WOW - The last few days has seen me travelling up north into the tropical Daintree rainforest.
2 days back i took the longest gondola in the world which runs from Cairns to a village in the fringe of the forest called Karunda. Was especially nice as the route was directly over the forest.
The forest itself is a world herritage site and is recognised as the oldest rainforest in the world (with over 6000 flowering plants - many of which are unique to the forest)(3000 insects)(and the worlds only man killing bird - the Cassoray). This area is the only area on the planet where 2 world herritage sites join (daintree and the great barrier reef) and is Australias only Rain forest. The forest covers 900 hectres about 0.25% of Australia land mass and covers the northern most peninsula on the east coast. Being tropical the temp is way up in the 30's with humidity from 60-100%. They can normally expect 7m of rainfall in the wet season and have had as much as 12 m in a 3 day period.
I experiences a brief shower in karunda (Equivilent to a weeks usual rain in england!) In the evening I went to see a pretty lame magic show! Sunday though heading off for a 3 day jaunt into the real heart of the forest. On the way up we visited a habitat zoo which was really amazingly done. only a small place but with complete interactivity with the animals (ie you are in a huge net enclosure with the animals free to walk around). Aparently there was a couple of tame Cassorays but I didnt stop to see. At 6ft tall and with a 10inch claw on each foot I did not feel like socialising much. instead I opted to play with a snake then hand feed some roos. Was really cool as i got to feel some wallabys too (well until a big b***** of a roo came over and made it very clear that if i didnt feed him right now he would be "dissapointed". Actually I interpreted this emoition from the fact that when he held my hand to get the food I snatch it away from him and turned my back to feed the little wallabys, at which point he scratched my back until I turned back around. We didnt click. When I walked away for him he started to chase me. Thinking it would some kind of game - 2 goose like birds joined in harrasing me by trying to eat my walking boots.
After this we went into the forest to Mossman gorge and a quick dip into the Mossman river. Now you may feel that swimming in the heart of croc territory is somewhat daft. And you would be right. But everyone did it! LOL Seriously was a very safe creek. Only freshwater crocs about.
After this we went for lunch and then a Croc spotting cruise on the Daintree river. Infact this is not a good time to spot crocs as they are in mating season so not really about much! That said we saw two babes and a 4ft!
On the route in to our final stop we visited a stand that sells tropical fruit ice cream. i got wattle seed and jack fruit flavour. But The real high light was watching as a brown snake (about 4ft) came from behind the ice cream seller - under the stand - and right for us. Only when a guy next to me jumped in the air (and subsequently landed again) did the snake decide to veer off in the direction of the toilet. Well when you need to go - you really need to go! In fact I identified it as a brown tree snake. Venomous - but with rear hinged fangs so not well eqipt to tag humans. (he he - decided to keep quiet about this to see the reaction)
Finally we got dropped off in a place called Cape tribulation which was little more than a splattering of huts in the rainforest. There is no mains electricity up this far north - only diesel generators! No mobile phone reception either. What they do have in huge quanitites are Spiders. In particular Golden Orb spiders. In the walk from my dorm to the pool (100m) I counted 6 females and 12 males. the females being about the size of my hand!
That evening I decided to do a rainforest night walk. Ha ha again you guys may thing this tempting fate to walk around a rain forest chocked full of australias nastiest but in actuallity they are bloody hard to spot. We did see in 2.5hours:
Brown tree snake (that actually S shaped up on us)
Amethyst Pythons (Australias largest snake)
White lip frog
White knee Cricket
About 50 stick insects
a Boyde water dragon
An Eastern water dragon
and a whole lot more spiders. Golden orbs were everywhere (although the largest were in my hostel).They are poisonous but not very (and they really try not to bite). We also saw a couple of huntsmen and a Garden orb (these are the more agressive ones)!
The impression of the place is that you cant sit down without sitting on something (fortunately the more common things are quite harmless - quite lucky considering that the most poisonous animal in the world lives almost exclusively here ((box jellyfish))
Today I headed up to pretty much as far north as you can go! Cooktown. Called because this is where Captain Cook landed. Just to let you know how in the outback we are - the main road is a dust track theat goes through creeks and over hills! . The town itself is tiny and like a ghost town. With humidity up at about 75% you sweat constantly! I walked around a bit but truth be told there was nothing to see!
Tomorrow I go for an Aboriginal tour which is meant to be Australias best. I will Regale you with the story of the aboriginals in the next blog - though i am afraid it will not be a cherry tale!