Are you brave enough to explore a rainforest at night?
I’m not talking about any old rainforest, but the ancient one surviving in Queensland’s Lamington National Park. As one of the last few remaining extensive areas of subtropical Gondwanan rainforest anywhere in the world, Lamington is revered for its rainforest bushwalking experiences. I’ve hiked many trails inside this 21,176ha World Heritage wilderness, but never at night.
On a chilly Sunday evening in late May I’m waiting at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – a family-owned ecotourism operation on the western side of Lamington Plateau, in the Green Mountains section of the park. The temperature is hovering around 7°C and the crisp air feels even fresher as the last of the sun’s warmth retreats and night falls. I’m about to take my first nocturnal tour on a trail that I know well by daylight. My guide is wildlife photographer Isaac Wishart, who’s about to lead me into the Wishing Tree Track, one of 16 listed nature trails leaving from O’Reilly’s.
Barefoot Wildlife Photographer Isaac Wishart
I discovered Isaac’s captivating images on Instagram and was drawn to his photos of a glowing, vibrant emerald fungus with the scientific name of Mycena chlorophos growing on the rainforest floor, the bulbous eyeball of a white-lipped tree frog and dripping luminescent trails of glow-worms. I reached out to Isaac, curious about how he goes about capturing Lamington NP’s extraordinary nocturnal biodiversity. So on this nippy evening, I’m accompanying him on one of his night-time expeditions to discover a side of Lamington most people never see.
Oh, and did I mention Isaac goes barefoot?
This was the introduction to a feature story I wrote for Australian National Geographic titled Where the Rainforest Glows