Monday, 24 November 2014

Cairns, The Daintree National Park & Cape Tribulation

All roads & airports lead to Cairns......1,631 kms north of Brisbane, Cairns is in the heart of Tropical North Queensland  & the gateway to Northern Australia.
The brochures say there are an amazing 600 tour options available every day from Cairns, so they're eager to get you to take part in this wonderful part of the country.

The Esplanade is always a visitors destination when visiting Cairns. The esplanade reaches around the shores from the Marina stretching up to 2 kilometres...dotted with plenty of restaurants, cafe's & high rise holiday units, parks with BBQ's & playgrounds.

The Esplanade lagoon is a pretty back drop to the city & shore line. On a busy day there's families every where here.

Low tide bird watching is a regular & popular event along the shores.

Of course my focus for spending a couple of hours along the esplanade was also for bird watching.
A Striated Heron loves to feed on the little crabs that come out of their burrows during low tide.

No visit to Cairns is complete with out a visit to Kuranda & The Barron Gorge.
Most visitors go to Kuranda on the Scenic Train ride, up the mighty slopes of the Barron Gorge National Park, rising 328 m from below. We had taken this train journey a few decades ago with 2 children.
 Kuranda is just a 30 min drive from the northern suburbs of Cairns, which was our option of transport on this day. I still love the splendour of the area.

Visitors may choose to return to Cairns or go upwards to Kuranda via the 7.5 km Skyrail.......but alas it was out of action for it's regular yearly maintenance whilst we were in Cairns.
Kuranda village wasn't short of cafe's .......

Set amongst the rainforest, the village of Kuranda  has a mixture of shops & world famous markets selling arts, crafts, souvenirs & anything a tourist could want :-)

This beautiful scene is from Wright's Lookout, just a short distance from the village.

The Barron Gorge National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area with an area of 2,820 hectares of  rainforests & is part of the oldest surviving continually tropical rainforest on Earth.
 The Gorge was formed by the Barron River that passes over the eastern escarpment of the Atherton Tablelands.
In 1935, Queenslands first hydroelectric power station was built 200 m from the base of the Barron Falls with an underground power station carved into the cliff face.

The mighty Barron Falls is a 265m drop waterfall, flowing over granite rock which formed  >350 millions  years old which was at the time an under sea bed. 100 million to 60 million years ago the area rose & fractured under pressure from the earths crust.
We are now in late May, many months away from the previous wet season. The picture below shows what the falls would look like in full would be an awesome sight to actually witness this amazing spectacle.

Perched on a rock ledge 1/2 way down the rocky escarpment were 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles.
The photo taken was with my Sony full 50 optical zoom camera.

In the grounds of the markets lays this old aircraft "Geronimo" with an interesting history........description given here......

!/2 way down the Hwy from Kuranda to Cairns is a lookout.......with stunning views.....

Below is Barron Gorges Lake Placid.....down the bottom of the range. Placid & peaceful indeed it is.

The Hyrdo Electric Power Station @ Barron Falls was relocated to here in 1963.

Surprise Creek Falls - a tributary of the Barron River flows into Lake Placid

The entry road into this part of the National Park with protective barriers against falling rocks from above....this is one very serious barrier & was very imposing when driving past it.

Most of the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns towards Mossman (75kms)  is said to be one of the most scenic in Qld. We weren't disappointed, although the clouds were still hanging around.

 The scenic Rex Lookout.

We stayed at a camp ground just north of Wonga Beach which is approx 20 kms north of Mossman. This was more central to explore Mossman gorge, the Daintree National Park &  Cape Tribulation.

The beach was deserted, but the weather was still not that kind.....besides swimming in these waters was not on our agenda as Salt Water Crocodiles (also known as Salties) have been known to be seen along most far north Qld waters - coastal & rivers.

We had a short drive to Port Douglas. This little town is a magnet  holiday destination. Pristine beaches & close to the Great Barrier Reef are the reasons why people go there.

On top of Flagstaff Hill the scenic lookout has amazing views southwards.

Pointing to more destinations of the globe.

The recent cyclone Ita, a category 5 system when it made land fall not far north of Port Douglas has left it's legacy.

