Cape Trib Trip

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cairns is famous for its access to a World Heritage site and a place that makes almost every "20 things you must see before you die" list: The Great Barrier Reef. But there is another World Heritage Site that surrounds it and, to the north is well-protected and hardly touched. The Wet Tropics area or more specifically, the Daintree Rainforest. In fact, this is the only place in the world where to World Heritage Sites are located side by side, so it seemed prudent to take Betsy north on a bit of a trip while I waited for my turn on the reef. And so we did.

The first stop on the way up was Lake Placid, which, unlike the movie, actually doesn't have gigantic killing crocodiles. Plenty of smaller ones around, but no giants (and none in the lake, lest the tourist bureau encounter my blog). Nevertheless, I didn't really take a swim as it was warm but not quite hot and I was not feeling the call. From there, the drive got really beautiful, rolling up and down and around the coastline, offering great views of beaches below and sometimes engulfing the car in forest. I got up to Port Douglas, my first stop for the night, and I thought, since Melbourne ruled in its own favour on my parking tickets (there was a ticket machine that was out of order but I left my car for longer than two hours, thanks guys!), I would stop at the Post Office and pay them off. Which I can't, so online or by phone it is, I suppose. However, next door was Extras casting for a new Tom Hanks/Spielberg movie called The Pacific. The casting had been done but I thought it was cool to know they're filming up here. Anyway, I stayed the night and had a meal and drink at the hostel's pub. There wasn't much going on here but at least I did manage to chat with some people. I've been traveling a long time, but very little alone, so I've been in that initial 'introverted' phase until now in my solo journey. As for Port Douglas, well, it has a beautiful beach that runs for miles... four of them, to be precise. And it's called Four Mile Beach. I laid there and read my new book (Hemmingway, Islands in the Stream) having finished The Grapes of Wrath not too long ago and enjoyed the afternoon sun.

The next day I got an early start and went up to Daintree Village. On the way up I stopped and walked Mossman Gorge. It was a nice walk and I met some nice people on the way around. There were also some interesting plants and animal noises. One sounded like a guy gargling (apparently a type of pigeon) and it would usually be preceeded by another bird calling that sounded like someone yelling, "Brad!". Maybe I just have former ex-PCers on my mind. Anyway, it was a nice walk. As for Daintree Village, another 30 mins away or so, well, there wasn't much to see or do there but jump on a river tour and see the crocodiles. I thought that, just in case I fall in or am attacked, it would be good to have some crocodile on my breath - you know, remind them who's at the top of the food chain - so I had some crocodile in fried wonton and took the boat. The ride was pretty dull, but it had to be done. We spotted some cows drinking from the river and I was crossing my fingers that we might actually see one in action, but alas, the crocodile we found was sunning itself with a full belly. We also spotted a rare King Fisher bird and two owls asleep. One other thing that amazed me about this place is how often it's underwater. Roads and ramps and things sometimes have markers up to 8m high showing that the water gets there, and the boat launch was routinely under about 5-6m in the wet season. They just live with it and put their air intakes as high as they can.

I got into Cape Tribulation and PK's hostel a little too late to do the sunset sea kayaking, but I did book myself in for a guided night walk through the jungle that I'd heard a lot about. It was a bit pricey at $35, but it turned out to be really worth it. We all had flashlights and kept our eyes peeled. We spotted some white tail rats and a few little marsupials whose name starts with an 'm'. And for my part, I spotted a huntsman spider, a funny flowering plant that the guide didn't know, a scorpion (!!), and a bandicoot. Our guide took us by the water where we saw an eel stalking some crayfish looking things (names don't stick with me, unfortunately) and my personal highlight, a couple tree frogs. The walk was very informative and interesting, and I do recommend this to anyone.

I spent the better part of the next day hiking up to the top of Mount Sorrow, and to my own sorrow the weather degraded as I climbed. It wasn't a great walk or a quick one - it is posted to take 6-7 hours, though I did it in 4 - but maybe it would've been worth it for the view. For my part, there wasn't much else to do because of the weather and it was good exercise although treacherously slippery. The one thing that did make it worthwhile was that I heard a noise in the forest and snuck around carefully and quietly to see a baby cassowary digging through some leaves for something. I watched it for awhile but kept my distance, you never know when mama's near. Since I got back so early, I thought I'd see how far I could get north before the road was really 4x4 required. I encountered a stream soon enough but it was shallow and Betsy forded through no problem. And then another stream and I thought that sooner or later one was going to be too deep and I was just going to have to turn around, so that ended my little trek north. That night, I drank with a bunch of the people in my room. It was good times since jugs were eight bucks, we each had two before taking a walk to the beach and calling it a night.

Now I'm back in Cairns. It was a beautiful drive back on a beautiful day, and I hope that bodes well for my dive, which departs this afternoon. Or, should I say, my dives. Or my 5-day nausea fest. Whichever. I'm really hoping not to get seasick and I've definitely stocked up on anti-motion sickness pills. Travacalm, it's called. Hopefully it works, because I don't even want to imagine five days of seasickness. We have a lot of dives, two night dives (this I'm quite excited for), a trip out to the coral sea to dive with the sharks and see them feeding, and at the end I'll have my Advanced Open Water. Which, hopefully, I will want to use at some time in the future. I almost swore off diving that time in Mexico, five days of that would be the end of boat diving for me I think. Let someone else feed the fish and get throw up under water this time. Anyway, I'm rambling now, but I'll see you on the reef!
View Daintree and Cape Tribulation Photos

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