The final leg of our long journey. Across the broad Daintree River by ferry to the heart of the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation.
The Daintree is the oldest Rainforest on Earth and when you step – well – drive, off the ferry, you certainly get that impression. It’s often said that this is the end of the civilised world heading north in Queensland and whilst not strictly true (you can drive inland around to Cooktown further north) it certainly feels remote. The road is narrow and twisting, signs of civilisation sparse and the forest dark and dense. The whole area is off-grid as it were. No mains power, no reliable mobile signal, no luxury hotels. A whole world apart from the cosmopolitan Port Douglas where we’d come from. As if to welcome us to this ancient land we saw our first Cassowary. After all the effort we made in Mission Beach, here was one just wandering about in the road, completely oblivious.
Not great photos as it had pithered into the forest by the time I’d got my camera out but we were chuffed to bits to see one at last
We were staying at the Ferntree Rainforest Lodge (review here) in a little timber clad house in the forest.
After a brief explore we were straight down to the beach for a sunset stroll.
Off the grid it may be but this whole coast and it’s beaches are magnificent. We’d been lucky to stroll on some pretty amazing beaches right throughout our trip but the one’s here were a class apart. A few little tasters here but I took hundreds of beach photos so I’ll dedicate a couple of posts to them later – they deserve special attention.
This post will focus on some of the other delights the region has to offer and there are plenty. Insect life for a start. This little fella was waiting for us when we got back from our evening meal.
When we woke the next morning there was the most terrible noise in the trees above us. At first I thought it was birds but on closer inspection it was bats – hundreds of them. Spectacled Flying Foxes to be precise and they hung there, squabbling and bitching for the whole of our stay.
If you look at the top middle of the next photo you can see them roosting (or whatever bats do) in the trees
Most jungles have Monkeys but there are none in Australia so the bats make up for that. They really are rather splendid and cute if you don’t mind the leathery wings. It was great having their company for the stay
There are numerous boardwalks through the rainforest and Mangroves and the local one is the Dubuji. The rainforest and Mangroves are magnificent. Towering trees and palms and an extraordinary variety of plant life.
My one regret is that we didn’t see the forest at its best. In winter it’s pretty dry and relatively cool so the animal and birdlife isn’t quite as prolific as it is in the “wet”. Everyone kept telling us about how oppressive, humid and unbearable Tropical North Queensland is in the summer but it must be worth seeing the forest in all its splendour.
The weather was stunning while we were here and we took time out to enjoy the splendid free-form pool
We took an afternoon visit to the local Tropical Fruit Farm for a tasting session (review here). These were the fruits we tried
It’s been a while but my memory of each one is:
Tahitian Lime – well just like limes but made a very nice cold drink
Pommelo – like a large very sweet grapefruit
Yellow Sapote – a bit too mushy and banana-like for me
Carambola – Don’t remember! 🙂
Solo Papaya – very sweet and tasty
Sapodilla – dark brown with a texture like a plum and a taste like Muscovado sugar
Yellow Mangosteen – my favourite, very juicy like a Mango but very sour
Longan – like a Lychee and resembling an eyeball when peeled
Jaboticaloa – another favourite, very sweet and juicy, not unlike a grape
Alemoya – one of the custard apple family, very mushy and sweet, almost sickly
A really fascinating afternoon finished off with a trip round the orchards to see some of the other fruits
And and ants nest stitched together from the leaves
Regular readers know of the family passion for swinging about in the trees and there’s a chance to to do it here in the rainforest with Jungle Surfing.
The instructors are a pretty zany bunch and while there are no tree climbing obstacles there are several zip wires through the canopy with stupendous views.
Everything kicks off with the “Hamster Wheel”. the first two people run around like household pets to winch the next group up to the first tree. Great fun and embarrassing all at the same time.
Needless to say it’s a total blast whizzing through the trees including being “encouraged” to hang upside down on the last run and behave like a salmon – the things we do for fun!
The same people also organise a night walk through the rainforest. Very spooky and surreal it was too. You can hear the various animals moving about. Tree Kangaroos, Bandicoots and we caught a few eyes reflecting in torchlight but again not as much we’d hoped. The guide said that after 20 minutes in summer he’d have been able to show us at least 30 different types of insects. It must be amazing to see a rainforest in the rain. We did at least get sight of a huntsman spider, cockroaches, frogs and a beautiful juvenile lizard.
Once we got back we opened the door to the lodge and saw something large scurrying about on the floor. For a fearsome moment I though it was a spider but in fact it was a very large cockroach. A few minutes were spent chasing it round with the old glass/card trick before we cornered it under the fridge and put it back outside.
We we were here for nearly 4 days and loved the place. It has a very hippyish, bohemian vibe, guitars on the beach that sort of thing. There was so much more we could have done and in fact did do. It was the beaches that are the real star though so more of that to come