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An Extremely Belated Cape Tribulation Adventure

Cassowaries and Crocodiles

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Luckily we were at the right place at the right time walking down the road, and we were lucky enough to see a cassowary!

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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)

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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.

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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.)

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We also stopped by the Mossman Gorge, and had a little time to wander the trails and explore.

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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!

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Posted by smr1188 10:47 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes beaches rainforest rivers wildlife australia tours east_coast Comments (1)

Dingoes and 4WD on the Largest Sand Island--Fraser Island

Lookout, it's a Dropbear!

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When travelling in Australia, particularly along the east coast, it's a must to see Fraser Island. While I didn't want to miss out on Fraser Island, I was skeptical after hearing some of the stories about the different companies that run tours. You can do anything from a day tour to a three day tour, ride in a bus or do a tag along 4wd tour (where your group is split into several vehicles, depending on the size and everyone can take a turn driving). I certainly didn't want to do a day tour and the bus was definitely out, but there were several tag along tours to choose from. I turned to TripAdvisor to see if anything stood out. Many of the companies recommended by travel agents (such as Wicked Travel had mixed reviews, however one company immediately stood out. Dropbear Adventures. Out of the 188 reviews on tripadvisor, 181 were excellent, 6 were 'very good' and only 1 negative review. I was astonished by the reviews and immediately decided to go with them. Best decision ever.

From being picked up at the hostel by the owner himself, to how smoothly the paperwork, safetly introduction video and vehicles were sorted, I was impressed.

As quick as possible we all packed our stuff up in the cars and left Noosa for a two hour drive from Noosa to Rainbow Beach, where we'd catch the ferry to Fraser Island. This 2 hour drive was a good opportunity to chat with the people you were in the car with and start getting to know some of the people you'd be spending the next 3 days with. Unfortunately, I ended up in a car made up entirely of Swiss who all knew each other and though they tried to speak English, they inevitably slipped back and I was left on my own. The following days some people switched around in cars and so I was able to be in different cars.

Once we got to Rainbow beach we hopped on the ferry and saw our first glimpse of Fraser Island.

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It was a short ferry ride and soon enough we were driving on the sand, where all normal road rules still apply, such as speed limits and driving on the left.

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I had no idea Fraser Island is as big as it is, it's almost 80 miles long! The eastern beach goes most of the length of the island and is the main driving area. It seems to go on forever!

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Our first stop was our campsite so we could change and have lunch. One of the reasons I'd chose Dropbear Adventures was that food was included, which is a nice change for backpackers.

We were right next to the ocean, just a sand dune separating us from the water and you could always hear the waves.

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Our tents were already set up with sleeping pads and sand already in them. You just had to claim one, but make sure you didn't keep any of your belongings in the tent when you weren't in it, dingoes are very present on the island and never hesitate to steal a tent if they think there's something good in it.

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Our afternoon adventure was to Lake Wabby, one of the many freshwater lakes on the island.

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The water was chilly, but in a refreshing kind of way.

We headed back to camp for dinner, drinks, and then I spent the night laying on the beach looking up at the sky. The stars were absolutely incredible!

And it was so great being so close to the ocean, but unfortunately due to stingers, sharks, and rips, you couldn't swim in it.

But you could watch the sunrise!

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We did a lot of driving that next day, since it was our only full day on the island.

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And spent some time at Eli Creek, another freshwater spring (where our camp drinking water came from).

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We went to the Champagne Pools, where water washes over the rocks and there's lots of little fish in the water.

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We hiked up Indian Head, which was a sacred area for the Aboriginals and had gorgeous views, we even saw a shark swim by down below!

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There's a famous shipwreck on the island, called the Maheno. You can read more about it here.

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Fraser Island wouldn't be complete without some dingoes!

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Our last day a storm came in, but we were headed inland for some bush driving and a rainforest walk anyway. Though we did stop at Lake Mckenzie which certainly would have been better had it been warm and sunny.

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It wouldn't be Australia without a ridiculous sign.

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We took a walk in a rainforest and there was another freshwater stream, this one almost difficult to see as it flowed over the sand.

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All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Fraser and head back on the ferry.

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Though since I was headed all the way back to Noosa, my trip wasn't done. After we dropped some people off we headed for another beach drive along Rainbow Beach.

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Right at the end Mark got stuck and we all got out to push and eventually had to tow him out. It would have been disappointing if no one had gotten stuck the whole trip, so this was good timing. And he was very stuck.

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But we pulled him out, no problem.

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We took another ferry and watched the sunset and then we were all ready to be home after a very long three days.

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I would highly recommend Dropbear Adventures to everyone. It's an unforgettable trip!

The following photos courtesy of Dropbear.

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Posted by smr1188 15:02 Archived in Australia Tagged lakes beaches rainforest fraser_island ocean wildlife beach australia driving tours sunrise east_coast Comments (4)

It may not have felt like Christmas...

...But it was still a good day

Situated between the beach (Tasman Sea) and the rainforest (Paparoa National Park) we celebrated Christmas Day by going for a walk in the rain.

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There was a lovely trail and so much greenery everywhere.

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The trail was quite wet and muddy with all the rain so we tried to avoid a lot of the puddles.

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We found a swing bridge that had recently been built and enjoyed hearing the birds in the trees.

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We stopped at the Pancake Rocks on the way back to our hostel and then relaxed on our balcony overlooking the water.

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Posted by smr1188 18:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged rainforest beach new_zealand roadtrip south_island Comments (0)

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