Spending a day roaming (and getting lost) in a 135 million year-old rainforest. We found the land before time.I don’t believe that I can really do the Daintree justice with words. It is too big, too ancient, and too unique to compare to anything else.
Also it is the first and only true tropical rainforest I have ever traveled to. I set the bar pretty high for my first jungle adventure: the oldest living rainforest in the world.
The drive north started with views of mountains, beaches, ocean and a sprawling forest from Rex Lookout.
There was another couple taking in the view, and I hope that my own future can in some way mirror them. Retired and still exploring, wandering, and being awed by a big view.
As we continued our drive, I was surprised (again) by the existence of a mountain range. They just pop up in the most unexpected places.
This mountain sighting was followed by ten minutes of me chanting “mountain in the clouds!” No regrets, I love surprise mountains and these were the largest ones I had seen.
We made a pit stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company: here they make ice cream on-site using tropical fruits grown on the property. They were fantastic, unique flavours I doubt I will have the chance to taste again.
Next up was one of the highlights of the entire road trip: The Daintree Tea Company. I love tea. I live for tea. One of my bucket list items is to visit a real tea plantation. This was a good teaser.
There was not a single person at the property, just a hut with some information about how tea is made, and an honesty box full of loose leaf and bagged tea. I could have stayed there all day, just staring at the mountains and tea leaves growing in the sun.
Once again, we got lost on a hike this day. While driving up to Cape Tribulation, there are a few clearly marked rainforest walks, with boardwalks to make it easy for unprepared tourists, and to preserve the ecosystem.
There is also one massive 2km loop walk that has almost no boardwalks and scant signage, perfect for well-prepared hikers. It shares a parking lot with the easy, wooden, 600m loop that should have taken a half hour.
Imagine our surprise, when we were an hour into a thickly forested trek when we realised we may have been on the wrong path. Now imagine the surprise of the properly-outfitted bushwhackers who came across two morons tramping through the forest in flip flops and denim shorts.
Preparedness aside, it was a great hike, and while I’m half amazed we made it out alive, it was phenomenal to get into the heart of the forest and feel it towering all around you while we climbed over and ducked under roots and limbs and vines.
Apparently it was my lot in life during our time in Queensland to tempt fate in regards to cassowaries. In Atherton we heard the territorial calls of an unseen cassowary who was apparently not happy with our presence in the forest. This time we were picking up and examining one of the fruits they like to eat.
However, anyone who comes across a giant blue fruit in the middle of the forest and doesn’t stop to pick it up needs a little more curiosity in their life.
Had we not been in Australia, where death is almost always imminent, we probably would have tasted it.
We settled for trying to smash it open instead. We failed, and probably upset a nearby dinosaur bird.
Finally the boardwalk that joined paths with the smaller, easier, intended hike came into view, and we made it out of the forest without even a single blister.
As we were driving up to Cape Tribulation, the most phenomenal thing happened – we saw a real live cassowary.
I didn’t even notice it at first running alongside the car until we screeched to a halt and it sauntered its way across the road. These birds are massive, not as tall as an emu but much more solid and intimidating. Their huge black bodies, brightly coloured head and necks, and thick legs all combine to look like something out of Jim Henson’s workshop. However, a quick look at the claws on their feet and the ridge along the tops of their heads will remind you that this is definitely not a muppet.
As much as I love to see animals in the wild, I am so happy we didn’t encounter one while on a walk.
I didn’t have time to fumble for my camera. We simply sat in awe for a few minutes as it walked across the road an almost instantly disappeared into the forest. They seem so in place, these dinosaur birds, in the world’s oldest rainforest. The Daintree really is a land before time.
After recovering from the feathered excitement, we took lunch on the beach at Cape Tribulation, relaxing and with a very ‘secluded island’ feeling.
The ocean had almost no surf. It would have been so nice to go for a swim, but this sign put us off a bit:
There is a walk up to a viewpoint at Cape Tribulation that offers a great view of the entire bay.
Finally it was time for one last rainforest walk as the sun was going down. While we were losing the light, the mosquitoes began to wake up, along with everything else in the forest. Although we couldn’t see them, we could hear things moving in the trees and behind the gigantic leaves.
As much as I loved exploring such an ancient forest, once the sun went down, I was definitely on edge. The forest seemed to close in even more around us, and a scene from a horror scene felt like it was lurking around every bed or in each suspiciously rustling bush. Convinced the cassowary we had seen earlier was coming to hunt us down, I was happy to get back to the car and leave the nighttime forest behind.he cassowary we had seen earlier was coming to hunt us down, I was happy to get back to the car and leave the nighttime forest behind.