Monday, August 11, 2008

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Following four lazy days in Cairns we rented a little 4x4 vehicle and drove north to Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, a trip that took us off pavement and also off the beaten tourist track into jungle topography and crocodile country.

In Cape Tribulation, we treated ourselves to a night at the Cape Trib Farm Stay, where we got a warm welcome, an airy, adorable cottage, a curious sniff from the in-house dogs, and a breakfast basket brimming with tropical fruits including black sapote, a hideous-looking squishy apple-sized fruit that happens to taste like... chocolate pudding. Fruit that tastes like chocolate = awesome.

(photo credit to alesh)

We paid a visit to the Daintree Forest twice, once doing the popular canopy walk, a gentle and civilized stroll through the treetops. We avoided the lower ground-based route, once again thanks to the possible presence of spiders, snakes, and leeches (EEEEEK!) We visited the treetops again via flying fox on the next day, and zipped through the canopy while lashed into a body harness. Just call me Tinkerbell!

The coastal road north to Cooktown is known as the Bloomfield Track, and is absolutely only to be driven by four-wheel drive vehicles. We had four creek crossings, with the water coming up to the base of the door. We got stuck in deep ruts in the road, and drove up inclines so steep I held my breath and crossed my fingers hoping we could make it up. The inside of the car somehow got dusty, and it somehow took us four hours to drive just over 100 km. Meanwhile, we drove through the tropical jungle, with foliage so dense that it darkened the afternoon sky above us, and we avoided getting out of the car for fear of reptillian life we were sure was stalking us. No joke -- the one time we did get out for a creekside stroll, BG was attacked by saw no fewer than three snakes. Creeks and ponds were flanked by "Crocodile Warning" signs. Roadside bathroom breaks became verboten.

In Cooktown we did a whole lot of nothing. It really is a sleepy coastal town, and by the time we wandered through the Captain James Cook Museum, checked out the lighthouse, and waited twenty minutes for my take-away cappuccino, the day was done.

After our Northern Queensland adventure and a night at the Cairns Casino watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games (being the only Canadians in a room of sporty, proud, and drunk Australians was awkward to say the least), we flew to the west coast of Australia, bidding farewell to the tropics and the Pacific Ocean, and saying hello once again to the Indian Ocean. We're on our way to a place called the Valley of the Giants -- I think some tree-hugging will be coming our way very shortly.

No comments: