Edit Blog Post
Published: December 5th 2016
Days 43 to 48 of 165
Cape Tribulation, up in the pointy bit of Queensland, described as the only place in the world where two separate World Heritage Sites are side by side - the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest claimed to be the oldest in existence.
Our camp was practically at the sea's edge, just a thin line of trees between us and the sand. Not that we were considering a quick dip given the numerous signs warning of both stingers (lethal small jellyfish that you are much more likely to encounter and die from than from a Great White Shark; around 24 deaths last season!) and crocodiles. Like the way that the largest word on the warning signs is 'ACHTUNG!'.
Despite all the things we have done so far this trip not many have been what you would call 'active' but the next few days would be somewhat different.
On our first day at Cape Trib we went Jungle Surfing. That is where we were hoisted up a zip wire - by a giant hamster wheel, no less - to a tree attached platform around
40 metres above the forest floor. We then proceeded to descend via a series of zip wires strung between the trees, sometimes elegantly, often not so much. The trip promised some ecological and bio lessons on the forest from platform to platform, but we're not sure the young lads guiding us were very much into this aspect. Nothing significant animal wise was spotted but it was great fun.
On the penultimate zip we were encouraged to hang upside down before zipping across. Pip didn't wish to travel this way, however hard the guide encouraged her. Paul told the guide that he was guaranteed to lose the argument. And sure enough he did.
The following day bought one of the most anticipated activities of our time way - Great Barrier Reef snorkeling. The only company doing this from Cape Trib, 'Ocean Safari' was fortunately both very highly rated on Trip Advisor, and at half-a-day a more gentle intro to snorkeling. No frills, just equipment, fast trip out on a semi-rigid, two separate 1 hour snorkels at different locations and trip back - left at 8.30, back at 12.30. Nicely the price reflected this too, being
only about 55% of full day trips (with 3 dives and food) that other locations provide.
And it was FABULOUS.
OK, so the coral isn't as colourful as you might imagine (on a later trip with another company we were told that bright colour in coral tends to indicate that it is under stress), but the sea life is very much so. Besides enough colourful fish to fill whole Sea Life Aquariums, we also swam with Sea Turtles, caught a glimpse of a shark (a small, white tip - nothing dangerous ), a stingray, dozens of electric blue starfish and giant clams, sea slugs and sea cucumbers.
And switching on Led Zeppelin at the start at the same time as the engine surge added to the day!
After a more restful afternoon we had a guided night walk in the rainforest - well we're not that daft as to do it ourselves. This was an interesting diversion, though the wildlife spotting was a bit hit and miss. Not sure the lad guiding our group was as well qualified as claimed. Largest animal spotted was 6 foot or so
of Amethystine Python. Besides that it was mostly various sizes and varieties of spiders, crickets and other such insects. A couple of times the guide invited us to switch off all the lights and experience the blackness. How many of you have seen the film Pitch Black?!
Next day - blimey, it's December 1st - we headed back to the other side of the ferry for a crocodile spotting cruise. The company we headed to for their 11am tour turned us away as they did not expect to see any at that time - tide and season - so we returned at 4pm, filling the day with an out and back to Mossman Gorge, and a coffee and mince pie in Mossman (we did say it's 1st december).
We were rewarded with around 6 separate sightings, though the guide was disappointed that he couldn't find the largest, Lumpy, for us, and he did try, extending the tour 30 min over time. It was fun listening to the various guides from different companies talk to each other as they passed by, exchanging sightings. "Have you seen Lumpy?", "No, but Scarface is over......". It appears that
all the commonly seen crocs have names - Lumpy, Scarface, Scooter, Eric (supposedly named after the young lad he ate last week 😀).
We moved on to Port Douglas for a 3 night stay - civilisation at last. PD is a lively, bustling up-market resort style town. It even has a night life, something we've barely come across for the last 4 weeks. After a relaxing first day we had a very good meal overlooking the marina. The food - Coral Trout for Paul, Cajun Blackened Prawns for Pip - was excellent. But the surprise was the sight, just at dusk, of thousands upon thousands of bats ( fruit bats and flying foxes) leaving mango trees in PD for the night in the rain forest. It was like a scene from Lord of the Rings. We made a point of going back to a better vantage point the following night just to watch the bats.
On our 2nd PD day we had a full day snorkel cruise. A bigger boat with about 40 of us, with morning, lunch and afternoon catering between the three dives. Having 40, instead of the 24 on the previous
dive, did make a difference. There were more 'collisions' between snorkelers than before, and the 'prats with a stick' were around this time too, albeit snorkelers with a go-pro on a stick rather than selfie takers, but totally oblivious to other swimmers. We were so glad that we hadn't chosen one of the bigger operators who apparently take 3-400 out to their spots on the reef at a time!
This time, across the three dive sites, there was an even greater variety of fish, 3 or 4 sharks, an enormous ray, but very few clams and no starfish. The company's divers even located and pointed out 'Nemo' to us, a tiny clown fish nestling amongst anemones. And we got to stroke a sea cucumber (no, that's not a euphemism, a company diver fetched one up for us all).
This dive company - Wavelength - big up their eco credentials, and have marine biologists as their owners (Scottish as well!), and employed. One gave a talk over lunch, including explanations about 'coral bleaching'. Coral bleaching isn't itself dead coral, and it can recover, but it is a problem.
Our intent now is
to move slowly down the coast, with 2/3 night stops along the way, until we reach the place Paul has booked for Pip's 60th birthday.
At the moment that means we are in Mission Beach. On the way down, yesterday, we passed through and briefly stopped in Cairns, and went through mile after mile of sugar cane and banana plantations. Mission Beach is a very laid back place. Essentially one long beach with a parallel road a couple of hundred yards back, geared towards hippies and back-packers. We feel quite at home here, except we have had an attack of bitey insects. But at least Pip got to watch the final episode of Poldark. So, is Elizabeth's baby George's or Ross's?
There is a very active local tandem skydiving company based at Mission Beach. Their advertising strap line is 'A landing on the beach, every time. Guaranteed!', which is good to know as the alternatives (besides a rapid plummet if the chute fails) is landing in the sea - death by drowning or stingers - or the rainforest - death by hanging, spearing, snakes or crocs.
Another lazy day today. We think that's
going to be the order of things over the next 3 weeks or so. We swam in the very warm ocean, protected - allegedly - by a 'stinger net', a surface to bottom rectangular netted enclosure which is supposed to be free of the lethal jellyfish. But, tell us this - the waves flow over the top of the floating booms, so how does that stop the jellyfish? And, if it is designed to keep the jellyfish out how come the area is so full of jellyfish sized pieces of seaweed??!
And at a local coffee stall we saw 'Stevie' a 5 foot Lace Monitor Lizard, named - get this - after Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, because she had a track called 'Feathers and Lace' . Go figure!
Written, gratefully jellyfish sting free, whilst sitting under various tropical trees, most of which we can't identify, before heading out for a seafood meal tonight.
If toffee is made by hard boiling sugar how come Werthers can sell toffees that are 'sugar free'?!
Tot: 0.043s; Tpl: 0.024s; cc: 8; qc: 22; dbt: 0.0091s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb