It’s the bird du jour around almost any given sub-tropical picnic area and car park, so it should have been easy to get a good shot. However, my shots of Australian Brush-turkey in the dark depths of Natural Bridge*, part of Springbrook National Park’s lushly magnificent rainforest, all had something missing.
We’d driven up the impossibly steep Border Ranges from New South Wales across the Queensland Border, into Springbrook National Park. There, we were under a rainforest canopy so dense the temperature drops several degrees and had been instantly transported into a twilight zone.
All very moody and atmospheric, but for the photographically challenged? Well, check out my turkey shots for yourself …
Although it was mid-afternoon this warm and sunny July day, the sun had already well and truly set at the bottom of the valley.
We’d descended the 1 km circuit trail, and a dank chill was rising from the rushing stream below.
Maybe we’d arrived too late. Or maybe the sun NEVER descended down this far …
In the gloom, the Brush-turkeys scuttled through the undergrowth like a pack of giant winged rats at the end of a hunger strike.
Personally, I blame the school holidays.
The conjunction of both Queensland AND New South Wales school holiday winter breaks had swollen the already high number of tourists. They were all gravitating to Natural Arch, a mere 4 km from the border shared by the two states.
The turkeys were as opportunistic as anything I’ve seen in the birding world. Here they were, busily exploiting social media by willingly posing for countless photo shoots of ‘me feeding wild birds’!
These days, many turkeys have now adapted to all the worst elements of a Standard Australian Diet. Hunting and gathering has taken on a whole new meaning for them!
The Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park preserves a small sample of the rainforest native to this area. It forms part of the 0.3% of Australian rainforest left after ‘civilisation’.
Wandering through this rare fragment of magnificent rainforest can be awe-inspiring. That’s if you’re not dodging errant school holidaymakers, wannabe sporting superheroes defying the warning signs and running amok in the creek and losers getting in my way taking up all of the narrow track to the Arch.
I tried to take rainforest shots of the green mossy logs, streams running over rocks, trailing vines and epiphytic ferns. Rainforest photography can be tricky, given low light, shadows, flitting shapes and the constant passage of other people.
Sometimes I failed, sometimes I lucked out!
Natural Bridge was formed by erosion and weathering by the full force of the creek flowing into the valley. It is actually a hole in the rock where water rushes into a grotto below.
The resident glow worms weren’t lighting up the darkness of the cave yet. However, the unearthly glow from the light above the hole through which the water fell created a splash of colour in the gloom.
The roar also drowned out the background noise for a rare moment of solitude. Then we climbed back up the creek gorge to a vantage point overlooking the top of the arch, now well below us. Back in the car park and in increasing darkness, we extricated our car with some difficulty. The vehicles parked too close, backpackers preparing dinner and the rampaging turkeys on their never-ending quest for food all got in our way.
As we left the park, the otherworldly gloom of this abundant and spectacular rainforest reserve fell behind us. We emerged onto the New South Wales road – aglow with bright, late-afternoon sunlight.