Sunday, 17 June 2012

Australia Day 19 – Sunday 17th June

Early morning alarm call at 7.00am this morning for our “Billy Tea Bush Safari”. Paul wasn’t going to book an early call, as the telephone didn’t tell him which number to press for reception. As he is always quoting Bear Grylls at me – presumably so that I know he can look after me if we ever get lost in the wilds – I told him that one of Bear Grylls top tips was to press 9 if there was no choice. It worked – but I don’t think he saw the humour in it!

Breakfast was in the Treehouse Restaurant (where else?) and was a la carte. Nothing standing about to get overdone here. We were being collected at 08.10am – but they didn’t actually arrive until 08.30am – could have had an extra half an hour in bed. There were six others and the driver in a four wheel drive bus, I think you would call it. The rest had joined the tour in Cairns, so we escaped the long two hour journey to here. We drove about half an hour up the road to Daintree, and stopped for coffee and biscuits at the Daintree River Cruise Centre, before getting on board for an hours river cruise.

The driver of the boat had an expert eye at spotting wildlife, had a wealth of knowledge and also a sense of humour. We first spotted a snake hanging in the tree, then a baby crocodile swimming all on its own. Each section of the river was territory for a female crocodile, Fang, Lizzie and two others I can’t remember, and one male crocodile for all of them – Scarface. We then went into a tributary, which the guide said was Lizzie’s nursery. There we saw baby crocodiles sunning themselves – four in a row on one branch. One lady said that she thought they were plastic, and just put there for tourists, to which the guide replied “The best way to tell is to shove your thumb up their arse”. You had to be there. We then saw Lizzie, and further along Scarface. He was huge. We also saw very pretty Azure Kingfishers, and other birds.

We disembarked the boat at the Daintree River Crossing – the bus had already travelled up river and met us on the other side. We hopped back in, and ascended the Alexandra Range, and got out to take photos at the Look Out. There is an island called Snapper Island that actually looks like a crocodile from a certain angle. You could also see Port Douglas from here.

Once we entered Daintree National Park, we got out for an hours walk in the rainforest. Turns out the driver is also an environmentalist guide, and was very knowledgeable on the vegetation in the area. The Daintree Rainforest is thought to be the oldest rainforest in the world, at over one hundred million years old. It apparently missed the ice age – or the ice age missed it, one or the other. Strange to think of dinosaurs walking around where we were – but looked as if they could have. We also saw a huge golden orb spider in its web. We were looking for the cassowary bird, which is only found up here and is quite rare – there are road signs and speed bumps all along the roads to keep the cars speed down so if one crosses the road it is less likely to get run over. We were all instructed what to do if we saw one – don’t run or scream, because that will make it run after you. He told us to google cassowary attack when we got home to see some very entertaining youtube videos. Someone had changed a couple of the road signs of a “Cassowary Bird Warning” and “Humps” to show a before and after cassowary bird if it got ran over – very funny!

We drove up the road for a bit, and then we stopped at a funny little place for lunch. The driver got all the food out of the back, and there was a barbeque already set up. He cooked the most massive steaks you have ever seen – they covered the plate. There were salads as well. One of the best lunches I think I have had on a day tour. There was also a place here where you could feed kangaroos. They had four or five in a large pen, but were extremely tame. They had a bucket of food, and a couple came bouncing up, One like to kiss and cuddle (yes, I did say kiss and cuddle) and the other liked to hold the bucket and eat itself. Very entertaining, if not a bit touristy.

We then travelled around ten miles past Cape Tribulation to a place called Emmagen Creek. The driver had all sorts of tropical fruit we had never heard of to taste, and also made tea in a billy can. Some went swimming in the creek – there is apparently no crocodiles here. This was just to the side of the “main” road – the road goes all the way to Cooktown, but is only a track that is flooded in some parts. The road is four wheel drive only. The other side of the road there was signs warning of crocodiles – obviously they don’t cross the main road! We then travelled back to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef – literally. The rainforest is all the way down to the beach. There is a lookout point, and then we walked along the beach. The tide was out quite a way. This is one of the very places in the world where this happens.

We then made a quick stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Factory, and tasted whattleseed, mango, raspberry and coconut ice cream (separately, not all together). It was lovely, and very refreshing. We then drove to the river crossing to get on the ferry across to the other side, and then made our way back to Silky Oaks. We got off, but the others had another two hours to go. Excellent!

A couple of hours to relax before dinner. They had brought the patio heaters out again tonight, but not lit them so it must have been a bit warmer. Fish for dinner – barramundi for Paul and Salmon for me. And no dessert. Perhaps the diet has started!

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