Cape Tribulation


Cape Tribulation

Daintree National Park

Daintree National Park

We crossed the Daintree River on a small ferry at a remote dock six kilometers from Mossman, the gateway to Mossman Gorge, a rocky canyon that follows the Daintree River into the hills.

Ferrying cars across Daintree River on cables

Ferrying cars across Daintree River on cables

The small river ferry crosses the 100 meter wide Daintree all during the day; miss it, the return from the other bank arrive in twenty minutes or so.  You remain in your car as the pilot navigates with an underwater cable.

Daintree River meets the Coral Sea

We stopped at the first viewing area in Daintree National Park, a turnoff in the hills looking over dense jungle and the muddy Daintree River flowing into the Coral Sea.  The currents at that spot are dangerous and boats steer clear of the area.

Daintree River flows into the Coral Sea

Daintree River flows into the Coral Sea

Once across the river, you enter Daintree National Park, a tropical jungle that extends north to the tip of York Peninsula, the highest point in Queensland.  A narrow two lane road winds through the hilly dense jungle, crossing shallow creeks, a few cattle farms, and villages with the basic amenities; a general store, gas station, pub, cafe and maybe a small motel or eco lodge.  Only about 400 people live in the national park.

Small river flowing through Daintree National Park

Small river flowing through Daintree National Park

Crossing a smaller creek

Crossing a smaller creek

Tropical fruit ice cream in a jungle oasis

Let's stop for tropical ice cream!

Let’s stop for tropical ice cream!

Tropical flowers at ice cream oasis

Tropical flowers at ice cream oasis

After the croc cruise, the ferry ride, and a half an hour driving through the jungle, we needed a little nourishment.  We stopped at a little oasis selling tropical fruit ice cream:  mango coconut, banana ginger, blackberry lemon, orange pineapple, strawberry coconut, and similar flavors.  It was delicious; we took a half hour break to enjoy the crisp, fruity ice cream and to admire many beautiful blooming tropic flowers.

Yummy, loved the banana mango

Yummy, loved the banana mango

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Radiant red tropical bloom

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Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

Our destination was Cape Tribulation, a bay between two mountain ranges the descend into the Coral Sea.  Captain James Cook’s Endaveour had stuck a coral reef just outside the cape in 1770 and his boat almost sank.  But fortunately, the coral broke off and was lodged in the hull.  He ordered sailers to go below and to wrap a sail around the coral, which minimized the water seeping into the hull.

Dipping our toes in warm Coral Sea; not too far, crocs  swim further out

Dipping our toes in warm Coral Sea; not too far out though, crocs swim here

Did you feel that scaly thing slithering across your toes?

Did you feel that scaly thing slithering across your toes?

Beach on remote Cape Tribulation

Beach on remote Cape Tribulation

Aussie and American bathing beauties at Cape Tribulation

Aussie and American bathing beauties at Cape Tribulation

Jungle Trail

Cape Tribulation is remote and uninhabited.  Other than a parking lot and rest rooms, the only other sign of civilization is a narrow cement path that meanders through the jungle into the mountains.  We followed the path, passing through dense foliage, crossing bogs, and dodging vines as thick as your wrist dangling down.

Twisting vines along the path, like a giant wooden swizzle sticks

Twisting vines along the path, like giant wooden swizzle sticks

One log was infested with some kind of cup-shaped fungus that looked like mushrooms.  The caps of the fungus were indented where rain water and jungle debris had collected.  Maybe that’s how the fungus gets nourishment.

Mushroom-shaped fungus on rotting log

Mushroom-shaped fungus on rotting log

Rainwater and jungle debris leaching into fungus caps

Rainwater and jungle debris leaching into fungus caps

The jungle trail has an eerie sense; you knew danger lurks nearby: a snake under a rotting log, a poisonous spider on a branch above your head, or a crocodile resting in a bog, well camoflaged with his brown, grey, and green skin.

As big as a hand, hanging just our heads

As big as a hand, hanging just over our heads

No petting allowed

No petting allowed

Numerous signs in the area warned of the dangers of walking off the trail.  You pay attention to those signs.

Watch where you walk!

Watch where you walk!

Is that a log you're stepping over?

Is that a log you’re stepping over?

Mangroves at low tide

Mangroves at low tide

Less threatening creature, a small crab,  well camouflaged at low tide.

Less threatening creature, a small crab, well camouflaged at low tide.

Carrowaries

Exotic cassawaries, rare and endangered

Exotic cassowaries, rare and endangered

One of Australia’s endangered species is the cassowary, a flightless bird with colorful plumage that can reach five feet in height, the size of another Australian flightless bird, the emu.  There were several signs along the way about cassowaries in the area.  There are only a few hundred remaining, mostly in the Daintree area.

Wish we would have seen one of these colorful creatures

Wish we would have seen one of these colorful creatures

Heather said she had seen one on her last trip to Daintree, a mother walking with a small chick alongside.  We searched with our eyes into the jungle as we drove, but didn’t spot any.  Maybe next time.

James Cook Highway

After traveling up to Cape Tribulation, we began our return journey south, crossing on the ferry, and getting on the James Cook Highway for a three-hour drive back to Cairns.  The drive was memorable, passing banana, tea, and sugar cane plantations.

Sugar cane plantation along the James Cook Highway

Sugar cane plantation along the James Cook Highway

The James Cook Highway is scenic offering spectacular views of the Coral Sea, offshore islands, and the Great Barrier Reef in the distance.  We stopped at a viewing area called Rex, named after the government official who worked for years to get the highway through the Australian government authorities.

Returning to Cairns on the James Cook Highway

Returning to Cairns on the James Cook Highway

We enjoyed our time on the Daintree and in the national park.  We had reached the most northeastern part of our Australian journey.  In a couple of weeks, I’d travel thousands of kilometers across country to the most southwestern part of the continent, Perth in West Australia.  What other adventures and beautiful scenery were awaiting me there?

* * * * *

Next:  Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

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4 responses to “Cape Tribulation

    • We sure are Jim. Daily adventures and new places to explore across the continent. And they’re all quite scenic, looking much different from the US except for parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. Central Australia is flat like Texas, but more barren and harsh. But still very beautiful.

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  1. So odd to see you in shorts when I’m in long underwear. I’m surprised to learn crocs really do carry away kids, I thot it was an urban legend. What eats Cassowaries? Love the fungus and those big pink flowers.

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    • Yes, it has been hot, over 40 C, which is about 115 F. And crocs are predacious, they’ll wait for hours or days for some critter — two- legged, four-legged, winged or reptilian to come close enough to lunge out and pull into the water. Pets, farm animals, hildren, swimmers, waders, and fisherman have been snagged by those creatures. Terrifying.

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