The Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation, Australia
Where The Rainforest Meets The Reef
In a country with so many highlights, it is hard for one area to stand out. The Daintree Rainforest however continues to leave a lasting impression on all who are lucky enough to sample the beauty of this World Heritage listed paradise.
Located north of both Cairns and Port Douglas in Far North Queensland, the Daintree takes its name from the river that winds it way to the coast. This thin stretch of water cuts off the road north, resulting in the ferry crossing that delineates the "regular" tropics from the amazing.
The attraction of this region is nature. The untamed and dense rainforest pushing all the way to the shore of the coral sea, protected from the open ocean by The Great Barrier Reef. Development has been well controlled and is unobtrusive - allowing you to stay in comfort while still feeling surrounded by unspoilt rainforest.
The Daintree & Cape Tribulation
The Daintree Seasons
When you go has a huge bearing on your stay. The Daintree is safely in the tropics and has only two seasons, the Wet and the Dry. The Wet season is in the southern hemisphere summer with most rain falling between January and April. There is relatively little rain from June to October. There are 3 reasons why the dry season is the most desirable time to visit.
1) Less Rain - Obviously your holiday will be more fun if it doesn't rain every day.
2) Less mosquitoes - They are at their worst in the wet season
3) Swimming Season - It is not safe to swim in the ocean year round in far north Queensland. The reason is the worlds most deadly marine stinger - The Box Jellyfish. This innocent looking creature has tentacles that sting resulting in extreme pain, rapidly rising blood pressure and often death. Luckily, in the winter, not only do the rain and mosquitoes go, the stingers leave as well.
Having said that, the crocodiles are there all year.
The Daintree is an incredibly diverse environment with an amazing mix of fauna from the insect world up. Some of the highlights are the world's largest crocodile, and a large Emu-like flightless bird called a Cassowary.
Australia has two different types of Crocodile. The smaller, less dangerous Freshwater Crocodile, and the massive Saltwater Crocodile that can exceed 20ft in length. When visiting the area, you need to be "Croc" aware. Crocs can inhabit any beach but are more common around features such as headlands and river mouths. Warning signs are placed at all beaches and whenever a croc is sighted an additional sign is placed warning of recent activity.
Be sensible, be aware and ask locally for advice on where it is safe to swim.
Less dangerous (but not to be messed with) is the Cassowary. This large black bird has a helmet like protuberance from its head and blue and red markings around the face and neck.Much less famous than its cousin the Emu, it is a species identified as endangered with around 1500 believed to remain in the wild although concentrations are high in the Daintree. We were lucky enough to have two sightings within three days including one with both a father and chick.
There are plenty of other animals to see and international visitors will be impressed by the size of the (relatively harmless) Golden Orb Spider than builds massive webs from buildings and trees.
The Daintree Holiday
The whole area north of the Daintree river sells itself on relaxation and getting close to nature. There are a few resort style complexes but to truly experience the most the region has to offer I recommend staying at one of the smaller, more personal Bed and Breakfasts. My reasons are as follows: To get to the Daintree you will need to hire a car. All of the "beach front" properties are set back from the beach and as such do not actually have beach views.Sensible development laws have protected the shoreline to the benefit of all who visit. If you are after a view, the B & Bs on the hills just above the beach offer spectacular scenes of the palm lined coast from the very heart of the rainforest.
We stayed at Coral Sea Views B&B, in one of just two raised wooden cabins. The bedroom and bathroom are in the sealed half of the cabin to help control the mosquitoes. The other half is open to the outside, leaving no wall to block your view over the rainforest to the sea. Two hammocks ensure you can relax while listening to the birds.
Our charming host Vaughan gave us plenty of local advice to make the most of our time there and the pool was perfect to cool off in. I have been recommending Coral Sea Views to all of my friends and family.
Things To Do
Top of the list will be a long walk along a deserted beach. You won't have much trouble finding a stretch of beach with no one else on it. When the tide is high it is common to see the water lap right up to the edge of the trees in some places causing the rainforest to truely meet the sea.
There are also a number of organised tours and activities. You can go horse riding on the beach and through the forest, you can go on a kayak tour out over the reef or you can sail.
Boat trips can be booked to go crocodile spotting and if fishing is your game there are both freshwater and salt water options.
The Daintree Discovery Centre near Cow Bay lets you walk through the rainforest at all levels, from the forest floor to the canopy above. This is a great place to spot some of the many butterflies that inhabit the area and it is not uncommon for cassowaries to be seen picking there way through the undergrowth
It doesn't matter if you want to see the sights or just relax, the Daintree has plenty to offer. It is the place to see north Queensland the way it is meant to be seen.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!