Wednesday 17 July 2013

Cairns, Port Douglas, The Daintree and Cooktown

As we continued our journey north past Cairns, we decided to head to Port Douglas in the hopes it was a little less packed out than Cairns.
Despite the weather chopping and changing, from drizzle to sunshine, we found the drive to Port Douglas a truly beautiful one. A windy cruise along the coast.

The next day we set out with the plan of going to Cape Tribulation and then onto Cooktown.
After some cruisey roads we hit the water and catch the ferry across to the Daintree. This new location was also a stunning drive. Cruising through some gorgeous lush rain forest, up and down winding hills whilst also feeling the breeze from the ocean not far off.
Not far into the drive you are treated with a beautiful lookout, showing the rainforest packed hills meeting the ocean below.
Once at Cape Tribulation we jumped out and decided to check the "Friendly Grocer" shop, which Jen really got excited about. See early in 2012 Jen lost her favourite hat at a concert, known to all as her rainbow hat, wherever she went to look for a new one, hippy stores, clothing shops and supermarkets she could never find one... until today!
Now with a grin from ear to ear we move over to the "Dubuji" part of the Daintree National Park for some lunch and a cruise around the board-walk. The board-walk was set up really nice, it connects to the beach and gives you a grand tour of where the rainforest literally connects with the beach, a lot of unusual plant life resides here, we saw some quirky white clawed crabs, curious lizards although despite hearing them grunting from behind the thick forest walls we saw no wild cassowaries.
The Daintree area was so gorgeous we decided we'd organise a permit and camp at Noah Beach Camp grounds and wow what a treat. Sleeping in the rainforest, listening to the waves of the beach in pure darkness at night really made for an amazing nights sleep.

Come morning I really had to remind myself as I sat outside, in a rainforest, listening to the waves, in my pyjamas eating my breakfast that it was actually the middle of winter!
We decided we would lock down the hubs and take the 4WD track to Cooktown, rather than return on the ferry and take the long way, besides it was 100ks to 4WD vs 400+ks to backtrack, makes sense to go 4WD!
As previously stated we have minimal 4WD experience, but we had heard the track had been recently graded. It was a pretty damn bumpy and slippery ride, a few river crossings “Rocky” romped over with ease as if to say "Why'd you bother locking the hubs?". As we got further into this amazing drive full of really thick rainforests we hit some pretty steep inclines forcing me to crawl up in first gear. Some vehicles had enjoyed some of the steep inclines back down the mountains a little too much, and as such were rewarded with becoming an upside down decoration by the track to warn others to take it easy. One was pretty fresh too, we think the last few days.
The hard part of the track was only about 30kms and well and truly worth the adventure, we had such a good time just sitting in the car only jumping out to take some spectacular photos.

Once we reached Wujal Wujal, the first dry spot on our adventure, we decided to check out the waterfall, it was close by and only a short walk, perfect way to stretch out after that long 30ks! As we approached the waterfall we looked out over the river, to see a big fat crocodile bathing itself on a rock. After however many "Warning/achtung crocodile" signs we've seen we finally saw a crocodile in the wild!
The waterfall was a pretty site, although we were too intent to find more crocodiles to give it our full attention!

Back on the road towards Cooktown and eventually we drove past "The Lions Den Hotel" a pub/museum/rest-spot/camp ground that a few people have told me I have to visit, so we did a U-turn and went back, parked up the troopy, had some grub and went for a little walk around the place. As we were walking, I hear a sh sh sh from Jen to look up and find a goanna skulking about a BBQ.

The Lions Den Hotel is a great stop for a beer, food or fuel and a welcome stop after the 4WD track through the Daintree, however it is quite easy to spend a little too much money on beer there!
Cooktown wasn't far further on, and was quite a lot quieter and smaller than the previous towns mentioned in this post. It had a quiet breezy atmosphere by the ocean. A great strip by the water for a nice walk with a few touristy things in the park. 
In the centre of this walk lies this big black musical ship, full of assorted percussion setups, lots of fun for young and old alike!

- Cameron

The Musical Ship
Some of the instruments

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