Published: December 5th 2010November 30th 2010
Wednesday 24th November
After being picked up at 4.05 and driven to the airport we were a little worse for wear as neither of us got much sleep. The thought of the 3 hour flight to Brisbane followed by another 2 hour flight to Cairns doesnt seem to bother us now that we are seasoned travellers!!
The flights were uneventful and as we stepped off the plane in Cairns the sudden thump of humidity hit us like a sledgehammer. Yip, we are in the middle of rainforest territory allright. By the time the bags come off baggage we are peeling off jackets and tops and gasping for water. Jill sorts out the free shuttle to our hostel and we arrive down on the esplanade in no time at all. We stupidly picked any hostel we could get into and ended staying at the Nomads on the Esplanade which to be honest was a dump. We've stayed in a few dodgy places over the last few months and at the end of the day its a double bed with a window which will have to do us for the next 5 nights! Saying that we got charged for four nights
with a free night once i had complained about the state of the kitchens!! Well if you dont ask you dont get.
Thursday 25th November
Its rained most of the night and once more the large raindrops were hitting off our roof and window most of the night keeping us awake so its off to reception to request a new room for the next 4 nights which they were happy to do.
Today we toured Cairns (pop 135,000) on foot and its apparent thats it a major tourist trap with almost 5 or 6 travel agents on every street offering tours and trip for all down the gold coast. It good for us as its very competitive and there are some cheap tours to be bagged so we get ourselves organised for the next four days. Greyhound tickets - tick! Skydive booked, Barrier reef scenic flight booked and also Cape Tribulation tour booked.
A notable feature of the Cairns esplanade is a swimming lagoon with adjoining barbecue areas which they are preparing xmas lights on at the moment! We are about 1000 miles from Brisbane and 1500 miles from Sydney so we have much ground
to cover in the next few weeks. We must get to Sydney before the 28th of Dec. No problem!
On our way home we spotted some flying foxes perched upside down on a mangrove tree at the side of the road. There were loads of them just sleeping waiting for dusk so we hurriedly took photos and got going again as its almost feeding time!
We watched some cricket on the tv in the bar next door to the hostel, thats how bored we were! plenty to do in the next three days so its off to the kitchen to make pack lunches and sort out the small backpack for tomorrows tour of Cape Tribulation.
Friday 26th November
We are heading off on a tour of Cape Tribulation today and we are being picked up outside our hostel around 8am which was a blessing as our room is like a cauldron in the morning.
Cape Tribulation is a headland and locality in northern Queensland, Australia 68 mi north of Cairns.
It is located within the Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. The locality contains a small number of tourism resorts
and backpacker hostels. A sealed road provides access to the area from the south via the Daintree River Ferry.
Cape Tribulation was named by British navigator Lt. James Cook in 1770 after his ship hit a reef as it passed over it, north east of the cape, at 6pm. This made Cook pull away from the coast, looking for deeper water. At 10.30pm, the Endeavour hit a reef almost sinking Cook's ship, on what is now named Endeavour Reef. Cook recorded "...the north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles".
We headed off up the Cook Highway in our shuttle bus, driving along the coast towards our breakfast stop at a roadside café. Another half hour up the road we arrived at Little Daintree River where we hopped aboard a river boat for a hours sail up the river in the hope of spotting freshwater crocodiles.
The weather deteriorated some what and it rained quite heavily and we were glad the boat had a canopy covering the seating area. We crossed to the other side while the boat driver told us a little about the river and wildlife that lived here. There are
some four, five and six metre long crocodiles in the water here all with their own names, a bit like our everglades tour earlier this year. We are asking a bit much to see the big boys as its mating season and they will be out the water doing their duties.
As we arrived on the opposite riverbank we spotted a croc perched on the sand. He was only around 2 metres long but still looked menacing to say the least. Once we had got some ‘snaps’ of him we moved on up the river. The rain died down a little bit which meant we could admire the vegetation that is growing in abundance at the rivers edge along with the unusual birds that were perched on trees in pairs and we spotted a Kingfisher diving out a tree into the water.
More birds and lots more strange looking trees followed and then we spotted another croc watching us from the riverbank. He was also just a wee nipper at around 1metre long and he didn’t hang around as we approached him and took off into the murky depths. Crocs will wait under the water for hours until prey
comes by and then attack with devastating power. These guys pack a bite up to 3000lbs of pressure which is mad when you think we squeeze a washing up liquid bottle at around 40lbs.
