. The trip we decided to go on also did lots of stops enroute, so we were going to get the chance to see lots of parts of the rainforest in one day.
We got picked up at 7:30am by our tour guide Debra and her mini-bus. Debra turned out to be a brilliant tour-guide and, because we were sitting in the first two seats, we ended up chatting away to her for most of the day. She also had great taste in music (her USB was plugged into the mini-bus CD player) and we swapped lots of advice on British and Ozzy music. Once we had picked up all the other people for the tour we headed out on the drive into the rainforest. The scenery along the way was beautiful; the more time we spend in tropical climates the more I am falling in love with the rainforest and forgetting about all the things in there that might bite or try to eat me. Cape Trib really is in the middle of nowhere, the road had only been tarmaced during the 70s, and we had to cross a river, called the Daintree, on a little vehicle barge to get to it. However, the Daintree isn't any normal river, it is a river filled to the brim with wild crocodiles! So rather than just sit on the vehicle barge, we got the chance to go for a crocodile spotting cruise while the mini-bus was taken across on the barge and we would meet our guide on the other side. Within about 2 minutes of getting on the cruise boat, the driver took us to one of the rivers small muddy banks... he had spotted a baby croc! Everyone on the boat peered into the mud to try and see it. It took everyone quite a while before we could actually see it because it was so well camouflaged and I was starting to think the boat driver was having a bit of a joke and that there wasn't even one there, when I finally saw it lying on the bank. It was really small and if you took your eyes off it it was really difficult to find it again... I don't know how the boat driver had ever spotted it
! We moved a little further up the bank and a few minutes later we saw a huge croc lying in the mud. This one was really easy to see because it was so enormous! We spent the next half an hour or so searching for more crocs but, unfortunately, we didn't see anymore. We saw plenty of other animals though, like the worlds largest tree frog. During our cruise the driver had said he was going to show us a 'very special guest' which doesn't normally live along the river bank. The special guest ended up being a huge dead cow which one of the crocs had killed and dragged back to its nest (do crocs live in nests? I'm not sure what a crocodiles house is called) and had been lying in the mangrove swamps for a day or two. I asked why the croc hadn't already eaten the cow and was told that crocs like to leave their meat to decompose a bit to make it easier to digest; the boat driver told us that in a night or two there would be an almighty massacre between the larger crocs on the river as they would all descend on the cow when it was ready to eat and the croc that had killed it would have to defend its corner, or one of the other crocs would steal his cow! So after that lovely insight into how crocodiles like to eat their beef-burgers, we meet back up with our mini-bus on the other side of the river.
Next we were heading into the Cape Tribulation rainforest properly to go for a wander along one of the walking trails. Along the way we got chance to pull over at a look-out point on the top of one of the surrounding mountains to take some photos; the view was fantastic over the top of the rainforest canopy but our photos came out really dark for some reason (it was much better in real-life than it looks in the pics). After a great drive through the trees and bush we arrived at our rainforest walk and all piled out of the mini-bus to apply plenty of insect spray before we headed into the mangroves as they are swarming with all kinds of buggies and insects that will eat you alive given half the chance
. Our walk was only about 30 or 40 minutes but it was bloody brilliant! As soon as you step into the rainforest you feel the stifling heat and humidity hit you; because the rainforest canopy makes a huge umbrella which stops the air from circulating down to ground-level you feel as though you have walked into a thousand year old greenhouse which has never had the doors opened. It's not until you enter a rainforest that you understand just how many different shades of green there are! Whilst everything might be the same colour it feels like you have walked into a rainbow of different shades of green. The smells and textures just baffle your head; there are soft parts, spiky parts, furry parts, shiny parts, sometimes it smells stale, sometimes it smells like ferns, sometimes it smells like stagnant water. Being on a tropical rainforest is like being on another planet, and while we have been in some smaller rainforests in other places, nothing compared to being in the rainforest of Cape Trib! We saw some huge, and I mean HUGE, spiders while we were in there; one of them was bigger than the size of your hand. As we were walking along our guide stopped to tell us that the giant green ants (which are everywhere in Oz, not just in the rainforest) are edible and dared someone in the group to have a go at eating one. Now I think you can guess what happened next. Tom jumped to the front of the group and said that if she ate one first to prove they were dangerous he would eat one too. So Debra picked up an ant between her fingers, which you have to do very quickly because they bite like hell, squished its head to kill it then nibbled into the green part of its back... which is actually the ants bum. Seeing that Debra hadn't keeled over Tom plucked an ant off one of the trees and tucked in. Apparently they taste like lemon and lime and are a very good source of vitamin C, but I wouldn't know what they taste like because I wasn't going to eat anything which you have to kill between your finger nails and then eat its arse
. I was very impressed that Tom had taken up the dare though and slowly some other people from the group started to eat them too.
