Into the Rainforest: Daintree

After diving the Great Barrier Reef, we headed to the Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree Rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as is the Great Barrier Reef. In Cape Tribulation, they come together and become the only place in the world with two touching UNESCO sites. But before we got to the rainforest, we had a very important mission: to hold a koala!

Wildlife Habitat

We were picked up by a city bus on Sunday morning and taken to another pick up location because our driver, Robert, was running behind. We felt so bad for Robert. He was just so dry and after hanging out with Cousin Ritchie at Uncle Brian’s Tours, he just couldn’t compete. Robert tried very hard but it was hard to listen to. Once we got everyone loaded up in Cairns, we headed to Port Douglas. Once we were there, we went to the Wildlife Habitat. Our group hurried in for a special presentation on koalas.

Not only did the educator talk about koalas, she brought out a snake and a baby saltwater crocodile for everyone to pet.

However, we were just waiting for her to finish talking so we could hold a koala. In New South Wales you are allowed to pet koalas but you are not allowed to hold them. They have different rules in Queensland. Apparently, koalas have a lot of cartilage in their bottoms to help them stay up in the eucalyptus trees. So we were told to lace our fingers together to make a ledge for their bottoms and she just loaded him into our arms. His name was Sampson and our sneaky cell phone shots were much better than the professional ones.

The koala and I both seem kind of annoyed in their photo

Emily was adorable though.

Sampson had a very short window he was allowed to be handled so after Emily gave him back, he went back to his tree and we went exploring in the habitat. We went to find the kangaroos as Emily was very excited to meet one. They were all over the place. I saw kids feeding them and petting them, so of course, I had to go pet them. I really liked the swamp wallabies the best. One of them licked my hand and we had a moment.

The main animal we were really looking for was the cassowary. They are found up in the rainforest but are apparently a bit elusive. So we were told to make sure we found them at the habitat just in case. We also learned that you should never tease a cassowary and if you do make it mad, don’t run. It will chase you. A kid was killed because he was teasing one, tried to run away, fell down, and it ran over him with its three clawed toes. Once they said that, all I could equate them with were raptors.

Thankfully we didn’t have to worry about them eating us today.

Our stay at the wildlife habitat was pretty short but we did get to see a swan on a nest, saltwater crocodiles, and got to pet lots of kangaroos.

Daintree Rainforest

We had to board the bus and head off to catch the ferry to Daintree. There is a cable ferry that takes everyone across the river to the rainforest.

We traveled a long a scenic road hoping to see a cassowary out in the wild. Sadly, Emily and I didn’t get very lucky with wildlife spotting. However, it was beautiful.

We traveled the length of the road to the very end. There we arrived at the Cape Trib Beach House. The description said we would be having a tropical lunch. The options were burgers or fish and chips, it wasn’t very tropical. I opted to have a kangaroo burger just to make it a little different.

We had a little time while we were there to explore the beach as most people were not staying the night. Since we were staying, we asked if we could be dropped off at our hostel before the jungle hike. There were two reasons for this. One, we had all afternoon and the next morning to walk the trail. Two, we wanted to go to a fruit tasting at the local orchard. Robert was very flexible so we called ahead and reserved spots on the fruit tasting.

Cape Trib Farm

We quickly checked in to PK’s Jungle Village and threw our stuff down so we could walk over to the Cape Trib Farm. There were about 10 of us at the fruit tasting and Emily and I got great seats right across from the owner. They grow 70 different fruits from the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas. Three are commercially grown: rambutan, breadfruit, purple mangosteen. We were able to taste 11 different fruit that they grow on their farm. Here are our tasting notes:

