Cairns is small city at the top end of a fairly populated strip of Queensland and is a jumping off point for trips to the Great Barrier Reef. We had arrived in Cairns three days earlier, and after 2 days of boating and diving on The Reef, we were primed and ready for a change of scenery.
After a night out on the town, we had barely fallen asleep when the alarm began to blare. This was going to be a massive travel day and we didn't want to lose any daylight, so we were setting out at 6:00 a.m. After a quick bite of toast and a swallow of Nescafe, we turned the key in the ignition and left the Cairns behind. We had spent the previous month beach-hopping our way up the Coast, so we thought we’d see how far our 2wd would take us North.
Our itinerary was to leisurely make our way up The Old Cook Highway and arrive in Cape Tribulation by sunset, with three planned sightseeing stops: The Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary, Mossman Gorge, and a cruise along the Daintree River in search of crocs. On this jaunt, the journey truly was the destination and none of the sights disappointed. We saw the imperious looking and endangered Cassowary and a myriad of rainforest wildlife in a replicated native environment at the wildlife sanctuary. Mossman gorge (although crowded with tour groups) was breathtaking. The water was incredibly clear and made for a refreshing midday swim. Hiking to the suspension bridge, we saw gorgeous foliage and birds native to the region as well as butterflies larger than your hand.
At Daintree there are about a dozen operators offering river tours on the river and, as I could discern no difference in the quality or offerings of the companies based on their signs, I chose to go with the first one we encountered and that worked out just fine. Minutes after our departure we spotted a family of four giant saltwater crocodiles lazing in the river and snapped loads of photos. Winter is the best time to see them in the river as the water levels and temperature are lower so they spend more time warming themselves up on the riverbanks. In summer, you’re often treated to little more than a pair of eyes above the surface and the promise of teeth hidden under the murky water.
After the tour we headed off to catch the ferry to get to Cape Tribulation. The only way to get to Cape Trib is via a ferry that takes both you and your vehicle across the Daintree. The ferry service runs on an hourly basis during the daytime only, so we were careful to arrive at the ferry dock no later than 5:00 p.m.
Arriving in the town, we were surprised to see that accommodation and services were not really clustered in an organized center, but are quite spread apart and limited. Also, be forewarned that there are very few facilities for groceries and sundries on Cape Trib and the prices are well above those of the large stores in Cairns. It is highly recommended that you stock up on snacks, cooking needs, sunscreen and mosquito lotion before arriving.
We settled in at a budget backpacker type accommodation called PK's Jungle Resort, primarily because of its proximity to the beach, and fell asleep effortlessly. The morning arrived and with it came endless possibilities: diving the outer reef, hiking in the rainforest on one of many trails, night safaris, reading by the pool, etc. A glossy flyer at reception caught my eye and before glancing at the prices, my heart set its sights on Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours, an adventure that allows you to get a birds eye view of the rainforest by sliding across a series of zip-cables while attached to a harness. Jungle Tours offered the stunning views that reward a trying hike, without the energy output. Ahh! It sounded like perfection and $75 dollars later, we arrived at the jungle tours office for what would be about 2 hours of flying through the trees.
After the Jungle tour and lunch, wallet empty, we embarked on a hike and visited the Dubuji Boardwalk on our way to Myall beach for a sunset. Tomorrow morning would bring another day and another drive. But, listening to sound of the ocean meeting the rainforest, I could imagine staying in Cape Tribulation forever.