Daintree Rainforest

hikes, national parks, Queensland 4 Replies

Operation Feel Better is progressing as expected and, as I wrote in my comments section, my voice has progressed from Gary Busey to Kathleen Turner, so at least I’m the right gender today. Lauren Bacall will be next, and full health must be right around the corner.

I’m feeling well enough today to tackle some housework in the apartment, which is in an embarrassing state since it hasn’t been properly cleaned since before the wedding. It’s a daunting job.

Oh hey, I know … let’s go back to vacation photos instead of doing dishes!

One of the beautiful things about having had the opportunity to do some traveling is that I’ve gotten to see any manner of truly fantastic things. The downside of that is that I’ve found that I’m hard pressed to be surprised by scenery. I don’t often come across landscapes – be they natural or man made – that don’t evoke some kind of memories of somewhere else I’ve been.

The Daintree Rainforest, however, was completely new. P-i-C compared it to Central America, but I’ve not been, so I was slack-jawed for most of the day. We also inadvertently managed to organize our trip so that we started from the least awe-inspiring scenery to the most for a beautiful crescendo of sights.

We started at Mossman Gorge, a national park not far from Port Douglas. We had to park our car at a lot 10 minutes down the road and take a shuttle bus. Our driver was a lively white-haired grandfather type who rambled for the whole ride and then very nearly backed into another bus of Korean tourists, until the screams of his passengers caused him to slam on the breaks at the last second. Everyone but he was a bit shaken, but no actual damage was done.

Because of an impending construction road closure, we were told that we either had 45 minutes or 2+ hours in the park. We opted for 45 minutes, which was a good choice, as it was a pretty park, but perhaps a bit underwhelming in scope.

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We did see a snake, which we failed to identify in the wildlife book we’d lugged along (thanks wildlife book – the one time that we needed you!), and I tried to photograph through the binoculars.

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After our 45 minutes were up, we were escorted back to our car by a quieter and safer shuttle driver. Then we drove into the real rain forest, or as I liked to call it … The Heart of Darknessdumdumdum

After a quick stop at a local park for a barbecue lunch, we had to take a slow ferry over the purportedly crocodile-infested Daintree River. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” I said. (No, I didn’t. But it would have been pretty funny if I had …).

Photobucket Bye, civilization!

From there, it was about a 20 mile drive through dense rainforest to Cape Tribulation – the last point accessible by paved roads. There’s apparently been some serious flooding recently, so the roads were in pretty rough shape, but nothing our little rental couldn’t handle.

Photobucket One lane road, as we go deeper into the forest.

We tried to stop at a tourist information hut for more ideas of what to see here, but apparently, the roads weren’t the only thing impacted by the rainy season:

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We did manage to stop for some sodas at a secluded cafe and found some informational cartoon pamphlets in the Porta Potties titled “666: The Mark of the Beast,” which we read with interest and hilarity and later left in the Scrabble game at Thala for the next heathen to find. Somehow this seemed like a strangely appropriate find this far into the jungle … the horror, the horror (I think that’s the extent of my Joseph Conrad/Apocolypse Now references, so we can now proceed without irony).

We finally made it to Cape Tribulation, and it was full of American and French tourists and buses of backpackers. We headed for the beach, which was marked ominously, as all the beaches in the Daintree seem to be:

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I should tell you that, as much as I completely worship Bill Bryson’s Australian travelogue, In a Sunburned Country, he has instilled in me a deeply neurotic fear of crocodiles stalking and ripping me to shreds; so, I was more than a little uneasy here – eyes darting towards the water, towards the forest, back towards the water … looking for those sociopathic beady croc-eyes lurking. In any case, it was a grey day and the beach really wasn’t all that attractive in this light. We got an American to take a honeymooner photo of us to prove we’d been there, and then I tried to stifle the panic in my voice as I told P-i-C I’d had enough of this spot.

The park also had a very nice, raised, paved boardwalk for more croc-free exploration of the forest. We saw some neat mangrove trees, interesting layers of foliage, and an orange footed scrub fowl who was being pursued on all sides by tourists with cameras (it’s a very common bird in this area, given the number we saw on our trip, but I’d had a hard time snapping a good shot of one until the paparazzi led this guy right to me):

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There’s no more northward exploration from Cape Tribulation, at least not without a 4 wheel drive, so we headed back, on the lookout for more spots we’d missed along the way. Thank goodness because we found the gem of our whole trip when we saw a sign for the Marrdja Botanical Walk.

We didn’t know what to expect, but when we saw this crazy Tim Burton tree straightaway, we knew we were in for something special:

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Here’s where my real retreat into amazement began. The whole walk was a loop through various levels of rainforest from mangrove forest to densely canopied dark forest. I could not tell you if we were there for half an hour or three hours because it was just so quiet, secluded, and calming. We saw maybe two other people the whole walk and heard only rippling water and, at one point, and overwelmingly loud patch of beetles, like something out of a Kubrick film.

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Honestly, the entire trip to Daintree was beautiful, a little scary, and mystifying; but this walk was transcendent. It’s an incredible feeling to be humbled and awed by a thriving ecosystem whose delicate, yet rugged, existence knows nothing about cities, or politics, or Facebook, or any of our noise.

This drive was good preparation for us because we had a lot more humble and awe ahead the next day. … Next up, Blogland, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

So. Much. Better. Than. Dishes.

4 thoughts on “Daintree Rainforest

  1. C. In Oz

    Oh my gosh, I came home looking like I had chicken pox from all the bites I got. I actually think I got most of them the night we went out stargazing. I’m still recovering!

  2. C. In Oz

    LOL – yes, definitely. I think those ferns are going to be good for my future career objectives. Glad to know the rain forest has gotten with the 21st century, already. Sheesh.

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