Friday, 15 October 2010

A Little Further North to Daintree

Ellis Beach
This was a day!

The anticipated wet pack up didn't disappoint as the tent was wet inside and out but such is life and only the smallest of even breaks during the day (sunshine) and time for airing when we arrived, would get us back in the game.

We were away by 9:30am and back into Kuranda for a last mocha and some planning of the next few days. Staying in Daintree NP had been ruled out through a combination of my concern about crocs - we were to camp behind a beach - and Sue's concern about the extra rain which had been falling in previous weeks making the chances of being trapped behind the lines likely. We therefore opted for an in between option and made a booking for a caravan park in the village of Daintree and would use it as a base for operations.

Our route took us back down the escarpment and we stopped to take in those wonderful views about halfway down - views we had seen through cloud the previous day on both the Scenic Railway and the Skyrail. We skirted through northern Cairns and detoured into Trinity Beach, a haven for the wealthy and beautiful. We didn't see many of them but I did hang around for a while and watch one large couple swimming in bright coloured swim suits in the hope that my shots of a croc attack would make the Channel 7 News. Those big saltwater eating machines regularly cruise along the beaches here.

After a tricky manoeuvre to turn the trailer, we returned to the Captain Cook Highway.

Rex Lookout
I have travelled all of the truly great ocean drives Australia has to offer and I'm happy to declare the Captain Cook Highway the clear winner for it's stunning views and a carriageway which demands drivers keep to the 80kms speed limit. Every headland was rounded with anticipation of the visual treats which lay in store and not once were we disappointed. Two outstanding examples of what was on offer - but by no means the only or best examples - were Ellis Beach and Rex Lookout.

At Ellis Beach, Jeannie Baker's "Where The Forest Meets The Sea" finds its source material. Rainforest trees ignore the road and grow to the very edge of the back grains of the loose and soft sand which is as good in its parts as the whole. The beach curves with a seduction far more than any of the scantily clad creatures which walk or lounge upon it. It bends from the southern point until running in a long parallel to the incoming waves which lap their rhythm with such soothing cadence as to numb even the most preoccupied soul from any busy life. Coconuts trees and palms grow among rainforest species and shade is offered sometimes halfway to the water's edge.

Whilst I took photos, I lost Sue who rambled off on a long beachcombers stroll which included finding some mangoes waiting for her in the shade of a palm. Ten metres from civilisation to paradise, with greater transformative powers than any hypnotist.

At Rex Lookout, high on a bluff between beaches, the view was staggering. Islands, yellow beaches, dense rainforests, white cotton balls decorating the blue sky ... if it wasn't for the loud, boring carload of male German tourists, it would have been perfect but one learns to be patient and see them off your turf and gratefully accept young couples posing for photographs their children will ask about in twenty years ... "no, that was before I met daddy ..."

Daintree River
Among the more special was an unmarked turn off and one I had to stop quickly and then reverse car and trailer twenty metres to gain us access. It was a small camping and day use area - maybe four sites maximum - tacked in behind the beach among both rainforest and beach vegetation.

Wangetti was a meeting place for three Aboriginal groups ... a meeting place where differences where put aside and commonality sought. They would gather to eat and talk and secure peace between them. The big paperbacks right on the beach were marvelous but so is the knowledge that these three people groups have combined their efforts to establish this place for others to visit and they have installed picnic tables and shelters and interpretive boards.

We finally made it to Daintree just after three in the afternoon. It had been a superb drive. It took a while to establish our campsite as the walls needed to be erected around the outside canopy in the event of rain, as their was no camp kitchen here. The humidity and the late afternoon heat (28c) had the sweat poring from us, literally. However, the tent got two hours of sunshine and airing and was bone dry come nightfall. Its a plain park but the owners are very well meaning and friendly.

Before it was dark, we ventured down to have our first look at the Daintree River and I don't think even I can find the words. Everywhere is green and hills and then mountains just finish a perfect picture. We also sighted our first croc, causing Sue to climb up onto the picnic table we had been sitting at. It cruised past on the opposite side of the river, probably 100m away but Sue saw no reason to be a risk taker. Boat drivers who were taking care of the loose threads of their day thought it was likely to be a four metre specimen. They also commented that the crocs are feisty at the moment as it is breeding season and the extra rain in winter has probably upset their yearly cycle.

We returned to the tent for blogs, dinner, plans and sleep.


  1. "Meanwhile, your son's are back slaving away at their jobs in Tamworth, where there is no cricket this weekend and Sam is eating bloody Tofu! What is happening to our lives? We are desperate. Come back and save us, man!"

  2. Hi Pete and Sue

    Still enjoying your trip reports.

    If you like kayaking then you can kayak around Cape Trib with a guide ….. well worth doing, its beautiful. But you may not be returning there…..
    Keep well,


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