Chapter II: Daintree, “where the rainforest meets the reef”

Finally I am with a fair internet connection. I never thought I will struggle in Northern Australia with connectivity… Well, we arrived very tired at 06:00 AM to Cairns, which is the largest city in far-north Queensland, very touristy and the place to be if you want to dive/snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef. Since we were not very much into touristy places, and we wanted to be pretty much in our own, the next day (after a very relaxed evening) we moved north, to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, Daintree.

Cape Tribulation at Daintree National Park - Far North Queensland

Cape Tribulation, Daintree Rainforest – Far North Queensland. Photo by Veronica Lopez

I honestly couldn’t believe how similar the weather and the environment was to my native city Puerto Ordaz, in Venezuela, and how vast and heterogeneous the whole landscape was. Looking out my window while Blasco was driving us far into the forest and see the ocean just meters away from us, and the rainforest on the other side was amazing. The only thing was that we arrived at the end of the wet season and that very first week was going to be a very wet one, which was very cool in one sense because we had the opportunity to experience the rainforest in all its full glory.

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Ringo the Beetle… Well, not quite. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

Blue Triangle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon) at Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Veronica Lopez

Blue Triangle butterfly (Graphium sarpedon) at Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Veronica Lopez

Daintree

Thanks to Kat’s planning, we ended up in a beautiful Queenslander house deep in the forest, with nearly no connection with anyone, except of course if we wanted to go to restaurants of plan some tours in the area. By the way, just that you have an idea, the region we were staying is not very populated and we had to cross the Daintree River by boat every time we wanted to go to he supermarket and get supplies in Mossman, a town that is 35.2 kms south of where we were.

A very curious fly. Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Veronica Lopez

A very curious fly. Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Veronica Lopez

A dragonfly in Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

A dragonfly in Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

 

Already settled in the house in the middle of nowhere, we got used to certain specifications that allowed us to leave in peace with the little insects and nasty spiders of the area: use A LOT  of repellent and keep the doors and windows closed; despite those recommendations we all got bitten by annoying mosquitoes and little spiders kept entering into our crib. Needless to say that Mario and I don’t like spiders at all.

Moving along with the spiders and insects subjects, while Kat and I were at home alone one of those mornings we were in the company of a Giant Golden Orb Weaver spider (Nephila Pilipes), which is endemic of Queensland and very scary looking. After I saw such a thing my quiet night is that house were not quiet anymore. I must confess, nonetheless, that before I came to Australia and was aware of the spiders that I could find, and I was kind of looking forward to it. This Golden Orb became our “pet” during that first week, and Mario’s best wild life model in the whole trip. The photos that he took of it were just sublime, catching both how magnificent and scary this arachnid is.

Northern (giant) golden orb weaver. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

Northern (giant) golden orb weaver. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

I decided to call this golden orb Jackie, bacause it was a female. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

I decided to call this golden orb Jackie, because it was a female. Photo by Mario Sainz Martinez

Wild encounters: creeks and Roos 

That amazing spider wasn’t the on;y one wild encounter we had while in the rainforest. Far North Queensland (FNQ) can welcome its visitors not only with fantastic animals and insects, but also with a wild environment. On one hand, in order for us to get the most out of the trip in that region, we needed a 4WD. Now, the guys rented a great car – at first – that could do most of the roads without problem, but to be really sure and have fun on the unsealed roads (roads that are not paved and with creeks in the way) we had to be sure and rent a proper 4WD.

Bloomfield River on the way to Cooktown. Photo by Veronica Lopez

Bloomfield River on the way to Cooktown. Photo by Veronica Lopez

I already had experienced driving in the wild in Venezuela, but here it was different, mainly because it is safer in every way. Well, after we got the new car nothing could stop us, unless it was a very flooded creek, a Roo (Australians diminutive name for Kangaroo) or a Cassowary (typical bird from northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea).

On our new car and ready to conquer Cooktown, we took the Bloomfield Track to a 30 km four-wheel-drive fun day to the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal and then 60 km more to the town named after captain James Cook. I must confess that the whole adventure day on the track was much more fun than Cooktown itself. Not that Cooktown wasn’t nice, but I guess I had higher expectations about that place after three and a half hours of road trip.

A hidden pool and a wonderful refreshment some  kilometers south from Cooktown. Photo by Veronica Lopez

A hidden pool and a wonderful refreshment some kilometers south from Cooktown. Photo by Veronica Lopez

The best part, though, of a three and a half hours road trip like the one we did was we saw two Kangaroos in the wild jumping around. The first one was pretty shy and Mario couldn’t take a photo of it; the second one seemed more curious, although very cautious and in a safe distance from us. Kat told us that we were really lucky to see two wild roos the same day, one after the other. They are beautiful, and very delicious too.

Kangaroo. By Mario Sainz Martinez

Kangaroo. By Mario Sainz Martinez

Kangaroo. By Mario Sainz Martinez

Kangaroo. By Mario Sainz Martinez

 

Wild encounters II: mosquitoes, Cassowaries, crocodiles and marine stingers 

Living in Europe (or at least in the Netherlands) has its fantastic advantages such as: nothing really wants to eat you, or bite you, or sting you. Australia is more than just beautiful, it is wild and most of its endemic species are not friendly. Since we were at the rain forest, we were equipped with a lot od DEET to prevent annoying little insects from landing in our bodies. That effort wasn’t always successful, because we all got bitten in one way or the other.

But we didn’t care! Despite the mosquitoes bites we continued our lives in Daintree, living among spiders, crocodiles and Cassowaries. Now, I will write about these two last ones. All along the road in the National Park are sings of the Cassowaries. At first we thought it was a mythological creature (just as Norwegians had trolls signs in the road too), but then, we saw one mother with its chicks wandering around one side of the road. The Cassowary is a very large flightless bird, with black plumage and blue face and neck; but with a bad temper: they are territorial and if you mess with them, they can kick you ass. These birds are everywhere in FNQ, that’s why you cannot drive too fast so you don’t miss taking a photo of them.

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The Cassowary with its chick in the back. Photo by Veronica Lopez

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A closer look to the Cassowary family. Photo by Veronica Lopez

The crocodile, on the other hand, is a very interesting case here because everywhere we went (EVERYWHERE) there were signs saying “warning: recent crocodile sighting in this area” or “warning: crocodiles inhabit this area; attacks cause injuries or death”… Not enough with that, there were also signs saying “marine stingers are present in these waters during summer”… We had to be careful, very careful and have our eyes wide open both in land and at the sea, at all times! Imagine how annoying is to be around a place and see these signs everywhere? It is pretty annoying, but it gave a sense of “danger” to the whole trip.

Crocodile warning sign. Photo via Flikr

Crocodile warning sign. Photo via Flikr

Marine stinger warning sign. Photo via Flikr

Marine stinger warning sign. Photo via Flikr

More to come about this three weeks’ adventure. Now with full internet connection and lot of awesome photos from me, Mario, Kat and Blasco!

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