Its nearly been a month since I’ve written … time has gone by so fast. Where do I start and how can I condense it?
Well after leaving Airlie Beach we headed north to Townsville. Staying only one night in Townsville we proceeded towards Cairns (Pronounced Cans). This is the largest city north of Brisbane. Queensland has many small cities, but few big cities. We were excited about getting to this tropical city. Its about the size of Grand Rapids, right on the ocean (except you can’t go in because of the crocs). Cairns has a salt water pool (lagoon) built right into the city center and it is very fun to splash around. The weather has been approx. 80-85 and sunny! The first night we arrived we grabbed a local magazine and found out Xavier Rudd was playing a concert that night. We drove as quick as we could to the venue and Jeremy bought our tickets. We had about one hour till the doors opened so we made dinner in the parking lot. As soon as we were finished eating dinner the back doors of the venue opened up and out walked Xavier and his friends. We said hello, shook hands and talked. Yup, I know, pretty cool! We were stoked! We throughly enjoyed his concert – this was his Spirit Bird tour, from his newest CD release. During the week in Cairns we also enjoyed the festival — we watched an outdoor movie (“Bag it” – A documentary about plastic bags – definitely recommend you watch it) and also played the Steel Pan from Trinidad with an ensemble.
Mossman Gorge: Beautiful and untouched. We hiked for nearly one hour and at the end of our walk we played and enjoyed the clean translucent river water that was flowing down the mountain. Nature is so perfect!
Port Douglas: North of Cairns by 60 kilometers. This little city has one of the greatest markets we have been to in all of Australia. Here we met Alan. He makes name necklaces by bending silver and gold wire into names. He invited us to his Rainforest home near the Daintree Rainforest. The only way into the Daintree Rainforest is by taking the ferry across the Daintree River. This river can rise substantially during the wet season, therefore a bridge will not work. Alan lives completely “off grid”. By that I mean, solar power, solar water heater, rainwater collection and a garden. There are no electric companies or water companies that are in this area. He lives atop a hill and if you look to the right you will see the ocean and to the left is the rainforest — pure heaven on earth. There is also has an outdoor shower…..amazing. The beaches in the north are pure bliss – soft sand, warm water, secluded. We have been blessed to see the…Ulysses Butterfly, Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo (rare), Red Tail black Cockatoo, monitor lizard, Rhinoceros beetle and our first snake. We were hoping to see the endangered Cassowary. There are only 1000-1500 left in the wild. The loss of habitat, car accidents and dog attacks are the top three reasons these birds are dying. They are one of the most important species in the rainforest because they eat many seeds/berries from a variety of plants and walk many kilometers around the forest dispersing the seeds in their poo. This allows the rainforest to flourish and grow.
We left Alan’s and drove into the Daintree National Park. Along the way we devoured biodynamic tropical ice cream, walked along some of the most breathtaking beaches and woke up from a nap to hear a monitor (lizard) scratching at a tree for bugs right behind our van. The road going north is for 4WD vehicles only and we have a 2WD. The roads are rocky, 150 km of dirt and 5 rivers that needed to be crossed. This didn’t settle well with me but Jeremy assured me that our van could make it. After much hesitation we headed north. We crossed two rivers (that were pretty small) before we called it a night. We spent one night in the Rainforest – tucked our little van in a cleared out area and just listened as the jungle came alive. I think it was the best night of sleep I’ve had on this entire trip. This 4WD track goes all the way to Cape York (the most northern point of Australia) but we were headed to Cooktown. Along the dirt track we saw the elusive and rare Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo hop across the path, we probably will never see one again because of the rarity of this shy marsupial. We also saw many brilliantly blue colored Ulysses Swallowtail Butterflies (about the size of a small salad plate) dancing in the sky. Nearing the end of the 4WD track we came to an Aboriginal community that had a cascading waterfall named Wujal Wujal. Unfortunately we couldn’t swim in the water because of the crocodiles. After a long day of bouncing around in the van through rocks and rivers we arrived in Cooktown and watched the most stunning sunset. Cooktown was a booming town in the late 1800’s due to gold mining but it is very quiet these days.
On our last day in the Daintree we hiked Mount Sorrow. This is a 7 kilometer hike over 680 meter elevation gain (taking us approximately 6 1/2 hours to complete). Neither one of us had ever done such an intense hike. There was a point when it was so vertical that we used a rope. After 3 1/2 hours we made it to the summit and were amazed at the height we had climbed. The view was of the sea and the rainforest — it was extremely windy and cold at the top. A german couple had made it to the summit before us and he had just proposed to her. Two days later my legs are very very sore but I wouldn’t have it any other way…its just a reminder that I completed something incredible.
At the moment we are in Cairns determining how we will spend the next four months in Australia and the route we will take. I miss all my family and friends so much – this weekend marks seven months in Australia.