Locked Up Lunch!, Kangaroos, Koalas & Crocs, Tropical Forest, Cape Tribulation Beach, Daintree River Cruising, Ryans Rest, Dreamtime Fire Show
We were up early to have our breakfast, pack our lunch and put our bags into storage. First problem- fridge is locked! So we can't get out our lunch. Bugger. It also means we can't have breakfast peoperly, I make some scrambled eggs but the bread is in the fridge. Double bugger- not a great start to the day. We left our bags in the storage area and we picked up by our guide. The drive up to Cape Trib/Daintree is quite long, so after a nap, we arrived at an animal sanctuary. We decided to check it out- and it was great! Saw loads of native animals, including Koala, Kangaroos (various species), Saltwater Crocodiles, Cassowary, Emu, parrots and lots of different bird species.
We were picked up by the van after an hour and a half and continued the drive north to do a short walk in a nature reserve within the Daintree that is going to be handed over to the traditional owners. We walked up to some water falls and spotted some nature along the way. It was then back to the van and up to Cape Tribulation- a beautiful beach and a great place to snorkel to reef. We were just here to check out the beach though, and had a rather pricey lunch- we had been told it was 'affordable', but was actually about 20 pounds for two sarnies and a bowl of chips!. The start of a very expensive trip to Oz. Be warned, it is soooooo pricey here! We also saw our first Huntsman Spider at the restaurant- huge but harmless.
After sweltering for a while at Cape Trib, we got the van back down, and stopped off for another walk in the Daintree Forest area and saw a large lizard, mangroves and strangler figs. We also stopped of for a photo op at a view point- beautiful but it was a bit hazy so not sure how good the photos will be.
Our final acitivity of the day was a cruise along the Daintree river, a river that is infested with the deadly Saltwater Crocodile, also known as Salties. I had been reading up about these animals (round since the era of the Dinosaurs, and an effective killing machine) and was pretty terrified of them. The boat captain re-inforced this fear by telling us various croc stories, including a story about a croc that has attacked a boat- the croc weighed over a ton and the damange to the boat was significant. Another story was about a croc that followed a boat that had a crying baby onboard. He also told about crocs that watch humans and remember patterns (a croc attacked a lady who went down to the bottom of a garden by the river at a certain time each day), and also advised us to camp more than 50 m away from a river on a hill as they have been known to drag humans out of tents. Finally, if sleeping in a van, pop your head out of the sunroof to see if a croc is laying in wait for you. Needless to say, I probably wouldn't stay by the river here.
We did see a croc, but it was mainly submerged. It was cool to see one in the wild though, and we got close enough for me. More on the croc phobia in future posts, which will become reifnorced by reading Bill Bryson's Down Under (he regales countless, gruesome croc stories).
We began the drive back to Cairns and by the time we arrived we had decided which Whitsunday sailing cruise we wanted to book, so Chris sorted that out for us before we moved hostel. He also apologised for the fridge mishap- its locked each night due to food theft (?!) and we weren't told where the key was. He invited us to a fire show at the hostel later and gave us some free bottled water to compensate. We moved to Ryans Rest, which for less money we had our own private room, with aircon, a tv and unlimited braodband internet! It only had 6 rooms, the kitchen, bathrooms and communal area were great and it was one of the best hostels we stayed in during our time in Oz. After dinner (we ate the sandwiches we should have had for our tea) and popped back to Dreamtime to watch the fireshow- have to say I was really impressed. Its a family run show and we really enjoyed it.
Cairns is based in the state of Queensland in the northeastern corner of Australia and was first explored by Europeans (the Dutch, Portugese and French) in the 1600s. The seasons here are hot and wet or cool and dry and the region is said to receive over 300 days of sunshine in the year. Luckily for us, we had timed our visit here for the tail end of the dry season and the build up to the wet season. The region is noted for its diverse terrain: it features an amazing coastline in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, dramatic mountain ranges (the Dividing Range) and tropical green rainforests (Daintree). It was the last of these environments that we decided to explore first.
Our day trip to the World Heritage Listed Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Parks started early on our second morning in Oz. The previous night we had made ourselves a packed lunch for the day but the fridge was locked in the morning and we were unable to take our food with us on the trip - boo!
The first stop on our trip was a rainforest animal sanctuary. We ventured through purpose built native habitats of some of Austrailia's rare and endangered native animals. We saw a whole host of species such as Kangaroos, Wallabies, free-roaming Emus, the (deadly!) Cassowary, a couple of sleepy and grumpy Koalas, some crocodiles (at a distance of course!) and lots of colourful birds.
We then stopped and did a little walk through some lush rainforest at Mossman Gorge followed by a lunch near the white sand of Cape Tribulation Beach which was fringed by the rainforest of the Daintree. Oh, at the restaurant we also saw a huntsman spider which momentarily scared the bejesus out of me as I pulled out a menu from the rack!
The next stop was the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk and we were provided with a guided tour through the rainforest with explanantions of plants, todal creek systems and mangrove trees.
In the afternoon we went on a Daintree River Wildlife Cruise where we went crocodile spotting. We managed to see a couple of crocodiles and listened with a little trepidation as the boat skipper recounted some scary stories where people had been stuck in the river (albeit in small fishing boats) and then attacked by these fearsome "Salties"! Luckily for us we were on a much bigger boat and we managed to make it back on the bus without any issues.
On the way back to Cairns we stopped at Rex lookout which provided a viewpoint of the coastline and Green Island.
Once back in Cairns we moved 50m down the road from Dreamtime hostel to Ryans Rest. It was recommended to us by the really helpful Chris at Dreamtime as they were booked up for the following two nights and couldn't accommodate us. Ryans Rest was an awesome boutique guesthouse - and turned out to be one of the best places we stayed in during our time in Australia: we had our own clean room with television, air-con and the wi-fi was ridiculously fast, all for the same price as the dorm beds at Dreamtime. In the evening we did cheekily headed back to Dreamtime but only to watch an amazing fire show by a family of travelling performers - we had the best of both worlds!