This is country you really need to see, it has it all, lush tropical rain forests rated as some of the best in the world and also the most ancient rain forest anywhere in the world. The rain forest grows right down to the beautiful tropical beaches, wide stretches of clean sand skirted by the jungle and coconut palms. Oh and just off in the ocean? Only the Great Barrier reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world or perhaps I just made that up. And yes, that a coconut with a smiley face in the picture above, it was laying on the beach.
I’m going to break the Daintree post into a few different parts, so far I’m planning three, general, then plants and lastly animals, but this is an organic thing and could change. I originally booked in for 4 nights, then extended another three nights and now I’m wondering if I should just extend for another week, not that there’s much I haven’t done around here, I’ve done every boardwalk and walk trail, I don’t particularly want to do the really commercial “things”. There’s the discovery centre way down the other end, I’ve driven past it a couple of times visiting another jungle boardwalk down that way. The fact that they have an animatronic dinosaur out the front is enough to put me off, but I’ve also heard via wiki camps that it’s a rip off.
There are a lot of commercial ventures out this way and I’m sure that I’ll give some of them a go. Drive tours, crocodile tours, ocean boat adventures, forest surfing, bike riding, guided walks, exotic fruit tasting, ice cream tasting, you name it they have it. There’s a fairly constant stream of vans, coaster buses and modified 4×4 trucks driving up the road stopping at the different walks and beaches where everyone piles out and they are led around by their driver. I’m not sure about the quality of them, I imagine some are good and some are poor, after all, there’s not really any control or regulation as such, anyone can run a tour business up here if they want to, pick people up in Cairns or wherever then drive up for the day. Drive around visiting a few of the sites, take your customers for a walk explaining bits and pieces as you go. I did see one guy at a beach setting up lunch on a picnic table, a few water bottles, an esky with tupperware containers containing some salad, cold meat, then some spongy white bread rolls. I thought it unusual that this guy had so much food for what seemed like only himself. As I was getting in my car a couple walked up from the beach and started talking with him, it was then I noticed the magnetic signs on the doors of his sedan parked near me, they were his customers and he was providing a Daintree tour. I listened to him trying to talk up the very average looking picnic lunch, more than once he mentioned “the caterers”. Caterers? What like Coles or Woolies?
So the Daintree. It’s strange to think that everything coming into the area has to cross the Daintree river on a ferry, once you drive around and get a look at all of the infrastructure, the hotels, restaurants and caravan parks, and all the day trippers and campers, you wonder how all of the building material got here, let alone the daily supplies. Especially after you drive down the tiny windy road from the ferry to cape tribulation as well. With my large van on the back I took up most of the road in many places twisting and winding my way here. There were a few tricky moments when a car came in the opposite direction and I’m already planning my way out, I’ll be leaving about 6 in the morning so that there’s no traffic.
The campsite here at “Cape Trib Camping” is great, Not knowing what the weather would be like I went for a powered site, it was $15 a night unpowered per person or $20 powered. This works out well for me, normally it’s a flat rate per vehicle whether you’re single or a couple. It appears that most people are really just passing through here, the camp empties almost completely during the day, then a whole batch of new campers arrive during the afternoon. I don’t understand how people can come here for only one night, there’s a lot to see in the area and one night in paradise just really isn’t enough.
Over the 2 weeks that I was camped here it did get pretty busy some nights and every now and then when the breeze was just right I’d get a little waft from the big concrete tanks near my van. Oh yeah, the toilet/shower block was just the other side. There was another buried tank just to the left of that photo as well, it had a large control panel on top with a red light on it. One particularly busy night when the place was packed with campers, the red light started flashing. The “overflow” campers who were camped in tents right next to it were getting a little worried, so was I.
The office/bar/cafe serves great pizzas for $15-20 and beers are $5 each, cheaper than many city pubs, very friendly staff and loads of info if you need it. This place is hard to beat for great jungle camping, and the staff, mainly young female travelers from all over the world are, delightful. A carefully chosen word there.
