Before leaving Cairns we wanted to head North to Cape Tribulation and Cooktown. Knowing that it would be difficult to get Stanley here we decided to pack up the tent and do a little camping again. However, the day before we left the weather started to change and rain had been forecast to the North. After making a few phone calls we managed to find relatively cheap accommodation in Cape Tribulation ($70 a night for a dormitory). The caravan park were happy for us to leave Stan there for $10 a night. We just threw everything inside so that it could be moved if they got really busy and needed the site.
The coastal drive North from Cairns is just beautiful. Everything is so lush and green and the ocean views are to die for. Typically for this area the roads are quite twisty and steep in places. Our first stop was at Mossman Gorge which is in the south of the World Heritage Listed Daintree Forest. This was a very pretty spot with a short walk,, including a suspension bridge, to get to Mossman River where we indulged in a quick dip before heading off again. It was also here that we spotted our first beautiful bright blue Ulysses Butterfly in the wild.
Once you get to Daintree Village you need to use the vehicular river ferry to cross the Daintree River and get to Cape Tribulation. It only takes a few minutes to get across and the kids enjoyed it, although I would have preferred they weren’t crocodile spotting! The fare was $12 one way.
On the way to our accommodation we called in to get some information from the Cape Trib Shop. The man here was very helpful and a life long local. When we asked him about how safe the beaches were for swimming he said that there wasn’t a problem and he went swimming all the time. He also added that if we had have asked the lady that works there the same question, she would have had a different answer on account of the fact that on her very first visit to a Cape Trib beach she watched a croc eat a shark!! Needless to say we limited our swims to the pool! We saw others that were a little braver and there are also spots where you can hire kayaks. We were additionally cautious as it was stinger season, however it was reassuring to see bottles of vinegar (for pain relief) at each beach we visited.
The beaches themselves were beautiful, in fact this is the only area where two World Heritage Listed areas meet – The Daintree Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. We particularly enjoyed strolling along Myall Beach towards Cape Tribulation itself. We discussed this with the kids and the fact that it was named by Captain Cook after his ship The Endeavour hit the reef as it passed over it in 1770. A few days later it took us a few minutes to realise that it was here that Reardon was talking about when he was retelling a story and said “you know, at Point Trouble”!
The kids were all excited about staying in a dorm and looked forward to having their own bed. Up until now they have been sharing a bed in the caravan, unless they sleep outside in the swag or tent. It started to rain quite hard during the night which woke poor Emma up. She was sleeping all by herself on the top half of a bunk bed and got scared being alone. Her quiet sobbing woke me up and she confessed the next morning that she missed sleeping next to someone.
We spent some time visiting a very interesting Entomological Museum which houses insects collected from around the world, by just one man. His collection is amazing, although I think the kids were expecting all of them to be alive rather than displayed in glass cabinets. The entry fee was $25 and as well as checking out the insects we were invited to walk around the beautiful grounds the museum is housed in.
A quick visit was taken at a local Daintree Tea Plantation and we spent our last afternoon doing a number of the rainforest walks available. We were constantly alert, ready for a Cassowary sighting but did not manage to spot one. It was halfway round our final boardwalk that the heavens opened and we were all saturated. We tried sitting out the rain but there was just no letting up. We ran the gauntlet and made our way back to our dorm and the deluge did not let up at all.
The following morning we had planned to follow the Bloomfield 4WD track to Cooktown. It is here that Captain Cook beached The Endeavour for repairs, after striking the reef and in the museum it is possible to view The Endeavour’s anchor and cannon as well as other artefacts. Since the weather had been quite wild and wooly we were worried that the track may not be open so enquired at the office where we were staying. A gentleman there looked up various reports and determined that the track was still open and we would be able to get to Cooktown no problem. Shortly after setting off we came across a tree that had fallen on the track (the first of a few) and this should have been a warning of what was to come. An hour and a half later when we finally got to the Bloomfield River crossing the water was racing over it and true to form it was closed! The police were present and everything.
Needless to say we had to turn around and unfortunately didn’t make it to Cooktown after all. Instead we decided to head back to Cairns a day early. On the way we called into Port Douglas which reminded us of Noosa with its many high end retail outlets. By the time we reached Cairns it was pouring with rain again and we were surprised to learn that it had received 300mm of rainfall in a 24 hour period!
Upon opening the door to the caravan we were greeted by a couple of inches of water on the floor which had soaked everything that we had stored in there. It was a sodden mess! It took us a couple of hours to empty everything out and place a tarp over Stanley. We discovered that some silicone around the roof mounted air conditioner had come loose and the rain was getting in here and running down some conduit in an overhead cupboard. It was a nightmare! Paul & I got totally soaked and the kids had to hang out in the laundry in a bid to stay dry while we sorted everything out. What made it worse was that we discovered that the kids mattress was also wet. Not anticipating so much rain we had stupidly only loosely folded the beds up. We had to remove the whole mattress from the caravan and put it in the laundry overnight in a bid to get some water out. Luckily we had the swag and some back up bedding to use.
The next morning we checked the forecast and it didn’t look like the rain was going to let up anytime soon. We decided to cut our loses, pack up and head south where the skies were clear. This was a real shame as we were hoping to have a dinner and good-bye drinks with The Raes and another lovely couple we had met. Reluctantly packing our wet belongings we said goodbye and made our way to Townsville where it would take us two days to dry out.
Next time I’ll update about our brief stay in Townsville and the trip South to Mackay where we set up home for a while, Paul heads to work and the kids see out the school year.