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Saturday, May 27, 2006

(*) Cairns, Cape Tribulation, Atherton

Here's the first bit of my time away that I've written out so far... just an experiment in writing... lots more to come [hopefully...]

The water of the sea was really brown after all the runoff after a few months of solid rain… you’ve seen all the pictures of it being a rich turquoise blue – not this time! But that was fine… yes, while it rained for some time each day, and the wind howled from the SE each day too (which disallowed me to go for a sail), it was still warm (28c/82f) and humid (well, it felt humid to me… I had to sleep with the air conditioner on every night… although it wasn’t hot by any stretch of the imagination.)

I was able to rent a small blue Hyundai Getz car for three days (for a great price too!), and I traveled about 1,000kms in that short time! A great little car, was so easy to drive, and even allowed me to sing along to my Beatles CDs too… thank goodness it was air-conditioned, as driving thru the humid rain made things a bit uncomfortable at times…

The drive upto Daintree and Cape Tribulation was the first highlight of my stay… the road snakes along and hugs the coast for a long way, and once you cross the car ferry at the Daintree River the rainforest closes in spectacularly around you! I made a brief detour to Port Douglas… really resorty and tourists everywhere on the beach must have been taking their ‘morning constitional’ when I was there! I didn’t stay there long… just time to take a pic of Edward sitting next to a coconut on the beach!

Mossman Gorge was beautiful… absolutely wild rainforest with a raging torrent pouring thru this narrow gully… that was sensational as well. I went to cross a small suspension bridge that spans the gorge, but ‘fraidy cat me chickened out! Gagh! Heh heh.

I drove up to the tiny village of Daintree, not sure what to expect… but didn’t realize it was like a tiny hamlet on the sides of a crocodile-infested river! Gagh! A short backtrack took me back to the car ferry… big signs instruct you to stay in your vehicle because of the croc danger! Gagh! Yet, once across the river, the countryside radically changes… from kinda lush pastoral into wild rainforest National Park! The road was narrow and windy – but in perfect condition – but I spent so much time with my mouth hanging open in awe at the amazing rainforest closing in all around you that the road just wasn’t a problem! It’s so green, thick and lush, and even small streams cross the sealed road in places – just beautiful. Cape Tribulation was named by Captain Cook in 1770… not far from here the poor guy struck the reef! There’s not a lot there – a few small cafes and accommodation – but the sight of the rainforest physically coming right to the oceans’ edge is unforgettable! The beach seemed to go out forever, and while there were a few tourists around, it was so quite and peaceful. A short boardwalk takes you almost upto the headland, with lush views back along the beach and out to sea. Edward took a starring role sitting in the middle of a rainforest there…

A quick yummy cheese sandwich at Cape Trib saw me slowly heading back to the car ferry, taking a few short detours to explore some of the quiet little beaches… so many little deserted beach hidey-holes to relax in… back to the small town of Mossman and then up the highland to Mareeba…

The coastal plain is really narrow all the way up the coast here… sometimes the mountain ranges literally reach into the sea… the ONLY way up into the ‘Hinterland’ is UP… long winding roads, but the actual roads are brilliant! There’s a great view half-way up the mountain from Mossman, and not much further along I turned a corner to see a raging waterfall spilling down along the side of the road – wow! Then, as soon as you get up to the top, the countryside changes… becomes like more open lush farmlands… then along the way to Mareeba and onto Atherton it seriously reminded me of NSW’s Southern Highlands around Moss Vale! Made me giggle – I’d come all this way to see the same kinda countryside I’d already experienced like 2,000kms away! Heh heh.

Near Atherton there’s a massive man-made lake that’d be perfect for sailing on… yeah, I had a quick look-see at the small sailing club there too! Heh heh. Lake Tinaroo is huge… it’s a big part of the landscape in those parts. In the falling dusk I checked out Lake Eacham – an extinct volcanic crater filled with water… from the viewing platform the fish were as big as your arm – damn those ‘no fishing’ sings! Heh heh. Again… in the soft dusk light it was so quiet and peaceful… not much further down the road toward Gordonvale I managed to catch n the rapidly failing light the massive ‘Curtain Fig Tree’ – it was too dark to take an adequate photo, so I’ll have to hunt for one on the net! To try to describe this massive tree wouldn’t do it any justice… a massive root system seems to hang in midair… again it was so quiet… a really relaxing place.

Then the signs started… “Winding Road next 40kms” – and they weren’t wrong! This is only one of three ways down to the coast to Cairns from the Hinterland (ie. Atherton to Cairns) – and while the actual road is in A1 condition, it’s a loooong drive thru narrow winding steep corners that never seem to end! It didn’t help that the sun had set… that part of the drive tired me out more than anything else that day! Driving thru the darkening rainforest was beautiful, but you have to give 100% attention to the road if you don’t wanna drive off the side of a cliff! Gagh! Like I said, the actual road was brilliant, but the seemingly endless corners were exhausting! I smiled when I saw the lights of Gordonvale come looming out of the darkness down on the coast… then a short straight rip back to Cairns on a 4 and 6-lane highway… from one extreme to another! By the time I got home I was absolutely wasted… time enough to jump into the pool and hit the shower…

Yeah, this was a really long day, but I simply love driving, and the scenery was far more spectacular around the coast and Daintree and Cape Trib than I could ever have imagined!

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3 Comments:

On May 27, 2006 2:16 PM, Blogger caroline said...

That was one busy day. Sounds like you had a great time.

 
On May 28, 2006 6:22 PM, Blogger Patty said...

A lovely part of the world. Lucky you)

 
On May 29, 2006 4:26 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Nice blog Mallard. Thanks for leaving the link on Patty's site. Lots of great pictures and other good reading.

 

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