After Tom's feast of green ants it was actually time for lunch, so we headed off to one of the local backpacker hostels which had cooked us some lunch. While we waiting for our food we got the chance to go down to the beach for a quick look around. We were warned though not to go near any of the creeks or rivers flowing into the sea as they are full of crocs and not to go in the sea because it is full of box-jellyfish (this seems to be a bit of a recurrent warning lately)! The beach was lovely but we were all starved so we didn't stay too long before we headed back for some food. After lunch we were back on the road and heading to a place called Mossman Gorge. Tom and I had wanted to visit Mossman when we had originally planned to visit Cape Trib over Christmas so we were very happy to be going there. On the way we Debra taught us about the local Aboriginal culture and the Aboriginal history of Mossman, along with some other stories about friends of hers that had been either bitten or stung by the animals in the region (including a very funny story about a 17 year old guy who pulled over his car to have a wee and got bitten, I think you can guess where, by a snake and the next day his mum contacted the local paper with the story as punishment for being so stupid and he was the front page story for the next week)
. Once at Mossman Gorge we walked into the rainforest and after a few minutes we came out at a huge gorge filled with a beautiful river and huge boulders. There were lots of people swimming in the water and it reminded Tom and I of being in Betws-Y-Coed in the summer when people go swimming in the river. We stayed at Mossman Gorge for about an hour just taking in the lovely scenery before we headed back to the mini-bus. Our final stop of the day was a little sea-side town called Port Douglas. It was kind of like being in a really expensive version of Rhos-On-Sea and rather than go shopping, Tom and I decided to go and sit on the little pier and watch people fishing over the side. Back on the bus to Cairns we had chatted away to Debra about music and she suggested some Ozzy bands which she thought we might like. We'd had a brilliant day up in Cape Trib and we were astounded that it hadn't rained all day!
That night at the hostel there was a big Ozzy BBQ where they gave people the chance to try some specialty Ozzy meats and there was even a didgeridoo competition. Tom had been looking forward to the BBQ all week because he really wanted to try the different meats; he tried Emu, Kangaroo and Crocodile. There was loads of food and drink and we had a great night at the BBQ. Unfortunately neither of us won the competition but Tom has been putting in some serious hours rehearsal on the didgeridoo because he is determined to win next week as the prize is a free bungee jump!
Today we were heading out on our first activity since we arrived in Cairns... we are visiting the rainforest in Cape Tribulation. If you have been reading our blog for a while you might remember that Tom and I had originally planned to spend Christmas in Cape Tribulation, however because this year's wet season has been so heavy, and Cape Trib is right in the middle of a Monsoon belt, we decided against it. I was really upset because I had been most looking forward to visiting Cape Trib out of the whole of Australia because it is the only place in the world where the rainforest actually flows straight down into the ocean, it is also the oldest rainforest on earth and was very reluctant to not go there for an extended period of time. However, considering the amount of flooding that has been going on up here, we will have to make do with a day-trip up there instead. We knew that it was going to rain during our trip to Cape Trib, it rains there practically every day, but we took our chances and booked a trip up there