Today I learned to say Mullumbimby with absolute authority while directing Ian up the Pacific Highway and out to Minyon Falls in the Nightcap National Forest. The town’s listed in the Lonely Planet guide as being formerly known for it’s marijuana, the distinction having been usurped by nearby Nimbin. We didn’t see any herb, but saw what looked like a lot of longtime herb smokers in Mullum, as the locals refer to it, as well as groovy shops like Shanty Town and Tutu Lu’s Tatoos that were mixed in with the more traditional Middle Pub on the main street corner as well as farming supply shops like the one in which we bought Ginger’s rainbow gum boots (see pic).
After Mullum, it was a short way through some wet, windy, forested roads to Minyon Falls. The way reminded me very much of upper Northern California or the Oregon Coast with it’s densely green little roadways opening occasionally on sweeping expanses of cow meadows and orchards. These meadows would often catch a stray cloud along one hillside or a swath of sunlight slipping out from behind the patchy grey sky and the light would be true magic. The two main differences between this area and, say Mendocino, was the fact that we were so far removed from urban centers and dense populations and in the biodiversity of the rainforests. At first glance from the car, it all looked very similar and the underbrush consisted, in fact, of the same sort of vivid ferns and thick vines and bushes as the West Coast forests. But the top of the canopy and most of the tree-stands inside the forest were eucalyptus of various types rather than the conifer pines and redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. Also, there was the occasional yellow yeild sign with a hopping kangaroo or a heartbreakingly cute koala silohuette reminding us that we were, in fact, very far from home.
All in all, with opera on the local radio the rise and fall of the road, we seemed to be in some sort of countryside epic set centuries ago. It was all a little too lulling for the little one though and as we were cutting it close to her naptime, we had to resort to singing jingle bells and loudly counting out cows and barns in order to get her to the Falls awake.
Minyon Falls did not disappoint. The wooden planked trail that leads to the top of them through the dripping green bush lets you know that it is 100 meters down from the lookout. Ian had Ginger on his chest in the carrier and I had to fight the urge to let my stomach do the talking and not yell for him to come away from the edge. But the view was breathtaking, standing atop the cliff with all that power hammering way down into a tropical ravine, sun and clouds playing on the valley around us like an aria. Of course the battery on the 35mm camera with the extra heavy battery pack and obscene lens was pathetically lifeless when we got there, so it was decided that the whole trip would be undertaken again with more time before the nap and a fully charged battery.