As the afternoon light fades, the excitement begins to build as familiar faces, strangers and trusted guides gather in a sheltered meeting area at the White Rock Conservation Estate. This is the staging ground for an event that has been met with much enthusiasm and unlike anything else on offer in the area. This, is the Moonrise Hike at White Rock Conservation Estate – an exclusive guided hiking adventure that happens once a month.
Each month, as our Luna cycle completes its route through the sky, the forest floor illuminates in gentle white and a group of lucky hikers venture out in anticipation. Under the careful supervision of myself and Ranger Jody, we descend into a labyrinth of twists and junctions amidst thickets of wildflowers and towering Queensland Blue Gums – creeping ever further towards our terrestrial theatre, from which the show will begin.
The aim this evening, isn’t simply a wander in the woods. Oh no… Tonight, we have the opportunity to witness the bush in a whole new light. As we walk, bluffs and boulders blend their detail into silhouettes of dusk and eager chatter gives way to the hush of night. Wallabies stir from their grazing to keep watch and twilight marsupials dart to evade the gaze of predators above.
The path ahead is laced with relics of Australia’s wartime past, clusters of stone revealed as the gun pits of the soldiers that once walked these grounds. And further still, a century-old tree stands war weathered and alone – too bullet-riddled to be logged.
But, the true reward has yet to come.
Awaiting atop a ridge, after an ascent through the forest, we emerge into a clearing at the Mountain Ridge Lookout overlooking the surrounding area, with views stretching from Springfield below, to Mount Cootha in the distance and even the runways of RAAF Base Amberley in the North West. The city lights of Brisbane twinkle and a faint drone of traffic dissolves into the whispers of the forest around. Then at long last, emerging above the horizon as the final of rays of sun disappear behind, comes the glimmer of the moonrise that will guide us home. The closing minutes of our stay are spent watching as the full moon crests high into the sky, showering the bush in dappled light.
And so we head back, fixing headlamps and assembling our line.
Our surrounds have transformed into something entirely different and eyes flash all around. Torches catch the silvers of spiders scampering down holes, slamming their tiny doors behind them and the tree tops bustle with hoots and cackles, as great owls hunt and flying foxes forage. After some time, slowly but surely, we return from whence we came. Tired, but content, weary but satisfied, and ready to do it all again next month.
For a side of nature we don’t often get to see, be sure to head out and join us at the next full moon, at White Rock Conservation Estate. Bookings essential, email [email protected] to get on the mailing list and secure your spot.
*This Estate remains sacred to the Traditional Owners of Ipswich. Some of the Cultural Landscapes within this estate include White Rock, the caves and outcrop overhangs. These sacred sites are very important to the Traditional Owners as they provide a link between Country and personal identity and allow the passing on of cultural knowledge. As per Cultural Protocol the Traditional Owners have requested no one climbs White Rock.