The crocs at Cape Tribulation

Trip Start Jun 17, 2006
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Trip End Sep 08, 2006


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Friday, August 11, 2006

'Lucky lucky roomies' ran through my head as they lay sleeping and I dredged myself up too early to imagine to get ready for my trip I had booked to Cape Tribulation. It took in the Daintree River and a short cruise to see the crocs, the rainforest, swimming in a natural pool and kayacking as well.

I had picked a slightly more expensive tour as I figured I was only going to do this once and Cape Tribulation was meant to be the best place to visit the rainforest and such amazing natural beauty. The trip was confined to a maximum of 8 people only in a luxury jeep, so figured the guide would have more time explaining to us as well.

I was picked up outside the hostel, resplendent with a huge box of tissues as my bad throat had intensified into a cold of epic proportions. The rest of the group seemed nice, one honeymoon couple (ahh) who barely spoke to anyone else and two older couples, one from Sydney and one from New Zealand. As we drove the hour or so up to the ferry crossing that would take us to Daintree and the beach and rainforest, our guide - a true Aussie called Grant gave us information and cracked jokes all the way. Apparantly there is much hype about the number of croc attacks on the east coast and he gave us the following statistics for average deaths per year in Australia:-

* 1 - Shark Attack
* 2 - Cassowary Attacks (huge birds, emu like, we were looking out for)
* 2 - People struck by lightening
* 2 - Crocodile Attacks (an 8 year old girl was taken from a riverbank the week before)
* 2 - Deaths by coconuts falling on people's heads
* 2 - jellyfish stingers
* 34 - Horse riding accidents

So the moral of the story is, don't ride a horse in a lightening storm under some palm trees along a beach and through any water (although the crocs are saltwater so live in the sea as well as rivers and the sharks can swim into rivers as well!)

As we crossed the croc infested river, keenly looking out for any signs of life, he explained to us that in any croc area there is always one dominant male only for all the females, as the biggest toughest crocodile runs the others out of that particular area of river. The dominant one in this area is named 'Fat Albert' who measures around 5 metres long. Apparantly Fat Albert got a bit peckish a couple of weeks ago and dragged a cow into the river. Am hoping that he is still full from that meal...

We eventually stopped on the secluded beach and Grant took us for a walk around the various plants, mangroves and gave us information on how Captain Cook discovered and named Cape Tribulation by almost capsizing and drowning in the area. We then sat on little stools and indulged in Lammingtons (weird Aussie cake) and coffee before taking a beach walk as the kayacking was not happening due to high winds :( Shame was looking forward to that, but the weather around PD had been bad for the previous 3 days.

We then drove to the rainforest at Cape Trib, where he took us on a walk to see the flora and fauna of the rainforest, just the most amazing trees I have ever seen. One in particular was over 400 years old and would definitely have been there when this part of land was discovered by Captain Cook. En route we also spied a cassowary which apparantly are quite rare to see. They are huge birds around 6 foot tall and very fierce. Once the female has laid her eggs she abandons them and goes off to enjoy herself elsewhere for months or possibly never to return, while the male is left to hatch and bring up the chicks alone! We saw the dad minding his two kids near the roadside, bless.

Now it was time for lunch and we were seated at a picnic table made of mahognany (from a fallen tree in the forest) and given cool packed lunch boxes of meats, salad, fresh rolls and local chutneys and sauces. It was great and we continued our walk once we had eaten until we were led down to a natural pool in the river, which Grant assured us had no crocs in it whatsoever. Hmmm, after a little indecision, 4 of us decided to go for it, and it was great fun, especially trying to do the Tarzan thing with tree vines hanging into the river.

Once dried off and back in the jeep, it was back towards the ferry for our river cruise to search out the crocs, stopping en route for a local made ice cream where you couldn't choose the flavours, you just had what was given - being jack fruit, wattle and coconut. Whilst we were trying not to make a mess of the jeep, Grant put his foot down to motor us to the ferry so we could get to our boat trip in time, unfortunately two cops with a speedometer pulled him over and he got fined and points. He came back ruefully laughing, saying that they dropped the fine by $100 for him. Even the police look and seem good natured here!

On board our boat, we had an interesting hour searching for Fat Albert and the gang. We found Yellow Tail - another big croc who it was rumoured would be challenging Fat A soon. He was basking in the sun and we got some great photos of him. We also saw some tree snakes mating, some lovely kingfishers and other unusual birds.

In total, it was a fantastic day and after saying goodbye to the others, Grant dropped me off at the pharmacy where I bought stuff to dose myself up as was feeling worse as the day went on. That evening, Michelle and I made something to eat in the hostel kitchen and sat chatting until it was time to go to bed. I had checked out the forecasts, and veerything seemed to be pointing to the fact that the weather was much better for the following day, so I had booked my snorkelling trip out to the Great Barrier Reef which I was really excited about.
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