Posts Tagged ‘Mossman Gorge’

Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation with family

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

We had the pleasure of having Helene and Yesica, sister in law and niece, from France, spending a few days with us last week. As Helene said, their visit was short but memorable.

We couldn’t let them visit us without showing them one of our gems, the Great Barrier Reef so we booked with one of the many Great Barrier Reef cruises available and off we went. The trip to the reef was a bit rough but we all got there safe and sound. Little Nicholas was the one who probably enjoyed the trip most, with so much motion, he spent most of the trip happily asleep.

Three of us decided to go diving and only one wasn’t brave enough, sorry, wasn’t in the mood, for diving, so he went snorkelling. Can you guess who??????

The day was beautiful, we had a great time and the French girls were extremely impressed with the corals.

And the day after we took off again, this time to visit Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Forest. By the way, did you know that we help to save the Daintree Rainforest? Every month, Cairns Unlimited buys back five square metres of Daintree Rainforest.

Port Douglas was only a short stop to have breakfast in our favourite cafe, although this time we were all a bit dissapointed with the food, which had been fabulous before. The markets were on, so Steve, Nicholas, Helene and Yesi went to have a bit of a walk while I just waited for them sitting on a bench. I had taken some car sickness pill which hadn’t agreed with me and I was feeling a bit “drunk”. I even had to make my way to the car on my own, since I was falling asleep on the bench and I was a bit embarrased about it. I sent Steve a text to let them know where I was going, and when he showed it to me, it didn’t make any sense at all.

But I felt much better after the delicious hand made ice cream that we had at Floravilla. The flavours were all very exotic. Steve went for the Chilli Chocolate and I tried the Goji Berry with Rainforest Honey Yoghurt. I cannot remember what the girls had, but they were also very excited about them.

We also had time to do a Daintree River Cruise aboard Solar Whisper, where we spotted a few crocodiles, snakes, frogs and birds. It is definetely one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It was already late afternoon by the time we made it to our accomodation in Cape Tribulation Cape Tribulation Beach House. We had two lovely cabins only a couple of minutes from the beach but, most importantly, from the bar. The girls and Steve, after a very early dinner, since we all forgot to each lunch, joined Mason’s Tours for a crocodile spotting night walk. And I, very happily, put the little one to sleep and went to bed as well at 8pm. I know, very very unSpanish but it felt like heaven.

The explorers had a good time although there was no croc to be spotted. However, they came back talking about cane toads, spiders, native mice, white tail rats, sleeping kingfishers, other birds, fish in the crystal clear bubbling brook, wood frogs and even fresh cassowary poo.

The plan for the morning after was to go jungle surfing but someone didn’t plan ahead and the tour was booked out. So instead, we started to make our own way back to Cairns, stopping at Mossman Gorge. There has been talks about a road being built in Mossman Gorge but when we got there we couldn’t see much happening. There are a few massive blocks of concrete which are the base for a boardwalk that will eventually go through the rainforest to the gorge. But up to day, everything is just as it was before and you still have to walk through the rainforest to get there. It was a cool and misty morning and we know that the water in Mossman Gorge is freezing. However, there were still a few brave people having a swin. None of us, though.

All the way back to Cairns, about 60 kilometres, little Nicholas was crying. We tried everything to make him stop and go to sleep. Will you believe he fell asleep only one block away from home? Our little prince!

Helene and Yesi are now back to Stanthorpe, Steve’s home town. And Yesi will be back in France very soon. It was great to have you over, girls. Now it is time for the two rascals, Flynn and Joseph, to come and visit. We look forward to seeing you two.

And everyone, keep tuned. There are lots of news coming up very soon. That’s all I can say for now.

Exploring the area around Cairns

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Yesterday, Sunday, the day of the Lord, the sun woke us up very early (well, and a couple of our clients who were waiting for the bus to take them to Cape Tribulation on a tour) and since the sky was blue, the shine shining and the birds singing (another reason why we were up early), we decided to take the day off and go to explore the area north of Cairns.