  1. Breadfruit. Green, weighs 1 kilo, and is white and starchy inside. You can cook it like a potato. Can also cook when ripe and it’s more like a soft gooey banana, very sweet. Can use as a flour substitute if your bake and crumble it. Flowers about 3 times a year and one tree can produce 200 kilo/time. Tasted like taro
  2. Dragon fruit (red one) grows on a cactus. Can be a white flesh or red flesh. Not very flavorful.
  3. Purple mangosteen is known as the queen of the fruit. We are having yellow mangosteen. It looks different, more like a mango. Very sour. The purple has no male trees. 
  4. Yellow sapote from the Americas. Called a canistel. Looks like a yellow avocado inside. Sort of tastes like a sweet avocado. Good for upset stomachs. Has tryptophan. Used for mood stabilization. 
  5. Golden Passion fruit (yellow). There’s a local jungle passion fruit. Eat it like a Jell-O shot. It was a bit sweet and crunchy. It got its name because the flower was used to talk about the crucifixion of Christ when colonizing the Americas. Emily’s least favorite. Reminded me of a pomegranate. 
  6. Sapodilla also called Chico or chicu. Looks like a kiwi or potato from outside. Caramel color inside. Sort of taste like caramel or dates with cinnamon. 
  7. Pomelo. Citrus fruit. 3 kilo. Very thick pith/rind. The rind is used to make sweets. Tastes a bit like grapefruit but not as sour. 
  8. Custard Apple. The seeds are full of cyanide. Only a problem when it’s juiced with seeds. Green bumpy one. Sweet. Texture sort of like a pear. 
  9. Black sapote. Looks like a green tomato. Pick when the top comes up and it’s a bit yellow. Let it ripen until it’s black and spotty. Looks like chocolate pudding inside. Nick named chocolate pudding fruit. White inside before aging them. Used for chocolate ice cream and pudding and cake. No caffeine but 4x the vitamin c of an orange. Reminds me of avocado brownies. Some ppl make ice cream or liquor. They added it to coconut milk powder lime and freeze it here. 95% fruit. 
  10. Soursop. Really big bumpy green on red tray. Looks similar to custard Apple. Apparently great for ice cream.  Seeds also have cyanide but the fruit is hard to do that bc it’s very juicy. Think the chemicals inside may treat cancer. Also called fruit salad fruit. Tasted a little like pineapple 
  11. The last fruit was from a tree. He used big clippers to get it down. You bit it in half and got the fruit out of the middle. I’ll have to find our cheat sheet to tell you what it was.

PK’s Jungle Village

After our tour of the orchard, we headed back to the hostel to get ourselves organized. When we had left for the tasting, we had just set our bags down because the room was such a mess we couldn’t figure out which beds were open. We asked for other options but were told it would be an upcharge but they couldn’t say how much. We decided to just deal with it. So once we got settled, we headed to the bar and had a beverage to unwind from the busy day.

Bushwalking

We ended up having dinner with a very nice American who was teaching chemistry in Hong Kong. We had both asked about the night jungle tour but had been told it was full. So we decided to walk the trail next to the hostel and have our own night hike. We found a brown bandicoot right away.

After that, the only things I found were bugs and fish. I’m not very good at giving night tours in the Jungle apparently. So once we made it to the end of the trail, which ran into the ocean because it was high tide, we headed back to the hostel. Everyone in our room had to get up early except Emily and I. So we slept in a little before having breakfast in the bar. Then we left our stuff off at the front desk and did a day time tour of the path.

We did the loop and ended up back at the main road so we followed another walking path to see where it would lead. It ended up at a lovely cafe, Whet, and had lunch on their deck.

We had mackerel wraps which seemed much more like tropical beach food to us. They were quite delicious. Our waitress was from Connecticut and recommended that we walk out to the Cape Trib Point. Since we still had a couple hours before we met back up with our tour, we decided it was a great idea. The point is at the end of the beach and reportedly has sea turtles that hang out there. I was hoping to see an Australian Flatback Turtle but it was so choppy we didn’t see anything.

We made it as far as we could without climbing up some steep rocks so we turned around and headed back to meet our bus. The tour guide on Monday was much more entertaining than Robert and we had a great afternoon. The first stop was at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. Emily and I were very excited as we wanted to try out some of the flavors from the day before. The sample flavors of the day were soursop, black sapote, wattleseed, and banana. They were delicious.

From there we went to a nice little lookout from the rainforest.

Crocodiles

Then for the main event of the day: crocodile spotting! We headed down to the ferry launch and loaded onto a boat with another tour bus. As per usual, I picked the wrong side of the boat to sit on and so we were water-front instead of bank side. I should have asked rather than rushing to get a seat. Thankfully I had my telephoto lens and was able to get some good shots anyway. The first crocodile she found was a youngster stuck up in a tree. They called him a Drop Crock because he’ll drop out of a tree on your head. Someone said you had to watch out for sharks, crocs, drop crocks, and pyromaniacs with wings (birds who pick up sticks during forest fires and start new fires to chase out food).

After a bit of croc spotting, it was time to head back to Cairns. The bus trip back was a lot less exciting than our trip down the mountain earlier in the week. We made it back safely and checked back into Gilligan’s. Once we dropped off our stuff, we headed to the Night Markets to look for souvenirs and food. We found neither although there were lots to be had. There were buffets where you paid by the plate rather than weight but we didn’t want to risk more food poisoning. So we ended up at the Korean place next to the hostel. It was delicious and my soup really hit the spot as I had a horrible chest cold ever since we got back from diving.

Sadly, it was the end of our time in Cairns. We had to go repack our bags (we had only taken over night bags to Daintree and left our luggage at Gilligan’s) so we could fly out in the morning. It was a great end to our time in Cairns, though. Have you been to Cairns? Did we miss anything important?

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