Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Daintree and Cape Tribulation

The Daintree has been on my Bucket List for so long, I'd started to think that perhaps I would be disappointed.  I kept reminding myself that Sir David Attenborough had called it “the most extraordinary place on earth”.  And who would argue with him?

I was in such a hurry to get there, we'd travelled 75 kms before I could be tempted to stop for a look around. But Mossman did the trick.  It's a picturesque little township nestled at the foot of mountains with wide, tree lined streets and, as luck would have it, a lovely old church - St David's Anglican Church.

My sister and our little rental car, dwarfed by the roadside trees, waiting for me opposite the little church.  That's a childrens' playground on the left.

 Looking back towards the township

Opposite the church. Sugarcane in the foreground. 

I took the next photo on our way to  the Daintree River Ferry. 

 Brahmin bull at rest

North of the Daintree River, electricity is supplied by generators or, increasingly, solar power. Shops and services are limited, and mobile-phone reception is patchy at best.   Here we would be surrounded by rainforest in the Daintree National Park.   The roads are mostly pretty narrow and winding with some great views of the coastline.

After the ferry crossing we turned into the Walu Wugirriga Lookout, the first stopping point you come to after you depart the ferry. It is a short drive from the docking place and up the hill into the rainforest.  With stunning views over the coastal plain and the Daintree River mouth it was a good introduction to the area.  And a good place to wait a while to give the ferry traffic time to get ahead of us. 

I confuse myself sometimes when I think 'the Daintree".  Daintree refers to several different places.  There is the town of Daintree or Daintree Village, a tiny, funky little township with a few cafes and souvenir shops.  Tourist season had not yet kicked in, all was quiet.  When the first of the winter chills hit the southern states of Australia, the place will be hopping.  The population in the 2016 census is given as 129. 

The Daintree River view from the ferry was unimpressive but here in the village it glides peacefully by.  It's appearance gives no clue that it is home to many estuarine crocodiles which are frequently spotted from the safety of one of the wildlife-watching cruise-boats.

Then there is the Daintree Forest National Park.  The forest is thought to be over 165 million years old. It is in a high rainfall zone of Australia, parts of the park receive about 4,000 mm of rain a year.  It is home  to about 30% of Australia’s frogs, reptile and marsupial species, 65% of their bat and butterfly species and over 430 species of bird, including kookaburras, kingfishers, cockatoos, pigeons of various kinds, and scrubfow. Not that we saw many, but boy oh boy, did we hear them!   We saw a fews flashes of blue against the greenery; I think they were the famed Ulysses Butterfly. 

But best of all, it is home to the elusive Cassowary!  We were extremely lucky that Daintree Deep Forest Lodge, where we were staying, had a resident male and three chicks.  They hadn't been seen for a while and we'd been asked to let the owners know if we spotted them.  Females lay the eggs in the nest of a male, then moves on to do the same thing in the nests of several other males.  The male incubates the eggs, then protects the chicks, who stay in the nest for about nine months, defending them fiercely against all potential dangers, including humans.  The female does not care for the egg, her work is finished when she lays the eggs. 

Not very clear photos, I'm afraid.  I'd just turned into our driveway when I caught a glimpse of them. Cassowaries are reputed to be very shy, but when provoked they are capable of inflicting injuries, occasionally fatal, to dogs and people.  So I waited until they had moved away (out on to the road!) before jumping out and trying to get a snap.

Mostly I'm aware of my limitations when it comes to photography.  I knew it would be impossible to capture the beauty of the rain forest jungle, the mighty trees that block out the sun, the vines and creepers, palms and ferns and other small plants.  Our accommodation was deep in the forest, surrounded by it.  Our quarters were well hidden until we got quite close.

It was a little more visible from the hill behind the lodge.

We'd heard water running during the night and the next morning discovered a little pump house in the grounds.

We were just down the road from surely the best eating place in the area, Lync Haven, where the beer was cold, the food good and reasonably priced, the staff friendly and efficient and the outlook second to none. 

And their resident bird was quite the poser:

I didn't write down the name of the cafe where we had breakfast one morning.  It was right on the beach.   Can't remember what the food was like, I guess I was too engrossed in my surroundings.

I wandered across the sand to get a photo of the jungle meeting the sea.

Not too close to the water, though.  We'd been in the north long enough for the many crocodile warning signs to hit home.

Apparantly a large number of German tourists have had nasty experiences with crocodiles, leading to most signs bearing a warning in their language.  


  1. Nothing for months and now a feast. Never seen a Cassowarie but an Emu once stole my sons shoe when he was a baby. These don't look big enough to cause trouble.

  2. Adults are 1.5 to 1.8m tall,females can reach 2m and weigh nearly 60kg. and you should see their feet - lethal weapons.

    1. That puts the Cassowarie into perspective Pauline. I'm 1.75m and weigh 63kg.

  3. The Daintree and Cape Tribulation are spectacularly beautiful, awesome areas. Absolutely magnificent!

  4. What an exotic and wonderful trip. So much wildlife. Cassowaries seem to be much like megapode birds in the Pacific with huge incubator nests. This area is something worth seeing and maybe...someday...

  5. A lush and beautiful place, i am so glad you got there finally!

  6. Well this really is a safari par excellence. Onwards to the next post.


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