Our time in Tropical North Queensland is running out

But we made it further north to a national park called Daintree. So tropical! We visited more rainforests – both a “normal” one and a mangrove. Even if we’re “old hands” by now when it comes to rainforests, we’re still totally dazed and amazed by their greenness, their diversity, their density!

On a short cruise on the river, we saw our first croc in the wild. He was just a baby, the captain informed us…

Oh, did I mention it rained practically all day? 340 mm in 24 hours. And the temperature never dropped under 28 degrees (82F)…

At the end of our visit in Daintree we visited Daintree Icecream company. A great concept! They make icecream with all the fruits that can be found in the rainforest (and there are SO many!) and serve a cup with four scoops, so you can get a taste of the fruit that’s in season. Of the four tastes we had, we only knew of the Macadamia nut. The other three we’d never even heard of, much less tasted.

Pictures from the icecream company’s garden/plantation.

Today we went snorkelling again. This time at the outer reef (some 30 nautical miles (ca. 55 km) from shore) on a somewhat larger boat called Wavelength. We visited three different sites out there, Opal Reefs and Turtle Bay, and saw numerous fish. Some of the others saw both turtles and sharks, but we “only” saw hundreds of colourful fish and incredible corals. A marine biologist was part of the crew – who were all very knowledgeable – so we heard a lot about the environmental threats to The Great Barrier Reef. Very much like our visits to habitats and rainforests, this sparks further environmental-consciousness. So beware friends and family: I’ll be even more organic and environmentalistic (such a word exists?) than ever.

Pictures taken by David with instamatic underwater camera.

Dane snorkelled along with me all day, some times on his own, sometimes holding hands, but most of the time hanging on my back. So, honestly, I was/am totally wasted!


2 Fish & Sailaway

Uh, we’ve been so busy since my last post, I don’t even know where to begin.

The Rainforest Habitat is a 10 minutes walk from our dwellings, so we thought that would be a good place to start. And this place was even better than the Koala sanctuary we visited outside Brisbane. Not as many koalas, but many more cute kangaroos and hundreds of birds, many of them quite tame. It was yet another encounter with the incredible diversity of our planet and again, it made a huge impact on us. Dane is contemplating becoming a vegetarian – he just can’t bear the thought of us killing all those cute animals and fish just to eat them, now that he’s seen so many of them up close and personal.

It being Valentine’s Day and all (just another excuse for some exclusive dining), we decided to try out one of the better restaurants in Port Douglas. 2 Fish. That turned out to be an excellent choice. Lovely food, nice service. The fish was fantastic, the desserts to die for. The evening became even more exotic, because it rained the tropical way, in buckets with lots of thunder and lightning. And we sat outside, just under a tarpaulin, so we could hardly hear oneanother speak.

The next morning we went on our much anticipated boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We’d chosen a brand new katamaran, the Sailaway IV, that does a family-friendly trip to a place called the Low Isles. Sort of like in Castaway, but with a return ticket. There were only 7 other passengers and they were all very civilised (=middle aged ;-) ). The trip out to the reef (by motor) took a little over an hour and then we were sailed in to the island on a small glass-bottomed boat. From there on it was just to snorkle away from the beach. It was only a few strokes, then you were on the reef and there were thousands of fish in all shapes and colours. Just marvellous! Dane wasn’t too keen on snorkling on his own, so he got a ride on mommy’s back and we found Nemo in his anemone.

Because of the imminent danger of marine stingers, everybody has to wear a so-called stinger-suit, which covers you from head to toe. The stingers are not to be taken lightly – if the tentacles (two metres long) touch you around the chest area, it’s almost certain death. Everywhere else it’s “just” excruciating pain, lifelong scars and a couple of days in hospital…

A nice lunch was served on board the katamaran and we had much fun feeding the shrimp shells to the abundance of fish around the boat. Even a shark came along for the party. And then we sailed back home (by sail), happy and with an even deeper tan…

Today we went on a different kind of rain forest tour – we went with an indigenous guide, an aboriginee from the Kuku Yalanji tribe. He told us about the way the ancestors had perused the rainforest and we tasted some very nice bread, baked with flour made out of the nuts from a tree in the forest. Interestingly, the nuts has to be cleansed in the river for 7 days, because otherwise they are poisonous. At the end of the tour, he played us a couple of tunes on his didgeridoo. He was very good at it and had Dane mesmerized.

Then we went for a much needed swim in the Mossman Gorge, a lively river with very cool water. No crocs, no stingers = lots of locals! The afternoon was spent driving up along the coast and stopping every 10 minutes for yet another photo opportunity!

Quite a few more photos here.