From Rainforest To Reef

Trip Start Jun 27, 2005
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Trip End Mar 27, 2006


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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Had a lovely drive up to Port Douglas. The road from Cairns is very scenic and there are lots of nice beaches to stop off at. Really frustrating though as because this is stinger season you can't swim in them. Stingers are these little deadly box jellyfish which can actually be fatal. And if they are not fatal the description on some of the noticeboards of the symptoms/pain you experience is descriptive enough to ensure you don't go near the waters edge. Really awful. First bit of the emergency treatment though is vinegar... but even if Wendy got stung can't see Dave giving up that Malt vinegar that Vic gave him... not now we've seen how much he loves it!

You can swim in specially netted off areas though. We stopped off at Palm Cove on the way up and saw out first such net. Really interesting contraption but at least it means you can have a dip in safety.

So an hour up the road from Cairns is Port Douglas. Nice looking place. And we got a great deal on where we stayed. We were booked in to the Port O'Call lodge which is a YHA place. The rooms were ok but they have another "deluxe wing". We all upgarded and had fab hotel style rooms with all the bits... even had our own bit of porch out the back. Stocked the fridge full of beer and wine. Very nice.

Spent the first afternoon on the beach. Port Douglas is famed for its four mile beach which surprisingly is four miles long. Again, due to the jelly fish you can only swim in the netted off area. So we all hired loungers and then relaxed and read books. When we ventured into the sea, it was like swimming in a warm bath.... it was soooo warm.

The main entertainment for the afternoon came when the lifeguards carried out their sweep of the sea for stingers. Every hour they go into the sea fully clothed in their stinger suits with a bucket (very high tec) and drag it through the sea to see how many stingers are in the water. On this afternoon in one sweep just outside the net they collected 14 stingers which apparently is a lot. Apparently they were just baby ones and with care the guard picked them out of the bucket to show us. They were completely transparent and didn't look like deadly killers!!!!

The following day we travelled north of Port Douglas into the rainforests and through to Cape Tribulation. It is a beautiful drive to the Cape as the road hugs the coast and you either have views of the rainforests or amazing tropical beaches.

All around the rainforest are boardwalks. Some are privately managed and you have to pay and others are managed by the council and are free. In true backpacker style we stayed on the free ones and they were great. Every now and again there are boards to explain what you can see in the forest like the scrub fowl which we did see (fowl type of bird that does dig about in the scrub!!). So we walked the Cape Tribulation boardwalk out to a view point where you can see the beach and the forest comes right down to the beach. We even managed to watch a turtle having a swim.........it was great. Then off down the coast to another boardwalk. Wendy particularly liked this one as it was full of huge ferns which she said kept reminding her of the fans in Egypt!!! By this time we had peaked with our boardwalks as when you have seen one tropical forest the next looks the same.

So onto the Daintree River Tour which turned out to be great (well done Lorna). Whilst waiting to cross the Daintree ferry earlier on Lorna had checked out the different boat trips we could go on down the Daintree in search of crocs. Lorna bypassed the boats that looked like train carriages and guides whose offices were in the shape of a Croc and decided on a tour called 'Nice and Easy', as it promised to be a small quiet trip and the chap had a great moustache.

And it was, (the trip... not the tash). There were just the four of us and another couple from Essex. Daintree is famed for its crocs and they are apparently everwhere. Unfortunately they didn't want to come out to play and if it wasn't for a fantastic sighting by Wendy (don't know how she did it) we would have gone home without seeing one. She spotted a small croc which was apparently about three years old, (quite small but it did have fair-sized nashers). It was a lovely river trip and we did feel rather smug when other boats went passed that were huge and full of coach trippers.

Finished the day with one more board walk (why not!) up at the Mossman Gorge. More beautiful rainforests but this time with a huge river running through.

The great thing about our YHA place was that every evening when we came back from our trips we could sit ouside our rooms in a garden area. At about six in the evening we would have a drink and watch/hear hundreds of parrots returing to their roosts. Then 10 or 15 minutes later a truely magical sight of hundreds of fruit bats leaving their roost heading in the other direction for the forests. They all flew in the same direction and you felt like they knew something that we didn't...... like the world was coming to an end. When they had all gone it was time for the musky kangaroo rats to come out.......it was fab.

After much deliberation we decided to go out to the Barrier Reef with a company called Haba. They had come recommended and they certainly did not disappoint. The trip took the whole day and took us out to two sites on the outer reef (supposed to be better than the inner reef). After a hour and a half we arrived at the first site. We all donned stinger suits and were ready for take off. The people who ran the boat were great and they had people in the water to help those who hadn't snorkled before or those that couldn't even swim !!! Dave coudn't get on with the breathing through the snorkel bit and had to give it a miss. Wendy on the other hand loved it. After a fantastic lunch we had another session of snorkling and a trip on a glass bottomed boat. It was a great day and the boat was excellent.

Our last day with the Oldies tomorrow. Rather than head down the highway straight to Cairns we're doing a day in the Atherton Tablelands to sho them a bit of the outback and have a final cream tea.
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