Monday, April 7, 2014

Adventures in FNQ

After a few amazing dives on the Great Barrier Reef, our week in FNQ (Far North Queensland) was off to a fantastic start! 

We spent two nights in Cairns (a rather unremarkable city in my opinion, but a good jump off point to the Reef) then picked up our rented campervan and headed north. Now we were set on seeing crocodiles in Queensland, but in case we didn't see one in the wild (spoiler alert: we didn't) we decided to stop at a crocodile farm (which sounds evil but apparently it's sustainable? I'm still undecided) to have a look at these guys. Boy are they SCARY... but it was cool to get a look at them up close.

That night we parked the camper in a nice, quiet spot near a sugar cane field. Perfect location for a good night's sleep... or so we thought. As soon as the sun went down, the bugs came out to play. Not just one or two - I'm talking hoards. Armies even. It was war, them vs. us, and we didn't stand a chance. So into the camper we went. They can't get us in here, we thought to ourselves smugly. But our triumph was short lived, because within minutes we realized we had another problem on our hands: The heat. The stifling, humid, unbearable heat which, with the windows closed to keep the bugs at bay, had us basically suffocated. We woke up every couple of hours throughout the night, drenched in sweat and gasping for air. (This experience prompted us to buy something that would normally seem ridiculous but considering the circumstances made perfect sense... see the photo below)

Cooling off the next night with our rad new fans

Despite nearly suffocating to death, we made it through the night and first thing the next morning we went to Mossman Gorge. Situated in the Daintree Rainforest, a massive national park in FNQ, the Gorge is not only a sacred Indigenous site but also a perfect spot to have a swim and cool off.

After a refreshing swim in the Gorge, we drove further north all the way to Cape Tribulation, a small, remote locality in the Daintree Rainforest. With a population of only a few hundred people, there wasn't much more in Cape Trib than a few shops, a primary school and a handful of small resorts/hostels/campgrounds. 

Cape Tribulation can be as relaxed or as full on as you want it to be. We decided to make the most of our time and do a couple of day trips while we were there. The first was a guided kayak trip, where a small group of us ventured through mangrove trees and some pretty rough waves, before arriving at a beautiful, coconut-covered beach. 

We would have loved to go diving as well but as there are no dive companies in Cape Trib, the second trip we opted for was snorkelling out on the reef. I thought I might be disappointed considering we had just been diving in Cairns, but I think I actually enjoyed the snorkelling more! This part of the Great Barrier Reef is far less trafficked (we were the only boat out there that day!) and therefore more intact, resulting in more marine life to see - including TURTLES!!!

Seeing the turtles up close and swimming beside them was without a doubt one of the coolest moments of my life. They are so incredibly calm and graceful, you can't help but be just a little awestruck by them.

But the amazing wildlife didn't stop in the ocean - there was plenty to see on land as well. Ever heard of a cassowary? I hadn't before this trip but it's basically an enormous, colourful ostrich. They're rare to see in the wild, but luck must have been on our side because Ben and I saw four in one day (baby ones too!) They have to be some of the most unique looking animals in the world. 

On top of all this incredible array of wildlife, I also had the best fruit ice cream I've ever tasted at the Daintree Ice Cream Company (also with the best view I've ever seen while eating ice cream.) I mean, eating ice cream made from fruit from trees you can see right in front of you - does it get any better?!

Best ice cream shop ever

Apricot, blueberry and wattleseed (yep, it's a real thing!)

When we weren't kayaking, snorkelling, cassowary-spotting or devouring the most delicious ice cream known to man, we were perfectly content just enjoying the scenery that this 135 million year old rainforest had to offer.

Sometimes when you travel, a place just doesn't impress you all that much. FNQ, and the Daintree Rainforest in particular, did just the opposite; It completely, 100% exceeded my expectations. It's one of those places that I know has made a lasting impression on me, probably because I have never seen (and possibly will never see) anything quite like it. 

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