Port Douglas is a small town of 3000 people located about an hour from Cairns in North Queensland. The town is fortunate to be close to two World Heritage sites the world famous Great Barrier Reef as well as having the Daintree Rain forest as its back yard. With many tour companies running day tours out to the forest then this is the easiest and best way to explore the area if you have limited time.
Basically the itineraries are very similar visiting Mossmans Gorge, a cruise down the Daintree River looking for crocodiles, a walk along the boardwalk amongst the forest canopy at the Daintree Rain forest Discovery Centre and then Cape Tribulation. While in the bus keep an eye out for the endangered flightless cassowary, a bird only seen in this area.
The first stop
Daintree River Cruise
As we drove further north towards the Daintree River, the bus driver started to inform us about the crocodiles and the history of the area. The last recorded death in the Daintree area by a crocodile was recorded about sixty years ago but there was a case with an Englishman that disappeared near a river in the 80’s that no one as ever seen or heard of since that we could assume that a crocodile had gotten hold of him. Crocodiles at one stage in Australia were hunted to near extinction until the government made a law that prohibits the slaughtering of crocodiles.
The Daintree River is the major river that flows through the Daintree Rain forest. It is home to a large number of animals but the biggest attractions are the crocodiles that can be seen bathing in the sun on the banks of the river or if your lucky swimming in the water. When we were there it was nesting season so apparently most of the crocodiles were in their dens. The boat stopped once to look at a colony of fruit bats in the tree as well as spotting what we called logodiles, logs sticking out of the water that looked like crocodiles. We managed to see two crocodiles, one bathing on the banks of the river and the other one with its tip of its nose and two beady eyes.
Fruit Bats on the Daintree River
Can you see the 4.5 meter crocodile
The Daintree Rain forest Discovery Centre
The Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre educates people on the plants and animals that live in the forest. We were guided by a ranger along the elevated boardwalk stopping and talking about the plants that grow in the forest. We didn’t see any animals or birds but the ranger told us about the life of the cassowary and showed us the large seeds that the cassowaries digest.
Lunch was a BBQ at Cape Tribulation resort with a choice of steak, sausage or barramundi a local fish found in the river. Go with the barramundi.
Home of the Cassowary
On our way to Cape Tribulation there were signs on the road that had a picture of a cassowary and a speed limit of 60 kilometres, we were now in the heart of the cassowary’s home. The bus driver told us they were endangered and he drives this route nearly everyday and he hasn’t seen a cassowary for about 6 weeks. We drove for about another 5 minutes, when on the side of a road we saw a cassowary.
Not the cassowary we saw on the road this is to show you what one looks like
Cape Tribulation, is the furtherest point on our tour as the road from here is no longer sealed and only 4wd’s are able to make the drive to Cooktown. Cape Tribulation’s beach spreads out for miles on the fringes of the rainforest and the reef. During other times of the year you are able to swim here but unfortunately now was jellyfish season. At Cape Tribulation you can walk along the beach and then along the boardwalk that weaves in and out of the forest and the coast that leads out to a lookout.
For an historical point of interest, around 1777 Cape Tribulation is where a 15 year old girl , eloped with a captain of a ship that left England to sail to Australia. This ship crashed into the rocks off the cape with most of the crew dieing , people who survived were washed up onto the rocks and survived about for six days, they were soon discovered by native Australians, that happened to be canibals and they took the sailors and killed them to eat, fortunately for the girl the native Australians did not eat women. The girl lived with the tribe for seven years living the same way as them.</P>
Seven years later another ship came and somehow the women got aboard the ship, when the captain asked her some questions , the young women was unable to to answer in English and over the years the Australian sun had darkened her skin so she now resembled a native Australian.Over a few days, the women slowly regained her English and she told the captain her terrible ordeal. She was reunited with her parents and she went on to live a long life, dying at the ripe old age of 84.</P>
View of Cape Tribulation from the boardwalk
Our last stop for the day was Mossman Gorge. Again we walked through the pristine rainforest following the sounds of the flowing water. The water so clear and fresh but extremely cold we managed to take a quick dip in the rock pools but we couldn’t stay in the water for long. After a swim we walked upto the swinging bridge whichyou can’t walk passed as the trail is then gated off preventing people from walking.
It’s a long day with a lot of driving but well worth it if you don’t have your own vehicle where you could go and explore by yourself and even stay overnight at an Eco lodge. With only one day the you have to experience the rainforest on one of these daytrips.