Springbrook National Park is a quick 45 minute hop into the Gold Coast Hinterland from our Kirra apartment. The drive through the mountains is picturesque and a refreshing variation from the bustle of the Gold Coast. There are numerous campgrounds and things to see or do which would require a few weeks to adequately cover. For our first trip, we camped at “The Settlement Campground” which is a national park and has private wooded sites for $10 per night. It is conveniently located on the Purling Brook Falls Walking Circuit. After arriving we set up camp and were straight into the woods to check the waterfall and plan our 14km hike for the next morning. Since it was getting dark we headed back to camp to use the free barbeques (Aussie barbeques are more like the hot plate that you would see at Waffle House) to cook our burgers. As we were heading back to our site with the cow patties we saw a rat the size of a cat scurry away from our site. “Yuck!” We set out the camp chairs and table at our site to enjoy our feast with some boxed wine. After a few minutes Nug let out a horrifying scream, “Arggghhhhh!!! Get him off me!” I grabbed a pan and tried to adjust my eyes to the encroaching darkness and started scanning for the rodent when Nug began to swat at her ankle. “What?!? Where?!!?” I screamed. “My leg! These leaches!” she bellowed. I looked down to see her brushing leaches from her feet…all but one. She broke down, “Nug, get this thing off of me!” she cried. The tears rolled down her freckled face as I tried to brush it off with no luck. I picked up the 4 inch brute between my thumb and pointer finger which increased his determination as he burrowed in to her ankle steadfastly while wriggling in my sweaty fingers. “Please! Help me! Get it off now!” Did I think to burn the bugger off? Of course not… I pulled and the parasite intensified his hold on Nug’s epidermis. It was a tug of war involving the creature and me with neither willing to budge…until Nug’s ankle skin yielded. Blood flowed from her ankle and Nug whimpered while the leach went spastic in my hands. I squeezed him until he popped like a grape…all over my hands. “Did you murder him?” Nug inquired. “Yes, baby, it’s lights out for him!” I consoled her. The burgers were nowhere near as enjoyable afterwards, but the waterfalls and walk the next day were incredible.