Port Douglas Day 2

Trip Start Jan 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 18, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, March 8, 2013

We came to Port Douglas for two main reasons. It is the closest place to access the Great Barrier Reef, and to see Daintree National Park.  What we didn't know was that Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world.  And another World Heritage Site.  Everytime we told people we were coming here they said we would love it. 

We had booked a tour today which is not really our style.  It was the Daintree Dreaming Day tour.  We thought we were going to the rainforest for walks and education.  What we realized during the tour was that we were in for a huge surprise, which is what is so great about this kind of trip.  We were picked up by our tour bus, which had 5 other passengers…all girls.  The tour guide was an Indigenous person by the name of Cavell…sounds like travel, as he said.  The girls were from Belgium, Holland, France, and Sweden.

Our first stop was in Mossman at the Janbal art studio/gallery.  www.janbalgallery.com.au  We went into the studio where a table was set up for us.  On the table for each of us was a Binna Bean pod with an eye hook in it.  The artist was an Aboriginal man of the Kuku Yalanji tribe/group.  He gave us a quick background into aboriginal art which is fascinating in itself. The aboriginal art represents stories and connections to the earth, sky, and water represented by 3 colors, rust, yellow, and white.  They don’t use brushes, they use sticks on their traditional work.  Anyway, he gave us some instruction and then turned us loose on painting our own necklace or earring.  I haven’t decided which it will be for me. ;-) After we finished he gave us more insight into the artwork and his people.  Then he brought out 2 of his digiridoo’s and played them for us.  He made sounds of the kangaroo, and a "joey" trying to keep up with his mum, a kookaburra bird, and something else I can’t remember.  I can’t remember because this day turned out to be an information overload day. 

After that experience we went to the Mossman Gorge, which is part of the Daintree rainforest, and yes, it rained on us.  As recently as 10 yrs ago you could drive to the carpark and they had maybe 35,000 people annually.  Now they get a million or so, but you can’t drive to it.  They have an interpretive center managed by the indigenous people and electric buses to take tourists to the trailhead.  Part of the trail is on elevated steel walkways.  As we walked along, Cavell would tell us about the trees and how the aborigines would use them for tools, medicines, weapons, and more.  He happened to spot a dead branch on the ground….moving.  It was a python about 8 ft. long.  He said they can grow up to about 35 ft. long.  We were hoping to see a Cassowary bird.  It grows to about 5 ft tall and is a member of the Emu and Ostrich family.  It has a center talon that can rip a humans flesh apart.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any.  We did see a Scrub Turkey clearing away dead leaves looking for food.  And we saw about 6 different types of butterflies, which the area is known for.  Especially the Ullysees, which is a bright blue and black.

After lunch we drove north to look at a location where they have crocodiles in the ocean.  In fact, they have warning signs on the creeks and ocean beaches to warn the tourists.  The crocs use the ocean as a path between creeks.  They lay their eggs just above the creek high water mark so they wouldn’t drown.  The interesting part is how they know where the high water mark will be from year to year because it’s always changing. 

From there we were in for something we never expected.  We went to a beach and met a local aborigine by the name of Brandon.  He led us to the beach and gave each of us a bamboo spear with a steel tip.  We practiced throwing the spear at a coconut shell on the beach.  Then I tried using a short piece of tree limb to “throw” the spear even further.  Our training was intended to help us spear fish, but the tide was out so we couldn’t do that.  However, we tramped up the beach a ways and found small snails, and then it was into the mangrove trees. Walking thru mangroves is really hard, partly because you’re walking thru mud. We searched for mussels, oysters, and periwinkles.  What an education into how the aborigines found their food.  The oysters attach themselves to the roots of the mangrove trees.  These are the roots that shoot off the main trunk at an angle into the water.  The mussels are about 3-4” across and look more like our clams.  Not at all like our mussels.  The periwinkles are snails that attach themselves to the mangrove tree roots also.  We hiked back to Brandans house and he boiled our catch with some aged chili sauce.  We all sat on his deck eating these morsels.  Then his 2 kids came home from grade school and they proceeded to chow down on what we didn’t eat.  Brandon and Cavell gave us a lot of information about aborigines and their culture.  It’s a fascinating culture that for the most part is still discriminated against.  Their appreciation of the land, sea, sky, and wildlife and how those things tell them how to live is truly amazing. 

On our way back to our hotel Cavell gave us a quick tour of Port Douglas which up until fairly recent was an unknown tourist destination.  
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Janine on

Hi Guys,
That aboriginal painting class must have been fun.
Stu... where is the picture of your new earring?? That must have been your choice for sure! Haha.
Interesting leg this one.

Brooke on

I especially liked the pic of Karen painting with the NO CAMERA sign behind her.
Also, the sequence of photos with a killer snake, crocodile warning, barefeet and swimming (not in that order). Yikes. You are on a true adventure!!!

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