The 20,500 ha park covers a series of densely-forested valleys and ranges rising to more than 1100m where the McPherson Range marks the Queensland-New South Wales border. Lamington lies on the Scenic Rim, a chain of mountains curving around Brisbane within a radius of approximately 100km.
An extensive walking track system providing easy access to forests, creeks and waterfalls radiates from Green Mountain.
The first European to visit what is now Lamington National Park was Surveyor F. E. Roberts in 1864. He surveyed the interstate border and named many of the high points along this route.
From the late 19th century, Robert Collins, a successful grazier and parliamentarian from the Beaudesert district, advocated reservation of a large section of the McPherson Ranges as national park. In 1911 he was joined in his struggle by an enthusiastic young man named Romeo Lahey. Lamington was finally declared in 1915, just two years after Collins' death.
The O'Reilly family took up selections in 1911, establishing a farming enterprise. Since the 1902s the family has operated a successful guesthouse at Green Mountains.
Early visitors to the little explored national park included a naturalists' expedition in 1918. On this trip, entomologist Henry Tyron suggested the term Green Mountains.
The vegetation of Lamington can be divided into rainforest, open forest and woodland, and heath.
Rainforest, mostly on rich basaltic soil, covers two-thirds of the park. Warm subtropical rainforest grows at altitudes up to 800m, with a high diversity of tree species and features such as buttressed trees, woody vines, strangler figs, staghorns and birds nest ferns. Drier slopes carry a simpler rainforest often dominated by hoop pines.
Above 800m, the forest becomes cool subtropical. This is the most common rainforest type in Lamington. Cool temperate rainforest is established on the highest parts. Here Antarctic beeches form the canopy with ferns, mosses and tree ferns growing beneath them. Open forests and woodlands, mostly growing on poorer soils, range from very tall forests dominated by Sydney blue gums or New England blackbutt to lower, more open woodlands with ironbarks. Low, shrubby and often aromatic heath communities grow on the shallow rhyolitic soils around the cliff tops. In spring, heathlands become a mosaic of colourful flowers.
Green Mountains is renowned for its birdlife. From the picnic and camping areas look for the vivid black and gold regent bower bird or the short, lilting flight of the eastern spinebill. Pied currawongs, satin bower birds, king parrots and crimson rosellas can be seen at the perimeter of the rainforest. The Australian brush-turkey is a regular sight, pecking tidbits around the rainforest edges.
From the walking tracks, shyer birds can be heard and sometimes seen. Feeding high in the rainforest canopy are wompoo pigeons with their distinctive ‘wom-poo' call and catbirds with their startling wail. Often the inquisitive eastern yellow robin will appear, perched on the side of a tree-trunk. Scratching noises on the ground may be busy log-runners looking for food among the leaf litter.
In the early morning and at dusk, red-necked pademelons graze on the edges of the camping and picnic areas. Most rainforest mammals are quite shy and are only active at night. A spotlight walk will possibly reveal a mountain brushtail (bobuck) possum quietly feeding among the branches or a bush rat scurrying into the forest. You might also see bandicoots, glider possums and ringtail possums.
Reptiles and Frogs
During the day, dark shiny skinks called land mullets slither off the track. Occasionally a green tree-snake or a carpet python will be seen. At night leaf-tailed geckoes cling to tree-trunks while frogs will be seen and heard near pools or puddles on the forest floor.
Green Mountains is 115km from Brisbane via Canungra or 70km from the Gold Coast via Nerang and Canungra. The bitumen road is winding and often narrow, and should be driven with great care.
Most rainfall occurs from November to March, but torrential downpours and storms may occur at any time of year. Summer days may be hot - more than 30 deg. C - followed by cool nights. Winter days are often fine but chilly - around 12 deg. C - with evening temperatures dropping to near freezing.
Walking at Green Mountains
Walking is simply the best way to see the park. A walking track guide is available from the Ranger station. Formed tracks pass through mostly subtropical rainforest to reach gorges, waterfalls and lookouts. Close to the picnic area, you can take an interesting tree top walk on a suspension bridge. Two delightful short walks are Python Rock (disabled access) and Moran's Falls. Take a picnic and enjoy the view.
Many destinations in the park are a full day's walk away and require a reasonable level of fitness. Full day walks include West Canungra Creek track, Toolona and Albert River circuits. A couple of hour walking on the Border Track leads to the crest of the McPherson Range and the peaks of Bithongabel, Wanungara and Merino. In this area Antarctic beech trees Nothofagus moorei can be seen.