Daintree Dreaming

We were treated by another perfect day for our last full day in Port Douglas. We decided on making an early start for our adventure up the coast. We dug into the last of our tropical fruit we picked up from the markets for a fruit salad, cant get enough of the $2 mangoes and $5 Watermelons. With so much to see and do on the way and throughout the Daintree, we didn't want to miss out on anything so we hit the highway and headed north. Its only a short drive to Mossman and then the next stop is the Daintree Ferry. We passed multiple tour operators offering Croc viewing tours on the Daintree River but had had our fill of croc's the day before. The short ferry ride over the river was packed with tourist buses, trucks filled with supplies and convoys of 4x4's, there were the same waiting on the other side heading south. As we got onto the ferry we were handed a map showing the coastal attractions between the ferry and Cape Tribulation, in only about an hour's worth of driving there is a massive amount of walks, beaches, lookouts and even a couple of hotels to quench your thirst.

First stop was the Alexandra Lookout, a steep ascent from the ferry brings you to the top of the Alexandra Range. As soon as you get off the ferry you are into the thickest rain forest, it is to hard to bring machinery north of the river so there are no clearings for farms, only a few house sites tucked into the forest. The lookout boasts views over the Daintree River mouth and back towards Port Douglas. Once again, you can see out to the Low Isles, an ever present view from any elevated lookout. A few selfies later, we were descending down the other side of the range. We passed a couple of roadside waterfalls with surprisingly only a trickle running over them, and made our way down through the rain forest towards the Daintree visitors centre. As you turn off towards the visitors centre, you can see the board walks running through under the trees, this seems common practice to protect the forest floor.

We pull in and are greeted by a couple of large dinosaur replica's at the front door, we later learned that the Daintree and surrounds have been home to some pretty important Dinosaur fossil finds. The visitors centre boasts a cafe, gift shop, elevated walking platforms and 20 m high viewing platform to make sure you check out every level of the rain forest. We started through the visitors centre and they had videos playing of a Cassowary that had been seen in the park on that week, we were super keen to see a Cassowary in the wild so had our fingers crossed. As you start the walk around the park there is a display of some of the animals, bugs and trees you may see while looking around. Snakes, stick insects and frogs were all on display today, as well as a cheeky resident Galah that wolf whistles at all the girls. We were given an audio guide as well as a book, there were markers throughout the walks showing symbols for audio or book references. There was the standard audio or you had the option to hear a different account from a member of the local indigenous tribe, the English version was rather plain and text book but the indigenous version gave a more in depth description regarding the trees, fruit and animals and the part they all play in the Eco system. We made our way through the elevated walkways and up the viewing platform, there was a bit of wind around and the tree tops all moved as we got to the top which was a bit off putting but the tower stayed solid which was a relief. As you climb the platform each level has information for what happens on each level of the rain forest canopy, from the lower levels where the small mammals make their way through the undergrowth, to the ferns that attach themselves throughout the canopy and finally onto the top level where the fruits and berries grow and the birds feast on them.

After the viewing platform is another display back down on ground level, this display housed more of the insects and reptiles found in the park as well as plenty of interactive displays covering cyclones, the cane toad invasion and some of the dinosaur species found in the area. Outside the display was an area housing a small aquarium, we got see some of the fish found in the freshwater streams, barramundi and perch and also some archer fish which use high pressured spit to knock insects off of leaves up to 1.5 m out of the water. We walked the Dinosaur alley past the recreated models, all of which were animated and some were sensor activated to scare the small kids. As we reached the end, with no Cassowaries to be seen, the cheeky Galah at the visitors centre was getting a shower with the hose and showing off to all the visitors by dancing. Our next stop though was Cape Tribulation, which will be the furtherest north in Australia any of us have been.

The road windier and tighter as we got closer to Cape Tribulation, soon after the Cape, the road turns to gravel 4x4 headed further north to Cooktown but that will have to be on the next time around. A short walk brings you through to the lookout over the beach and it is truly isolated but beautiful. Cape Tribulation got its name from the on and only Captain Cook after we ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef not far offshore. We all agreed we didn't think it would be a bad spot to be shipwrecked, it was another picture perfect beach lined with palms with hardly another person in sight. We walked along the beach and enjoyed the peace and quiet, we spotted a small shark moving through the shallows of the beach looking for his lunch. Not far before reaching Cape Tribulation we spotted a roadside orchard boasting the best Ice cream this side of Daintree and didn't want to pass up the opportunity. A short ride back and we were driving into the orchard, the trees bursting with every kids of tropical fruit. We all enjoyed a small tasting cup of four flavors, all made onsite from different fruits everyday and then took a walk through the orchard. We found a Jack fruit tree with ripe fruit as big as your head, apparently the fruit can get up to 45 kg. We had one more surprise for the kids on the way back to Port Douglas and the day was getting on so we hit the road south once again.

We had only been on the road for less than a minute before all of the traffic in both directions came to a complete stop, there walking across the road was a wild Cassowary. We had accepted the fact we probably wouldn't see one in the wild so this was a massive stroke of luck. It took its time getting across the road, almost stopping to pose for pictures and then disappeared back into the and was invisible almost immediately. Yet another amazing display of nature that Northern Queensland has put on for us this trip.

We were back in line for the ferry and soon heading south over the river and back on the road towards Port Douglas. Just south of the ferry are some large ponds which the kids were trying hard to figure out what they could be for. They had never been fishing before so this was going to be the last surprise of the day, it was a Barramundi farm. A quick intro from the staff and they were straight into the water. A few tips about casting and in no time they were both hooked up. They reeled them in with the biggest smiles on their faces, they couldn't believe they had finally caught their first fish. Straight back into the water and in no time they were hooked up again, if only real fishing was this easy. I spoke to one of the staff and he said there were 7000 fish in each pond so no wonder it was so easy. In no time they had caught five fish a piece, they were super proud of themselves. We got one of the fish on ice as a prize to take home for dinner. A great day full of many firsts, plenty of laughter and great new memories. #Daintree #Capetribulation #Aspiringadventurers

- Aspiring Adventurers

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