Jul 15

Crocodiles, Canopy Surfing and Jungle Trekking — Daintree Style

by in Australia

In a place this prehistoric – where something around every bend is certainly ancient and potentially lethal – there’s an undeniable urge to get up close and personal with it.  Sacagawea and Dundee swam with the turtles in the beautiful – and shockingly cold — waters of little Cooper Creek, while Columbus and I kept a nervous watch for crocs.  (As Carmen told us, “Never say never, when it comes to crocs, but I swim here regularly.”  Some comfort, I guess.)  We explored to the end of the road at Cape Tribulation — named such by Captain Cook when his ship was wrecked and subsequently salvaged by wrapping the sail under the ship and nursing it to shore – then just a few miles beyond, on the unpaved, rugged Bloomfield Track that meanders up the coast to Cooktown.  (But don’t tell the folks at Hertz of course.)

We hiked into the rainforest, along the boardwalks and paths, to explore the mangrove estuaries and rainforest floors that lead onto some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world, one of the few places where rainforest reaches to the ocean.   We met up with Pru, a local naturalist, and wandered deep into the old growth forest, well beyond the paths and boardwalks designed for visitors, where we saw trees over 1000 years old, and plants known to date back several hundred thousand years.  We collected shells on Cow Beach and Cape Trib lookout, climbed trees along the shoreline, and spotted birds, lizards, spiders and other native creatures unlike any we’d ever seen.  We climbed the towers of the award-winning Daintree Discovery Centre in an effort to better understand this place, some 135 million years old and largely unchanged, and learned about species, once believed extinct, found thriving in this magical place. 

We met up with our local river guide along the side of the road.  “Don’t walk down to the river’s edge, particularly with children!  Stay on the road and I’ll meet you there,” he told me when I booked our adventure to get up close and personal with salt water crocs.  Watch the trailer for the movie Rogue, and you’ll understand.  A rattletrap tin-can flat bottomed boat, cruising waters straight from jungle flicks, looking for prehistoric creatures longer than the boat with jaw strength that crushes instantly.  “Water comes hootin’ down from the mountains,” he explained, “and these babies build their nests along the banks.  Only one in 200 young crocs makes it to maturity, then they start dealin’ out the pain.”  He went on the point out the occasional sloping edge, leading from the murky waters up onto the banks.  “Nothin’ but crocs ever walk out of these waters,” he matter-of-factly pointed out.  We weren’t disappointed….these prehistoric beasts lounged along the shoreline, casually lumbering in and out of the water.  They rule, and they know it, and we loved every minute of it.

Capping our experience, Sacagawea, Dundee and I headed off for Jungle Canopy Surfing . . . ziplining from platform to platform in the oldest rainforest on earth.  Simply amazing!  We rumbled up the mountainside in a 4WD jalopy to base station, where we were outfitted with harnesses and helmets, then hiked up the mountain to the first platform.  It was interesting to note that Sacagawea was the youngest of our group (perhaps not a big surprise), and that I was, by far, the oldest.  I’m not sure which seems more incongruous – kids watching their mom sail across the jungle, or a mom watching her children dangling from ropes and harnesses in mid air.  We zipped across riverbeds, through the prehistoric jungle, from ancient tree to ancient tree.  We soared at speeds reaching 35 kilometers, and flew upside down along one course, just because we could.  The grins tell the story…Amazing.  Exhilarating.  Spectacular!

The Daintree is a special place.  In many ways familiar to us, with plants we have in our own Hawaiian backyards, and weather that feels like home….yet so distance, remote, and instantly healing.  It is a place where time really has stood still, and a quiet reminder that we are simply passing through this amazing planet we call home.

Nelly upside down in the rainforest!

Nelly upside down in the rainforest!

 

Sacagawea: a natural!

Sacagawea: a natural!

 

Dundee...living up to his name!

Dundee...living up to his name!

No Responses to “Crocodiles, Canopy Surfing and Jungle Trekking — Daintree Style”

  1. From Christina G:

    I can only say one thing………WOW!

    Posted on July 23, 2009 at 8:17 am #

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