Note to self: if you're going to a rainforest, expect rain!! Well, the weather did clear up pretty nicely for our second day in the Daintree, but it still hammered us during the night! It was yet another mission to pack up camp in wet weather, but at least we had the tarp and the groundsheet to make life a little easier.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here...
As I was saying, the weather the second day was a huge improvement from the soggy day before it. So, with renewed spirits we set out once again to conquer the great Daintree. We returned to the Discovery Centre to get a bit more bang for our buck and it was interesting to see the rainforest in different weather conditions, I must admit. It is a pretty amazing place with all sorts of wild and wonderful inhabitants; although I can't say I'd be keen to wander too deep all by myself - it would take no time at all to find oneself hopelessly lost in a place like that!
The "strangler" fig was a particular favorite of ours. It basically starts as a vine that slowly entangles itself around a "host" tree, eventually taking over the entire tree which can no longer survive (I guess it sounds a bit harsh doesn't it?? Mother nature's sadistic side shows itself!). It is quite a sight to be seen. The big fan palm trees are another fave of ours.
I think I may have mentioned it before, but the sounds inside the rainforest are almost entrancing! I think if I was lost in the rainforest then they would be eerie and unnerving, but as long as you know where you are, it's very cool just to sit back and have a listen.
From the Discovery Centre, we went a bit further down the road to a boardwalk walking track called Jindalba. You would think one might get bored walking through yet more rainforest (heck I'm sick of typing the word rainforest!), but there is just so much to look at and I find it to be quite breathtaking. Plus, the boardwalk was rather less populated than the Discovery Centre which makes for a more peaceful and intimate experience. It's really good just to be still sometimes and open your eyes and ears to the activity all around you. That's when you get to see some of the forest residents come out of the woodwork, so to speak.
For example, you might be lucky enough to see one of the magnificent cassowaries! WE DID! WE DID!!! Dave was having a seat on a bench while I was lagging behind taking photos (shocking, I know), and old mate cassowary just trundled on by, totally oblivious to us. He was so close I could have nearly reached out and touched him - that is, had I not been paralyzed with fear, and my heart
pounding wildly, worried that he might attack me with his massive claw (it would not be a stretch to say that their middle toe has a claw on it roughly the size of a veloceraptor's and they ain't afraid to use it if you happen to rub them the wrong way). If you had seen the video clip at the Discovery Centre of one of these giant birds viciously attacking some poor bloke, I reckon you'd be pretty worried too!
Anyway, Dave was VERY happy to have finally seen a cassowary in the wild. They are pretty cool-looking birds. AND, apparently they are extremely important to the survival of the rainforest. It turns out that some of the seeds of the rainforest plants won't germinate unless they have passed through the cassowary first. Their stomach acids react with the seeds to make them grow. Basically, these birds have very important poop. Go figure. I wonder if my poop does anything cool like that?
After lunch we went back to Cape Tribulation to see if the sunshine made it look any more like the pictures we'd seen... such was not the case. All the nasty weather was making for some tumultuous tides it seems, stirring up the sand and ruining that whole pristine azure water thing. It was a little bit of a let down, but still worth the visit. To be honest, Myall beach on the other side of the cape was a much nicer beach with far fewer people.
And to cap our day off - well, after a brief intermission from nature at a very large, very cool looking bar called PK's, where Dave enjoyed a pint and tried to get caught up on the AFL Grand Final match on a very scrambly TV screen - we took a stroll along the Maardja (sp??) Wetlands Boardwalk (they do love their boardwalks here!). We reckon it's the best mangrove boardwalk we have seen yet. For one thing, there was actually water in it! And we happened to be there while the tides were changing or something because there were areas where there hadn't been water, but we could see it creeping in and starting to fill up the marsh.
There were other places there the boardwalk meandered alongside the river and some of its smaller tributaries. We had a keen eye out for crocs but it would seem our luck ran out with the cassowary sighting ;) It was so still inside the wetlands, that it was a bit eerie at times. Every so often we would hear a splash but could never seem to see where it was... let alone what made it... dun-dun-duuuhhhhhh!
We came across another strangler fig tree in there as well, except this one didn't seem to have a host tree anymore! It was hollow all the way through with light shining in through all the places where the wooden "vines" weren't touching as they criss-crossed back and forth across each other. It was awesome.