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Australia: Cape Tribulation, Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge Mossman Gorge

I arrived in Cairns on Wednesday afternoon, in the calm before the storm. I had loads planned but that’s pretty much out the window now due to Cyclone Ita, the category 5 storm heading for Cairns right now.

Satellite image of Cyclone Ita yesterday

Satellite image of Cyclone Ita yesterday

 

I was due to snorkel at Michaelmas Cay and Paradise Island today but everything is cancelled – first it was everything boat or coastal related but now even inland journeys are off too. On Wednesday night, I met up with a friend from the Outback tour and she had just managed to finish her reef trip. I must say, although she got some great pictures, you can see the water was already churning up and visibility wasn’t that great. So, it’s a shame I can’t go, I would rather come back when it looks amazing – like the brochure:

Michaelmas Cay in better weather - I want to come back to Cairns when the weather looks like this :)

Michaelmas Cay in better weather – I want to come back to Cairns when the weather looks like this 🙂

 

I have managed to see something though. Yesterday I was picked up early for my tour north to Cape Tribulation, the rainforest and then back down to Mossman Gorge. Our guide Bruce, an ex-documentary wildlife programme maker, was fantastic and we had a great day.

Heading north on the Captain Cook Highway, you pass through the lovely Port Douglas and Palm Cove, two upmarket holiday towns on the coast then the road hugs the coastline. We drove on past lots of sugar cane plantations and the Daintree tea plantation, then arrived at the Daintree river.

Driving past sugar cane plantations on the way to Cape Tribulation

Driving past sugar cane plantations on the way to Cape Tribulation

We sailed for about an hour looking for wildlife, especially saltwater crocodiles, that can swim straight up from the sea. The guide on the boat had great eyes – it was a shame we didn’t see many birds as they had already flown off pending the storm, but we did see three crocs and a snake.

Daintree River

Daintree River

 

See if you can spot the wildlife…from the boat it was nearly impossible!

Green tree snake

Green tree snake

Crocodile (small one)

Crocodile (small one)

Crocodile (small one)

Crocodile (small one)

Crocodile (more obvious!)

Crocodile (more obvious!)

 

The guide took us further up the river heading inland where Bruce collected us in the truck on the other side. You can only reach the northern bank on the river via a vehicle ferry that’s open 6am-midnight and due to strict regulations on building, the rainforest is really well protected.

Low traffic and the ferry’s night closure have also meant that the ancient cassowary birds have a greater chance of survival. Cassowaries are cousins of the emu and ostrich, and are endangered. As they are very shy, it was unlikely that we would spot one but Bruce did his best.

Mind the cassowaries - graffiti on the speed bump sign

Mind the cassowaries – graffiti on the speed bump sign

 

We drove further north and stopped at a tiny place called Noah’s Creek for lunch. It’s a private property that has an idyllic riverside barbeque area. We had a great lunch and then it was just a short drive to the next stop, Cape Tribulation.

Captain Cook named the headland after his ship ran into the reef just offshore, and “here began all our troubles”. It doesn’t seem he was that happy here as he also named the nearby mountain Mount Sorrow. There is a beautiful beach and we walked along it before turning into the forest for a short walk.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Sand patterns made by crabs

Sand patterns made by crabs

Mangroves on the beach at Cape Tribulation

Mangroves on the beach at Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

 

Back in the truck, we drove back on ourselves, south towards the Daintree River. We got the vehicle ferry back over this time, and headed towards Mossman Gorge.

The vehicle ferry across the Daintree River

The vehicle ferry across the Daintree River

The mouth of the Daintree River heading out to sea

The mouth of the Daintree River heading out to sea

 

The Kuku Yalanji people own the land at Mossman Gorge and they welcomed us at the visitor centre. They showed us some of their traditional weapons and some of the foods that can be found in the rainforest nearby, including this interesting blue ginger. I tried it; it was like chewing mild peppercorns.

Blue ginger at Mossman Gorge

Blue ginger at Mossman Gorge

 

We had afternoon tea there, a muffin shaped Dampa bread with cream and jam before trekking off on another walk to the gorge. They have built a walkway through the forest and Bruce was pointing out all the wildlife and the plants. Unfortunately the swimming hole was closed due to the weather but we saw some of the fast flowing waters from the lookouts.

The walkway at Mossman Gorge

The walkway at Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

View from the coastal road at Daintree National Park

View from the coastal road at Daintree National Park

By the time we started driving back to Cairns it was raining and you could see the storm approaching off the coast.

The storm rolling in towards Cairns

The storm rolling in towards Cairns

 

So, now I have two days to kill. There is nothing major going on weather-wise at the moment, it’s drizzling a bit but that’s it. The rain that gets you soaked, as Peter Kay would say. We expect the storm to hit tonight, hopefully by which time I will be asleep with my earplugs in.

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