The morning started with a little bit of exercise chopping wood for our host, the landlord of the Star Tavern. After this we headed into the small town of Charleston which in 1869 had a population of 30,000 and exported in excess of 4 million ounces of gold. They think that there was actually more because the Chinese gold miners didn’t pay their gold into the banks but exported it back to China to become rich in their homeland and this was rarely accounted for.
Besides Gold, the area was known for it’s timber trade and some farming. One of the timbers cut was Kahikatea or White Pine which apparently has no smell or odour and was used for making Cheese and Butter boxes for the export trade in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and lining ships holds. Once other methods of packaging these products was found the trade in this timber died as it’s too soft for any other purpose.
Our main reason for being here was to ride the Charleston Nile River Rainforest Train into the surrounding native forest and visit the sandstone Glow Worm caves. Being daylight we didn’t see any Glow Worms but we were amazed at what we did see walking the kilometre or so from the end of the railway up to the caves crossing the Nile River via suspension bridge.
The caves are also used by Underground Rafters who carry their inflated truck inner tubes into the caves and go deep underground to the river source and then float or raft their way through a labyrinth of caves to emerge some several kilometres away. Sitting at the Sandstone station await the return of the train we were entertained by a little Bush Robin.
Everybody was trying to get his photo but he never stayed still long enough. The engine driver told us that he quite often had his lunch up at the station and the Robin would come and join him in the hope of a few crumbs, even hopping into the cab of the engine and sitting on his boot.
On the way back to camp we detoured up to the Cape Foulwind lighthouse. The current concrete structure is the 2nd lighthouse as the original was an open frame timber light house with a kerosene lamp which required the daily services of a lighthouse keeper. The modern day version is unmanned being fully automatic.