The second day in Denmark began a little later in the morning than the day before, but it was no less exciting. We drove a few minutes from The Cove and arrived at the trail head of a short hike called “Monkey Rock”. Before we began the short hike through the trees, we arrived at a boot washing station. Paul told us that certain types of trees were heavily affected by an invasive type of soil dwelling mold called Phytopthora cinnamomi. They cause a condition known as Dieback, which destroys root tissue and prevents the trees from absorbing any water or nutrients. Dieback protection areas are set up in fragile environments like the one we were about to enter, in attempt to keep the mold out and the unique trees healthy.
After washing our boots with a strong disinfectant, we carried on. Paul told us the names of different trees and why they are important to Australia’s ecosystems as we went. Finally, we arrived at the top of Monkey Rock. The view was outstanding. We sat on the rock for a while, still slightly hidden by the tall, thinly branching trees of southern Australia.
We took some photos and decided to continue up even further to the top of Mt. Halowell. My legs were burning by the end of the short hike, but the view was absolutely worth it. The top of the mountain (more of a large hill by Pacific Northwest standards) was shaped by enormous granite boulders. We were blessed by the sunny weather on this day, as the rocks get extremely slick when wet.The rocky southern coast and soft white sandy beaches stretches for miles, hugged on one side by the gorgeous blue southern ocean, towering green trees on the other- as far as the eye could see.
Our decent from the mountain went smoothly and quickly, but we were still hungry for lunch and pretty tired. We arrived back at The Cove and scarfed down some sandwiches, then head out once again. There wasn’t anyone in the van who didn’t fall asleep (with the exception of Paul, who was driving) on the 45 minute drive to the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk.
I awoke when the rumbling of the van (my white noise for the trip) stopped. My group mates and I groggily exited the vehicle and walked to a modern looking facility where we obtained our tickets. I looked around the parking lot in a daze, still trying to shake the last bits of sleep out of my bones. The trees in the temperate southern rainforest grew over a hundred feet tall and the undergrowth was more dense than anything I had seen in this country yet. I heard the foreign sounds of birds I had never before seen, and the babbling of a creek nearby. We walked through a small gate, onto a boardwalk. The boardwalk led us to the bottom of a series of metal bridges that climbed slightly to the top of the trees, connected at each turn by a platform. The bridges only anchor was the platforms at each end.
Imagine four toothpicks set up as the points of a square, and a piece of string wrapped around one, strung to the next, wrapped around, and so on. Thats an accurate comparison to the type of structures these were!
At the base of each stretch of bridge was a sign that read “LOAD LIMIT: 20 people per span, 3 metres apart, 10 people per platform”. Nervous, but excited to see the amazing view above the trees, we began our walk. The bridges swayed with every step we took. At the tallest point, we were 120 ft in the air, looking across the tops of the trees.
It’s views like these that make me feel so lucky to be alive. It’s humbling to be surrounded by such an old, wise forest and surrounded by the wonderful nature of this world. We took our time crossing each bridge in attempt to absorb the view and commit it to memory. At the bottom, a narrow concrete path led us back to the main facility where we had the choice to continue on to the Ancient Forest walkway, or continue to the gift shop.
Excited to see what else the rainforest had in store for us, we continued on. The paths led us along through the trees- the main focus being the Red Tingle trees, whose structure is shaped by Australian bush fires. The trees have a shallow root system and a buttressed base. When the fires sweep through, the center of the tree hollows out, then keeps growing.
The trees have a shallow root system and a buttressed base. When the fires sweep through, the center of the tree hollows out, then keeps growing.
You could touch the burned interior and feel the charcoal under your fingertips, and the trees weren’t dead, but still growing.
After we finished our walked through the ancient forest, we got into the van where Paul was waiting. “Do you guys want to see one more thing?” he asked. Of course we did, so we napped once again while he drove.
We made it back to the coast for a walk to Rainbow Falls beach. No one in the CIEE program had done it before, but it was a gorgeous day so we were up for it. We exited the vehicle and started along the well marked, red dirt and tan sand path. The trail took us around a few hills and through the dense forests next to the coast and spit us out at a tiny dirt parking lot where Paul was waiting. We eagerly hurried down the steps (the feature image at the top of this post) to yet another gorgeous South Australian beach. The waterfall was no more than a small trickle of water down some dark rocks, but it was all breathtaking none the less.
We explored the beach for a little while, then headed off to our last destination in Denmark. Loading up the van once again, we were off.
We arrived at a river located right outside of Denmark. The water was the color of dark coffee- the result of the ‘soap bush’ leaves falling in and being churned up by the rushing water. On top creamy, fluffy foam floated along and was caught on the edges of rocky the banks.
With the last of our adventured in Denmark complete, we went back to The Cove for one more cozy nights sleep and left for Murdoch University in the early morning.