Cape Tribulation and The Daintree

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End Feb 07, 2007

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

We checked out of our cozy double room at 7am on Tuesday May 16th and were picked up by the Foaming Fury Bus at around 7:30 (the times are important as we can show that despite being unemployed traveller bums, we can still get up earlier than Ian!) our guide for the journey was a Kiwi called Wales (I think his real name was either Archibald or Tarquin; possibly even Sebastian). He was a very amusing chap, who entertained us a great deal with his various comical stories and facts along the way. Additionally, he did a great line in jokes about Australians, none of which I am able to repeat here due to this being a family web site!

Anyway, our first stop was for breakfast at a dodgy roadside diner. Here Tamsin got royally ripped off by paying $8 for some insect repellant (water in a diffuser). Did it work? Put it this way, the bites are only just going down! Actually, she only got bitten once, but out here the mozzies are six foot easy, so she did lose a leg!

Our first real stop was at the Daintree River. This is a huge river that runs (at a guess from a mountain to the sea!) for miles and is very wide and an attractive shade of brown. We were here to go Saltwater Crocodile spotting. Crocs, as i have mentioned (or maybe not, my memory is poor as i have definitely mentioned!), are easily the scariest thing in Australia (apart from the locals). They grow up to six metres long and have razor sharp teeth. They are the only land animal (and this includes snakes and spiders) that regularly kills humans. They are scary because you wouldn't even know that they are there. As they are ambush killers, a croc death would go something like this. Imagine yourself in a really hot part of Oz, you have been walking all day and are in need of cooling off. You come to a picturesque watering hole. Being the cautious type you check for Croc signs, as there are none (they are always being stolen or else not erected in the first place) you decide to go for a paddle. All the while a hungry croc has been eyeing you up and silently making it's way across the pond. You bend down to splash your face and BAMMMMMMMO! You're croc food, eaten before you know what has happened, as they use their huge tails to propel themselves up to three metres in a split second. Their jaws are so powerful that we were reliably informed that even if they had no teeth they would still just crush your body!

Wales was on hand to tell us the many horror stories, including the one about the croc who waited for 12 days at the bottom of a tree after a couple of guys climbed it to escape a croc that had already eaten their mate. And the story about the German girl who had been told by her tour guide that it was safe to swim and promptly got munched. It turns out that there were signs, but the guide had told her to ignore them. The girl died and the guide was sentenced to life. Incidentally as a consequence all croc warning signs are now in Gemran as well! The scariest thing is how ubiquitous they are. every shop North of Rockhampton will tell you where the local crocs are. They can live in Fresh and Saltwater and you are just as likely to get eaten in the river as you are dipping your toes in the sea.

Anyhoo, we went out on this boat Croc spotting. As it happens we were lucky enough to see three of the beasts. One huge, one small, and one medium. We were very lucky in this as the previous three months had been poor spotting due to the bad weather and high river levels. We also saw a tree snake and an amethystine Python, which is Australia's biggest snake (up to 8 metres). Tamsin (who doesn't like snakes) was very brave and got up close to photograph them. Special mention must go to the lady who was driving the boat. I believe that she was half Owl as she had the most amazing ability for spotting wildlife in the bush. So, well done her. I can't remember the name of the boat to recommend it, but if you find yourself at the Daintree, they are the ones with the sign that says "free cup of tea".

When the trip was finished we met our bus on the other side of the river and carried on North up to Cape Triulation. We left behind the endless fields of Sugar Cane and started to come to the Rainforest. We were also entering Cassowary Country.Now not to harp on about what a dangerous country this is, but let me fill you in on the Cassowary. Basically, it's a big Turkey. A big, dangerous, deadly, Turkey. Actually i am being a bit flippant. They are pretty, hard. A bit like an Emu, they grow to about six feet (way taller than me!), they have a hard helmet thing on their head, and they have their secret weapon, whacking great claws. Now, i know you're sitting at home in England thinking John, I refuse to belive that i should be scared of a big Turkey. Well that is exactly what poor little Malcolm Tinypants (possibly not his real name) thought way back in 1926 when he thought it would be a laugh to tease a Cassowary. The Cassowary, told him to leave it out but he persisted. Suddenly the Cassowary pulled his special move out of the bag, ran at him, jumped and with his mighty claw cut his jugular, causing him to swiftly bleed to death. That there hasn't been a death since is irrelevant, their numbers have been severely depleted and human contact is very rare. Which would be a positive thing except that the Cassowary is a vital link in keeping the rainforest alive, it is the only animal that can distribute the seeds of over 76 rare Jungle plants and trees. One of the main things we would learn is how fragile the ecosystems in Oz are and how we should all be hugging trees and whatever else it takes to save the world. In fact if you are reading this and feeling concerned, wondering how you can help, send us some donations (cash or cheques made out to John Foster's Scam Fund) and we will be sure to pass it on to the relevant charities!!

The rainforest that we were driving through was the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. It was an amazing experience. We also stopped and had a good walk around. It really was like stepping back in time. Hopefully the pics that i will put up this weekend will do a better job of explaining what a special place it was. I mean on the face of it, they are just trees, really old trees admittedly, but still just trees. Actually being there was something else, it felt so far away from any civilization and you just had the unique feeling of being in a place that existed long, long, long before any cities and would be there long after. The sad fact is though, that it may not be there long after. Cutting roads through it and logging has had an unknown effect. While it seems okay at the moment, no one really knows if it won't just wither away and die in the future. Messing with nature is such an unknown quantity, man.

Anyway, around lunch time, we found ourselves in the Town of Daintree, and more specifically, the Ferntree hostel. Now, i know hostels have a bad reputation, but by and large they are pretty clean and quite friendly. This one unfortunately wasn't. the room was filthy. It hadn't been dusted or cleaned in ages and there were stains all over the room, both bug smears and er, unknown stains (I didn't want to know thank you very much). On the plus side there was plenty of wildlife. Unfortunately, most of it was cockroaches and most of it had to be dealt with by Mr Boot. There was also a very nice American couple who we shared the room with.

As a consequence of the overall skankiness of our room, we spent most of our time looking for things to do to not be there. Among the things we found was a Bat Sanctuary. It was here that we learned that the bats in Cairns were actually Fying Foxes. They are thinking of renaming them Flying Monkeys as they are genetically way closer to monkeys than foxes (a bit like Chav Girls, really). It was all very nice, but not the sort of thing you'd fly 8000km to see. that was until in the corner, we spotted a Flying Fox, who was evidently tame. It turns out his name was Rex and he was there as he had been in captivity too long at birth and couldn't hunt. Well, if you think Tamsin likes Kittens, you should have seen the way she melted at the sight of Rex. He was pretty cute, and also funny as the girl kept feeding him fruit, which they can't swallow, so he would chew it up and then flob all the pulp on the floor. Anyway after a while we left, then had to go back, as Tamsin's bag was squeaking and had suddenly grown wings. We snuck Rex back and narrowly avoided being arrested for Bat Rustling.

We spent the rest of the Day in a cafe called Dragonfly. This place was great as it was right in the middle of the rainforest so you got to see freshwater turtles, tree frogs huge Golden Orb Spiders and loads of other wildlife as you sat and had coffee. It was beautiful and we would go back there every day as we enjoyed it son much. If anyone is interested, it is up for sale for probably near a million dollars. Again, just send the money to me...

The walk back to the hotel was scary as hell! We had to walk a fair way in pitch black through the rainforest paths, with only our phone for illumination. that we weren't eaten or bitten or otherwise injured can only be put down to my hitherto unknown bush man skills as we arrived at our hostel without incident. Here we had an unsurprisingly awful night's sleep!
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johnandtamsin on

Not really that close. We were on a boat and it was on some branches hanging over the water - I'd say it was about 8 feet away. Far enough away for me not to brick it - like I did at Australia Zoo (as in Steve Irwin's zoo) when we passed some of the staff showing a python to some psychotic small children (who insisted on touching it!) directly in our pathway. Lets put it this way, I was so terrified that the non-venemous and not-known-for-biting python would kill me as we passed that my eyes filled with tears and my throat tightened in that evil way that happens when you're about to cry. John wasn't very supportive. He got impatient when I didn't want to walk past it which just added to my anxiety. I made him feel very bad about that afterwards!!!! Being a fellow snake hater I'm sure you can appreciate how I may have felt at the time. Be sure to tell John just how disgusted you feel at his insensitivity if you so desire. Love Tam xxx

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