Minnamurra Rainforest rises around me like the jungles of prehistory. The birds call to each other in the distance as if they have never heard the harsh sounds of human evolution. Roots trail across the forest floor and dangle from the canopy as armies of ants march in columns along the rising trunks of giants. In this little pocket of forest, just a tiny sliver of what perhaps once stood here, Minnamurra Rainforest remains, timeless.
As a hiker and as a photographer, I’ve always found magic in rainforests. There’s something about the way the light falls through the canopy, golden rays that play on all the forest textures like a spinning mirror in the sun. Underneath the watchful eye of sentinels, we wander in a world that is so clearly not our own. For a moment we remember what it might have been like when the tallest things were these trees, the loudest things were those bird calls, and the brightest that morning sun cresting over this little patch of humid, jungle paradise.
I come to Minnamurra Rainforest again after a long absence. I’ve been here before, in 2013 on a family road trip where we stopped in, my younger brother, mother and me, to a little spot Mum remembered from her childhood. Minnamurra Rainforest. The word sounded like a spell in itself, and as we walked along the twisting boardwalks and over the suspension bridges with the little rocky creeks below, it felt like one too. Back then my photographs were dark and grainy. I had a lot to learn about capturing that forest light.
This time, I visit again with family. My mum again at the wheel as we make our way on a little adventure with my nephew and cousin in tow. I’m on my yearly pilgrimage (or at least it seems like that) to the New South Wales South Coast to visit my Oma and see my mum’s side of the family. For this half of my genetics, walking and talking is built in right alongside a passion for coffee and quality bakeries. I embrace it, and I’m always ready to take a wander. Minnamurra calls us from the seaside town of Gerroa, past the village of Berry and into the mountains that cradle this entire area like a geographic hug. The rainforest emerges almost out of nowhere, a small brown sign on the side of the road, nearly missed if not for our GPS system.
We are on our way.
Sadly, our visit on this occasion has coincided with work being done on the Falls Track so only the Rainforest Loop is available to us. No matter, the rainforest is just as spectacular from this trail and there are still those iconic suspended bridges to wander over. The sunlight is positively streaming through the canopy as we walk, and in the distance we hear the promising sounds of lyrebirds waiting to be spotted. This time my camera is primed to truly capture the forest light, and with a bit more photographic knowledge on my side I harness some of that sunlight into imagery that won’t soon be forgotten. It’s peaceful in the gully that the trail follows, a valley full of river stones smothered in moss and the occasional tree fern seeking out the sun. It’s easy to feel, amidst a setting so ancient, that you’re stepped back in time. The visit is made perfect when those calling lyrebirds reveal themselves as we crest the steep portion of the loop, having spent a tranquil stroll with the gurgling of the forest creek in our ears. As is often the case when hiking in the winter months, we are more or less alone. It’s the perfect setting for resetting the body after a few intense months, and I soak it all in.
If I lived near Minnamurra Rainforest, I feel like I’d walk there every day. My mum says it reminds her of her own favourite rainforest, East Point in Darwin where I’ve spent so many hours myself wandering in the humidity and semi-darkness as the sun sets explosively overhead. I suppose the magic of rainforests then is that you can find your little piece of prehistory in any one of them. All you have to do, is be willing to seek it out and try and capture the light within.
What You Should Know About Minnamurra Rainforest
- There is an entrance fee to the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre, calculated at $12/vehicle or at $4.40 per adult and $2.20 per child. This is a daily fee.
- Minnamurra Rainforest is open from 9am to 5pm, every day of the year except Christmas.
- There are two walks to do at Minnamurra Rainforest: the Rainforest Loop Walk and the Falls Walk. The former is the shorter of the two, and suitable for children, while the later is longer but takes in both Upper and Lower Minnamurra Falls.