Cape Tribulation

“The Daintree” is semi-mythical to most Australians, signifying tropical wilderness, rainforest, relentless heat and humidity, crocodiles, torrential rain, swamps, leeches and feral hippies.

In reality, the Daintree is a river but “The Daintree” refers to a stretch of coast between the ferry and Cape Tribulation, a distance of some 35 km, somewhere north of Cairns. It’s a narrow strip of scattered settlements between the mountains and the sea, and it is an essential destination for overseas and southern visitors looking for the real Wet Tropics experience.

Daintree River ferry
The Daintree River ferry, gateway to the World Heritage area

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Chillagoe

Chillagoe is a hauntingly beautiful, intriguingly odd place which we liked twenty years ago but hadn’t revisited since then because it’s a bit out of the way even by outback Queensland standards (more on its location later).

The town has a population of only a few hundred people these days but it was an important mining centre a century ago and has significant remnants to show for it. It also has improbable limestone bluffs riddled with caves, and our camping ground featured the best dawn chorus of our two-week northern journey, easily beating Cape Trib and Cooktown.    Continue reading “Chillagoe”

Daintree River wildlife

What the visitor sees on a wildlife safari or cruise depends on the wildlife and the weather, but also on the guide’s interests and local knowledge. Daintree River Wild Watch advertised “Bird Watching and Photography Cruises” which ticked the boxes we wanted, and we were well rewarded.

Crocodiles are top of the list for most tourists, and we did see one, but the highlight for us was the Jabiru (Black-necked Stork, Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) prancing around in the shallows to scare up his breakfast.

Birds

Jabiru
Prance

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Mud-nest Builders

Mud is a great construction material, as wasps, people and termites realised long ago. Three species of Australian birds use it to make cup-shaped nests in trees, which is a bit unorthodox, and I happened to see two of them on my recent trip up north.

The first is so well known around Townsville that I’m surprised we don’t see their nests more often. The second is a dry-country species, common enough in the west but rare on the coast.

The Pee-wit

Pee-wit on nest
Pee-wit on nest in Cooktown Botanic Gardens

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