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Published: April 22nd 2007
Cape Tribualtion Week
Well how to begin is the question? Angie and I have been to Northern Queensland - Cape Tribulation this past week and totally out of communication with everyone…no mobile reception, pay phones not working and there was some café that had internet but we were always passing by when it was closed and busy doing sightseeing thingys. It was so laid back that not only did we not watch TV we never even saw a TV set!!! And no newspapers either.
So here I am back in Sydney at Angela and Ed’s - got back from Cairns late last night from Cairns - it is Sunday and tomorrow I go by bus to Forster- Tuncurry, NSW up North from Sydney to stay with Michael’s cousin, Jenny for my last 2 weeks in Oz. Am feeling like a real ‘backpacker’ now - have forgotten how many times I have packed and unpacked. So this will be a long blog to get you up to date!!!
So the week in Cap Trib….. we flew to Cairns and hired a car- and apart from the alarm going off when we opened the car and not knowing how to stop it and it started to pour with rain at that moment - all was well. Some nice man from Europcar came along and told us we had to open the car with the remote control key not stick it in the door like Angie had done. She has a very old SAAB which doesn’t do things like remote control keys so that explained it!!! I said I would drive and was happy to do so all week…not much traffic on the road at all…..and I always think if I can drive in Dubai and on the Washington Highway in USA I can drive anywhere- well almost anywhere!! She always drives here so it gave her a rest. Our destination was about 150km north of Cairns and we stopped at Port Douglas on the way for lunch and a little look around. That is quite an up-market place with lots of nice resorts and cafes and shops - and infamous for being the place where Steve Irwin died with the stingray barb…..more about stingrays later!!!
Cape Trib is part of the Daintree National Park and it is unique in its environment because the rainforest meets the reef here…and the mountain range here is part of the Great Dividing Range of Oz which goes all the way down the East Coast. Nowhere else on Earth like it.
We were staying at Rainforest Hideaway. Look it up on the internet if you want to see all about it. It’s a really unique experience to stay there. The owner Rob has been there about 13 years and built the place himself……so these are wooden cabins deep in the rainforest. We had one with our bathroom on a deck out the back, roofed but no walls and looked straight into the rainforest. It was great!!!- we loved it. It was a very sociable place- we met fellow travellers in the communal area by the kitchen where we could drink wine/beer in the evening and swap stories of what we had seen that day. Cape Trib. has a few resorts and campsite and pub, a couple of restaurants/cafes and pharmacy and shop seeling groceries and anything else you might need.
FOOD- We sampled some great food there but you had to be sure to get out early to eat…one night we’d had lunch late ( giant burgers at Masons Store) and didn’t go out till after 8pm and nowhere open - so had a packet of crisps that night!!! PKs campsits pub did a limited menu each night but good grub especially the ‘Roo’ steaks ( sorry you veggies reading this) , The Dragonfly was another great place to eat and had a good menu with generous portions….try the Barramundi if you go there (a kind of fish) . One day out to the Daintree river in the village there I sampled crocodile…well you have to don’t you when you are here. It was like chicken stir fry!!!
All down the coast there are beautiful deserted beaches and the reef is exposed in places at low tide, some areas where the forest meets sea are fringed with mangrove swamps. The sea is that gorgeous turquoise colour except when it is raining and as we kept reminding each other it is the RAINforest here…but when it did rain on one of our forest walks we found it quite a magical experience to be in the midst of it all. This time was coming to the end of the wet season but they do have 7-10 metres of rain a year (yes I said METRES!!!). No swimming unfortunately on the beaches - as there are stingers in the water not nice jelly fish, and we saw no-one in the water. Could also be crocs where some of the creeks come down to the beach although we were told it was safe to swim in one of the creeks where there looked to be a nice few deep pools…but we didn’t try that out. We really explored all the walks there were - some of them are on boardwalks through mangrove swamps the forest…so our tramping through doesn’t destroy the environment- and we went to every beach down the coast there. A nice resort a few km from our place was at Coconut Beach and we found we could use their beautiful swimming pool all day and have an excellent buffet lunch for $22….so relaxed there a couple of days.