First stop was Ellis Beach, one of the Cairns Northern Beaches and probably the least known of them all. We love the place and, actually, we’re not too unhappy if it remains still a bit of a secret. We stopped there to have breakky before we went on with our trip. The café just opposite the beach, there’s only one, so chances are you won’t miss it, still have more than affordable prices and breakfast is very good, with a bit for everyone. I discovered raisin bread at my Aussie Mum’s place at Christmas and loved it. Every time I have the chance, I order raisin toasts and that’s what I had yesterday. Three big fat slices of raisin toasts. And a vanilla thickshake that Steve and myself had to share, it was huge.

Our next destination of the day was Port Douglas. Being a Sunday morning, the city was a bit quiet and not many tourists could be seen in the streets. We soon found out why, everyone was at the Port Douglas markets that are held just by the sea. As I told Steve, what a beautiful place to have a market, overlooking the Coral Sea and listening to the sound of the waves. There was a good array of stalls, from second hand bric and brac, to arts and crafts (we fell in love with a mirror frame made out of irregular pieces of wood, although a bit too pricey for us). But what I found most interesting of all were faces carved on coconut shells. We didn’t think of taking a photo of the faces and I now regret them because my explanations won’t describe the faces as well. They were absolutely hilarious, with big eyes, thick red lips and funny hair. We bought a fruit called mangostin, originally from Asia, purple on the outside and white on the inside. We tried and the flavour is very delicate. It reminded me of some other fruit I had tried but still cannot think of the name. Steve is the one who wanted to buy them, see if he eats them or I end up eating them (he loves buying fruit although he seldom eats any). Mangostins are one of the many delicious tropical fruits locals love to make wines out of.

We also met Charlie, a dedicated biker, who runs Harley Davidson tours of the region. He will take you wherever you want to go on this gorgeous bike. He was so sweet as to let me sit on the bike to have a photo taken. The problem was that I then didn’t want to get off the bike. What a beauty! Being as unlucky as we usually are, just as I sat on the bike and Steve was going to take a photo, our batteries run out. So we ran to the nearest shop to buy new batteries cause there was no way I was going to leave Port Douglas without a photo of this baby.

After Port Douglas we went to Mossman Gorge, where we enjoyed a very refreshing swim. The water was freezing, but we still were brave enough to have a dip, while everyone else stared at us. I guess that there is a good side to all this rain we have had in the last few weeks and it’s that creeks, gorges, falls, etc are full to the brim, offering a fabulous sight. We have never seen Mossman Gorge carrying so much water. And the rainforest around Mossman Gorge is fabulous as well, so green and tall and lush. Here you have two photos of Mossman Gorge, one of them the waterhole where swimming is safe (no stingers or crocs here, although you still have to be careful with the currents) and the other one of the gorge, where it is not advisable to swim, I guess there is no need for me to explain why.

After Mossman Gorge we visited beautiful Newell Beach, just a few kilometres north. Newell Beach is a little beachfront comunity, with basically just a street facing the beach. The beach at Newell is beautiful. It is still hard for me to understand how, when some of the beaches Australia boasts are absolutely magnificent, most of them are still completely deserted. I guess I compare them with the ones that we have in mainland Spain, which are covered by the bodies of two thirds of the Spanish population. Steve loves day dreaming, buying run down properties and remodelling them, but all in his head. Yesterday he really enjoyed this pastime, driving me around to have a look at some of the houses, talking about what could be done with this property, bla bla bla. He even became rich in his dreams… But I must agree Newell Beach was beautiful, and very tropical, as you can see in the picture.

After Newell Beach came Wonga Beach and Oak Beach, but by that time we were feeling a bit tired and wanted to get home as soon as possible, so we only stopped for a couple of minutes and kept on driving. We didn’t even take photos, I guess we will have to go back some other time, hopefully very soon, my friend…

And here you have Steve’s favourite pic of the day, the car, my car, driving through some serious flood on the road to Mossman Gorge. And the photo next to it is dedicated to all my ex co workers back in Madrid. Guys, can you believe I drive this car????????

Our previous trip to Tropical North Queensland. Part IV

Saturday, December 17th, 2005

Finally we arrived to Cape Tribulation, one of the most fabulous places of the Daintree Rainforest and Australia.It’s difficult to sleep in when the sun comes up at 5:00am, especially when you know that you’re in tropical North Queensland and your five weeks’ holiday are ticking by as you sleep. And especially when you know that you’re bound for somewhere special that day; somewhere where the World Heritage listed rainforest comes down to meet the Great Barrier Reef. Greetings from Cape Tribulation.

Maria and I checked out of Calypso Backpackers Hostel early, and headed north. I was feeling a bit fragile, the result of a short night’s sleep after an extended chat at Zanzibar- Calypso’s own licensed venue- the night before with a large Englishman who had the dangerous habit of topping up my beer from his jug every time the glass dropped below half full. So a stop at MacDonalds drive thru was in order for a magic hangover cure a.k.a a large vanilla shake.We had barely got our cruising car up to cruising speed before we were turning off to Port Douglas, a delightful little seaside resort town. Port Douglas is special in that although it is extremely popular, and a favoured destination of the rich and famous, the local council has worked hard to maintain the town’s original character. For years, the town fought a bitter battle to keep MacDonalds out, but in the end the courts ruled that it was unfair to prevent MacDonalds from setting up. However, the court did agree to impose on MacDonalds a number of the council’s restrictions; no red and yellow colours visible from the street, no large ‘M’, and so on. To this date, MacDonalds has not found it viable to open a restaurant in Port Douglas, and the townsfolk (and myself) hope they never do. Maria and I sat down at a local cafe and shared a serve of poached eggs on muffins with spinach, pesto and bacon, washed down with freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. MacDonalds can stay away. Port Douglas doesn’t need it.

Wary of how easy it would be for Port Douglas to lose its unique identity, development in the town is restricted to the height of the tallest palm tree. That comes to about three stories. We learnt much of this from a very personable and helpful guy named Tor who runs a bicycle hire shop in the main street of Port Douglas. He’s a mine of information about the local region, and if you’re in Port Douglas, you’d be doing yourself a favour to drop in for a visit and a chat.

One of the places that Tor recommended to us was Mossman Gorge. The ocean temperatures at the moment were about twenty-eight degrees, he told us, and swimming pools were equally tepid, sometimes almost like swimming in soup. But the water in Mossman Gorge flowed through under the rainforest canopy and collected in pools in the gorge at about eighteen degrees. In the wicked heat of the tropical north, a refreshing dip in a cold river would have been worth a hundred kilometre drive. Mossman Gorge, luckily, was only a few kilometres out of our way on the drive to Cape Tribulation.

Me trying to get Maria have a swim in Mossman Gorge, but the water was freezing. . I finally convinced Maria to join me for a swim in this beautiful part of the Daintree Rainforest.

As promised, the water was chilling. The shady banks and the cool, clear water made it a popular spot, and we had to manouevre around to get the photos above without a dozen people on the background. If you listened, you’d hear new arrivals assuring each other that the water was ‘lovely once you’re in’. I would have stayed in the water for ever, but I’d picked up a little sunburn on my belly the day before. Maria and I had been meticulous covering our backs with maximum protection sunscreen for our snorkelling, but there’s no need for sunscreen on your stomach, is there? Well no, not unless you fall asleep lying on the deck on the way back to port!

And anyway, we had a river cruise booked for half past three on the crocodile infested Daintree River. Our boat, Solar Whisper, embarked from just near the ferry crossing, but we were ahead of time and had enough time to overshoot the turnoff to the ferry crossing and drive into Daintree Village for a cold beer before our cruise. Maria chose a Beez Kneez, a slightly honey flavoured wheat beer, and I treated myself to a crisp Hahn Premium.

David taking us for a river cruise on the Daintree River.

David was our skipper on Solar Whisper, a smooth, quiet vessel that runs off electricty generated by solar panels on the roof.

