Back on the East Coast and the RAINforest

And whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain

Whenever I Fall at Your Feet by Neil Finn performed by Crowded House

We arrived on the east coast and after six months without experiencing rain – a weird feeling – we were now to experience the rainforest. We certainly fell at its feet and the rain came variously in large gouts and then heavy drops like tears from the mahogonies, oaks and ferns overlooking Mr Gato. Maybe Neil Finn mean’t something else when he wrote this song. A tilt at the unforgiveable destruction of the worlds lungs perhaps. From Mareeba we drove the 45 kms on the winding downhill of the Kennedy Highway. A short stop in the market town of Karunda, settled halfway up the hills overlooking Cairns, and a hat for Scout and a shirt for me later we were in Smithfields on the outskirts of Cairns. Another winding drive north past Trinity Cove and we were set up in the Palm Cove Caravan Park.

Palm Cove Caravan Park from the jetty

Palm Cove is a one street seafront village 25 kms from Cairns – a suburb really – that caters for southern and international tourists looking for a warm winter holiday on the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. Its main street is all holiday apartments, cafes and restaurants. All the main contenders have resorts here – Mantra, Peppers, Sheraton etc. along with small newbuild suburbs that range a kilometre back to the Cook Highway. It has no golf course. The course owners saw the light and it is now a, tasteful to be sure, development of holiday and permanent houses. We had a delightful week here although the weather was not at all condusive. Swimming is ok in winter – care recommended – and there is even a surf club. But the stormy weather mean’t wild and mud coloured seas. There is a great network of bikepaths so we biked to nearby beaches, walked, read our books and drank Guiness (me) and Chardonnay (Scout) at O’Donnells. We were fortunate to again meet Tim and Christa and their three teenage boys who were ensconced in Grandad’s Grand Penthouse at Peppers. We met this family from Tasmania many times in campgrounds up the west coast and into NT. They are doing a year around Australia. Luckily for them they had the use of the apartment for a week and lucky for us because we got to sit and have a drink and a chat in a lovely setting with nice people. Check out the boys’ You Tube diary. The entry on Matt Wright will blow you away.

After a week of indulgence we moved the 40 kms north to Port Douglas for two weeks of ….. more indulgence. Port Douglas is a step up from Palm Cove and a major attraction for international tourists. Regrettably for Port Douglas there weren’t many there. We were told the pandemic is having a devastating effect on the tourist town with visitor traffic down by two thirds. Shops all seemed to be open and there was a sense that Queenslanders now travelling in Queensland were helping but it really was glum faces all around. Certainly the campgrounds are so packed with Victorians and NSWers who daren’t go home. But Grey Nomads are notorious non-spenders. Not for us though as we enjoyed again the bike paths, some shopping and cafes and restaurants of the town. Scout did test the sea although muddy and disturbed but I confined my time to the Pandanus Caravan Park pool which was long enough to get in some good lengths.

Port Douglas – biking the beach

While the town was originally formed in the 1880s on gold mining and later fishing its proximity to the reef and the growth of tourism in the 1980s led it to become one of Australias most popular tourist destinations. Some 450,000 tourists visit each year generating over $500 million in accommodation revenue alone while its popularity is enhanced by the modern boutiques and restaurants that line its main tourist street. Port Douglas sits along the very attractive white sandy Four Mile Beach and is sandwiched between two world heritage listed regions – the Great Barrier Reef (also listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world) and the Daintree Rainforest. The town’s marina is full of well appointed and large yachts and motor boats and tourist opertors abound making the reef run for diving and snorkelling tours.

The region is blessed with natural phenomena with the Daintree Rainforest to the north thought to be the oldest rainforest in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system comprising over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres. Port Douglas sits at the northern end of the reef. This northern tip has been the least exposed to coral bleaching and degradation and is considered to still be in close to pristine condition which augers well for the towns tourist economy.

Found this fella on the creek 200m from the camp at Cape Trib.

We left Port Douglas fit and tanned for a quick visit to Cape Tribulation in the Daintree. The 80 km drive features a ferry across the Daintree River and a 10 km uphill and downhill winding drive. Sometimes confined to speeds of 10kph. The biggest fear was meeting a large sized vehicle, camper or caravan on a 180 degree bend. We survived and pitched up at the Cape Tribulation Caravan Park on Myall Beach. This may also be the ninth wonder of the world as it combines lovely grassy sites along the beach front and under the rainforest with a bar and pizza restaurant. How convenient. We walked the beach, biked the beaches hard sand length and explored the rainforest. The rainforest is aptly named of course. And it rained heavily for a good portion of our stay. Nevertheless it was a privelege to enjoy this World Heritage listed region. The real charm of the Daintree Rainforest is its unspoiled nature. The forests 12,000 square kms which stretches from Townsville to Cooktown north of Cairns was World Heritage listed in 1988. At present it is not overrun with mass tourism making sustainability easier. While 400,000 people visit the region each year they do so in a well managed form of eco-tourism that allows a high degree of protection of the forest. The rainforest is home to crocodiles, snakes, a multitude of insects and a variety of birdlife including the wonderful Cassowary. In fact the Daintree is home to 40% of the birdlife in Australia. Quite important really. Still dangers exist with housing encroaching on the edges and it is to be hoped that we can maintain this unique and truly beautiful region for the long term. We left the Daintree for a few days in Cairns to restock and begin the final leg of our journey – the run down the coast to home.

4 thoughts on “Back on the East Coast and the RAINforest

  1. Wonderful chapter of your travels! You’ve been on the road a while now…The Matt Wright croc shote were well worth a look!

    Enjoy the Guiness and the Chardy! Alan


    1. Thanks Alan We expect to be home in about 3 weeks. Sure has been a great trip and learn’t so much. If you are over when all settles down we will have that drink
      Regards to Judy
      Stay positive test negative


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