Wednesday 12th April 2017 – Port Douglas
For our last and final day out in Australia – it was only right that we called in at one of the key points of Captain Cooks journey to find the east of Australia at Cape Tribulation. Cooks ship had scraped the reef and was badly damaged so they had to take some fairly desperate measures to avoid sinking so the cape was named tribulation, the reef Endeavour after the boat and Cook said “…the north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here begun all our troubles”.
The area between Daintree and Cape Tribulation is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area – so of course it was raining again, but is really spectacular if very, very remote. North of the ferry crossing at the Daintree River, electricity is supplied by generators or solar power, and mobile phone reception is largely non existent. The roads as you travel further north start to require 4×4 action, so we decided to leave our hire car behind and take a tour with Tony’s Tropical Tours and our guide for the day Rob.
First stop was an early morning cruise with Bruce on the Daintree River looking for crocs… it was a still morning and most things were hiding but we finally found a juvenile croc of about 1.5m sunning himself on the banks of the river. While we cruised up stream, Rob had taken the car over the river on the ferry and met us at the north bank to continue.
We stopped at the Alexandra lookout, then onto Cape Tribulation the only point in the world where two world heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef, and the Wet Tropics WHA – meet. I don’t know what Cook was complaining about, it is absolutely stunning, but then I wasn’t there in a boat with a huge hole in the side and a hungry crew – I had Rob producing freshly baked muffins and coffee…
After our break we travelled further north along the Bloomfield Track through dense forest where sometimes the road went straight across river beds with a foot or so of water and passed spectacular lookouts including one high above the oxbow of a river where a huge croc was swimming along. We stopped at Stingray Bay – which is a huge shallow beach which at low tide has large 1m across hollows across the beach where the stingrays have stirred up the sand in search of their favourite crab snack, before carrying on to Bloomfield falls, home of the Kuku Yalangi people, custodians of this part of the world.
After a short break at the falls we headed to Noah Valley, a World Heritage listed private property, which had been owned by a farmer who when the area has turned back to world heritage agreed with the government that the farm could be converted back if the land could be used for sustainable tourism. The area is predominantly pristine rainforest and after a BBQ lunch we were taking on a guided walk through a section of the forest with explanations on how some of the plants were used by the local people.
Heading home, we stopped off at the Daintree Ice Cream Company, who used the products they grow on their own farm to create different ice creams every day. Today’s tasting was Passion Fruit, Macadamia, roasted Wattleseed (nope, no idea) and Jackfruit – all delicious, before getting onto the Daintree Ferry, crossing for our journey home. A great day out in an amazing landscape where new animals and plants are still being discovered.
The next day was an admin and washing day in preparation for our trip to Japan, but that evening we took a table at the very beautiful On the Inlet restaurant and ordered the seafood platter and a bottle of wine. It seemed only right that we finished our trip with a plate of oysters, yabbies, Morton bay bugs, prawns and fish, all washed down with a bottle of Margaret River Riesling.