Sometimes we like to just set out, ready for an adventure and not knowing where we’ll end up or what we’ll end up doing. Yesterday’s drive was like this, and we ended up at Mebbin National Park which is isolated enough that it receives very few visitors and is thus a good example of a wet rainforest.

Visiting Mebbin National Park, October 2010
The Mebbin National Park offers camping grounds for visitors who want to stay overnight, but after a quick look around, we were happy to keep driving.

Lunch in the truck, October 2010
During this trip, we ate mostly non-cook meals — like here, we're enjoying tinned beans on a tortilla wrap.

Although the signs at the top of the rainforest walk warned us about the fauna we may see (including the thankfully elusive Stephen’s Banded snake), they omitted a more helpful warning about leeches. We descended a rainforest escarpment to Byrrill Creek, passing giant trees, mossy undergrowth and noisy but invisible birds.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
The rainforest walk was wet with lots of huge trees and a mossy understorey.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
Brioni walked with me and soon started discovering her own points of interest for me to photograph.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
Two tiny mushrooms on the rainforest floor.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
More interesting fungi, growing on the mossy base of a tree.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
Overhead, the canopy was home to many ferns.

Leeches at Mebbin National Park, October 2010
At the creek, we discovered leeches in our shoes.

Leeches at Mebbin National Park, October 2010
They are tenacious creatures and kept crawling back up on us. (David completely missed out, so perhaps they prefer the fairer sex.)

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
Two giant trees' roots meet here and somehow become one. I thought it was a beautiful picture of marriage in the natural world.

Exploring Mebbin National Park, October 2010
Aisha found a moss-covered ledge and declared it to be her "chair".

Because we had our dog, we couldn’t camp in the national park, and after all the leeches, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Perhaps if we encounter them again, I’ll be more blasé, but today, my reaction was very poor, setting the girls off too until we were all a shrieking mess. Later, as we drove out of the national park, we stopped at Byrrill Creek again to wash the blood from our feet in the cold stream before exploring the countryside.

Byrill Creek Road, October 2010
On Byrill Creek Road, we stopped at a causeway to wade in the freezing water.

Exploring a cow paddock, October 2010
Somehow we always end up in the cow paddocks, traipsing through the grass on little exploratory treks.

Our lovely meandering drive led us to the hippy town of Nimbin, the self-proclaimed Alternative Capital of Australia. In reality, Nimbin is the cliché of counter-culture which can either be interpreted as an all-natural community where organic is the new black, or it can be viewed as a haven for druggies and society’s drop-outs.

In reality, it’s definitely a combination of the two extremes, which is why I was surprised that it was difficult to order a vegetarian meal in the town. A local explained that Nimbin’s location in the middle of cattle country means that beef is a staple food — however unhealthy it is for the environment or the body!

A surprising benefit of vegetarianism is that we eat foods we’ve never been inclined to try before. When in Nimbin, we finally found a vegetarian meal at an organic shop where the friendly service outstripped the range — in a good way! We ordered rice balls and vegetable lasagne, and they were served up in a kindly fashion although it was past closing time.

While we were walking the streets in Nimbin — looking for a vegetarian meal — let me clarify that!, we were stopped by a bystander who noticed our dog Misty was bleeding on her legs. When we analysed it, we realised that she had somehow gotten leeches on her too, and after they dropped off, the wounds bled freely. The Nimbin locals then recommended leeches to us for their medicinal properties. Although I have now researched it and agree with the theory, I’m not sure I could embrace the practice. Maybe it’s something I’ll grow over time…

Instead of electing to stay in Nimbin for the night, we drove to David’s parents’ house in Grafton where Woodoo now lives alone. The girls were very excited to explore the house and grounds, and we’ll use it as our base for further trips around the area over the next week.