Thursday, November 21, 2013

Into the Rain Forest - Make sure there's plenty of beer!!

Another shrimp off the barbie !!
After our day in the water snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef ... the next day would be spent on land. But it was so humid, you would have thought we were back UNDER water. I've been in cooler, less muggy hotel steam-baths! Now we would be heading into uncharted territory...and - admittedly - the one part of our journey that I had not researched at all - so there were truly no real expectations on what the day would hold. Again - it was a shared-van excursion.... our guide-slash-driver picked us up in a Range Rover in the morning. We stopped at another small hotel in Port Douglas and picked up a family of four....mom, dad, brother and sister. I think they were from England if my memory is correct. Nice folks...again - the non-private touring we were doing in Australia was paying off.

Today we would be heading into the Daintree Rainforest... across the bay from Port Douglas.

The Daintree Rainforest is a tropical rainforest on the north east coast of Queensland, Australia, north of Mossman and Cairns. At around 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi) the Daintree is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent. Along the coastline north of the Daintree River, tropical rainforest grows right down to the edge of the sea.

Our guide for the day could have walked right out of central-casting for Crocodile Dundee...a real "True Blue Fair Dinkum Aussie Bloke" is what he called himself...and what a character. He told some interesting stories about the area and seemed to love his job. That always makes a difference... if your guide is having a good time, the tour is better. But then again, everybody in Australia seems to be out to pass a good time...so there you have it. 

The Daintree is hot and humid... but because of that... it is very, very green. And thick. Rainforest is the modern-day term for this kind of place... but as a kid I would have called it "a jungle"...and as I mentioned earlier... the forest grows right to the sandy shoreline. Definitely a unique place. We made several stops along the way... on the beach, at a little out of the way pub (again, right out of the scenery-storage-locker for Crocodile Dundee). We tried our hand at trying to get some proper sounds out of a didgeridoo (without much success). We took a pretty long hike in the forest...and that was pretty intense. The humidity was really up there - - and I felt like a wet dishrag most of the time we were walking (see photo below)


Help me! I'm melting!! 

Our stop for a late lunch was a touristy place with decent food, good wine and a petting-zoo full of kangaroos and wallabies... always fun to visit with the 'roos. A few more stops along the way....and then to the highlight of the day...a boat cruise on the river to look for crocodiles. It wasn't too hard to spot them... they were all over in the shallow water along the banks of the river.... the boat guide was a pretty funny guy and the time went pretty quickly. But we had had a long day and we were getting pretty tired. It was good news to hear that we would be making the hour-and-a-half drive back to our hotel in Port Douglas. That was it for us...

After a nice hot shower, we went out to dinner at a place that was a few miles walk down the main-drag in town. Again....we walked. We sat at a table next to the sidewalk and there were no windows.... the sound of the cicadas in the tree outside was really loud... The meal was decent.... we saw the producer guy from New York and he was going to some club after. But we had it in our mind to go to the "world famous" (or so they say!) Iron Bar to see the Cane Toad Races. Yes...cane toads are these huge toads that have few natural enemies and are really a problem in Australia... the buggers are everywhere. Here is a link with a short video about the cane toad racing at the Iron Bar ... as you can see.... the "toad jockeys" use party-favor blowers to get their toads to jump...and the lucky few have to kiss their toads for good luck!! And that was the end of our very, very, very long day.

The next day was "at our leisure" - - actually three little words that you hope to see a lot of on your travel itinerary. The day before took a lot more out of me than I had thought. My sciatica was bothering me from all the walking....and we didn't have a driver for the day....so - we ended up walking some more.  We decided to walk up to the harbor where our boat was docked....to do a little shopping along the main street...and have a late lunch at a place we had seen on our snorkeling day that looked pretty interesting and fun. Along the way... we stopped at a book store where we picked up our "mascot" for the rest of the trip... a book and little stuffed dog that came as a package-deal... a local favorite -- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy.  He was to be our constant companion for the rest of the trip!

The mall was fun...Amy bought her "stinger suit" and some shoes...and we had an amazing lunch of cold Victoria Bitters beer and these giant shrimp (see the photo above!)  We walked back to the hotel and napped....then ventured out one last time for some good food and beer. We had had our eye on this little place that served Mexican food... but they had a sign that said that they were closed and they never opened. We got back to the hotel one last time...did some laundry for the last time... and got re-packed for our next stop... beautiful Sydney for the New Year's Eve celebration.

All in all...Port Douglas far exceeded all expectations... just writing this has brought back some terrific memories...and I am glad I had the chance to share them with all of you...

Stay tuned... next... on to Sydney!!

Here is an album of photos from my Facebook page that contains over 100 snapshots of our final two days in Port Douglas, Australia:

Daintree Rain Forest and Port Douglas 


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