After a great day at the Great Barrier Reef, we took it easy the next day by the pool. After taking some photos and reading several pages in our books, we were invited to experience Chinese tea. We sat down at a Chinese tea table with our Airbnb hosts and another guest. Different types of tea were presented to us, accompanied by explanations. We didn’t understand much Chinese-English babbling, but in short, the tea was said to be good for inducing sleep. Some of the teas we tasted were up to 30 years old and mainly consisted of bark from trees and branches of various shrubs. The following day, Inez told me she couldn’t sleep because of the tea. It guaranteed me extra amusement for the day coming 😉
We went to bed early because our alarm was set for 5:30 am. We were picked up at 6:45 am at Palm Royale Hotel, a little further away, for our Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation trip. John kindly dropped us off because Inez was still asleep. By the time it was 6:46 am, I had started pacing a bit because the bus was late! 😀 Our bus was easily recognizable, and we saw it approaching in the distance around 7 am. Finally!
A strange character got off the bus, way too energetic for that hour of the day. We received a very warm and friendly welcome and boarded the bus. According to Inez, Brad asked way too many questions for such an early hour. I answered everything and started a nice conversation. Five stops later, at other hostels and hotels, we had picked up everyone. We already got along well with a Belgian and Dutch girl.
Once outside Cairns, we drove along the coast towards Port Douglas. This was supposed to be our first stop, but since the tide was quite low, it was better to drive towards the Daintree River first to spot crocodiles better. Whenever the trees along the road cleared, you could see the beautiful coastline with the beach. Our first stop was quick; we parked along the road and had a stunning view of the water. I also took advantage of this opportunity to quickly use the restroom.
Ten minutes later, we continued our journey and headed to the Daintree Rainforest, where we would explore the Daintree River. We arrived at a small village where we were offered coffee and tea. We talked with some of our fellow travelers and got to know each other better. Not long after, we followed Brad through a small part of the rainforest and arrived at the Daintree River. Here, we boarded a boat operated by Bruce and cruised along the Daintree River. He has been working as a guide for 35 years and has shared a lot of information with us about the river, crocodiles, and various plants and animals.
We took a small detour to a quieter section of the river. The water level was low, making the many plants and trees clearly visible. Mangroves are the most common trees here; we saw them very clearly during low tide. They are crucial for life in the river and the rainforest. By the afternoon, the water can easily be 2.5 meters higher, and everything disappears. It becomes much harder to spot crocodiles lying on the sandbanks. The crocodiles here are not fed or approached closer than 10 meters. They are very accustomed to boats and people, so they can often be seen.
Bruce received a message via the walkie-talkie from another boat that Scarface, the oldest (50 years) and largest crocodile in the area, was sunning himself in his usual spot. We slowly headed in his direction. At 4.5 meters long, he stood out. He remained still, and there was a joke that he was fake to attract visitors. A few seconds later, he moved. It was pretty impressive to see
We departed and drove along a road that took us to the tropical rainforest’s heart. Here, we had to watch for the Cassowary bird, which is rarely seen in this area. Brad promised to treat us to a beer if we spotted one. Unfortunately, our mouths remained dry. A little further, we stopped at the Alexandra viewpoint, where we had a beautiful view of the diverse vegetation of the rainforest, the stunning blue water, and The Great Barrier Reef. Not far from here, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was fatally stabbed in the heart by a stingray in 2006.
As we continued driving (surprise, surprise), we made a stop at a small road between the trees. It was not easy to park, but once we were on the side of the road, we walked through the trees. We arrived at a vast beach called Coconut Beach, with palm trees and a section of The Great Barrier Reef that was exposed due to low tide. This part has been dry for many years and is, of course, lifeless. Our guide informed us that the rainforest and the reef have sustained each other for thousands of years. If you were to walk 100 meters further from the beach into the rainforest and start digging, you would eventually reach the reef. That’s why Coconut Beach and Cape Tribulation are famous for integrating rainforests and beaches with The Great Barrier Reef.
Unfortunately, swimming was not allowed here due to the presence of crocodiles. Most of the time, you’re safe, but there’s always that one time when things could go wrong. A fresh coconut fell from a palm tree. One of our fellow travelers noticed and tried to break it on a tree stump and a rock. I gave her a sharp stone and suggested smashing the coconut open by striking it with the stone. Everyone gathered around, hoping to quench their thirst with fresh coconut water. After about five minutes, the coconut cracked open, and we enjoyed the refreshing water.
Upon arriving at Cape Tribulation, a small resort nestled in the forest, we sat at a restaurant and were served our meals. We both ordered chicken wraps, and they were pretty delicious. Inez quenched her thirst with a Corona, and I had a Little Creatures beer, which I really enjoyed. As we were leaving for the river, we passed by a large web with a spider in it. Finally, the first spider! A Golden Orb. It’s not deadly, but you’ll be sick for a few days if it jumps on you and bites. It’s like having a severe hangover. These spiders are relatively harmless compared to many others in Australia, but you certainly don’t want one falling on your neck.
With a Corona in hand, wearing our swimwear and towels draped over our shoulders, we walked to a river in the heart of the rainforest. We took a refreshing dip. I found a shallow spot in the sun, sat down, opened my drink, and enjoyed the silence and warmth. Inez stayed a bit longer in the deeper water, facing the sun. We quickly changed into our clothes among the trees, lay down in the sun for a while, and chatted with fellow travelers.
On returning to Cairns, Brad doubled the reward for spotting a Cassowary. Not one, but two beers for anyone who found it. However, our search proved fruitless. At one moment, Brad slammed on the brakes and shouted, “Cassowary!” There it came, emerging from the forest, accompanied by its young. All we did was take many photos and enjoy a rare sighting. Our trip today was definitely a success!
We ticked off everything on our list. But that joyous moment quickly turned against us; the ferry, the only way to cross the river and return home, was broken. We were stuck for over an hour and a half before crossing the river.
The final stop, unfortunately in the dark, was Port Douglas. Here, we could enjoy the beach and the warm water for a little while. We dipped our feet in the water, and soon it was time to continue the journey back home. The ride was pleasant, thanks to treats from Brad, cool music, and enjoyable company.
Everyone was dropped off an hour later, and Brad offered us a lift to our Airbnb. What a luxury! Tired and satisfied, we savored our toast and climbed into bed.
X Ely & Inez