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Why winter is the perfect time to explore our rainforests

The splendour of autumn has faded, and the deciduous trees lining our streets are standing bare and unanimated. Living in a temperate climate, we’re now in the middle of the cold, wet and windy season. It’s time to bring out those warm blankets, hot chocolates and comfy food. Or, just head out to the rainforest!

A rainforest, with lots of medium-sized and ground cover vegetation.
Explore a rainforest in winter

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it is a beautiful time of the year to experience our rainforests. It’s a bit like the case for starting or maintaining your walking routine in winter — nature has a lot to show off if you pay a bit of attention.

Forests are multi-sensory experiences. So remember to tune into all your senses when you enter the rainforest.

As you carefully place one foot in front of the other on soft and at times sticky soil, you’ll also be forced to slow down. This will leave you with ample time and space to take in the wonders of the luscious green world around you, while also giving you a sense of being grounded.

Sun shines through mountain ash tree canopy. Lots of tall trees with smaller shrubs in the foreground.
Evergreen trees in Australian forests create an uplifting environment

Do take notice of how green the forest environment is. While the exotic deciduous trees in our front yards certainly put on a spectacular show during autumn, the hibernating trees can create a gloomy atmosphere in winter. Fortunately, most native trees in Australia are evergreens. This means our forests are actually quite an uplifting place to be in during the colder months.

It’s also that magical time of the year when sunlight gently penetrates through fog and mist, hypnotizingly drawing the attention of your curious eyes. It’s hard not to be mesmerised by the towering trees at any time of the year, but the glistening foliage is especially enchanting at this time of the year when low-hanging clouds give the sun a nice, warm glow.

Mist can be seen between the trunks of mountain ash trees
Mist draws your attention in the forest

As the light falls on and through giant trees, look out for shadows and contrasts that create a dramatic effect. It will bring to life books you might have read in your childhood.

A column of light falls on the trunk of a large mountain ash tree and on parts of the ground. There's a large hollow at the bottom of the tree trunk.
Watch for the light and shadows.

Follow the bird calls echoing from unknown directions. Perhaps the noisy cockatoos are going wild, or the elegant crimson rosellas are chilling on the branches high above your head. Maybe the kookaburras will have a laughing fit — a fascinating way to warn intruders encroaching on their territory. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness clever male lyrebirds enthusiastically singing and dancing to impress the choosy females!

Kookaburra is sitting on a tree branch looking out to its front.
Kookaburra in a rainforest

The rainy season also presents the ideal time to check out the waterfalls and creeks, which are more likely to be flowing with crisp and clear water. You’re guaranteed to feel a pull towards the sounds of water trickling over shimmering rocks and pebbles. Isn’t it ironic how running water can provide an ideal antidote to the restless mind?

A stream of water is flowing over and around pebbles and rocks. Tree ferns and other shrubs appear on both sides of the stream.
Crisp and clean water flows during winter

Listen also to the rustling sounds of leaves as you feel the cool breeze on your skin. Take in the smells of the moist ground and the oils released by trees. Taste the moisture in the air. It is a cocktail experience for your senses.

You really can have a fairy-tale experience in our rainforests during the cold season, so long as you dress sensibly and comfortably. Ensure you are prepared for all the elements. Wind and waterproof jackets are useful, and putting on multiple layers would be wise. Wear sturdy shoes (preferably hiking shoes) and remember to pack a beanie as well. And don’t forget to pack that water bottle.

A walking trail in the middle of the image fades into the distance. Small and medium sized ferns surround the trail. The fallen trunk of a tree fern arches over the walking trail.
Explore the rainforest during the wet and cold season

If you aren’t packing a picnic, find a nice local café that will satisfy your appetite with warm food and beverages. These cafes are wonderful because they can keep you connected to nature while also protecting you from its elements on those wild weather days. Be sure to make time for coffee and scones at the very least!

Habit can compel us to stay indoors and sluggishly binge on Netflix during the cold season. But try stepping out of your comfort zone this winter and experience your local rainforest. Given that nature provides multiple benefits for our mental health, your mind, body and soul will thank you.


All images in this post are mine. To purchase or obtain a licence for the use of any of these images, feel free to contact me. Or check out more of my nature photos and videos.

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