LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
Two days, two photographers, four waterfalls, thirty kilometers, hundreds of leeches and quite a few bruises. That’s how Lee Stoermer and I spent our Australia day break, traveling the Moran Falls trek and a mixture of the Border track and Toolona Creek track in Lamington National Park.
I love driving into Lamington National Park (aside from the crazy drivers on the road coming the other way). It feels like entering another world, and an entry to a movie such as Jurassic Park could easily be filmed in these settings. Half way up the mountain cloud and rain started to roll in which added to the scene.
That afternoon Lee and I set out for Moran Falls to photograph it in the intense cloud that had formed and potentially capture the sun piercing through at sunset. No such luck with the sun, as the cloud broke perhaps half an hour too late. But we were still happy with the haul.
We walked back in darkness using headtorches and turned them off when we came to one of the glow worm’s favorite habitats. The light given off was intense, although not enough to add fill light to the scene which is cut off by ambient light by a thick canopy. Knowing we had to push on to make dinner (kitchen closing at 8:30pm) we got a grab shot or two and headed off. The scene could have been vastly improved through light painting but we were conscious of time and of disturbing the glow worms themselves.
The next morning on the back of a few hours sleep we set off along the Border Track. There isn’t much to see outside of forest scenes, especially at 4am, so we pushed on fast to make the lookouts for the early morning light, but found they were almost completely overgrown! I took a quick shot of the canopy in mist and morning light before escaping the leeches which were raining down.
And a couple more on the track as we headed to Chalahn Falls, our major stop of the day.
Chalahn falls had some trees down which obscured it a little, but it turned out to be a fruitful stop anyhow. And an opportunity to sit down and eat / drink without overhanging branches, and thus leeches dropping down. After about 12km of constant movement, it was quite a relief. The falls have quite a few potential compositions, and in dryer weather it may be relatively safe to move closer to the waterfall. The wet did make rock scrambling a bit more complicated as everything was very slick.
From Chalahn Falls we moved to Elabana falls, passing a lot of minor waterfalls on the way. There is a lot of photographic opportunity for climbers and those with plenty of time, particularly during winter when there are less critters wanting to eat your blood. In some ways the Elabana waterfall was a little too obvious in terms of composition, and although I tried many other ways of photographing it including from the sides, it was obvious that the standard front on approach was the most effective.
From Elabana we continued on to box log falls but we’re hit by a heavy storm just as we arrived. Already soaked through with sweat and rain, our access to the best shooting spots extremely slippery, and having walked about 20km by this point, we called it a day and headed back to O’Reillys.
Overall Lee made a good call using the border track to access the waterfalls the reverse of the usual track. It meant that the uphill sections were a bit more dispersed, and we could rest at waterfalls later in the trip rather than at the start. If you plan on taking the trip remember to bring plenty of water and enough food, a decent map (although the trek is mostly obvious), proper hiking shoes (you’d be amazed at how many people trek without proper footwear), and adequate clothing for sudden changes in conditions.