Cassowaries and Crocodiles
9/6/14 - 10/6/14
First of all, a huge apology to anyone that cares that this post is almost 3 months overdue! Mostly Cape Trib Connections, I'm sorry! (My main excuse is that someone sat on my computer and the screen cracked. So I couldn't access my pictures and had to carry a broken computer around for awhile before I could get around to fixing it. Sad day.)
There may not be much to do in Cairns aside from go out and party every night at the same 4 or 5 main bars and then sleep off the night before at the lagoon. And repeat.
However, there's a lot of things you can access from Cairns, such as the Great Barrier Reef (just wait, that story is coming next) and Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. Both of these are a must do when you're in the area, and Cape Tribulation was actually pretty awesome!
Anna and I opted for a tour that seemed the most personal and a smaller group. We also picked one that let us spend the night up in the Daintree Rainforest, there's not really a “town” but a collection of a couple hostels that you can stay at. Unfortunately we only had time to stay one night, but two or three would have been better, if we'd planned it out better (timing and food-wise) and if we'd known how much we'd like it there!
Cape Tribulation was named by James Cook in 1770 when his ship hit a reef, he wasn't in a good mood at that point as shown by other names in the area, including Endeavour Reef and Mount Sorrow. Surrounded by the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world, there's lots to see and do.
We stopped at several lookout points along the way, and our driver / tour guide told us about some of the history and stories along the way.
We went for a brief “rainforest walk” which, though it was on a boardwalk, was still informative on the plants we could see. The guide pointed out some of plants were several years old and still only a meter tall but since a storm had blown down a bunch of trees and opened up the area to sunlight, it was now quickly growing as fast as it could in just a short couple months. The new leaves were still a light / bright green and very obviously new growth from the rest of the plant.
We then got dropped off at our hostel, a cute sprawling place with bungalows that were within walking distance to the beach. After a quick lunch we headed out to the beach and to explore.
Since we had a choice of hostels, not all of us from the bus were at the same hostel but we saw familiar faces as we wandered the beach and nearby boardwalks and paths.
We were warned about crocodiles in the area, and kept a wary eye out for them, and unfortunately avoiding wading in the waters.
When we first crossed this, the tide was out so it was relatively shallow, but still gave us some pause. On our way back it was a lot deeper with the tide coming in and after staring at it for awhile, decided we'd better not and turned around to take the long way back.
This area is particularly special in that it's the only region where two 'world heritage areas' meet, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
That night we decided to splurge and do a guided night walk. It was cool to be walking around at night in the forest, but unfortunately we didn't see as many things as I was hoping for. We saw a lizard or two, and could certainly hear owls hooting nearby.
The next morning we were up early, no time to sleep when you're exploring a new area! Though it was tough to drag myself out of bed, I knew if I didn't, Anna would see something cool! Like that time I took a nap and she went and found wild koalas on Magnetic Island...
We met up with a couple of other people from our bus (they also did the night walk) and we went off exploring down a dirt road that eventually led to a trail and a river. Supposedly you could swim here, but we didn't have time and the water was pretty chilly too. Also it definitely looked like crocodile territory!
Luckily we were at the right place at the right time walking down the road, and we were lucky enough to see a cassowary!
I wasn't able to get a good picture of him on my simple point and shoot camera, but this is what they actually look like: (google image)
On the way back, someone suggested we walk along the beach instead of back along the dirt road. Ok sure, that sounds fine. We just have to be back to our hostel in time for the bus back to Cairns (he'd already told us he wasn't going to wait for us if we weren't there).
In the end, the beach wasn't the best way to go back, it ended up being very rocky, to the point where we were climbing over boulders as well. Anna and I felt frustrated and super rushed since we didn't how how long it would take us to get back and we didn't want to miss our bus. It would have been a lot of fun if we'd been able to take our time and enjoy it, chasing crabs and I always love rock scrambles. But this was more 'look out crabs, we're coming through' and then Anna throwing in some Swedish phrases.
We did however make it back to our hostel. And then the bus was late (they apparently tell you an early time on purpose, hmph). Once back on the bus we headed back across the Daintree River, this time on a boat, looking for crocodiles. We managed to spot several of them and learned about a lot of the problems crocodiles are facing. Crocodiles have lots of problems with hunting and baiting in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia, but luckily they're protected along the Daintree River. (If I'd written this 3 months ago, I could have included the crocodile names, yes they had names since the tour guides see them almost daily and get to know them and where they live, but unfortunately I didn't write them down.)
We also stopped by the Mossman Gorge, and had a little time to wander the trails and explore.
There was a beautiful sunset and moonrise as we headed back into Cairns. I loved our trip with Cape Trib Connections and the combination of freedom to do what we wanted and explore, but the commentary of a guide on the small bus giving us history, information, and stories. I'd highly recommend these guys!