Day 7 at Cape Tribulation and the place is still awe inspiring. Days aren’t too hot at the moment perhaps only 25-30 the first couple of days it rained occasionally which helped to keep things cool. The uncomfortable thing is the humidity, nothing much dries out when it’s this humid, my towel is starting to stink even though it was clean only 2 or 3 days ago, it has that “left in the washing machine” smell to it even though I’ve been hanging it out under the awning during the day. Nights are also fairly warm generally only dropping down to between 20 and 25.
I’ve done all of the walks available from down at the Daintree river up past Cape Tribulation. Most of the walks are only up to around 1 km though there’s one I’ve read about going up a mountain which is 6-8 hours long through some very tough jungle, I think I’ll stick to the beaches and short rain forest walks.
It’s 5.30 in the afternoon and 27 degrees and there’s a cool breeze and although it feels reasonably comfortable I can feel sweat trickling down my body due to the humidity. But I’m happy, there’s a real laid back feel to this place and it really is a tropical paradise.
There’s one thing I’m not particularly happy about, the severe lack of shells. I wandered along 4 or 5 different beaches today and there’s nothing but rubbish, old bits of coral and pumice stone. Seems that perhaps the great barrier reef is not a huge source of sea shells, or perhaps they just don’t wash up here on the shore. I have managed to eventually find one cowrie shell.
Ok, I know this is a terrible photo but I had to slip it in here. There were a group doing some yoga on the beach while I was walking by, well most of the group were doing yoga, check out the pastey white guy in the middle. He’s not even trying, just standing still with his t-shirt draped over his head checking out the girl in black standing in front of him.
I’ve realized on this trip to the Daintree that without internet and without any type of mission like searching for shiny rocks, that I tend to fill my days with other missions, rather than relaxing or lazing around. I’ve been up and out almost every day at about 7 in the morning looking for good photo opportunities, often with a list of “jobs” that need to be done.
- Get better picture of Spiders
- Find Jungle emu (Cassowary)
- Get river photo with slow shutter speed
- Collect fruits in jungle, take picture of them
- Get better picture of strangler fig
- Pictures of fan palm
The lists were constant almost every day and whatever happened that day would often dictate the list for the next day.
Though I did manage to read a book during my stay, probably my first one in a couple of years. David Suzuki’s autobiography, it was a good read and seemed fairly apt to be reading that considering where I was camped.
The bottom section of this photo looks almost like an oil painting. These two photos were taken with my phone when I was doing an “exercise” walk on the beach in the afternoon and they came out surprisingly well. So well in fact that I then started to take pictures first with my camera and then with the phone for the next few days.
One of the girls working at the camp suggested that I shouldn’t walk around the point at the south end of the beach where there was a river, as it was home to a large crocodile and numerous smaller ones. I’d already been around there the day before, Ooops. But after reading about crocodiles the next day I figured I’d wander around there again being more careful this time, staying well away from the water.
It was a lovely little spot, but on my second visit, just to the right of this photo was someones tackle box sitting on the rocks, it hadn’t been there the day before. There was no one anywhere in sight, had someone been taken or had they just forgotten their box? Evidently no one seemed to be missing from camp.
100 metres away on the other side of the point the beach was magnificent while this side looked like a war zone. I don’t know how that palm tree was still alive, it’s a great balancing act for a coconut palm that must have been 10m tall.
Taking photographs in the jungle has been difficult, it’s quite dark under the canopy, though the light which does come through in places is usually very bright meaning there’s always a stark contrast of dark and light. Excuses, excuses.
There was a small general store come cafe just up the road from the campsite. I’d passed there many time while I was in and out of the camp and I’d read their signs about serving all different types of unusual meats including camel, buffalo and crocodile. “Eat the crocodile before it eats you!” However, when I went in to buy a few supplies I really didn’t expect any meat quite so unusual.
Ah well, time to post this, I still need to start working on the plants post and then the animal post. I think it’s easier when I’m in a boring place just having to do manual digging for shiny rocks rather than all these thousands of photos which need sorting. Though taking the photos is fun, it’s later when you then have to spend days sitting at the computer sorting, tweaking, cropping, typing, uploading…
Large ships were about the only thing that spoiled the scenery around here. I’m surprised that the ships were allowed in this close, and there were actually 4 ships in view across the horizon when I took this photo.