Jul 15

Magical Rainforest — A World Away

by in Australia

Tropical North Queensland.  Nothing quite prepares you for the raw beauty and the desolation.  In retrospect, perhaps I missed the clues…most visitors book a comfy condo or apartment in Cairns or Port Douglas, then take daytrips into the Daintree, with guides, on compact little 4WD bush buses.  But that’s most people.  Not us.

In Kermit the Frog, our neon green rental car – perhaps easier to spot should we get stuck in a bog along the way – we cruised up the Cook Highway, from Cairns to Port Douglas, stopping for a stroll through the weekly market, lunch at Soul & Pepper, a delightful waterfront watering hole, and a few groceries and provisions, before heading into the jungle.  At first rural, then remote and rugged, we made our way through Mossman to the Daintree car ferry, reminiscent of the car barges crossing Germany’s Rhine , but with crocodile warnings.  Across the river, the road narrows and I catch myself scanning for dinosaurs who surely roam the land.  It’s prehistoric, and stunningly beautiful.

Once across the river, everything is, for the most part, off the grid.  Each spot – restaurant, B&B, cabin – is completely self contained, with catchments for “cloud juice,” solar power, water pumps,  the works.  Efficient, effective, sustainable….and a reminder that it’s way past time for the rest of us to catch up.

This is country that attracts a special breed.  We navigate through the jungle to Cockatoo Hill Retreat, a remote B&B, where we meet Carmen, my internet friend through whom we’ve rented a riverside cabin.  An elegant French woman, probably in her early 60’s,  it’s hard to comprehend that this delicate, fragile woman singlehandedly owns and operates two eco-resorts in the middle of this remote jungle bush.  Cockatoo Hill Retreat is a small, luxury resort, with four treehouses perched amidst the jungle overlooking the most spectacular vistas.  Riverside cabin – our home in the Daintree – is nestled in the heart of 20 remote acres of riverside rainforest.  When her husband – with whom she created this magical place – passed away, she simply took the reins alone and forged ahead.  She kept the resort open during the wet this year, she tells me, through some startling depth of rain and scorching temperatures.  Since Columbus and I held our breath as Kermit struggled to make the vertical climb and rugged switchbacks leading into Cockatoo, I marvel that this slight woman lived on this perch through some of the most fascinating – and inhospitable – jungle weather on the planet.  It’s a special breed, living in a very special place.

Riverside Cottage -- our home in the Daintree

Riverside Cottage -- our home in the Daintree

 

Croc warnings in the Daintree -- a wild and wonderful place

Croc warnings in the Daintree -- a wild and wonderful place

 

Sacagawea & Dundee in the Daintree

Sacagawea & Dundee in the Daintree

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