More rain and lots more mangroves followed and it was turning into a scenic tour rather than a croc hunt but we weren’t bothered that much as its still quite warm and it beats sitting on a bus. There are mainly Mangrove trees along here which can survive submerged in water all year round and 30 of the 38 species known to man are found on this riverbank alone. When David Attenborough did his Tv documentary on Mangroves it was filmed here just a few years ago and you can see why as we approached the end of our boat trip as they are as far as the eye can see.
Our boat dropped us off at the other side of the river and we waited for our bus to be ferried over on a wire pulled ferry/barge type vessel. Once we were on the road again heading north we enter the Daintree National Park which is also a World Heritage area due to
its diverse ecosystem and endangered species that live here. This area is dense with tropical rainforest and looking out the window from the road we see many colourful birds and lots of weird and wonderful trees and plants.
We stopped at the Jindalba Boardwalks and our driver told us about the tropical forests and also the importance of protecting them. She also told us about the endangered Casawarry Bird which is the largest bird in the world and can be up to 2m tall and is flightless. The chances of seeing one these birds was pretty slim as there are only 1400 left in in existence due to deforestation and also due to other factors such as wild dogs and feral pigs whom eat their eggs and scare the Casawarrys away. Jindalba is the traditional Kuku Yalanji people's name for this area. This 700 metre rainforest boardwalk circuit winds up the hill and sometimes reaches 4 metres off the ground. It offers some elevated views of this lowland rainforest, including king ferns and fig trees.
As we walked around the rainforest we spotted a couple of rainforest dragons which look very similar to chameleons but different colours. We
spotted a few large spiders webs and its not long before we see the makers of them. A large spider the size of a side plate sat in the middle of its web and its creepy as its spinning up a unfortunate little fly and that was my cue to tuck my trousers into my socks!! [J]
We carried on around the wooded trail and admired the trees that were towering above us creating a canopy which looked cool as you looked up at the little specks of light between the leaves.
As we were driving off theres a shout from the driver ‘ look left!’ I just caught a glimpse of a dark figure darting through the trees. A Cassowary! Jill spotted it quicker than me and got a good look at it and even from this distance you could tell its very large!
Moving on through the tropical forest road we arrive at a little place called Lynchaven where we would take a tour round the little wildlife sanctuary before going next door for a complimentary lunch.
We took a wander around looking at the Parrots and Parakeets before coming face to face with some
walllabys and kangaroos. They looked very dozile sitting in the sun and they were fenced off from us so we couldn’t really get too close for photos.
Lunch was terrific, a large burger and chips which hit the spot and Jill had a chicken burger which looked really fine as well as the portions were huge.
We were meant to be heading for Capetown via Cooper Creek but the water levels were to high for the bus to cross the stream. Instead we visited a tea leaf farm, an ice cream makers which was great as the gardens were beautiful and very exotic. We had some homemade ice cream made from Jackfruit before heading for the Alexandria Range View point which provided excellent views of the Daintree National park and the rivers flowing out to sea. The weather is not that bright but you can see most of the Daintree Lowlands from the Alexandria Range Viewpoint on a sunnier day.
Our secind last stop was at the Mossman Gorge where we were invited to take a swim in the rapids! No thanks. We stood and watched the younger ones swim about and we took a stroll up river
and saw some Bush Turkeys who are very tame to the point they will undo your shoelaces! There are some nice fauna and lots of blue butterflies and we spotted lots of weird looking mushrooms and fungus.
Our last stop was a half hour stop at Port Douglas but low and behold as soon as we stepped off the bus in Port Douglas the heavens opened up and it was torrential! We stood in the bus shelter for 25 minutes of our visit!
That’s our tour for the day and on the way back to Cairns our bus driver played a dvd highlighting all the dangerous animals and sea creatures that Australia has to offer. Its educational stuff as the dvd explains the do’s and don’t’s and we’re a bit more clued up now in regards swimming in the sea which is a big no no this time of year due to stinger box jellyfish.
We arrive back in Cairns and watched a bit of the England v Austrailia Ashes cricket which has the bars full with a good mix of rivalry between the English and Australians. As we arrived we spotted some people looking to the
skies. What could it be? Wow! It was amazing to see hundreds of Flying foxes taking off from all the trees in the city and flying over us on the hunt for food up the Rainforests. Now that's something you don't see everyday! We could only stand and stare for ages until the skies cleared.
Not much to do at nights here except go drinking in the many bars that dot the seafront but we are saving ourselves for another time as its far too busy with it being the weekend.
Looking forward to our skyrail in the morning so its off to the kitchen to make some pasta salad for our lunch tomorrow.
There are more photos below