Saturday, 20 June 2015

Day 3- Morning. Glow worm Tunnel Trek.

The most awaited part of the trip was our visit to the Glow Worm Tunnel which forms part of the Newnes Plateau Discovery Trail.

We drove on the State Mine Gully Road passing many beautiful quaint little cottages, supposedly of the miners. It was wonderful seeing a fruit laden tree covered with transparent plastic, we suppose the plastic was to protect the fruits from the unpredictable rains. Beautiful gardens with roses in full bloom were a common sight.

The drive on the State Mine Gully Road, almost all of which was on unsealed roads, took us through bush lands and joined the Glow Worm Tunnel Road. Here we observed vast tracks of pine plantation cultivated for the purpose of logging. Also, we felt pain to see large tracts of land with her trees felled appearing barren and desolate without her green cover!

The drive mostly being on unsealed roads seemed long and tiring, and the sight of tree felling wasn’t helping our cause. Having said that, we felt instantaneously refreshed when the road took us through the Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone. Here, we spotted two kangaroos, one that hurried across the road just ahead of our car and the other that darted away into the Native Eucalyptus
Forest clearly expressing displeasure on our arrival. Also, we spotted the Black Parrot! With the animals and the trees as our only companions, our drive seemed exciting again! Not to forget the exquisite rock formations!

Once we passed through the Old Coach Junction, we drove through Tunnel No.1; a small dark tunnel. At one point, we did fear the presence of an oncoming vehicle, especially, the one in a hurry! Post the tunnel, there was a steep dip in the road, one which I wondered if Del was willing to negotiate considering it was an unsealed road. However, Del barely battered an eyelid; he asked me to hold on tight to his camera and in a moment we were passed the bend!

The first tunnel through which we had to drive through
The first tunnel, without the headlights it would have been pitch dark inside

The road turned narrow and was filled with ferns and trees. Our back and neck seemed to be crying for some rest, although our mind was engaged in enjoying the scenic beauty! Finally, at the lonely car park, we stretched ourselves and began with our trek to the Glow Worm Tunnel.

It was a great feeling to be walking on sandy soil as we walked through beautiful ferns and shrubs on either side of the walkway. The roots of the trees popping out of the ground at certain sections made the walk a tad bit uncomfortable. We were very fortunate to have an overcast sky as we negotiated the narrow path. Midway, the walk took us down through a narrow winding section of stairs which led to a cute little bridge which connected to the other cliff. A narrow uphill climb on the well carved stairs and onto a path that had trees fallen across at two sections of the walk was the only discomfort that I had to endure. Finally, we reached an area with a gentle flow of water which led us into the tunnel.
The long walk to the glow-worm tunnel

At the entrance to the tunnel. 
Entrance to the tunnel, hidden by overhanging ferns. 

The floor of the tunnel was slippery and tricky to negotiate. We had our torches and head lamps on, and yet, the tunnel seemed dark and eerie with just the sound of our breath, the feeling of dampness and the sound of trickling water! Although, the tunnel was just 400 metres long, I wasn’t willing to walk beyond 100 metres; I was already at my wits end!

Geared up to enter the tunnel

The dark and desolate tunnel.

The tunnel being curvaceous, the light from the entrance is completely blocked out. Within the tunnel, we found a comfortable spot where we turned out our lights so that our eyes could adjust to the glow of the larvae. These larvae of the fungus gnat possess bioluminescence by which it attracts its prey which gets trapped onto the beaded mucous that is created by the larvae.

As our eyes began to adjust to the dark, we saw dozens of green dots all over. We were overjoyed forgetting all about the eeriness that surrounded us! Del spent forty five minutes trying to click a good photograph of the beaded mucous! Had I not to prod him about getting out of the tunnel, the photography session would have probably lasted until hunger kicked in!

Once out of tunnel, the weather was completely different with the sun shining bright making our walk to the car park ever so exhausting! It was one of those times where we were longing to spot our car beyond the wilderness!
Sunny return trip.

Although the car provided much respite from the direct sunlight, it was baking hot inside! We turned on the air conditioner on full blast and wearily munched on the grapes that we carried along with us.
The drive to the hotel was quicker as compared to our morning drive as there were no bird sightings along the way.
Two thumbs up for and amazing trek.

Del was hoping to spot the Lyre bird while on the trek to the tunnel, but had to return disappointed!

P.S. : Yes, not sighing the Lyre bird, was probably the only sore part of an otherwise wonderful morning. -Delson

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