The Cape York Peninsula and the Daintree Rainforest

Cape York is a famous location for the Aussies, it is the northernmost point of Australia and a huge 4WD track up to there. One of the last real 4WD experiences in the country, a trip you mostly do with a couple of cars after lots of preparations. We only want an impression of this area, so we plan a trip to the Lakefield National Park.

From Atherton we get a really nice route over mountain lands to Laura, a small village 30 km’s from the park entrance. Before entering, we pay a visit to Split Rock, with the typical Quinkan Rock Art. This is another type of art compared to the one we’ve visited in Kakadu. A small trip leads to the art sites, which we really enjoy.
The life in Laura itself is quite strange… We fill our tank at a petrol station, with numerous turkeylike birds walking on the pavement and a group of noisy cockatoos at the electrical wires.
Here you’ve crossed a last frontier. Life and civilisation are miles away.
We camp at a deserted gravel digging area near the park, where we prepare the next couple of days from our stay. A really inspiring spot.

Next morning we drive into the park… Where we expected a nice 4WD trip, all roads are simply unsealed and we taught this park would cover rainforest, but it has only dried rivers and empty billabongs. After Kakadu, these wetlands cannot show us much more. So we leave the park soon and head to Cooktown.

This whole area reminds us of the beaching of captain Cook and his crew in 1770. The entire area breathes the memory of this settlement. But Cook had a harsh time here, near Cape Tribulation he lost a part of his crew and his ship – the Endeavour – needed great reparations after hitting a reef on the nearby Great Barrier Reef. In his journal he writes the following: “I named… the north point Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles.” His botanist, naturalist and illustrator discovered many new species of plants and animals in the forest and they named the ‘kangaroo’…
The Aboriginal people here remember this – for them unlucky fact – in their paintings and stories. After almost 30 000 year of living in this area the first non indigenous people stranded here… And changed a lot.

Cooktown has not much of interest to tell us. We only enjoy the view on the pier and the coast… After a long time in the dry and harsh savannah climate, we’re once again at seashore.
That night we camp at Archer Point, a cliff near the sea with the wind howling around us and the sound of waves breaking on rocks. A lovely location, with a great view in the morning.

From there we head to the Bloomfield track, passing the Black Mountain – a mysterious basalt rock covered hill. A 4WD track from Cooktown to Cape Tribulation. We cannot start the trip without paying a visit at the local pub – the Lions Den. In the pub, many feats of travellers to the Cape greet us. We see pictures from cars in almost unbelievable positions and all walls are graffiti covered. A good spot to start our trip.
The Bloomfield holds its challenges for us. The road conditions are very good, we met almost no river crossings, but there are some really steep climbs and descends to make. Janis and we sweat at some parts, but all goes well and at noon we arrive in the Daintree Rainforest.

The Daintree is one of the last remnants of the primary rain forest on earth. It is one of the very oldest ones here on earth. The many ferns are a living proof of the old age of the surroundings. This is a typical dry rainforest, which means there is a distinct difference between the wet and dry season. We visit at the end of the dry, so many plants almost completely dried out, the soils is quite dry and most of the insects are absent. Big parts of that forest are planted in the poor sand grounds, why plants made special adaptations to survive in these harsh climate systems.

Our trip starts near the famous Cape Tribulation and nearby Myall Beach, where we make two short rainforest walks and a longer beach walk. Once again beaches are no swimming spots, with numerous salties (however we don’t spot them) and dangerous jellyfishes that inhabit these beautiful waters.
The trails are well suited and fully informed about plant and animal life. Along the coastline we spot some mangrove forests and a couple of swamps either. Here we discover that lianes are tree roots growing and crossing between the trees for extra feeding in this climate.
At night we stay at the Noah Camp site inside the park, a quiet spot… Between the trees of the forest – with the mosquitos somewhere else – and the sea at walking distance! Amazing.
The first thing we do next morning is relaxing with a beach walk… Marvellous.
Afterward we head to the headlight of the day, a trip at Mt Sorrow, a 7 km return rainforest walk. Yeah, active like we are we don’t go for less. The climb proves a hard walk, with really steep parts on the trail. Luckily many trees and lianes are along the path to support us. Like little monkeys we climb up… Enjoy some rest at the lookout platform – where you see the barrier reef, the coast and the forest – and go in real Tarzan-style down. At the end we head back to our Noah Camp site to enjoy once again the relaxing atmosphere. It is only the second time we stay twice on the same camp site… Wonderful.

