After two days spent exploring the underwater world, I figured it was time to return back to land (reluctantly!).
As it turned out, being back on land didn’t mean it was dry. November actually lies in the wet season of Port Douglas and it pretty much rained every single day I was there.
It wasn’t just light, drizzly rain either. Port Douglas has a tropical climate and when it rains, it pours. I had signed up for a one day tour of the Daintree Rainforest, Daintree River and Cape Tribulation and whilst the day started off with the sun shining brightly, the heavens opened at about 1pm and continued almost without stopping for the rest of the day.
Whilst it may be the norm to complain about rain in the UK, walking around in this hot tropical rainforest actually made the heavy rains a welcome guest to our tour. Water also makes the rainforest really come to life as plants hydrate, animals come out to play and dry creeks start flowing with water. In short, I was happy to run around the rainforest trails in the rain all day as it meant seeing the rainforest at its most dynamic.
Mossman Gorge National Park
The Mossman Gorge National Park was our first stop of the day. Our guide, Dave, took us round this World Heritage site, pointing out the various plants, trees and and natural features of interest.
As you can imagine, this being a rainforest meant we saw a lot of trees. Huge, giant trees. This one here has actually been taken over by a parasitic fig tree as it scrambles to reach for the ultimate source of energy, the sun.
The recent start of the wet season meant that the little creeks and streams were already starting to flow with water.
Heavy rains in the previous days meant that the Daintree River was flowing with brown silty water, rather than clear water, as the river flushed itself out. We were told that the water in this river would be running crystal clear in about 1 to 2 days!
Daintree River Cruise
After our short walk around the Mossman Gorge, we headed for a spot of morning (local Daintree) tea, passing by vast sugar cane fields on the way. If you didn’t already know, Australia is one of the top 5 producers of sugar in the world.
The little tea house which is owned by a couple who also runs the Daintree River cruise have some rather unusual pets in-house. I didn’t believe these little guys were real at first, but trust me, they most definitely are! Their little friends are dotted around the shop too, so it wouldn’t be surprising to pick up a toy frog for inspection only to find it’s a real frog.
We passed through the garden on the way to the river which was filled with flowering Birds of Paradise, Heliconia and Ginger plants, the latter two of which I have never seen in person before.
Upon reaching the river, we piled into the little motor boat to do a spot of crocodile spotting!
The heavy rainfall on the previous night served to cool the river temperature which meant a higher chance of seeing a croc sunning itself on the river banks, which is exactly what we saw. Rather amusingly, the locals have nicknames for each of the crocodiles who they seem to be able to identify on sight. This one here was a 2 metre long crocodile named Lumpy.
We also saw a 4 metre long croc swimming along the river, but he was a little shy and remained partially submersed under the water while we passed by.
Alexandra Lookout: Views of the Daintree River Estuary
Out of the river and away from the crocs, we were driven towards the Alexandra Lookout to take in the breathtaking views of the Daintree River Estuary. The rain clouds in the distance made it difficult to discern the hills in the horizon but you can just about make them out in the photo.
Panoramic photos taken, we got back into the van and drove past a Daintree tea plantation as we headed to Noah Valley.
Noah Valley is a world heritage listed private property containing some pristine rainforest. Noah Valley is acknowledged as a “refugium”, where some of the plant species contained here are not known to exist anywhere else. We are talking about ancient plant species from millions of years ago that have survived to modern times. Pretty amazing.
There was a lot more to see on this rainforest walk compared to that of Mossman Gorge.
Our forest trail led us straight to the site of our lunch stop. We made it just in the nick of time before the heavens opened and a torrential downpour began.
Being under shelter, I rather enjoyed the cooling effect of the rain whilst munching on my freshly grilled steak, fish and beef sausage for lunch.
The plan had been to spend some time swimming at a little creek nearby, however Dave was worried about the potential for a flash flood as a result of all the rain and didn’t want to risk it. I snuck a peek at it anyway and was sorely disappointed to miss out on this as the site looked perfect for a swim.
Cape Tribulation and Kulki Lookout
With no sign of the rain abating, we made our way to Cape Tribulation and the Kulki Lookout. A bit of trivia that I found interesting was how the place came to be named. British navigator James Cook has been sailing past the cape when his ship struck a reef one night and stalled overnight. Upon sighting land when daylight arrived, Cook recorded, “…the north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here begun all our troubles”. The rogue reef was subsequent named the Endeavour Reef. 🙂
The Daintree Ice-cream Company
Our final stop for the day was one of my favourite. Who doesn’t like ice-cream in tropical weather, especially when that ice-cream is made out of fresh tropical fruits grown on site? There’s not a lot of choice available and you just have to go for whatever 4 flavours are available on the day.
What’s wattleseed? I still don’t know but I can tell you it was pretty good (and reminded me a little of coffee).
Ice-cream finished, we made our way back to Port Douglas. This was my last night here and probably my favourite place in Australia so far (obviously the diving had a huge part to play in this!). My next stop is one night in Cairns before flying out to Uluru for a completely different change in scenery! See you soon in the outback!