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Bush Walk – Bell Bird Lookout, Binna Burra

Egg Rock and Numimbah Valley

Egg Rock and Numinbah Valley

Binna Burra is part of the 20200 Hectare Lamington National Park established in 1915. The Park has an extensive system of bush walking trails each offering something different.

Bell Bird Lookout is a short easy bush walk from Binna Burra that showcases the geological history of the Lamington landscapes and plant communities.

Conditions

A 2k return, easy grade bush walk. Allow a leisurely 2 hours walking time minimum. Pack a set of binoculars if you have them for the rocks at the Lookout.

Points of Interest

  • Subtropical rainforest with eucalypt/rainforest intergrades following changes in soil types.
  • Excellent views of Egg Rock and the rock faces of Ships Stern, Turtle Rock and the rhyolitic cliffs above the Lower Bell Bird Track; Geological evidence of the area’s violent volcanic past (basalt, rhyolite and air fall tuff).
  • Large eucalypts (Sydney Blue Gums, Tallowwoods and White Mahoganies) strangling figs, stinging trees and tree buttresses.
  • Large woody vines and various smaller–stemmed vines fringing tree trunks (ferns and Pothos).
  • Large epiphytes (Stag and Elk Horns, Crow’s Nest Ferns, orchids), mosses and lichens.
  • Walking Stick Palms and the climbing Wait-a-While Palm.

The Bush Walk

The entrance is on the main road before it ascends to the Parking/camping area at a point opposite the side road to Binna Burra Lodge. This entrance is also the start for the Lower Balanjui Falls and Ships Stern tracks.

The track initially passes through regenerating rainforest reclaiming previously cleared land. Note young Giant Stinging Trees on the left and the deep red colour of the soil. It follows Lower Balanjui Falls track for about 500 metres mostly through subtropical rainforest forest on deep red basaltic soils. Just before it branches off the Falls track, and at the junction itself, basaltic soils are mixed with those derived from the less fertile ryholite and large eucalypts are present.

The beginning of this transition is marked by a large fibrous barked Tallowwood (E. microcorys) on the right followed by a large smooth-barked Sydney Blue Gum (E. salignus) on the left. The Tallowwood is known as “Bigfoot” after its large root base and is estimated to be 500 years old. The timber from this species was used for the slab cabins at Binna Burra Lodge. On the left just past Bigfoot notice the tree buttresses. The branch track to Bell Bird Lookout is on the left and a short distance past Bigfoot.

Two spectacular eucalypt specimens can be seen on the right at the beginning of the Bell Bird Lookout track – Sydney Blue Gum with smooth bark and White Mahogany (E. acmenoides) with fibrous bark.

Just past this junction the track again winds steeply down through subtropical rainforest then descends gradually to the Lookout. Stop every so often and look up and across into the forest along this section of the walk. Keep a lookout for stangler figs with large epiphytes (Stag and Elkhorns, Crow’s Nest Ferns and orchids) in their upper branches, climbing woody vines, smaller stemmed vines (Pothos and ferns) and lichens and moss on fallen logs and rocks.

At the junction of the Horse Trail and the Lookout Track the trail has a sharp right turn. Looking back up the Horse Trail there were a number of large Giant Stinging Trees (Dendrocnide excelsa) with an under storey containing Walking Stick Palms (Linospadix monostycha) and Wait-a While Vines (Calamus muelleri). (Some of the Giant Stinging Trees died during past droughts). The stinging Trees can be identified by their pale almost white, pock-marked bark and by their large dark green leaves often liberally perforated by insect attack.

As the Lookout is approached there is a transition again from rainforest to eucalypt forest following changes in soils – Rainforest on the more fertile basalt soils eucalypt forests are on rhyolite soils. Note the soil colour in this area is grey as opposed to red on basalt. Closer to the Lookout on the right are two large stringy barks, White Mahogany in front of a Tallowood. Notice differences in the bark of these two species.

The large Stringybark at the Lookout leaning out over the cliff is a large Gum-topped Peppermint (E. andrewsi) and further smaller examples occur all around the lookout itself. This species can be distinguished from the White Mahogany and Tallowood by the white, smooth-barked outer branches.

The lookout provides views of Egg Rock, Ship’s Stern, Turtle Rock and the Numinbah valley towards the Hinze Dam. Take a thermos and some morning or afternoon tea, sit a while and enjoy the peace and the broad view over the forest and differing rock formations.

Things of note at the lookout:

Egg Rock and Numimbah Valley

Egg Rock and Numinbah Valley

Looking north is a wonderful view of Egg rock, a volcanic plug that marks what is thought to have been a side vent on the Mt Warning Shield Volcano and the source of the rhyolite and tuffs visible from the lookout. Note the sombre yellow-green of the eucalypt forests which contrasts with the dark green of the rainforest.

Also to the north on the western side of the valley is a cliff face showing the depth of the Rhyolite flow. The cliff face is pale cream with reddish markings typical of exposed rhyolite and in this case has clearly visible vertical lines representing cooling columns in the rock formation. In the valley to the east of this cliff line is Bell Bird Creek, which can be followed as a line of more luxurious vegetation.

Tuff Cliffs of Turtle Rock

Tuff Cliffs of Turtle Rock

To the north-east and east are Turtle Rock and Ships Stern. Turtle rock is almost totally air fall tuff and the tuff can also be seen as the lower convex (outwardly curved) black layer along Ships Stern. Tuff is a fine volcanic dust from explosive (pyroclastic) eruptions and forms a fine pale soft rock that weathers relatively rapidly under the influence of water and wind.

The results of this weathering can be seen on the flanks of Ships Stern as white patches where caves have formed in the tuff through the action of wind and water. The upper layers of Ships Stern are rhyolite supporting open Eucalypt forest and with binoculars the cliffs show vertical cooling columns. Notice a bulge half way along the side of Ships Stern – this is a patch of intrusive rhyolitic rock (Charramboomba Rock) where the molten lava has been forced up through the overlying rocks and may be the site of a second side vent.

To the south, at the lookout itself, on top of the abseiling cliff is an example of banded rhyolite with gas bubbles. The bands are the result of flow patterns in the viscous lava. Care is needed in this area as the cliff line is steep and leaf litter covering the rocks renders them very slippery.

Return by the same track.

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