2011 Port Douglas and Daintree: Part 2

Day 3 of our break started with a breakfast in the main restaurant, which has amazing views out over the ocean, and a flock of rosellas that are fed right beside you – the restaurant has no windows so is open to the environment. It’s a delightful way to start the way. Arriving back at our bungalow though, we met another bush creature – one of the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen!  Alan has quite genuine arachnophobia, and was not impressed, but it stayed with us for our visit, seemingly never moving – it was almost as though it was reminding us that this was actually its home and we were the visitors.

A longer walk on the beach followed. It was windy but that is irrelevant when you are walking barefoot on sandy beaches with no one else in sight. Well, that is until we came across this sign warning about crocodiles in the area, and then a small beach community emerged into view. Not so alone after all…

Heading back, we left for the Daintree Discovery Centre – I had read about the aerial canopy in the rainforest and wanted to see and do that. After lunch at a cafe in Port Douglas, we started the 90 minute drive, and after crossing the Daintree River on the ferry (fun), we arrived at the Centre which was tucked away in the rainforest (obviously). There is much to see at the Centre, but the aerial canopy isn’t high enough for my liking and too short. Rainforests aren’t new to me, but this was a well put together experience, obviously designed for tourists – but I think that is okay. It is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, and wasn’t terribly crowded when we were there. On the return trip, we stopped off in Port Douglas for some more supplies, and then spent the rest of the time doing nothing much perfect! Dinner that night was takeaway fish and chips – a must in this part of the world.

The next day was an early start as we were scheduled to be picked up at 7.30am for our four wheel drive trip to Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track. We booked this through Reef and Rainforest Connections, which is based in Port Douglas, but also does pickups in Cairns.. Our guide arrived right on time, and we headed into Port Douglas to pick up another family.  We had a wait of about 20 minutes for them, but we were eventually on our way. First stop was the Mossman River Gorge which we explored on our own – an impressive place, even though it was drizzling with rain. Bush turkeys were wandering around over the paths where we were walking, seemingly oblivious to us humans walking by. The river itself was not wide, but had a sense of being ‘mighty’. Morning tea followed, with tea and lamingtons beside the Daintree River where we were due to board a boat tour along the river.

The river cruise was in a small, flat bottomed boat, and the captain was what I can only describe as a local character, bare feet and all. He was incredibly knowledgeable, and gave us a continuing narrative about the river, the origins of the Daintree and the flora and fauna. We were treated to the sight of large snakes curled up in the trees, crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, and even a baby crocodile which, we were told, is unlikely to survive. On the other side of the river, we hopped off the boat and met our guide, who had put out boards for us to walk on because the bank was slippery from the rain, and headed off  into the Daintree. Our first stop was just past the Daintree Discovery Centre where we’d been the previous day – the Jindalba Boardwalk, where we spent some more time exploring the rainforest. Next stop was Noah Valley, where we had a BBQ lunch beside a river. We were lucky to have a smaller area to ourselves; just down the hill a bit was a larger space with multiple tours.

We left to go on the four wheel drive portion of the tour – this was interesting because we were in what we call a ‘people mover’ rather than what you might expect, but it managed okay. We stopped at Cape Tribulation first, and here it decided to really start raining, which made the scenery a bit murky.

The Bloomfield Track was…a track, and going up the side of a range (Donovan’s Range) was straight up, no winding around the edges here. We headed down passing some great scenery of the coast, and arrived at Stingray Bay. Now this was a surprise. Both in terms of how developed it was – yes, isolated but readied for tourists. You wander down a path and come out onto the amazing Cowie beach, with the equally amazing lone mangrove.

We then started our return journey the way we had come, stopping on the way back for a icecream at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. Now this is crowded – you queue for a sample cup of three flavours, all of which were delicious. Our last stop was Alexandra Lookout where we had views out to the Coral Sea. We were dropped off at Thala, and we drove back into Port Douglas to grab some Chinese take away for dinner.

Getting out on the Bloomfield Track was a good idea because it is off the usual tourist beat, and Cowie Beach was worth the bumpy ride. Again, I thanked our timing that we were here in June and not in our summer, because it was crowded enough for me.

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