After a good night’s sleep I woke to the sounds of countless birds all around. One thing I have loved about Australia are all the “exotic” (different from the US) birds and their unique sounds and this (as you can imagine) was intensified in the rainforest. I just laid in my bed and listened to the birds for 10-15 minutes…..it was a great way to start the day!
My first order of the day was to walk the 25 yards to the shared bathroom in the middle of the camp. Keeping in mind that I was walking through a rainforest in a country that has 6 of the top 10 most deadliest snakes in the world I tried to be mindful of everything around me and very careful to watch were I was walking. Within about 15 steps this turned out to be a very good practice as I (literally) came face to “face” with a spider (who was not there last night) that was about as big around as a plate. And as I mentioned in a previous post….Stephen don’t like spiders. 🙂
As much as it creeped me out I have to admit he/she/it was kind of beautiful in his/her own creepy kind of way. 🙂 Over the next two days I would see many more of his/her “relatives”.
I had originally planned to do a 6 hour hike through the bush to the top of Mount Sorrow (Google, Images). However, with my ear issue and ban on altitude I had to find other activities for the day. So after making breakfast I spent a little time checking out the local guide books and maps they had in the common area. Within 30 minutes or so I formulated a good plan for the day, packed up and headed out.
My first hike was a 1.2 km loop through the rainforest on a primitive trail that began at my camp. Being my first hike in the rainforest and a primitive trail (not well marked or maintained) I did my best to carefully/plan watch every step while also keeping an eye to the tree tops for animal life. It was a good hike and a good intro to the rainforest with some cool flora but unfortunately not much fauna. Aside from some birds the only fauna I saw were more giant spiders!
My next track was at a place called Jindalba (Google). Jindalba was named by the local Kuku Yalanji people and it means “foot of the mountain”. To preserve the native habitat and protect hikers they have constructed “boardwalks” on the more popular tracks in this area of the Daintree. While I prefer to get off the “beaten path” whenever possible it definitely made hiking in the rainforest less stressful not having to carefully watch each and every step. I’m sure I was being overly paranoid but the last thing I wanted to do was step over a brown, black, tiger or death adder snake by myself and two hours from the closest hospital (see mom, I do think about these things…sometimes :-).
The Jindalba track provided more great flora as well as a few lizards, birds and a super cool dragon fly that landed on the car antenna and “posed” for some great shots….
After this my next stop was Hutchinson Creek. The owner of the camp I stayed at last night told me this was the local swimming hole and said it was “99% croc free”. I stopped and waded but didn’t have time for a swim…even though it was 99% “croc free”. ha ha
I continued my journey north and came across a small roadside cafe at Thornton Beach. It was early for me to eat lunch but I didn’t know if I would pass anything else (and I didn’t) so I decided to stop and grab a bite. When I went in I saw the special of the day was a meat pie and a drink for $8 AUD. Although a meat pie is not something I would normally eat I had seen them all over the place since coming to Australia so I decided this was a good time to give it a try. So I ordered one and found a seat at a table beside the ocean…..
|Strangler fig vine|
I took my time and really enjoyed this walk. It was already pretty amazing but little did I know the best was yet to come!
As I approached the end of the walk I saw a family of three just ahead of me standing silently and looking into the bush. As I slowly approached the little boy pointed to the bush and said, “Cassowaries” (Google, Images). I was elated as this was the #1 thing I wanted to see in the Daintree. Although they are native to the Daintree, and there are signs everywhere on the road telling people to slow down and watch for Cassowaries crossing, they are actually difficult to see in the wild.
I turned my head and peered into the bush and saw it standing in some thick growth about 25′ away. It was hard to make it out as it blended into the surroundings. I stood there silently, almost not believing what I was seeing, when I saw a second one….a chick! This was very rare and completely awesome!!! From the reading I had done on the Daintree and Cassowaries I knew immediately that the adult was a male as the male Cassowaries actually incubates the eggs and then raise the young for the first 9 months. I stood and watched and hoped they would come closer while at the same time kind of hoping it didn’t.
You see, something else I learned in my reading is that the Cassowary is actually considered the most deadly bird in the world….seriously (imagine that, another worlds most deadly animal in Australia :-). The Cassowary can grow up to 7′ tall, 130 pounds, run 30 mph, jump 5′ and use it’s razor sharp claws to lunge at animals and humans if it feels threatened (Cassowary Attacks). And of course as with most animals, the adult Cassowary is more aggressive when it has young. So needless to say my senses were in full alert while I stood just a few feet away from this magnificent animal….and his chick.
As I stood silently and motionless I watched as they slowly made their way through the bush and crossed the walkway just in front of me. I was quite and totally still but my heart was pounding. My mother was concerned about me getting eaten by a shark in Australia but certainly never thought about me getting killed by a bird! ha ha (Worst Way to Die) But seriously, I can say firsthand that sharks have nothing on this bird for getting the blood pumping! 🙂 It was totally awesome!!!
I was bouncing back and forth between trying to take pictures and videos…..
I watched them until they walked off into the bush and then made my way back to my car. Just before I got into my car I saw them crossing the road. I see why there are “slow down” signs everywhere around here….someone “edited” a speed bump sign (below) and added it to a Cassowary sign for a humorous way to get folks to slow down…..
|The normal speed bump sign|
My next stop was the Dubuji walk (Google, Images) and Myall Beach (Google, Images). Dubuji in the Kuku Yalanji language means “Place of Spirits”. After my last walk I was stoked to do another one. I began the walk and saw some more cool flora, a Bush Turkey and a bush turkey mound. The Bush Turkey builds these huge mounds (it’s hard to believe these huge mounds are build by a bird) and lay their eggs inside. Rather than laying on them hey use the heat produced from the decomposing mound to incubate the eggs. The male Bush Turkey tends to the eggs by adding or removing rubbish to maintain the correct temperature….pretty cool huh? (Web Link).
|Bush turkey mound|
The final stop of the day was the Cape Tribulation Beach House in Cape Tribulation. This was my northern most destination for this trip…..
The Cape Tribulation Beach House (Google, Web, Images) is the last stop on the Cape Tribulation road (the only highway through the Daintree) just before you hit gravel. It is situated in the rainforest with it’s own private beach. So after checking in I dropped my bags in my room, grabbed a Corona at the restaurant (just beside the beach), grabbed a chair on the beach and sat and listened to the waves for 2 hours as the sun went down. It was a fantastic way to end a fantastic day in the Daintree….
After the sun went down I had dinner at the restaurant, checked out the bon-fire, did some star gazing on the beach and headed back to my room for a good nights sleep.
This is what happens when I sit on a beach for 2 hours……hmmm, I wonder if they would use this? 🙂
|Where Am I|