This gives the boat two advantages; firstly we don’t scare off the wildlife before we reach them, and secondly the operation has little or no negative impact on the environment. David seems to know pretty much everything there is to know about the Daintree River, about the region, and especially about crocodiles. As we glided noiselessly along the surface, David introduced us to much of the fauna that we were passing.

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Every now and then, David would spot one critter or another in the mangroves. I guess after a few years, he’s tuned his eyesight to find anything of the animal variety amongst the tangle of mangrove roots and branches. First it was a tawny frogmouth, a nocturnal bird of prey that- with its large eyes and soft thick fluffy neck- most of us would confuse for an owl. The frogmouth had a baby in its nest, and David was quick to zoom in with his inbuilt state-of-the-art ‘croc cam’, giving us a clearer, closer view of the bird. Next, David brought the craft to a pause close to a low hanging branch and we were surprised to find a green tree snake making its way up the branch, just a metre from the edge of the boat.

But you and I (and David) know that we were there to see one thing. Crocodiles! The first one we found was just a hatchling, this year’s model David told us. It was just basking on the muddy bank, and didn’t seem too perturbed by our presence. But a little further on, he spotted a bigger one, two metres, maybe two and a half. All that was visible was the top of the prehistoric beast’s head, protruding above the dark, still water. The passengers were all excited, and we madly snapped away with our cameras, but in the dull light of the mangrove shadows it was difficult to replicate with a photo the thrill of standing just a couple of metres from a wild saltwater crocodile! All the way along, David’s commentary was interesting and humourous and very educational. The tour ran for an hour and a half or so, which was great value for money, even though on that day we didn’t see any of the massive crocs that can sometimes be seen in this area. They’re more visible in the cooler months, David told us, when they have to leave the cold water and warm themselves in the sunshine.

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Our destination for the evening was Cape Tribulation, and something of a stroll down memory lane for me, since I celebrated my birthday up here about nine years ago with my brother Phil in a very cool backpackers hostel called PK’s Jungle Village. I remember Phil and I sat on the deck by the pool with two Austrian girls, drinking bottle after bottle of champagne, and at midnight challenged each other to a wrestling contest on the slippery log that spanned the swimming pool. Where would Maria and I be staying on this trip? No alternative… PK’s here we come!

We reached PK’s just a little too late to head down to the beautiful beach. Well, there was still some daylight left, but if we set off for the beach, we would have missed dinner at the hostel, and after the appetites we had built up throughout our busy day, there was no way that was going to happen.

PK’s, just as I had remembered, is a very sociable place. It has a huge recreation area, with licensed bar and restaurant, dining deck overlooking the pool and landscaped gardens, in addition to its own communal self-catering kitchen further down in the gardens. For about eight bucks, I demolished a virtual mountain of sausage patties and mashed potato and onion. Maria was a little more refined in her choice of garlic and chilli prawn stir fry, which set her back fourteen bucks or so, but was by all reports worth every penny.

Our room was generously sized, with a queen sized bed and a double bunk. *I got to be on top!* Air conditioning and a fan meant that we would be comfortable in any conditions, and although the bar and restaurant were busy until midnight or so, the noise didn’t permeate as far as the huts, and I for one slept like a log.

 

By 6:30 in the morning, we were on the beach. By 6:45, it was too hot to be enjoyable. There was only one place to be, and that was back in PK’s crystal clear swimming pool.

  


  



MARIA’S ADDENDUM…

What funny names some places have over here. I guess they may be normal for the locals, but to me names like Cape Tribulation, Repentance Creek, and Deception Bay sound veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery weird. And not very inviting, though most of them are proving to be all the contrary. And I’m also coming across Aboriginal names such as Boggabilla, Cunnamulla, Augathella, Wagga Wagga, Wallangarra, Beerburrum that I don’t have a clue how to pronunce. If I was on my own I would have to carry a note pad wih all these names written down so I could ask for help.

A really funny thing happened today at Port Douglas. While we were talking to Tor, we heard a big noise coming from the ceiling. When we looked at him in amazement, he looked back to us very calmy and said “Don’t worry, mates, it is only a mango falling off the trees”. Isn’t it amazing how laid back people are around here?????????