“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.
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”
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.
Driving north from Mossman one encounters a sign pointing right to the famous Daintree ferry and Cape Trib, or left to Daintree Village on the river a few kilometres upstream.
The Village isn’t very big – a pub, a few shops and houses, some tourist accommodation and a jetty for the boaties. We stayed there overnight so that we could take an evening wildlife-spotting cruise with Daintree River Wild Watch, which was so good that we repeated it early next morning.
I came home with so many bird photos that they need a separate post, but here are some river views for context.
Daintree River Views
Dawn and dusk are the best times for birds and for atmospheric landscape photos, and I really loved the morning mists.
Black Mountain, Keating’s Lagoon, Endeavour Falls and Isabella Falls are all close enough to Cooktown to be easy day trips for anyone staying in the town. The first two are on the Mulligan Highway so they are also potential stops on the way to or from Mareeba. Continue reading “Around Cooktown”