70km (43 miles) W of Gold Coast; 115km (71 miles) S of Brisbane
Subtropical rainforest, 2,000-year-old moss-covered Antarctic beech trees, giant strangler figs, and misty mountain air characterize Lamington's high, narrow ridges and plunging valleys. Its stretches of dense rainforest make it one of the most important subtropical parks in southeast Queensland, and one of the loveliest. The park has 160km (99 miles) of walking trails that track through thick forest, past ferny waterfalls, and along mountain ridges with soaring views across green valleys. The trails vary in difficulty and length, from 1km (.5-mile) strolls to 23km (14-mile) treks.
The park is a haven for bird lovers, who come to see and photograph the rosellas, bowerbirds, rare lyrebirds, and other species that live here. Groups of wallabies, called pademelons, graze outside your room. In summer, you may see giant carpet pythons curled up in a tree or large goannas sunning themselves on rock ledges. You may be stopped near streams by a hissing Lamington spiny crayfish, an aggressive little monster 6 inches long, patterned in royal blue and white. The park comes alive with owls, possums, and sugar-gliders at night.
Most visitors are fascinated by the park's Antarctic beech trees, which begin to appear above the 1,000m (3,280-ft.) line. Like something from a medieval fairy tale, these mossy monarchs of the forest stand 20m (66 ft.) tall and measure up to 8m (26 ft.) in girth. They are survivors of a time when Australia and Antarctica belonged to the supercontinent Gondwana, when it was covered by wet, tropical rainforest. The species survived the last Ice Age, and the trees at Lamington are about 2,000 years old, suckered off root systems about 8,000 years old. The trees are a 2 1/2-hour walk from O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat.
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