Australia Is Home To This Green Wonderland Of A National Park With Tons Of Hiking Trails

Rainforest only covers 0.25% of Australia, but it's home to a large portion of the animals and plants that make the continent so special. While you may think of the Outback and the cities of Australia as places to visit when you go, missing out on the rainforest is a mistake. It's lush and beautiful, and it has a lot to offer. If you're looking for somewhere to start, Tarra-Bulga National Park is the perfect spot. 

This place is jointly administered between the park service and the traditional owners, the Gunaikurnai people, and it came out of the merger between the Tarra and Bulga parks in 1986. The park, which covers 4,977 acres, is named after the mountains (which is what "bulga" means) and Charlie Tarra, an Aboriginal man who guided Polish explorer Count Strzelecki through the area in 1840. 

The Tarra-Bulga National Park is in Sough Gippsland, about a 2.5-hour drive from Melbourne. It features a number of short and medium-length rainforest walks and one multiple-day hike if you're up for something like that. You'll see beautiful birds, animals, and even a couple of waterfalls. Here's what you need to know about the Tarra-Bulga National Park and some walks and hikes to try out, including one over a suspension bridge.

The trails of Tarra-Bulga National Park

Most of the walks here are shorter, but they give you time to observe the flora and fauna. You'll see mountain ash trees, myrtle beeches, fern gullies, and more. You may spot the elusive lyrebird, pilot birds, kookaburras, rosellas, wombats, wallabies, and maybe even koala bears. The first walk to try is to the Corrigan Suspension Bridge, pictured above. You can go from the visitor center on a 1.6-mile loop track. It's pretty easy, so it's perfect for a family walk. The current bridge has been there since 1982, though the first one was built in 1938. 

If you're short on time, it's less than a 1-mile stroll to Tarra Falls, a picturesque waterfall, from a small parking area on Tarra Valley Road. You can also take a short track from the picnic area on Tarra Valley Road to Cyathea Falls through the lush foliage. The Lyrebird Ridge Track takes you through mature mountain ash forests and takes about 45 minutes one way. On the other hand, the Forest Track (which starts at the end of that last track) is a little under 3 miles roundtrip, which can take around 1.5 hours through a thicket of hazel pomaderris. Note that this one is a bit steep in spots.

The 3- to 4-day-long hike is The Grand Strzelecki Track, which is 62 miles and goes between Tarra-Bulga and Morwell National Parks. It takes you through old forests, farms, valleys, and more. Check for trail closures first. 

What to know before you go

The best place to park is at the visitor center, which has bathrooms and picnic tables for your use (but make sure to bring bags to take your trash out with you). Though these are shorter hikes, it's always good practice to let someone know where you will be because the park has minimal cell service. You'll want to dress appropriately, with something for the rain, which can happen often. It's a rainforest, after all. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that leeches are common in the area. Don't panic! Remember, these little guys have been, and still sometimes, used in medicine. Leeches like moist environments and attach to your skin to feed. You can avoid them by keeping your pants tucked into your socks and wearing long sleeves. If they do get on you, they'll drop off after they feed (around 30 minutes), or, if that's too squicky for you, scrape sideways with a fingernail or use salt.

Finally, it's a good idea to check on whether some of these walks and hikes are open, as they do close down every now and then. Check the official site and scroll down for posted closure notifications. Most importantly, ensure to pick walks and hikes that are suitable for your skill level.