Amazingly, we broke away from our day to day routines in Cairns and ventured outside the city limits for a day trip to Cape Tribulation. The Daintree/Cape Tribulation coast is where the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest meet, the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas exist side by side. How could we not explore?
Left Side/Right Side? – I rented a car for the day with Chelsea and our Irish boys, one that turned out to be three sizes too small, especially for us leggy girls! To the curious bystander, we looked like a bunch of circus clowns climbing in and out of our small, childlike hatchback. When I picked up the car at the rental facility, I wasn’t aware that we would be getting a manual. Of course, being a farm girl back in Illinois, I’m well trained in the stick shift, multi-pedal sort of cars. However, this was on the “other” side of the road and I wasn’t quite sure my left hand would be up to shifting properly. After a bit of practice and encouragement from my backseat drivers, I decided that driving a manual in Australia was a bit of fun except for the dreaded round-a-bouts. They serve no purpose whatsoever except to confuse poor unadjusted drivers such as myself.
A Dip in the Cascades – Crystal Cascades, a popular summer spot for the Cairns locals, was our first stop of the day. After getting lost and making several trips back and forth through Cairns which only served to improve my uncertain driving skills, we finally arrived at Redlynch and found the small, hidden side road to the falls. In the words of Robert Frost, we “took the road less traveled by” and, instead of walking along the very obvious concrete path towards the famous waterfalls, we traipsed along a small jungle path. This took us up and down muddy hills where we had to swat at huge palm leaves and try vainly to avoid the treacherous stinging trees (never heard of them but there were warning signs posted everywhere along the path). Ideally, this trail was the best choice. After the path ended right in the middle of no man’s land, we climbed along the slippery boulders adjacent to the river and arrived at a completely secluded waterfall and swimming hole. The boys stripped and swam for a bit while I played picture taker.
Port Douglas Rest Stop – We moved on towards Port Douglas, a posh little city situated along the coastal road. The downtown strip offered many lunchtime treats, cold drinks, and bags of lollies for road trip snacking. After a quick rest stop to refuel, we spent a good hour or so playing frisbee and walking along the beautiful beach just outside of town. I could have napped all afternoon in the sunshine, but Cape Tribulation was calling our names…come on up!
A Jungle in Australia? Yes! – Once we arrived at the Daintree River, we boarded a ferry that took us across the short tributary. The ferry ride took only 10 minutes and a return ticket cost $20. After disembarking, we entered the true rainforest scenery. The terrain turned into a lush and vegetative oasis, complete with humid air and squawking parrots. We spent the rest of the afternoon stopping at gorgeous lookouts for Kodak moments and exploring the various jungle walks.
The Mardja Botanical walk led us through Oliver Creek where, according to the tourist pamphlets, “you can sit and watch as crocodiles float by.” We sat and we watched but didn’t see any crocodiles along the way. There are also several golden beaches to explore, most of which were completely deserted. This left us to wander around fantasizing about being stranded on a beautiful beach in paradise…..at least I did. The boys tried to play Robinson Crusoe by climbing palm trees. I don’t think they were very successful, but it was entertaining to watch their acrobatic feats and antics.
Dusk came much too soon and we were advised to start our drive off of Cape Tribulation before night arrived. I suppose this is when the crocodiles really came out to play? The “kids” slept and I drove most of the way home. We arrived safe and sound back to Cairns with only a small bruise on the mini-car. In my defense, I was not driving when we lost our hubcap down the gully but won’t turn in the guilty party just yet. Our day trip to Cape Tribulation complete and exhausted by the day’s sun and hiking, we were in bed by 9:30 that night. Must be some sort of record at the Asylum?