Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Daintree Rainforest

We were on the steps of the hotel at 7:00 am to board our luxury BMW mini bus with Roger, our guide to spend the day exploring the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. There were the 6 of us as well as a nice couple from the Netherlands so it was a very personalized tour.
Roger is a fountain of information about the local area and the country so it was pleasant listening and learning about the sites we were to visit.

The drive to the Daintree was 1 1/2 hours and along the way Roger pointed out sites and gave us loads of history. We saw a barrimundi farm, sugar cane fields, wallabies and gorgeous ocean lookouts. The road was a bit windy so we had to stop, get air and make seating adjustments as Jake and Jack were feeling a bit wonky. They moved to the front to sit with Roger - another reason we like him so much - and then it was clear sailing from there. At about 9:00, we stopped at a Cafe in the Rainforest for Morning Tea. We loaded up on ginger ale to settle those tummies and had coffee tea and assorted cakes and cookies. It was yummy. The cafe is also home to some baby crocs, a python (I couldn't look) and other critters as well as a cockatoo, two gallahs and 3 budgies, a black lab and 5 kangaroos/wallabies. The kids were busy petting the birds and checking out the critters while we relaxed and enjoyed the snacks. We got to know the other couple a bit better and chatted with Roger about the day.

Jack, Bear and the baby crocs

Feeding red kangaroos and wallabies.

Before we left the cafe, Roger invited us back to the kangaroos to feed them. Armed with bread and sweet potato scraps we were able to feed the kangaroos and mom even got a hug from one of them. All was good until the kangaroo REALLY started hugging her and had to be pried off. We all got to feed and take pictures with the kangaroos and it was really cool. Only mom got a hug though - must be her Ace Ventura side that the animals can sense!

We left the cafe and continued north until we entered the Daintree. We parked and took a guided walk with Roger along a government constructed boardwalk. Up until the 1970's it was illegal for anyone other than scientists with permits to enter the forest. With the entry of a sealed road, came tourism so the government developed this area for the general public to explore.

Future Botanist? Jacob and his pocket microscope.

Trees that grew around a larger tree. The "host tree" died and decomposed leaving a hatchwork pattern of the parasite trees - gorgeous. Roger said that the largest one he has seen could fit 15 backpackers (packs on) in the hollow where the host used to be - imagine that!
Immediately, the thick and lush vegetation envelops you as you enter the rainforest. It is like being in Jurassic park or a Predator Movie as the plant life is larger than life. The Daintree is THE oldest living rainforest on the planet. It contains plant species that were once thought to be extinct and date back millions of years. We saw a tree that is one of 19 in the entire world that were thought to be extinct.

Jacob tasted an ant that is filled with toxins that will cure your ailments. It has a very strong citrus flavour that Jake said felt like a sting on the tongue. Roger said that if you find a next you scrunch it up and inhale deeply and it will cure your flu or sinus troubles. He tried it himself and we really want Sam to give it a go before we leave. He's not too keen.

We happened upon a lizard that is very rare - some sort of a dragon that is only found here. It had a plate with spots around its head and was dark in colour. Jacob wanted to catch it but we wouldn't let him.

"Bird nest ferns" that grow in the trees at all elevations.

We saw an area that was matted down and learned that there are 50 000 wild boars loose in the rainforest. They are up to 300 kilos and ugly - black with tusks and dangerous. There is a trapper who's job is to catch them but he cannot shoot them. They are incredibly destructive and it would be a daunting task to have to rid the rainforest of them. Last year, he only trapped about 130.
We took lots of pictures in here and felt truly privileged to have had the chance to visit a place so ancient and natural on our earth.

Where the forest meets the river.

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