Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Tropical North

We awoke for our journey up into the Daintree a little tired after a caffeine-induced, restless night (see previous blog).

The caravan park we stayed in was on Wonga Beach, just South of Daintree Village and the ferry ride over the river. It was a lovely park in a lush tropical setting with a resident peacock who entertained us with a little jig:

Back View:

He tried in vain to get the pea-hens to notice him but they weren't interested. Typical.

We drove towards the Daintree Village, passing lots of cane fields:

We called in at the village (not much there apart from croc cruises up the river but been there, done that).

We then bought our ticket for the short ferry crossing ($20 return) and waited to board the ferry which carries about 20 cars over at a time:

We intended to drive pretty much straight up to Cape Tribulation, stay one night there and then see all the sights on the way back down. Some people do up to Cape Trib and back in one day.

We drove into the National Park and stopped at Waluwurriga Alexandria Range Lookout for a nice view out to the water:

We also did a short walk around the Jindalba Boardwalk which showed some typical rainforest:

It was a bit crowded though, full of some large tour groups. To try and get away from the tour buses we decided to stick to our plan and continue straight on up to Cape Tribulation.

We walked out to the beach and had a bit of a squizz:

(Quite nice although I reckon its just as nice at the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island - and no crocs, sharks or stingers to look out for!)

We had booked in for an exotic fruit tasting for something different - $20pp for a tasting of 10 fruits which vary depending on the season. It is conducted on a farm where they grow all the fruit themselves - mostly just small amounts for the tastings, but a some are sold at markets and elsewhere.

We arrived to find a bowl filled with the fruit we would be tasting. Recognise anything?

We tasted West Indian Lime (squeezed into water and the only fruit I'd had before, besides the Papaya), Jakfruit, Star Apple, Black Sapote, Yellow Sapote, Sapodilla, Mangosteen, Rollinia and Soursop.


The jakfruit was sliced and then segments pulled out and the flesh sucked off the seeds. Doesn't look too appealing but tasted pretty good!

Starfruit. A pretty one with quite a gelatinous texture:

Black Sapote:

This one has a very soft skin. It has recently been marketed as the "Chocolate Pudding Fruit" but doesn't really taste anything like chocolate! Both this and the yellow sapote are relatives of the persimon. Their consistency is a little like baked pumpkin.

The woman who did the demo was great and explained all the details about each fruit:

I really liked both the Soursop and Rollinia and we've kept our eyes out for some at the local markets since but haven't found any.

At the end of the tour we went for a walk around the rainforest garden.

Pineapples starting to grow:


Bamboo (very useful in sucking up huge quantities of water during the floods in wet season):

Jakfruit Trees:

Following the tour we checked in at Ferntree Lodge - a nice place we found for cheap on Wotif to celebrate our anniversary. It was a lovely place and we enjoyed spreading out on the superking bed - a rare luxury!

The next morning we gorged ourselves on the buffet breakfast which was included with our deal and then headed for the 5 - 6 hour walk up Mount Sorrow. The total distance was only 3.5km each way but it rises for 680 metres so is pretty steep! It was a great walk through lovely rainforest:

and a rewarding view at the top:

We were quite impressed that it only took us 2 hours to get to the top. We hung out for a while, had lunch and chatted to a couple of other people before heading back down.

View of the Walk:

We drove to a nearby waterhole for a well-deserved swim:

View of Mount Sorrow Climb:

We decided to drive back to Pinnacle Caravan Park at Wonga Beach for the night. We stopped off at Cow Bay just North of the ferry Crossing for a quick look - a nice beach but like all the others - beware of stingers! (Official stinger season starts beginning of November):

Feel like some vinegar with your fish n chips?

We crossed back over in the ferry and arrived back at Wonga Beach for another night. It rained a little during the night and into the morning (the first in ages). As we headed South to Port Douglas, the mountains looked great enshrouded in mist:

After arriving in Port Douglas at 9am (much earlier than expected) we headed straight to the Sunday Markets. These were pretty good markets with the usual assortment of goodies. We just had to try the natural sugar cane juice squeezed fresh from the cane in a quite interesting manner:

This was absolutely scrumptious with a bit of fresh lime added. It wasn't nearly as sweet as I expected and very refreshing. After the markets we wandered up and down the main street in the rain which came in bursts. We booked into a snorkel cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef for the next day and then headed to a caravan park where we spent the rest of the day.

The next day was our greatly anticipated reef trip. We were picked up by a courtesy bus and taken to the marina (which was only about a 10 minute walk away but never mind. It was free.)

Port Douglas Marina:

We boarded the boat and filled out the usual forms saying if we died or got left out on the reef - too bad. They provided free ginger tablets for sea sickness as it was a little choppy and we set off on the one and a half hour ride out to the reef. We snorkelled three sites in all.

The first location - look at all that lovely coral to explore!

We bought a disposable underwater camera which turned out to be a bit crap as it didn't show all the beautiful colours of the fish and coral (but thanks to Michelle for doing her thing and jazzing them up a bit!)

We donned our very fashionable skin tight stinger suits and hit the water for about an hour at the first spot:

General corally stuff:

Giant Clam (this was big - like a full handspan!)

Looking gorgeous!

Super-streamlined Dave:

We then cruised for another 20 minutes and did a second snorkel before having an awesome buffet lunch (and lots of prawns!)

After this it was another 30 mins to our final site where we were lucky enough to spot a couple of reef sharks sitting on the bottom of the ocean floor amongst the coral (you can just pick one out to the left of this pic about half way down):

Then it was homeward bound. We had an AWESOME day and I'm most definately hooked on the snorkelling thing. Can't wait to do it more!

Our faithful ship Silversonic:

The next morning we walked up to the lookout over the beach at Port Douglas:

Not far to Welly and Sydney:

We had a wander down to the water:

... and then headed to the beach for a swim:

After a nice dip it was time to hit the frog and toad and bust a move towards Cairns - next blog!

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