Tambourine Rainforest Skywalk – Rose Niland, Sky High Review

Walk 1Nestled in the hinterland behind the Gold Coast in south east Queensland is the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. This is easily accessed from Brisbane after a one hour drive through the outer suburbs and along the well sign posted Highways 92 and 95.

Recently I was able to explore and learn about the beautiful rainforest canopies from the spectacularly constructed elevated walkway. There were over 300 metres of steel structure in addition to the forest floor trails, which allowed me to investigate the site in a very different mode and gain knowledge about the flora and fauna within.

The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is an exciting new eco-adventure that offers nature lovers the opportunity to travel around the rainforest canopies in a safe and secure way. The leisurely walk takes about forty five minutes but I lingered over some magnificent scenery, read the instructive display boards and breathed in the peacefulness of the natural environment.

The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is the result of the vision, foresight, patience and diligence of Ian and Jennifer Moore. This is privately owned designed built and operated. It is an entrepreneurial enterprise that has been designed to respect the natural wonders of the rainforest environment, sharing its pristine surroundings with the public.

957047In 1988 the Moore’s purchased 130 acres of land that included a small house and attractive gardens. They converted the house into a restaurant in 1989, aptly called Songbirds, which immediately gained a huge following.

Our Editor tells me she dined their a number of times over the years, while the Moore’s were bringing their plans to fruition. It was renowned for its culinary excellence.

In 2004 after various projects, subdivisions and sales they began the tedious implementation of their imaginative concept for the Skywalk complex.

The Skywalk enterprise was fraught with difficulties and the realization of their vision was a very slow process.

Rainforest palmsFinally the Skywalk was opened in 2009 and the Moore family were extremely proud of the fact that not one of the forest trees was cut down in the installation of the walkway and the cantilever sections.

The centre building, the canopy bridges and the cantilever were built off-site to minimise disturbance to the rainforest.

There is a very strong commitment to the comprehensive and ongoing re-vegetation plan that continues to enrich the area with applicable local plant species.

Today the Skywalk is still a family owned and run business. It is very successfully managed by Nick and Brendan Moore and the principles of an eco-balanced environment are unwaveringly adhered to.

I began this distinctive experience in the Eco Gallery where there was a comprehensive and informative array of Australian rainforest flora and fauna visual displays. This was a perfect opportunity for me to reacquaint myself with some of the wondrous and unusual Australian animals and the wide-ranging array of rainforest plant life.

Information about the details of rainforest reptiles included the harmless Green tree snakes who hunt for frogs and lizards in the vegetation and the spectacular Water Dragon lizard.

Young Australian Eastern Water Dragon, photo by Steve Vogel, ©Australian Museum

Young Australian Eastern Water Dragon, photo by Steve Vogel, ©Australian Museum

Reaching three quarters of a metre in length with a series of spines across its head and down its spine, the Water Dragon lizard can run on its hind legs like a little dinosaur.

Botanically named Physignathus lesueurii, he honours the French naturalist Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846), who first collected this species on the Nicolas Baudin expedition of 1800.

Carnivorous rainforest marsupials like Quolls which are related to the Tasmanian Tigers and Devils hunt possums, rodents and birds.

Bandicoots related to bilbies are the smallest of the carnivorous marsupials. They dig insects out of the ground.

In addition Koalas, Australia’s iconic marsupial live in the eucalypts trees adjacent to the rainforest and feed on the leaves of grey gums and tallowwoods.

Walk 2 Cedar CreekThe Black-tailed or Swamp Wallabies and two species of miniature kangaroo are herbivores living within the rainforest habitat. The long-nosed Potoroo also lives in this environment and feeds on underground fungi, tubers, insects, seeds, fruit and some green vegetation.

A variety of nocturnal mammals like the Brushtail Possums and Greater Glider are located in the rainforest territory, along with the egg-laying mammals Echidna and Platypus.

There are a diverse variety of ground dwellers including the Bread-palmed Frog and the Rocket Frog.

Onto the spectacular rainforest that once covered Australia entirely. However, after millions of years the rainforest has lost much of its territory to the aggressive eucalypt forest. This process of elimination was also assisted by the drying out of the continent.

The dense rainforest canopy is essential in modifying the environment by reducing sunlight intensity, wind and rain to produce a stable cool shady microclimate. All of these characteristics protect the rainforest from its greatest enemy, fire.

Stepping out of the gallery directly onto the first bridge I felt the thrill and excitement of the vista ahead.

The self-guided rainforest adventure began and I was immediately immersed in the wonders of the vegetation and the exhilaration of being above ground almost nesting in the foliage of the tree tops.

The 1.5 kilometre walk was a combination of ground tracks and stable high-tech steel bridges meandering through the upper canopy.

View from cantilever brigA breath taking highlight was the view across the valley from the forty metre cantilever bridge that rose thirty metres above Cedar Creek and rainforest canopies below.

Vines twist and turnThe winding pathway along the rainforest floor led to the Cedar Creek viewing platform.

From this vantage point crystal clear waters gurgled and gushed touching the boulders with continuous movements.

The one kilometre of tumbling Creek and rock pools is a part of the thirty acres of this unspoiled rainforest sanctuary.

Animal life that dwelt in the Creek included small rainbow fish, freshwater shrimps and crayfish.

Climbers festooned the rainforest growing from seeds then attaching themselves to other vegetation and host trees.

The trees facilitated the vines and lianas ascent to sunlight.

Ferns grew abundantly throughout the walk and included epiphytic ferns, they use trees as a situation to grow on but they are not parasites.

I loved the fern’s ability to catch falling leaves that began the cycle of decomposition thus creating food for the plants.

Palms were scattered throughout the walking track. Three species grew here, the Piccabeen more commonly known as the Bangalow Palm and these Palms are widely found in domestic gardens.

Walk 5 PathThe Walking Stick and the Rattam also grow in these forests.

The most spectacular trees in the rainforest were the Giant Strangler Figs.

Unlike other trees that began their life as seeds in the soil, the Strangler Fig began life in the canopy.

I found this facet of nature remarkable and intriguing.

On this surprising adventure walk and first hand educational experience I found myself reminded of the words from one of my favourite children’s picture books Where The Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker.

“I sit very still.

… and watch.

…and listen.

I wonder how long it takes the trees to grow to the top of the forest!”

Rose Niland, Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015

Tambourine Rainforest Skywalk

333 Geissmann Drive (becomes Tambourine Mt Rd)

North Tambourine, Queensland.

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