 We also visited the small village of Daintree. This little community gained notoriety in the early 1980's when protesters placed themselves in front of bulldozers to stop the sealing & widening of the road from Mossman being built into this beautiful part of the world.The road was eventually built, though the area was preserved with World Heritage listing in 1988.
The Daintree rainforest is part of the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest on earth & part of the Wet Tropics of North Queensland.
Daintree Village history dates back to the 1880's. The 5th generation still dives in Daintree village.
Despite it's remoteness, a sawmill & successful butter factory were established there in the 1920'2.

This is part of the above mentioned road to Daintree which is quite scenic.
Open cane farming leads to pristine rainforest.

The sign to cheaper lodgings in town :-) The community of Daintree is small, also with plenty of
 B & B's as well for the more upmarket accommodation.

You can't come to this region without driving the iconic Cape Tribulation road.
Cape Tribulation is accessed via a ferry across the well known Daintree River. The sign says it all with a replica if the iconic large bird.

Crossing the very wide Daintree River.

They're never short of tourists keen for some croc spotting......

The GPS reading (photo taken when heading south again)

The rainforests of the Daintree National Park has the worlds most complete record of the evolution of plant life dating back to the beginning of life on Earth, some 3.5 billion years ago. The National Park encompasses 1,200 square kms &  is divided into 2 sections - the main part south of the Daintree River as part of Mossman Gorge section & the north section north of the Daintree river known as Cape Tribulation section. There are rare & threatened species in both sections.
I love driving under rainforest canopies......

The stunning views from Waluwurrigga (Alexandra range) a lookout towards Port Douglas.

We endured many of these speed bumps during our 34 km journey to Cape Tribulation......with me watching eagerly out the window in the hope that a Cassowary would appear......Sadly none ever appeared & I heard later that I was 30 mins late in seeing 1 at Cape Tribulation :-(

Noah Beach was just one of a 8 beaches along the journey.

The sign says it all......

Kulki is another name for Cape Tribulation....a short 350 m walk to a lookout.....

Cape Tribulation is where the rainforest meets the reef.

More gorgeous views from the lookout platform.

Myall Beach is south of Cape Tribulation.

Some of the plant life seen whilst walking along 1 of the 3 boardwalks through sensitive areas.

Mount Sorrow

Some of the ferns seen on the Dubuji walk & boardwalk - 1.2 kms of beautiful rainforest to gaze at.

Thornton Beach

I insisted we had to taste the local treats.....

The choice was easy for me with this treat.....4 flavours...Yum :-)

Several hours later we are back @ the Daintree river ferry.
I had planned on driving on some of the 4 WD only Bloomfield Track, but unfortunately there was rain in the area over the previous few days so the track would have been too slippery.
We're not that desperate for that kind of adventure / mis adventure.....

 As a keen bird watcher, I was eager to take a guided bird watching cruise along Daintree River.
It was an early start to the day with more cloudy skies.

The debris on the river bank is a result of a few major floods......after all this is the wet tropics & nature can deal a terrible blow to the natural things around us.

A baby saltie....salt water looks large here due to the zoom, but it is actually barely 30 cms long.

One of the target birds for the cruise.....a Papuan Frogmouth......I was lucky to see many of these during our trip into the Cape York Peninsula.

Situated just 5 kms south of Mossman, Daintree National Park Mossman Gorge section was on our radar to visit as well.
This southern section was declared part of the Daintree National Park in 1967.

Apparently 430 bird species have been spotted in the gorge, along with 18 species of reptile & 12 species of amphibian.  I got to see or hear 23 of the bird species but spring & summer time is the best time of the year for bird life as the birds are more active with procreating & those that have flown north to New Guinea for the winter come back. We were here late May.

There are also guided tours here by the traditional owners of the land.

Black Mountain stands over the rainforest clad gorge is a stunning back drop to the area.

When we were here 2 decades ago, this walk way wasn't built....there is a normal rainforest walking track further in from this one...but most of the tourists come to just this area & then they're gone again.....alas, they don't know what they're missing out on.

 Mossman River rushes over massive granite boulders. The water is apparently quite brisk.

Past the artificial walking track is another through the rainforest.....this part had more interesting plant & bird life....

Mossman receives approximately 1,700mm rain per year, so the rainforest is very lush looking.

To finish off this chapter.......
Pea fowl were residents to our camp ground near Wonga Beach.

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