Are There Crocodiles in Coopers Creek?
Trip Start Oct 17, 2009
54Trip End Oct 16, 2010
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The area is known for being "Steve Irwin" country and one of the main reasons for going up there was for the prospect of an encounter with a few the huge man eating Estaurine Crocodiles that he used to rather enjoy menacing. We were also keen to see Cape Tribulation, a unique stretch of sand where the rainforest grows down on the the beach and the remarkably well evolved mangrove trees somehow stay rooted while being lapped by salty sea water. Reaching the Cape involves a three hour drive including a ferry crossing as there are no road bridges across the Daintree River and with Tony's knee still buggered, driving duties were again with Ayrton Harris
On the other side of the river, the road is engulfed in jungle in what is the oldest stretch of surviving rainforest in the world and the drive is windy, challenging and fun. Tony wasn't quite so enamoured with my attempts to create extra joy from behind the wheel via my selction of driving games such as the 'leaf dodging game' or the 'weave between the white lines' game or the 'drive like Donkey Kong game' or the 'drive straight armed and scared game' or the 'speed up to slow down game' but that's because he's a huge stick in the mud. We hadn't booked any accommodation but quickly found some in the shape of PJs, a large site offering camping and shared hut accommodation set in the rainforest itself
After booking our crocodile spotting boat trip for the following morning, we made the short drive to the walking track which takes you on to the beach at Cape Tribulation itself. We knew what to expect from the area but nothing really prepares you for it. The trees are remarkable if only for their survival skills which put Bear Grylls to shame. Some of them seem to be hanging on for dear life as most of their roots are exposed and removed from the ground, but hang on they do and you can wonder amongst them along the sand. After an hour or so, we headed off to do a couple of the nearby rainforests walk in the hope of spotting a few more Cassowaries to go with the one we saw the previous day by the Dinner Falls. There's apparently a very healthy population of of them around the area as indicated by the number of quirky and amusing signs warning drivers to be careful not to twat them but for such big buggers, they hide themselves blooming well! We didn't see so much as a talon print, all rather disappointing after the surprise spot the day before.
Still, we'd at least seen a Cassowary already and we had crocodiles to spot the following day. After another rainforest walk which yielded plenty of ferns and lizards but nothing more beaky, we were the first to arrive ready for our boat trip. The tour company we'd booked with run trips along Coopers Creek, a croc hotspot, and come highly recommended both in the local literature and our Rough Guide. As most of the brochures you see confidently promise crocodiles on "98%" of trips, we had every reason to be optimistic. That was until our guide told us there was only a 50-50 chance of seeing one at the time of year within seconds of us leaving dry land (thus not being able to lead a mutiny), and that not a single one had been spotted the previous week. The group who had been out on the Creek an hour before us had seen one female though so we were all told to be on the look out and duly kept our beady eyes on the banks and water. However, after fifty minutes cruising the creek and staring in to endless waves of mangroves, the only crocs I'd seen were the garish pair being worn by one half of the German lesbian couple on our trip and I left the boat with nowt but a creaked neck, lighter wallet and strong sense of both annoyance and deflation. Back across the river, we considered doing a different tour but the sales representative was at least honest enough to tell us that they were struggling to spot any signs of life at that time too.
The drive back yielded no cassowaries but did include a brief stop off at a place called Yorkey's Nob, despite our reluctance to go near anything that had touched Jordan's nether regions. In truth, we only stopped there because it had a funny name and it was a bit crap. So it was back to Cairns and a quick trip to local bar The Woolshed to claim the free meal that comes with the hostel booking. An angelic girl gave me her free pudding token too - a rare treat in these days where the budget stretches to one meal a day and my stomach rumbles around the clock. We also managed to come a very close second in the pub quiz, although the choice of team name "There Are No Crocodiles in Coopers Creek" got heckled by a man who'd apparently seen one there before. I don't believe him. It's all a ruse to pull in the tourists.