Sunday, April 13, 2008

DAY 170: Lync Haven (Daintree NP) to Cape Tribulation

Fri 11th April 2008
22 km at 14.9 km/hr
Distance to date 10094 km (6309 miles)

The sun was struggling to get past 25m of green canopy again this morning, but it filtered through in places where there was a gap. There are quite a few gaps after the March 2006 cyclone where big trees were blown down, but this area is incredibly productive and there are lots of small trees and bushes waiting to capitalise on the new opportunity. A couple from Lancashire were making breakfast too so I had company once more.
Saying my goodbyes to them and Michel I set off for Cape Tribulation ("...where the rainforest meets the reef"). This was of course named by Captain Cook whose ship Endeavour struck the GB reef after passing by here. The road was very quiet as usual and the ride was perfect - quiet, green, shady under a blue sky and approx 27 deg C. What a fantastic place - all I imagined I would find in Oz! I stopped to have a look at the beautiful Thornton Beach for a while and it felt pretty hot out in the open, away from the forest shade. There is a pretty steep hill again, after about 12km, as the road passes over Noah Ranges; around 6 to 10% for 1km or so, but the downhill is very fast, although I was more wary than usual after yesterday’s crash.
The settlement of Cape Trib is strung out over a couple of km with a few cafes and shops, mostly advertising the many tours available here - Barrier Reef snorkelling, sea kayaking, night wildlife walks in the ‘jungle’ and posh and budget rainforest lodges. There are 2 caravan parks, and I chose the one nearest the ‘centre’ which is PK’s Jungle Village. I got a nice shady site close to everything including the IGA store for only $10/night. I will probably stay here until at least Monday so as to take in a few tours and activities. There are several nice boardwalks through the rainforest too which I fancy. I might as well make the most of all the stuff here because once in the Outback there will be some long days, even weeks, just getting the miles, er, km, in.
And I might as well get on with that I thought as I booked a reef snorkelling tour for this afternoon; I had just over an hour to get the tent up and get ready.

Lyn and I went onto the reef from Cairns in 2006 but it wasn’t a good day - weather wet and windy - but this afternoon looked almost perfect, hence my rush to do this, with Odyssey H2O. Around 15 of us waded out to knee-deep to get on the large ribbed vessel that would whisk us out to the Mackay Reef in around half an hour thanks to 2 x 8-cylinder 350 Yamaha HP motors. We mostly wore stinger suits just in case of jellyfish, though these are unlikely 20km out on the reef apparently. We were all soon in the water - I felt a little apprehensive as it was quite choppy - but unlike last time there was a guy in the water towing a rubber ring around over the best bits of the reef so that the less confident like me can hang on to if necassary. Again unlike last time, there was lots to see with amazing displays of coral, every shape, size and colour of fish that can be imagined; large turtles swimming right underneath us, Giant Clams about 2 feet across etc. etc. Most of the coral was between a metre and 3 metres below, and the water was pretty clear, so all the detail could be observed - sea cucumbers inching along; thousands of tiny fish fleeing to the shelter of the coral as we approached, giant Clams closing with the lightest of touches, and good ol’ Nemos (Clown Fish) feeding inside the coral structures. It’s a weird and wonderful world down there, and it was a privelege to observe it. I can thoroughly recommend this company - they are very professional, very safety-conscious, supportive, and they go to a lot of trouble to explain how the reef ‘works’ and what we are seeing in it. On the way back, with a rising tailwind, the boat shot along at around 35 knots, twisting and turning to avoid the big waves and making for an exhilirating ride that had us all grinning like Cheshire cats..
Follow that! Well, I just set myself up at a nearby table and typed out yeterdays diary which I didn’t have time to do last night, then cooked a decent pasta supper eaten at a happy, chatty table with Carla and friends.
I’ve booked an night wildlife walk for tomorrow, and I’m going to check out the kayaking too - I may get to do this at last. I thought I would see Michel again tonight as he was coming to Cape Trib, but I think he must be in the other caravan park, shame.

This area is the kind of place one could linger and linger - it's so beautiful; so easy going; everything you need is here; and everyone is so happy and friendly it makes you feel good too. It's as near as I've been to paradise!

ing casual

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