On a previous trip almost 10 years ago, we were blown away by the gorgeous drive north from Cairns and have been keen to do it again ever since. A little concerned that we may be disappointed, we headed out from our igloo home in Trinity Beach heading north. We needn’t have worried. It was at least as good if not better than remembered. It really should be given the air time of roads like the Great Ocean Road, but selfishly, we’re glad it isn’t as that keeps it quieter. That and the fact that it is a road to nowhere. Just as the outback around Longreach was harsh due to its dryness, Cape Tribulation and beyond is unforgiving as a result of the dense rainforest. And both areas are to be avoided for normal travellers during the wet season when roads become impassable as a result of excessive amounts of rain and flooding.
Meeting Gypsy Lady
Stopping at one of the viewpoints along the way, we met up with a lady that is living in her camper and had been for quite some while. She took photos of us and we did of her, but sadly we didn’t get one of her with our camera so all we have is a photo of her camper.
Crossing into the Daintree Rainforest
The only way to cross the Daintree River is via cable ferry. We’d just missed getting on the one before but as it just runs backwards and forwards, we didn’t have long to wait before we could drive on. We did have to stay in our car, so it was difficult to see whether there were any saltwater crocs along the banks or in the water. Much as it would’ve been exciting to do so, we were relieved that we weren’t confronted with one of the giant beasts during out stay. It’s weird to see the long white stretches of sand and beautiful azure water with no one swimming.
Aptly named due to its location on Thorntons Beach, Thornton’s café was a nice little discovery. It was right on the stunning beach and served piccolos – what more could we ask for. We found out later that it only opened a month or so before, run by two chefs. During our stay at Cape Tribulation, we were keen to support the places that were open, as a number of accommodation, tour and food places had deemed in not worth their while to operate until international tourists arrive.
We saw plates of fish & chips coming out and were tempted, but as it was a little early and we’d decided to go to a place further up the road for lunch, we resisted the temptation. Instead, we chose the novelty of a croc burger and roo burger at Masons, being entertained by the local chicken picking up scraps from the floor and watching people go to and fro for a swim at the local crocodile free watering hole.
We couldn’t resist returning to Thortons again the following day for lunch and on our way out of the rainforest for breakfast – the most delicious hickory smoked bacon. Yum!!
We have stayed in a number of unique accommodations during this trip and Rainforest Hideaway in Cape Tribulation was certainly up there on the scale of unusual. Set in the rainforest, the bedroom was inside, but the kitchen, shower and toilet were totally exposed to the elements. We had a goanna visit, some creepy crawlies and a few brush turkeys and srub fowl. Other than that, the only things we had to watch out for were the white-tailed rats – apparently they’ll gnaw through anything to get to food, so we had to make sure any items of an edible nature were in the fridge or in a container in the metal cupboard. Food scraps went into the bush. They need bear proof bins like they have in Canada!
Previous owners of the hideaway had created a sculpture trail and there were different pieces of rock art dotted around the facility. We even had our own “jungle lounge”, comprising a double sofa and chair of stone. A little whacky but fun!
Beaches & boardwalks
The Daintree is known as where the reef (Great Barrier Reef), meets the rainforest. This means that there are some amazing forested areas alongside the long sandy beaches. Boardwalks link carparks to the beach, and we had a great time exploring them. We were fascinated by the epiphytes, particularly the basket ferns that attach themselves to the trees, but don’t deprive the trees of any nutrients. Glenda fell in love with the fan palms which create an amazing shade canopy in places – they look like giant umbrellas that one would expect to find in a cocktail.
The three main beaches we visited were Thornton, Cape Tribulation and Myall and as we did so at low tide, the expanses of sand were vast. And it was interesting to see the crabs and other life emerging from the sand.
Late one afternoon, we took a run down to Myall Beach and as we ran up and down the shoreline, groups of locals were collecting for afternoon drinks and beach BBQs.
Leaving the rainforest
On our previous visit, we’d missed out on seeing the Cassowary – the elusive but aggressive big bird considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world. We were intent on seeing one this time. Unfortunately, those that call Rainforest Hideaway home, didn’t grace us with their presence during our stay. Leaving it to the last minute, we spotted one crossing the road 50m in front of us as we were on our way to catch the ferry back across the river. So exciting!!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Cape Tribulation, enjoying so much of God’s creation in an intimate fashion, but we agreed it’s probably not the place we’d live. Beautiful and warm in winter, with 90% humidity – cannot begin to imagine what it would be like in summer! Also, we found it quite dark – even with blue skies and sunshine, the tree canopy means that the sky is seldom visible.
Still staying quite far north, we are not heading in from the coast and up the mountains to the Atherton Tablelands – expecting warm days but cool nights.