Before taking the ferry over the Daintree river, we make some marvellous and beautiful walks in complete different types of vegetations. A botanical walk leads along all types of ferns and through a mangrove, with plenty information about these forest types. The crocodylus track heads through rainforest vegetation and we spot a cassowary on that trip, quietly searching for food and last, but not least we enjoy a magnificent deep rainforest walk…
Once we crossed the Daintree River, we enter the area around Mossman, known for its cane fields and working mill. We enjoy the sight of the fields and are lucky to find a working unit.
In the afternoon we explore the Mossman gorge, with his icy swimming pool. In that part of the forest, we feel the old and quiet rest this place inhabits. What a superb location… The many parts along the riverside are so relaxing!
At the evening we arrive in Port Douglas, where we wonder about the many luxurious resorts in town and the numerous trade market boutiques. A small but wealthy city, with a stylish wedding chapel near the coast. The altar even has a sea view! We end our evening with the funny ‘cane toad races’ in a pub. 6 people get a toad on the table and the first toad jumping of that table wins the race. We get two numbers and yes… Ilse got one of these six racing wonder toads. But before the race, she has to kiss – bwerk – her toad good luck (and no he didn’t change in a handsome prince) but to no avail. The toad stays where he is, no matter what she tries and she loses this race. But it’s all the fun who counts. Afterward we park in the streets to go sleeping.

Next day we give Janis a check for the brakes and hand brake before leaving Port. From there we head to Cairns along the coastal route. Some beautiful palm and white sandy beaches greet us. We make a little stop at Palm Cove Beach – the local St Tropez – to walk on the jetty and drive at the Esplanade.
Late afternoon we reach Kuranda, to visit the Barron Falls and see Cairns through the mountains from the Wright lookout. That evening we stay at the Speewah bush camping in the nearby National Park, preparing our next great adventure – diving the Great Barrier Reef. Upon arrival a daring rat-kangaroo explores our dustbin and takes the remnants of our pineapple with him…
Next morning we start relaxed and prepare for an 11 km forest walk. The day starts rainy and during the walk we get lots of rainfall… But nonetheless we enjoy the forest scenery and take a closer look at the majestic Kauris, eon old giant trees.
Late afternoon we head to Cairns, check our dive reservation and make a small city walk, where we are greeted by numerous flying foxes in the trees, an active nightlife at the esplanade and a toy-like city.
That evening we park the car nearby the dive centre and sleep in the middle of the city.

Zondag 14oktober2012

Vandaag rijden we het Lakefield National Park binnen. Dit park komt tijdens het regenseizoen blijkbaar helemaal onder water te staan. Nu op het eindevanhet droogseizoen heb je een savannebegroeiing met eucalyptusbomen en hoge, droge grassen. Hier en daar heb je meertjes en het zou een paradijs zijn voor vissers. Wij verwachtten er een 4x4route te vinden maar meer dan een ongeasfalteerde baan vinden we er niet. Het park is ons niet uitdagend genoeg en na demiddag maken we dan ook rechtsomkeer richting Cooktown. Ook deze weg is unsealed maar prachtig met vele bochten.
In Cooktown zien we terug een vissersdorpje met prachtige koloniale gebouwen. Aan het haventje geraken we aan de praat met een koppel Duiters die al 14maanden onderweg zijn en er nog een 4tal te gaan hebben. Ze geven ons wat nuttige informatie en sturen ons naar Archer Point voor een prachtige kampplaats. En gelijk hebben ze! We staan hier op een klif net aan de zee en laten ons uitwaaien door de krachtige wind. Onze spaghetti zal wat langer moeten koken…

Maandag 15oktober2012

Deze morgen worden we wakker op Archer Point met zicht op zee. Kan je het je inbeelden…de auto op een klif en door de vooruit een prachtige zonsopgang. Buiten worden we bijna omver gewaaid door de wind. Naakt dansend in de wind…what a feeling!

We vertrekken voor de Bloomfieldtrack. Dit is een 4x4track van Bloomfield tot Emmagen Creek door het regenwoud naast de zee. De staat van de weg is ok maar er zijn steile hellingen en afdalingen. Heel mooi. Deze weg geeft toegang tot het Daintree National Park. De bekendste toeristische trekpleister is Cape Tribulation. Hier strandde ooit Captain Cook met zijn bemanning. Het is een prachtig strand omgeven met mangroven. Ook Myall Beach even verder is schitterend. Hier raakt het regenwoud de zee en dat maakt de plaats zo speciaal.

Momemteel staan we op de Noah Beach camping in het tropisch regenwoud. We horen de zee en de krekels maken het echt rustgevend. Slaapwel.