After our visit in Innisfail Sam and I decided to head towards Cairns to do some possible snorkeling, but the weather was not having it. The schedule was rainy and windy for the next few days, so after a visit to the Cairns night market and an unplanned night in a rest stop outside of Cairns on the 27th (for which we got a warning letter put on our car – no unauthorized camping within Cairns limits. Queensland is not the hospitable state that most other Australian states would seem to be. Jerks.) we headed North towards the Dainteee National Park instead (rain in a rainforest is never a problem…).
Warning sign on a beach where we stopped to have breakfast:
The drive north on May 28 from Cairns to Mossman (the Captain Cook highway) was 40km of BEAUTIFUL, with small deserted beaches to stop at the whole way and breathtaking scenic outlooks with sweeping views of the Coral Sea and the mountains.
Our first stop was Mossman Gorge, a section of the Daintree that is known for its incredibly gorgeous forest. And it was gorgeous, the most beautiful trees I have ever seen anywhere. We went on a 5km walk through the forest but I wish it could have been 500km it was so beautiful. The trees were huge and exotic – but I guess they would be. After all this is the oldest rainforest in the world at over over one hundred and thirty-five million years old.
Heading into Mossman:
Walking in the Gorge:
From the gorge, and after a stop at Wonka Beach for lunch, we headed further north to take a ferry across the crocodile-infested Daintree River towards Cape Tribulation.
Thanks to the generosity of our fearless leader GWB, who decided in what must have been a fit of lunacy to hand me some more money that I didn’t earn and won’t repay (so much for stoking the American ecomomy), I bought a cheap straw cowboy hat, a case of beer, and 4 nights at a Australia Parks campsite that charged only $9/night. We had the whole of Noah Beach practically to ourselves and it was fantastic. We spent four days walking the beaches and wondering at the flora and fauna and spying on our neighboring campers. It was great. We now have tans, an even greater respect for Austalian National Parks, and a very doubtful view of the kindness of European travelers who rent huge, fancy vans to camp in.
Fan Palm! I love them! They can grow to over 2m wide!
These ferns live in the trees in a pile of their own dead bits attached to branches or trunks. Sometimes the trees send out tiny roots from their branches into the fern’s decomposing leaf pile to tap into the nutrients there. It’s like a tree holding a nutrition shake!
When rainforest meets mangrove – oh so cool.
Watching the evening approach on Noah Beach (note the lack of people and the presence of mountains!)
Over 430 species of birds live in the Daintree, of which 13 species are found nowhere else in the world. This includes the elusive cassowary, the world’s only bird with a helmet of which there are only 1200 left in the wild. We were not lucky enough to spot one but here is a picture so you can see the world’s most dangerous bird (they have dagger like claws on their feet that can slice you open with a single well-placed kick!). For more info on them click on the picture!
Unfortunately people keep running them over with cars, which can’t be good for such a small population, so as you drive through the Daintree you see lots of signs such as this:
Aside from the birds, the Daintree is home to the largest range of plants and animals on earth. According to daintreerainforest.com this rainforest that covers only 0.2% of the landmass of Australia contains 30% of its frog, marsupial and reptile species as well as 65% of the bat and butterfly species.
We saw only a few of these animals, but it was cool to see a Northern Bandicoot (below), a striped possum, and several other nocturnal foragers. A regular guest at both breakfast and dinner was our friend Tom Turkey, who was ugly as anything but fun to watch (supposedly these turkeys do not taste good so we didn’t try to eat him).
Here are pictures from further down the beach than where we stayed. I made a panorama, but it just made it look small. If you cut the long picture out and roll it in a tube (matching the sam ends up), then imagine that the beach is 4km long it makes it seem better. And I am in the picture below, waving at you. Try to find me….
We stayed on Noah beach from May 28 to June 1, then headed towards Carins to go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef! Whoo! Somewhere along the way we picked up a couple of sweaty American hitchhikers and took them to Port Douglas, lost our camp chairs, saw a grocery store charging $6 for a loaf of white bread, lost our hummus due to a mold invasion, and found out of date snickers on sale at 5 for $1 (They are usually $1.80 here). Things in the snack food department are looking up.