The Scenic Rim is a naturally beautiful region and it’s these natural attractions that draw thousands of visitors each year.
The Scenic Rim is home to six National Parks. In December 1994 parts of the Main Range, Lamington, Springbrook and Mt Barney National Parks were included in the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves Australian World Heritage Listed Area.
It’s not until you investigate how the Scenic Rim came to be that you realise how significant this dense cluster of mountains is. The Scenic Rim Mountains and the Mt Warning area in northern NSW are known as the Green Cauldron and were once a volcanic hotspot, which over the years has grown into a lush landscape featuring six National Parks.
Scenic Rim geologist, Dr John Jackson, says the Scenic Rim was formed over a three million year period, more than 26 million years ago.
“As the heat intensified, volcanic activity erupted and the mountains formed from magmas and lavas that intruded from the hotspot,” Dr Jackson explains.
Mt Warning and Focal Point Mountains are known volcanoes and John says there were most probably others, but proving it is difficult.
“Australia was travelling north over a hotspot, then it changed direction and slowed down and that is the real reason for the Scenic Rim. The change in direction and the slower speed allowed for the build up of the dense mountain range. To give you an idea of the speeds, when Peak Crossing to the Glass House Mountains was formed we were travelling about 70km/million years. That speed slowed to 26km/million years when the Scenic Rim was created and you get the effect of the mountains that are all stacked up together”.
“By the time we reached Mt Warning, Australia speeds up again and the mountains are more dispersed.”
Natural Flora and Fauna
This early volcanic activity reveals itself in the region’s rich flora and fauna. The temperate climate and rich basalt soils have proven fertile grounds for rainforests to prosper.
“It all comes down to the chemistry of the rocks and the soil which leads to different vegetation and different birds and animals which feed on the different seeds,” says Dr Jackson.
“All of this comes from the rocks, that’s where it all begins.”
The Scenic Rim region is a treasure trove of unique plants, animals and distinctive vegetation types. The mountains preserve living links to Australia’s ancient past, while one of Australia’s two species of lyrebird inhabits the region’s rainforest and wet eucalypt forests. The stories, rituals and traditions of the indigenous inhabitants are woven around the natural environment and highlight their connection to a living landscape.
The varied landscape and natural beauty of the Scenic Rim made an indelible impression on the early settlers such as Logan, Cunningham and Fraser, who all commented on the beauty of the area.
The Scenic Rim has long attracted naturalists, scientists, artists and bushwalkers who are interested in studying and enjoying the area’s rich natural history. The region has had some fierce defenders of its natural heritage, Arthur Groom, Romeo Lahey and Judith Wright among the three most influential. Queensland’s first National Park was declared here in 1908.
As you move through the region you’ll notice a change in the vegetation. In Binna Burra and at O’Reilly’s see high altitude beech forests, including the moss-covered gnarled trunks of the Antarctic Beech. Tamborine Mountain and Binna Burra are home to sub-tropical rainforests. Dense dry vine rainforest scrub, with its tangled vines, can be found in the Mt Barney mountain area and in parts of the Mt Chinghee region. Brigalow softwood scrub is found at Kalbar, while mountain Eucalypt forests are found in the higher rainfall areas of Spicer’s Gap and Tamborine Mountain.
You’ll see heath and orchids such as the Pink Rock Orchid and the King Orchid on the rocky outcrops of Mt French and Mt Greville. Wyaralong and Kooralbyn are home to sandstone ridges forest, while the Logan Valley, Bremer and parts of Wyaralong are dominated by Blue Gum fringing forests.