Cassowaries, sunbirds and deliverance ferries...

Trip Start Aug 22, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Saturday, August 29, 2009

A day of Daintree adventures today! Yet another late start with us not stepping out the door until around 10am.  Believe it or not we did actually get up fairly early but then time was eaten up by FB updates.  Bloody technology, bah.

On the way we stopped briefly at the Mossman Saturday markets for a looksee at the local produce.  Stalls were selling locally fossicked gemstones for a pittance, day old baby chicks, homemade cakes and chutneys, the usual imported kak from China and lots of beautiful tropical plants.  The markets are shaded by enormous old trees literally dripping with epiphytes giving them a "furry" appearance.   Jeff was quite taken with these – handy as that occupied him while I perused the kak.

Sailed across the Daintree River by car ferry and headed up to the Daintree Discovery Centre.  Had high expectations but this turned out to be a bit of a “Cat-n-Fiddle”.  Touristy to the max and aimed at school groups, however its saving grace was the male Cassowary nonchalantly picking its way around the centre car park searching for cassowary plums and other fruits.  With wild populations estimated somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 this was a fantastic stroke of luck.  They are odd looking creatures with a striking blue neck, red wattle and a distinctly dinosaur looking protuberance of bone on top of their heads.  Like a cross between an emu, a rhino and a child's colour scheme!

Next we were off to Coopers Creek for a 2hr guided walk through the rainforest which was poles apart from our Discovery Centre experience.  Coopers Creek is a privately owned section of rainforest which has never been touched.  Our group of eight followed Murray our funny tour guide through the rainforest, stopping to inspect piles of droppings or to listen for the call of the Cassowary or its chicks.  Sadly we didn’t spot any but we did see a black bird of paradise performing his dance in the treetops.  One section of the walk was beneath massive fan palms in an area Murray calls the cathedral.  The patterns of light made by the layers of fan palms was awe inspiring and prompted us to talk in whispers as if in a holy place.  For Murray I think it is. 

After Murray guided us back to the car park we headed down to have a look at the actual creek and swimming area.  The reflections of green on the water were like a Monet waterlily painting.  Serene.  Cool.  Inviting.  Meanwhile not far downstream there are crocodile warning signs!

Saw fish and murtles (murtle the turtle) in the stream, and presently along came a female cassowary!  As usual with birds, the female is not as brightly coloured as the male, in this case being quite a drab grey.  One difference though is that it is the male Cassowary which sits on the eggs and raises the chicks while the female is off increasing her harem. 

Quickly drove to the Daintree Ice-cream factory to try some of their renowned treats before they closed for the day.  Today’s ice-cream flavours were: wattle seed, soursop, raspberry and mango.  We kicked back at one of the picnic tables in the shade, enjoying the unusual flavours and admiring the pink ginger flowering next to us.  Above the table was a hanging nest with a cheeky yellow sunbird watching us from his front door.  They’re apparently pretty common over here but are so bright in colour that to us they are beautiful.  We are smitten with the sunbirds, so chuffed to have one so close.

Continued northwards towards Cape Tribulation, making a short stop at a mangrove boardwalk along the way where we were on constant croc spotting status.  Water was still and smooth as glass in the mangroves.  Layers of blue and green reflected.

Back on the road and onwards towards Cape Trib.  In the end it was getting a bit dark and our tums were rumbling so we stopped at a flash resort on the coast for some dinner.  Really nice buildings and grounds with super friendly staff and good food.  Ate our dinner sitting next to the pool while listening to the surf and the night insect humming in the trees.

Deliverance music playing as we crossed the Daintree River via the car ferry on the way home.  Pitch black and we were the only vehicle making the crossing.
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