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  • Vicki McKenzie

Springbrook National Park & Natural Bridge.

Just a hop skip and jump from the beaches of the Gold Coast and Brisbane's motorways, Springbrook's cool forests, remarkable formations and cascading streams offer views of hypnotic landscapes and stunning walks amid rainforest, waterfalls, caves and ridges.

The Natural Bridge encases a cascade, tumbling into the cavern below and is the main reason it attracts so many visitors. Where once we could swim below the cool cascade, it is now protected to ensure the future of tiny bats and glow worms. Visit Natural Bridge by day to see a unique cave waterfall sparking in the sunshine, or after dark, you may even get to see the amazing glow-worms. Springbrook National Park covers 6,725 hectares and is divided in four main eco-quadrants; Springbrook Plateau and Mount Cougal to the south east, and Natural Bridge and Numinbah to the west.

An abundance of wildlife, heralded by the chatter of more than 100 bird species and frogs provide music to the ears of a natural rambler such as myself. Reptiles amid the plethora of plant and tree species dating back some 2,000 years are evident from many of the walkways and lookouts.

Ensure that while we enjoy this wonderful area, we protect it for generations to come, look with your eyes, leave no trace and the stunning eucalypt forest will be enjoyed far into the future.

The suspension bridge and well maintained walkways provide a steady climb through forests where water cascading over Purling Brook Falls is tasty and drinkable due to the catchment being protected in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Enjoying the experience is a true privilege.

Springbrook National Park's earliest human inhabitants were Yugambeh, a kinship group of Aboriginal people who carefully managed and used its rich natural resources. Known as 'kaban' (bush or rainforest) to the Yugambeh, the mountains are sacred and spiritual, to be nurtured and respected.

As lore dictates - A long, long time ago' Jabreen was the creator of this land. He sent water to fall on the land and to give it life. It flowed towards the ocean, its energy changing as it went, flowing gently here, cascading there; nurturing the needs of all living things along the way. This place became the homeland of the Yugambeh people.

'Gulli Yugambehnga gaurema'—'this is the Yugambeh story' our ancestors have lived in this region for thousands of years. Scattered across the landscape are stone artefacts, rock shelters, rock art, scarred trees and earthen rings. They lived in a rich environment where water flowed in abundance. Natural resources were plentiful and families were self-sufficient in all seasons.The Yugambeh family groups were identified as the Wangerriburra, Birinburra, Gugingin, Migunberri, Mununjali, Bollongin, Minjungbal and Kombumerri. They shared language, ceremonies, celebrations and economic exchange.This kinship group used both the open forest and rainforest. Evidence of their occupation has been found throughout the park, including stone artefacts, rock shelters, rock art, scarred trees and earthen rings.

'Ngalingah kurrul'—'our houses' were set up close to fresh water and built for the climatic conditions and a transient lifestyle. Leafy structures were built for shade and storage. A cluster of houses was made from bush timber, bark slabs and animal skins for a more permanent camp

'Ngalingah jahla'—'our food' was small game and marine foods. Vegetables, nuts and fruit were gathered from the bush. Cuttings and seeds were planted according to the seasons. 'Dum' (native yam) was a staple food that was replanted regularly. 'Gumburra' (macadamia nut) were grown in this region long before Europeans arrived. The Yugambeh traded them with settlers for tobacco and other goods.Stories demonstrate the Yugambeh's understanding and connection with their country.

'Ningeroongun' and 'Barrajanda'—is an example. 'Gwyala', The formation of the twin peaks of Mount Cougala legend tells of the great Yugambeh hunter of long ago, who had two wonderful hunting dogs—'Ningeroongun' and 'Barrajanda'. They were trained to chase kangaroos close in to the camp for capture. One day, 'Gwyala' and his nephew 'Burrajum' entered the neighbouring Logan territory and the dogs caught a kangaroo rat. The dogs then saw and chased a kangaroo and were trying to run him towards 'Gwyala' and 'Burrajum'. The kangaroo jumped into a lagoon. Two girls, getting water from the lagoon, saw the hunting dogs' shadows and told their people who were camped not far away. All the men came over and succeeded in running the two dogs into a net. The dogs fought so fiercely that they were killed as the men endeavoured to secure them. 'Gwyala' and 'Burrajum' heard the commotion and ran towards the lagoon. When 'Gwyala' saw that 'Ningeroongun' and 'Barrajanda' were dead, he was terribly distressed and wept. 'Don't cry, Uncle,' said 'Burrajum'; 'I will cut a vine.' This is the rain-making ceremony. The people who had killed the dogs were much afraid. After 'Burrajum' had cut the vine, the clouds gathered and the rain commenced. Rain continued to fall heavily day after day; the creeks and rivers rose to torrents, great landslides scarred the mountains and buried all the people of the tribe.When the skies cleared, the mountains had been reduced to little more than hills and ridges. In the meantime 'Gwyala' and 'Burrajum' had taken the remains of 'Ningeroongun' and 'Barrajanda' over the big range to 'Wollumbin' (Mount Warning). There they buried the two dogs, one under each of the two little peaks east of 'Wollumbin'. Ever afterwards the two peaks were known as 'Ningeroongun' and 'Barrajanda'. This story warns those who seek to take away possessions of others.

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