Slingsby Trail is easy walking that begins with views over electric-green pastures full of fluffy fat cows. The vegetation changes as you stroll along: casuarina, beech, open Killungoodie grasslands. Wooden bridges fringed with lichen cross clear streams. As you approach the escarpment, the forest grows taller and denser with hoop pine, coachwood, tree ferns.
There’s a sign at the junction with Syndicate Track that hides the entrance to the overgrown snig track that leads to Dibbs Head. The sign may as well read “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. Our pace slows as we climb over, under, between old fallen trees and new sprouting saplings. Vines apprehend us.
A noisy lyrebird entertains us with its extensive repertoire. Male lyrebirds are well known for their glorious vocals to attract females and their courtship dance. Recent research shows female lyrebirds are good at mimicry too, but they are more concerned with distracting predators from their nest and chick. Further on we see a huge brush turkey nest and a bower bird boudoir (all natural blue, no plastic milk bottle tops in this nest).
As we approach Dibbs Head, we are picking our way over basalt rocks past large and ancient rainforest trees. There is no wooden viewing platform here – instead we carefully edge our way down to a spot between the grass trees where we can see down the Bellinger valley. There is no sunny rock platform for lunch either, so we settle on a spot back on the snig track to eat and get the stove on. Ah, tea.
Good fitness, a sense of humour, bushwalking experience and navigation skills (map, GPS) are required for this challenging trail in Dorrigo NP.