Highlight of the week was of course the trip out to the Reef…we went on a local boat ( a catamaran) the Rum Runner and all the crew were local guys and gals- in fact we kept seeing them later working in the evening in restaurants. It was a very personal experience as there weren’t too many people on the boat. (We saw some going out from Cairns and those boats were huge. Everyone got to know each other , we went out from Cape Trib beach so right near our place, and the Cat took us out to a sand key about 1 hour off the mainland. We did 2 snorkel dives…my first time to do this and was a bit scared but the crew were great. We had wet suits and a noodle thing under your arms to help with buoyancy - one of the crew took another woman and myself into the water and we held onto a life ring as she towed us around till we got used to it. I was so pleased I did it, the underwater world makes for such a unique experience and it felt so different to anything else I have ever experienced. After about 1 hour we went aboard for lunch and then moved a bit nearer the sand key and as the tide was out it was shallower and we had better visibility - and we did another dive. I saw beautiful corals, giant purple clams, bright blue starfish, lots of lovely fish and 1 really BIG dark coloured fish about my size!!! , and also a lovely turtle swimming along about 1 m, big. Angela’s highlight was to see a stingray, but she didn’t go near it once she realised what it was. I did the 2nd dive on my own and although I did panic a bit at one point cos I thought I was in too shallow and was afraid I would touch the coral ( its hard to judge distance) - it was a brilliant experience and I would do it again.
OTHER WILDLIFE - I knew we might have a sighting of the Cassowary bird which lives in this area but I thought it would look a bit like a peacock BUT it is a big thing like an emu, can be 6ft high and weighs 60-70kg and has been know to attack humans - jumps at you and savages you with giant clawed feet. So you can imagine we were a but wary about meeting one in the forest. Advice was to make yourself look bigger, hide behind a tree, never turn and run, clap your hands , make a noise, put your backpack in front of you etc….where have I heard this sort of advice before ---sounds like what to do when you meet a bear. Well we had 3 sighting in the week, 1 at Rainforest Hideaway -he was just walking around the outside of the deck where we had breakfast, and twice we saw one by the side of the road just wandering off into the forest…so phew no need to try out the advice. We also saw lots of other NICE birds, lovely butterflies, bright green frogs, a tree snake, an amethystine python wrapped round a branch ( fortunately we were on the riverboat at the time) and at last a croc. We had taken the Riverboat cruise on the Daintree and there was a croc about 2-3metres lying well hidden under an overhanging tree amongst some logs…SO WELL HIDDEN… don’t know if the photos will show it I just had to point and click. Obviously the guy on the riverboat knew where to look.
So it was a great week and I think I confronted some fears…definitely out of my comfort zone at times. After all we slept with the door to the ‘bathroom’ open and it was open to the rainforest. Some good things we didn’t really understand were that there were very few insects flying around and NO mossies, so never got bitten… have all the mossies moved to Europe??? Also it was not as hot as we thought it would be, lovely temperatures in fact - much hotter and humid in Singapore.
So thanks to Angela for arranging it all, journeys were ded easy and have to say Virgin Blue deserve a gold star as we got back to Cairns at 1.30pm to drop off the car - but our flight wasn’t till 7.30 pm. So we figured a few hours to look around Carins - but would need to put cases in left luggage or something - but the airline said we could just check them in then!!! That wouldn’t happen in UK. So we went off to into Cairns for a few hours…nice little airport bus drops you off and picks you up. NO HASSLE -THIS IS AUSTRALIA , MAN!!! NO WORRIES MATE!!!
Love you all- should be able to communicate better this next 2 weeks - Richard -Gill’s husband has a computer. Will get round to putting a few more photos on maybe later today - must do my washing!!!
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