Where the Rainforest meets the Reef

Trip Start Jul 17, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, August 21, 2006

We left the luxury of the Portsea resort, jumped into the van and waved to the crocs as we headed across the Daintree River to the Daintree National Park. This place had had such a big impact on us when we visited it with Maggie that we decided we needed to spend some time there to do some exploring.

We were going to do the usual lap or two of the 16 site campground but by site number one we knew that this was the place for us. It was quite magical. The campground is the only one run by the National Park so it is right in the middle of the rainforest unlike the privately run campgrounds in nearby Cape Tribulation which are in a cleared field. That night after dinner Ash and I decided to take a duck-bath, which is basically when you strip down with a bucket of water in front of you, throw some water on, soap-up and rinse it off. It was a dark night where we couldn't even see our hands infront of our faces and during the soaping portion we all of a sudden we heard a noise in the bushes to our left, then in the bushes to our right and then suddenly right near us. Shrieking like madmen we jumped up and fumbled for the torch. We never did find out what it was that caused the noises and made us turn on the torch whilst scarcely covered. I did say to Ash 'I know it can't be, cos they wouldn't be around here, but it sounded like a wild pig' at which point Ash's jaw dropped and told me that there is a sign at the entrance warning that some wild pigs have been spotted. We went to bed that night feeling quite soapy.

We woke up the next day and had our breakfast outside. Ash noticed a goanna approaching us. We had been warned that they can be quite aggressive so we started to retreat to the safety of our van. Ash climbed in and just as I was near the door another goanna stuck its head out from under the car and looked like he was about to have a go at climbing up me. I leapt to safety and Ash and I watch from a distance as the pair searched around our site for food scraps. When the coast was clear we continued our breakfast only to be harassed by a bush turkey and two blackbirds. Then the weirdest thing happened. The blackbird stole a worm that the bush turkey was trying to catch and the bush turkey went skitz! I mean completely crazy, it ran around darting this way and that. I've never seen anything like it. We were in awe and felt terrible for the poor turkey.

All this already and we had only been there less than 24 hours! We went on a walk to Cape Tribulation beach and through the mangroves. When we returned to the van we decided that duck-bathing is just too dangerous so we got out our solar shower, a 20L bag with a shower head attached and decided that tonight, we shower in style. We were looking around trying to work out where to hang our shower, all the branches we could reach were too low. Suddenly I was struck with a moment of brilliance. If I could create a pulley system over a higher branch we could pull the shower up as high as we wanted. I got to work throwing the rope over the tree, attaching the shower and hoisting it up into position. Voila! Instant shower. Next we needed privacy. A few ropes around some trees, our tarp and sarongs thrown over and we had our own private shower cubicle, complete with canopy roof and dirt floor. From there it was all systems are go. It was getting late so we set up a light and Ash had herself a luxurious shower, washing her hair and all. It took a good 20 mins of showering and drying for Ash to realise that she was creating quite an interesting shadow on the tarp, which was facing the road to the toilets for all to see. Needless to say, I had my shower in complete darkness. The next day Ash was chatting to the guy across from our site and he was telling her how wonderful it was that she was enjoying her shower last night. Then he told her how he was a nudist and was going to use their shower for the first time because we inspired him!

We did a couple more walks and saw some amazing fauna and flora. We even saw a stingray in the mangroves! We showered during the day so as not to create more shadow puppets and relaxed in the van listening to the rain tumble through the canopy.

The next day we awoke early and set off to Mossman Gorge, which is on the southern side of the Daintree National Park. On the way we stopped to take a photo of a Cassowary roadsign and a couple of minutes later as I looked in my rearview to pull onto the road a Cassowary crossed. We unfortunately were too late to get a photo of it and continued our drive. Then, 5 minutes later, we were driving and the biggest Cassowary we had seen yet was standing in front of us. I slowed down and couldn't believe my eyes, I even had to ask Ash if she could see it too. This time we were able to get some great photos of it and observed it for a while foraging for food in the forest. We bid adieu to our Cassowary and drove to Mossman Gorge. We did an astounding 3km circuit walk which took us over a swinging bridge to a few water holes and past some of the most magnificent trees I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. We took so many photos of the roots of these twisted trees.

Leaving the park we came back to Port Douglas and decided to try out sleeping for free on the street choosing the back of the Portsea Resort for our camping site. Feeling cocky we 'borrowed' a couple of hotel towels and made use of the shower and toilet by the pool, washing our hair and treating it as our own private bathroom. Ash even came back to the van in her pyjama's with her hair in a towel turban! Later that night at 11:30pm, Ash decided to go to the toilet and she had hardly two feet on the ground before security swarmed her and asked what her business was here at the Portsea. The conversation went something like this:

Security: May I ask what you are doing?
Ash: Um...Just going to the bin. (She had a tissue in her hand)
Security: Where are you staying?
Ash: Over there (motioning vaguely across the road)
Security: In the van.
Ash: (Bashfully) Yeah.
Security: You can use the bin but if I catch you in the resort I'll have to have you
removed. Also, there is a $170 fine for camping illegally, if you get caught.
Ash: (timidly) ok.

We decided then that maybe we had been a little too obvious in our street camp and drove off in search of greener, security-less pastures. We ended up about 200m down the street and I don't think either of us had the best sleep that night. We also discovered the full disadvantage of living on the street when Ash had to use the bathroom at 6:40am. She jumped straight into the driver's seat, with me still in my bed and drove us to the beach. Luckily for her, we had to be up early anyway, as we were going on our snorkeling trip to The Great Barrier Reef.

After an hour or so of rough seas we made to South Opal reef, with Ash beaming and me feeling a little green around the gills. We donned our wetsuits, our goggles and snorkels and jumped into the green ocean. The one thing that struck me most was, I can't believe how out in the middle of the ocean you are! I know that maybe that sounds a little silly, but it's true, it's in the middle of nowhere, I don't understand what stops me from being shark bait. But once you are in there, all troubles float away as you are greeted with a magical site. There's a whole other world under there. We saw the most colourful fish, one breed especially called a parrotfish. They were huge and the most vibrant purple. We were constantly poking each other to show the other something, it was such a spectacle. We visited two reefs on the day, South Opal and Main Opal. Main Opal was even better than South, with some really cool coral and loads more fish. I took a couple of seasick tablets at lunchtime and enjoyed the ride home. Oh yeah, I also saw a whale breaching on the way out to the reef! This little pocket of the world sure is something else, with so so much life.

We decided we needed some sleep so booked into a caravan park for two nights and tomorrow we start our tour that will lead us to the tip of Australia!

Looking forward to sharing all our adventures with you all.

Love Mindz and Ash.
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