Sunday, 6 October 2013

Fireflies - Washpool National Park

Sometimes it is not an adventure you come home from, but a miracle of timing. 

We were sitting in Bellbird Campground in Washpool National Park surrounded by thick, dark rainforest. Small tent clearings had been carved out between the callicoma and coachwood trees. It was getting dark and we sat at the picnic table reading and relaxing after a long, off-track day walk to the headwaters of Washpool Creek. 

Coombadjha Creek - Washpool National Park

What made us look up? The dimming light perhaps. Something out of the corner of the eye. 

On dusk, the forest filled with fireflies: flitting through the trees, drifting  past us, falling amongst the leaf litter. I could catch them in my hand. As it got darker there were more and more. Behind our campsite, where a footpath cut through the dense rainforest, the fireflies were easy to observe. The majority hovered about 1m above the ground and the effect of so many blinking, moving, playful lights was breathtaking. 

After 20 minutes, they were nearly all gone. Within half an hour - the forest was dark again. 

It reminded me that the odds of having an amazing nature experience are helped by being out there as often as possible. That doesn't mean always organising complex and challenging adventures to difficult and remote terrain. A few days car camping can be a rewarding weekend escape when time is limited and planning opportunities minimal. It's better than not being out there at all. You never know what you might see!

It is coming up to firefly season, we saw two this weekend in the rainforest gullies behind Coffs Harbour. So, keep an eye out. To discover the beauty of poetry and fireflies, go here

Search 'fireflies'  on for amazing images from around the world.


  1. Incredible! You nailed it.....The sentiment of this post was spot on in terms of time spent in the wild increasing your chance of moments like these.

    I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by fireflies on the descent into the Grose Valley one evening. I sat speechless for 20 minutes.

    Great post.

    1. Hi Darren, I'm glad to hear you've had a similar encounter with fireflies. I think we are a lucky few. Our firefly experience certainly rates as perhaps my favourite 'wildlife' encounter to date! Such an extraordinary sight.

      And, thanks again for your nice comments. Chrissy.

  2. Great description and photos.

    I was lost in the Gibraltar Range one night. I'd lost the trail ascending Raspberry Spur. I'd been resigned to spending the night under the trees and try to find the trail again in the morning. It is the most alone I have ever felt in my life.

    Then it started to rain, and I so I decided to make an attempt to find the trail, I stumbled around in the direction of Dandahra Falls which I could hear in the distance. By some miracle I found the trail again, I could feel it with my hands, but couldn't see the hand in front of my face. I had to crawl on my hands and knees like a blind man feeling the path ahead. I bumped into trees, I was scratched by vines, my hands were cut by stones. I travelled a least a kilometre or two like this.

    After what must've been hours, up ahead I saw something glowing ahead of me, little dots of light. These were either fireflies or glow worms, and they were located on the earthern bank of the track junction. I turned right and gradually the rainforest canopy opened up and I could see the trail dimly ahead, and stand up on my feet, and walk towards my car parked at Mulligans Hut.

    I reached my car at about 2:00 am in the morning, absolutely exhausted. I then drove back to my home in Grafton.

    The fireflies or glow worms helped guided me home. Your photo reminded of me of the experience, and I remember those bright lights as a turning point in finding my way. And when I saw them I felt wonder and didn't feel so alone. .

    1. Wow. Thanks for sharing that amazing story Paul. Sounds like you had an epic adventure! It probably would have been glow worms you saw and aren't they beautiful! Glad it all ended well for you.

  3. Lovely pictures to go with the description. You're right, it is all about the timing. We did the Heritage Walk this June and picked 4 days of rain. Still it is amazing landscapes both Washpool and Gibraltar Range NPs and we did most of the side-trips too. At least we ended up seeing alot of fog and mist and no stars at night (even with the timing of the New Moon)! Yes, timing. Thanks for sharing the story about fireflies. I'm itching for a return.

    1. Hi Kev, thanks for dropping by and glad you enjoyed the pics. Good to hear you stuck out the walk despite the rain. The Heritage Walk is a great route and it is a beautiful landscape even in the wet!