Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Visit to the Rainforest

This is Part II of a 5 part post about a trip to Queensland and the Top End.

Day 2 in Cairns, we drove north to see the Daintree National Rainforest, which is a rainforest. I expected Cairns to look like the Australia in my mind – lots of grassy flat areas, with pockets of eucalyptus trees. This was not the case, however. Not only is Cairns surrounded by mountains, but it is also surrounded by a very wet climate. The Daintree is a National Park off the Daintree River that preserves some of this beautiful forest, whereas a lot of the land surrounding Cairns has been turned to sugar cane fields.

View from the rainforest to the Queensland coast

Like true tourists, we signed up for a crocodile tour on the Daintree River, and we were not disappointed. These are the “salties” that Australia is known for – the reason you don’t swim in any swimming hole north of Brisbane, and a reason not to swim on the beaches in Cairns (although I gather those beaches are safer than the ones in Darwin). This guy may not look too big, but he was 3 or 4 metres long, and about 40 years old. We saw a number of smaller ones too, but mom was hiding.

Kingfisher sits in the old mangrove tree
We saw a lot of other wildlife as well, including these beautiful little kingfishers. The kookaburra is a kingfisher as well; in fact, it is the largest kingfisher in Australia. And that’s your fun fact for the day.

Ethan is disappointed at the lack of cassowaries
After our crocodile tour, we drove further into the forest, constantly on the lookout for the rare cassowary bird. You may remember I saw a cassowary at Featherdale animal park; it looks like an emu with a blue head and a big dinosaur ridge on its forehead. Ethan and I stopped to take a little hike, where we were cautioned to be casso-wary (ha ha), since they are large birds that can be very defensive when frightened. Linda decided she would rather protect the car from any cassowary attacks. Guess who actually got to see the cassowaries? Not long after Ethan and I started our hour long hike, the cassowaries ran through the forest just in front of Linda. Meanwhile, Ethan and I had to carry rocks as defense against a very audibly angry (but fortunately hidden) wild pig. Not our most successful wildlife outing ever.

We returned to the hotel after a quick stop for biodynamic, organic ice cream (don’t ask me, I’m still not entirely sure what biodynamic means). And that was Day 2 in Queensland.

Sunset from the Daintree ferry


Anonymous said...

I have heard that the Australian crocs are pretty agressive. Not like the alligators here which would rather avoid humans - unless someone has been stupidly feeding them.


Anonymous said...

I saw something once that said the salt crocs were known to observe when someone would periodically got to a certain spot on a bank or something... then they would plot an ambush

Uncle C

L said...

Yeah, the salties are pretty aggressive. I can't confirm the ambush thing, but you really don't want to mess around with these guys.