The Daintree Rainforest

Probably the highlight of our Christmas holiday in Tropical North Queensland was the two days we spent exploring the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. Known as the world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree is said to be 180 million years old, and is one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth. 

The Daintree is also known as the point where rainforest meets reef, with the Daintree Reef located just a short distance from the coastline. 

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After taking the ferry over the Daintree River, we drove all the way to Cape Tribulation, the northern point of the rainforest, and the furthest you can drive along the coast without requiring a 4×4, with the alternative being a huge detour inland. This therefore marked the furthest north we would reach during our time in Australia. 

Our first stop back along the road was at the short Dubuji boardwalk, which takes you through the rainforest towards a viewpoint overlooking Myall Beach. Unfortunately we had forgotten to use our insect repellent before beginning the walk, and we were soon rushing back towards the car to escape the swarms of biting midges, one of the 12,000 species of insects in the Rainforest. 

Now covered in repellent, we decided to take a closer look at Myall Beach. It soon became apparent that the midges were the least of our problems, with a row of warning signs for crocodiles and jellyfish welcoming us onto the beach, and warning us to avoid the water. 

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We continued our journey along with coast, with our next stop at the stunning Thornton Beach. The beach was completely deserted, and we enjoyed a relaxing walk along the waters edge. The beautiful blue water looked so enticing, and it was frustrating not being able to go for a swim, especially given it was a such a hot and humid day. 

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After some lunch at Lync Haven Cafe, we stopped for several more walking trails, including the Marddja and Jindalba boardwalks. We followed the wooden paths through dense rainforest, and across murky swamps lined with mangrove trees.

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There was plenty of wildlife to spot on the walks, including fish, crabs, birds and lizards, as well as plenty of insects and spiders, with some looking scarier than others. 

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We finished the day with a visit to Daintree Ice Cream Co, who produce seasonal ice cream flavours using the wide range of tropical fruits grown in the onsite orchard. 

We decided to share the days sample cup, which included one scoop of the four flavours on offer that day. We began with the more common but still enjoyable mango and coconut scoops before moving on to the slightly more exotic flavours of wattleseed which tasted very similar to coffee and the chocolaty taste of black sapote.

We walked this off with a short stroll around the beautiful orchid, where we were both surprised to discover that pineapples grow out of the ground and not on trees! 

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We were staying in Daintree Village, a small settlement on the southern side of the river, and just a short drive from the ferry crossing. Considering it was so close to rainforest, it felt surprisingly more like English countryside, with rolling hills stretching into the distance. 

We had booked a room at Daintree Riverview Lodges, and this came complete with lovely balcony overlooking the river, the perfect spot for a relaxing evening drink. 

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Our second day started with a crocodile tour on the Daintree River, which we had booked with Solar Whisper. The only solar-powered tour on the river, the small boat is designed to avoid disturbing the wildlife as much as possible, while also being able to reach narrower parts of the river that larger boats cannot.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great, with Cyclone Penny moving towards the coast and bringing heavy rainfall with her. Undeterred we eagerly boarded the boat and began the cruise along the river. Our excitement didn’t last long, as the captain explained to us that crocodiles spend far more time in the water during the summer months, making them much more difficult to spot, especially at high tide.

Apparently the also hate the rain, so despite the claimed 99% success rate we had picked possibly the worse time to do the tour, and didn’t even catch a glimpse of the elusive crocodiles – we are started to think wildlife tours aren’t for us!

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We had a great few days exploring the Daintree, and it felt very different to anywhere else we had visited during our time in Australia. However, with the weather not expected to improve for at least a week, we were ready to return to the more reliable sunshine of Sydney and bring in 2019 in style.

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