Sunday, April 13, 2008

DAY 169: Day off Lync Haven (Daintree NP)

Thurs 10th April 2008
Distance to date 10072 km (6295 miles)

Good sleep last night in this quiet little caravan park, except for the drone of the generator some distance off which I was vaguely aware of. Good company for brekkie in the form of an articulate Dutch couple who spoke perfect English, and who are working in Singapore for a few years. A nice lazy start to the day by gently cycling unencumbered by baggage up to the Daintree Discovery Centre. Yes, it’s $33 entry, but having spent an interesting 2 or 3 hours there I would say it’s good value, I’m sure I learnt a lot of stuff I didn’t know before, such as how to deal with a leech if it attatches itself to your leg - let it feed and then it will just drop off and you’ll be none the worse off! Or if you can’t stand it apply heat or salt to it instead. And if you get stung by a poisonous jellyfish and don’t have any vinegar, apply urine lol. Anyhow there’s loads of info about trees, plants, birds (including audio samples of their call), animals, insects, lizards etc. etc. I was also given a 10% discount, not to mention a free coffee for telling my ‘travel story’ to the gobsmacked girls behind the counter - ah, fame...... but I had to pay for (what was probably the best) Rocky Road ever - it was utterly awesome! I'm definitely going to learn how to make this when I get home.
All the cycling today was through dense green tropical rainforest, and it is simply a breathtaking experiencefor me - and not much traffic either this (north) side of the Daintree River. There are a few hills but who cares - they’re nothing compared to what is to come on the Bloomfield Track up to Cooktown - there’ll be lots of quality pushing the bike, meaning very slow progress indeed - watch the average speed!! The Discovery Centre has a tall tower whereby you get to climb through the rainforest understorey until you’re actually above the trees, and an audio guide explains the differences between the layers, what lives there, and how it all fits together in an amazing complex and closely species-interrelated ecosystem. Think of a complex habitat in Scotland and then multiply by threescore and ten.
Just a hilly km or so east, at the end of the road from the DC is Jindalba Walk, a very nice boardwalk through thick dark richly-scented forest, and as it was so quiet I left the bike locked up and went around the 1km circuit with the binoculars, but the understorey birds were very hard to pick out let alone identify. Scrub fowl roamed around scratching the ground and scootering away when they saw me.
Back onto the ‘main road’ some 3km north is the turning for Crocodylus Village (a YHA cabin / camping / restaurant / bar complex) and I stopped to see if I could get some lunch, but the tuna or cheese sarnies didn’t appeal (I’m becoming a sandwich snob with chicken and avocado etc.) so I just had a beer and chatted for half the afternoon to Jenny, who is staying at the place semi-permanently whilst working up the road somewhere, and the owner guy. They reckoned the food here in the evening was good so we agreed to meet up again this evening and sample same; I fancied eating out for a change. Later in the afternoon with 2 whole beers inside me (unusual for me to drink in the afternoon) I rode down to Cow Bay some 5km east on the same side-road - yet another beach straight out of the Bounty advert of old, and I stopped to chat for a while with a couple from Scotland before riding across the firm sand to the far side of the beach to get a good photo opportunity.
On the way back up this quiet little road disaster struck again. With the dappled sunlight hitting the road in an indistinct way I hit a long, thick branch that lay acrossthe road at an angle, at around 25 km/hr, and the bike catapulted me over the handlebars onto my face. I was acutely aware of those very few seconds when my nose and forehead was scraping the gravel before I overturned and landing on my back in the dry sandy ditch. However my injuries were in hindsight minor compared to what might have been - I think I was very lucky there was nothing sharp or hard in front of me as I fell. A couple travelling behing me saw it all and stopped to help, but I cleaned up some of the blood off my face, thanked them and dragged the bike to the side of the road to check it out. There was minor damage including shifting of the front wheel in the drop out which I managed to mostly twist back, but I couldn’t straighten the bars which had twisted in the clamp. Again, lucky, or testament to this Thorn Raven being one tough bike, but that’s why I chose it. Somewhat shaken I carried on back to camp, where I only had an hour to get showered and changed and to get back the 7km to dine . Worst thing really was the state of my only shirt - I had to wash it in the shower and put it on wet; it would practically dry on the cycle ride back to the venue.
There were lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at dinner at the mess my face was in (see pic) but I felt OK and on relatively good form, having had another good day apart from crashing. Lets hope they don’t come in threes. It was a bit painful drinking the coffee afterwards, but the beef curry and apricot pudding with ice cream, not to mention the bottle of wine, went down very well. It was non-stop but very good conversation that confirmed again the friendliness and absence of generational barriers in Oz (somewhat unlike the UK). Thirty-something Jenny and her friends were very good company.
It was pretty late when I left for home but I enjoyed the midnight whiz on deserted roads through the tropical darkness, and with no moon it was incredibly starry. I heard lots of rustling in the undergrowth as night creatures ran or slithered back into the bush away from this big ‘predator’ but didn’t actually see much despite the great performance of the Lumitech front light with the SON hub dynamo. Only problem was the fact that the light bracket had come a bit loose during the crash so it wasn’t quite pointing in the right direction. I’ll sort all that out tomorrow at Cape Tribulation. I was hungry again when I got back and had to make a thick cheese sarnie to satisfy that.

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