day. I’m stunned.


“The Green behind the Gold”

From 2011-06-09 Gold Coast Hinterland. Posted by Philipp Hübner on 6/09/2011 (115 items)

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Category: Australia, Places