I am very excited to write my first Australia post! I woke up at 5am on Saturday (darn you jetlag), and decided a hike would be perfect after my 16 hour flight. After scouring the guidebook, I came across some viable options at Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park. This website is very helpful, and describes the 3 hikes available. Official Website – Mt Whitfield Trails
The bus to Mt. Whitfield left at 7am. As I patiently waited until 7:15, I looked at the bus schedule again and realized I was looking at the Mon-Fri schedule. Oops! The bus wasn’t coming for another 45 minutes, so I decided to walk the 2.5 km. The walk was easy enough and I had no problems finding the park.
After a quick glance at the park map I decided to hike the Blue Arrow Circuit. It was the longest option, but I was early enough to beat the heat, and I needed the exercise. So off I went!
There were lots of people out for their morning jog. One thing that took some getting used to was the unfriendliness (not quite the right word), of the locals. Apparently Australians don’t smile and say “good morning.” The only people who said good morning were and a father/son duo who were definitely American, donning their Lakers gear. Oh well, there’s always little differences.
This is the first viewpoint. It was still early and the clouds hadn’t cleared yet. Unfortunately, I never got a view of Cairns, but there were plenty of other views to keep me happy.
The clouds decided to stay for the first part of the hike. There was one more lookout before I headed deeper into the rainforest. A man was having a meditative moment watching the planes land at Cairns airport, so I didn’t stay long. I didn’t want to disturb him.
When I turned into the rainforest I started to see the really good stuff. The first animal I saw was a Kookaburra. It landed on a branch right in front of me. I was so excited, and stopped to watch him for a couple minutes.
When I continued on it began to get darker, and the canopy let in less and less light. The rainforest got denser and I started to hear more critters. I kept hearing things move, but the trees were so thick that it was difficult for me to spot where a sound was coming from, or to snap a picture when I did see something. I saw (what I think was) my first wallaby!
My goal was Mt. Lumley, which is the highest point in Mt. Whitfield. When I got to the top I wasn’t greeted by any impressive views like I was hoping. Just a fenced off building and a covered bench to sit on.
However, what the top lacked in views, it made up for in flowers and bugs. Purple flowers no less, which of course made me very happy. After munching on trail mix and watching the bugs flutter back and forth, I snapped a couple shots.
I headed back down and stopped at another viewpoint before turning back into the forest. The clouds were still being stubborn, but I was optimistic they would clear by the time I finished.
OK, some bird on this trail sounds like a laser beam. “Pew pew!” I kept hearing it, but could never identify what was making the sound. So I just imagined I was in Star Wars, battling a giant bird on some far away planet. “Pew pew!”
Right around here I heard a crazy ruckus. It scared me at first because it was so loud. When I looked up I couldn’t figure out what it was, but slowly realized it was more birds. After some patience I caught a glimpse of a group of cockatoos. How cool! Didn’t get a picture, but I had no idea they were in Cairns.
Birds, birds, birds. So many birds! When I took a picture of this little guy an Australian runner laughed at me. “Don’t worry!” he said. “There are plenty more. They’re all over.” Still, I had tried to snap a picture of this bird earlier but couldn’t get a decent one. Finally I got one.
Success! My last view before finishing my hike was sunny. It was also starting to get hot, so I was glad to be done. I certainly wasn’t used to the humidity, which my soaking wet t-shirt was proof of. Gross.
This hike was just what I needed after being cramped on a plane for so long. While the views at Mt. Whitfield were OK, the wildlife was great! There were many birds, and a decent amount of mammals, lizards, and bugs. I wonder what all I would see if I did this hike again.