Monday, October 1, 2012

To Cape Tribulation

We enjoyed a lazy day in Port yesterday. Thousands of people were in town for the Sunday markets and we thought we should support them too. The markets were extensive and very crowded, but fairly uninteresting I thought. A lot of "craft" work - very badly designed, container loads of cheap quality jewellery and clothing from Indonesia - hardly any local fresh produce and less than a handful of stalls doing interesting things with local ingredients.  The organic vanilla bean grower was an enthusiastic exception.  And where were all the musicians and the artists?

Anyway we found it all pretty exhausting - so a good excuse to spend HOURS over a long lunch afterwards, reading the papers on our balcony overlooking the pool, before heading back to the wharf area in the late afternoon to the "Tin Shed" for a Peroni and a chance to watch the boats going and coming back from their day's fishing/diving expeditions.

With grey skies threatening rain we headed off for a day's exploring North this morning...past the low lying, lush looking cane fields around Mossman, crossing the Daintree River by car ferry then starting the climb up the rainforest covered Main Range to the lookout at Mt Alexandra.  I got this greyed out shot looking down to the mouth of the Daintree River as it joins the Coral Sea just before it started POURING with rain.

A few dank, wet, curving kilometres further on we arrived at the Daintree Discovery Centre - advertised quite accurately as the Gateway to the Daintree Rainforest.  We spent a few hours there, finding the aerial walkway, the canopy tower and all the carefully designed boardwalks a magic way to appreciate and learn more about this ancient and unique World Heritage Listed rainforest.  This rainforest is filled with "plant dinosaurs" and native fauna that are directly linked to when Australia formed part of ancient Gondwana land......I took so many photos of green foliage.

We stayed for lunch at the Discovery Centre..loved being able to sit and enjoy my first cup of Daintree (strong and smoky in flavour) tea, suspended over the rainforest.

By now the skies were clearing as we headed further north - to the furthest point where the sealed road ends at Cape Tribulation.  As we were driving along this road north past Noah Head and the spectacular Thornton Beach I could just see all the imagery from the Jeannie Baker collage construction books I used to read to Joshy (Where the Forest Meets the Sea).

Cape Tribulation beach is gorgeous...water is every shade of aqua through to emerald green, white white sand...with this primeval rainforest transforming into mangroves as it reaches the sand.

Heading back south again, Just near Noah Beach we stopped off to complete the Marrdja walk, an easy 45 min boardwalk through a an extensive area of mangrove forest bordering both the beach and the salty mouth of the Oliver River - amazing!

I am fascinated by the variations of epiphytes (air plants) growing in both the rain and mangrove forests: ferns, lichens, mosses, bromeliads.....

even orchids...sometimes all of these might be growing on the same tree.

... and what about all those mangrove roots bringing oxygen to the root systems of these primeval trees (like snorkels)

Heading further south - almost back to the Discovery Centre again we had to stop at the (very rustic)  Daintree Icecream Company to enjoy the day's offering: a scoop each of jackfruit, blueberry, wattle seed and coconut icecream - with a side serving of fresh jaboticaba fruit (a grape like fruit from Brazil). I thought this hand made, generously flavoured ice cream was wonderful. The wattle seed was the stand out flavour for me.

Before heading back to wait our turn on the car ferry for the return trip over the Daintree River we stopped off once more at the lookout - to see the view in better light this time.  We could even see Port Douglas in the distance this time, as well as the Low Isles (where we're heading tomorrow).

The Daintree car ferry uses an amazingly simple cable system to pull the ferry back and forth across the river - all day from 6.00am - midnight.

Once across the river we turn right towards Daintree village - and saw nothing to entice us to stay - for a coffee or an explore.  Such a unique and amazing environment here - but such little development as yet. I guess in some ways this is a good thing as it sure limits the number of people who are able to visit (let alone stay).  We feel privileged to have seen as much as we have been able to today.

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