The tour started with a large van/small bus coming by and picking all 13 of us up from where we were staying. After this there was a beautiful drive up the coast to the next town, Port Douglas. Here we stopped to explore, and to get breakfast. Port Douglas was a very nice, quaint little town with a main street right near the beach. After this, we loaded back onto the bus to drive to Mossman Gorge. Along the way our driver and tour guide Shane shared with us the background and history on the area, as well as fun facts about Australia, and a little about himself. The national park is made up of a few things, the road leading into the forest and mountains, the Mossman area and river, and the Daintree River and rainforest. Shane told us that the drive was the second most beautiful in all of Australia, winding through the rainforest, following the coastline, and moving along the mountains. Once we reached Mossman Gorge, we took a quick 15 minute walk down to the river, where we took a quick dip in the water.
After that we were on our way to the Daintree Rainforest. This drive took a while as well as Shane kept us entertained with history on the locals and animals, Australian facts, his extensive travels throughout the country, and a good sense of humor. Once we had driven deep into the rainforest, we stopped at a lodge for lunch and a quick walk on the beach to walk and in the warm water, where we saw a few sting rays swimming right along near the shore. Following this we took a hike into the forest itself, where Shane pointed out many different types of plants and explained how the ecosystem of the forest worked. There were some very interesting adaptions that the plants have made to thrive in the climate. We also saw some critters during our walk, some very large spiders, and butterflies mainly. The last portion of our hike took us into the swamp, where the trees did all sorts of weird things to survive, leading to some
very cool looking root systems. Once we finished our hike, we took an hour long boat ride down Daintree River in search of crocodiles. Our boat driver, Peter was an old, easily excited Aussie with an endless repertoire of jokes and dry sense of humor. He is a botanist, and he was very passionate about the fauna living along the water’s edge. He explained to us how the plants survived and grew there. As well as imparting to us just how impressive this forest was. We also managed to spot a 12 ft or so crocodile laying near one of the banks. After the boat cruise, we were all very worn out, and quietly took the long drive back to the city, as Shane played us Aussie music.
This was really fun tour, which was in large part dueto having a great tour guide.
I felt that not only did I learn about the rainforest, but that I learned more about Australian life and culture from Shane, who’s a local. It’s hard for the rainforest to stack up to the Great Barrier Reef from the day before, especially since I don’t feel the same appreciation for trees and ferns that I do for coral. But I could tell from the tour that there was a lot going on here, and that this is a very important site. Tomorrow morning I leave for Adelaide, where I’ll spend the rest of the day doing I don’t know what yet. The day after, I’m going on the trip that I’ve been looking forward to the most after the reef, it’s a two day backpacking trip through Kangaroo Island, which is off the coast of Adelaide. Also I haven’t had proper internet to upload all of my pictures from the last few posts to Flickr (Since the architecture tour). Hopefully I’ll get them all properly posted sometime today.
Again, I had an early morning start for my other tour from Cairns. This was for the other major attraction in Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest. When I had originally planned to come to Australia, I was completely unaware that one of the oldest rainforests in the world was there (120 million years old). Cairns is one of the only places in the world where two world heritage sites exist side-by-side.