As promised, we packed up Toad Hall in Mossman and headed up the highway(?) to Daintree Village. Having come for a day, we decided to stay for a week. The lovely folk at Daintree Riverview (www.daintreeriverview.com) – Sally, Peter & Phil – are so welcoming and really know how to make you feel special and at home. One of their main strengths is that they call you by name – a very important facet of hospitality. They are also very involved in Village life – Phil ‘moonlights’ in the Woodwork Gallery next door and Peter & Sally take visitors on the Argo 8x8 tours; as well as all the work involved in building the Daintree Riverview Lodges and Van Park into the beautiful, relaxing place it has become. In talking to them we can see they have done an enormous amount of work in the three short years they have owned the park. Peter has put his ‘nibbling’ skills to good use, & Sally has ‘beautified’ his work . . .
They have also put to good use some ‘leftover’ timber . . . they had purchased an old school building and re-used some of the floorboards as ceiling lining boards at their home on the farm. Needless to say there were odd lengths unsuitable for that purpose, so Sally now ‘brands’ them either ready-made or made-to-order . . . . . . Toad Hall both ways.
Riverview is in an outstanding position to base yourself for quite a few trips. Our first outing was back down the road and across the ferry to Cape Tribulation. There are countless photo opportunities along the way . . . and made easy to access by the local council
The Drive from Daintree Village to Cape Tribulation is only 49 kms, but is truly worth a full day of your time – if not more. “The Daintree Coast Map” showcases more than 70 things to see & do, places to stay & eat, and points of interest. Not far from the ferry crossing is “Walu Warrigga” – Alexandra Range Lookout – from which you can see the mouth of the Daintree River.
By far the most outstanding (in my humble opinion) is the Daintree Discovery Centre. Once again my fear of heights was put to the test and overcome. The Boardwalk through the rainforest (once again offering but not delivering the elusive cassowary) is quite an easy trip and wheel friendly. Entry fee includes a ‘gadget’ which talks you through points of interest which are numbered. Many of the plants are also named, as are the birds you might see & their calls are recorded and identified. Almost directly in the centre is the 23 metre high “Canopy Tower”. This is decidedly worth overcoming any trepidations – the views from each ‘stage’ (of which there are five) are breathtaking and give an insight into the many variations of rainforest growth.
And to prove (especially to my daughters) that I WAS there -
On the outward path (some three hours later) we were thrilled (and surprised) to see these King Ferns. The only other place we have seen them is at Carnarvon Gorge. The can only survive with a permanent supply of fresh water as their stems are filled with this and that is what keeps them upright. Once again, this is only one of the many photos I took.
From here we drove all the way to Cape Trib (as they say in these parts). The day was glorious – almost good enough for a swim. Well, a paddle anyway. Here it was, July 5th, and we talking going for a dip! For those of my readers in the northern hemisphere – it is mid-winter and I’m used to being in multi-layered clothing.
From the top: Starfish; Rutile Sands; Ground Shot; Cape Trib and
Wending our way homewards, we visit the Dubuji Boardwalk (easy walking); The Daintree Tea Company; The Daintree Ice-Cream Company (flavours such as Black Sapote and Soursop – don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. Yumm) We also had a light lunch at Cafe on Sea at Thornton Beach (not on my best of anything list) and – just for our great-grandson – took photos of Noah Range, Noah Island,
There are so many more places to go and things to see – why not treat yourself to a trip?
To end a full day, back across the ferry and to Daintree Riverview Van Park and a well deserved rest. The day truly was packed with sights, sounds, smells; beautiful weather and lovely people.
After a rest day, we took the advice of Phil and booked onto a river cruise. The first trip was a 7 a.m. start and the day dawned coolish and drizzly. It was disappointing in one way as we didn’t see any crocodiles; but an the other hand we did see quite a lot of birds – some I recognised and some I didn’t. The tour guide – Ian “Sauce” Worcester was very knowledgeable and knew them all but as I didn’t have a pen’n’paper, just my camera, I had no way of keeping track of all the names. The photos of the birds will be the subject of an entirely separate post. There have just been so many beautiful birds, and hopefully there will be many more. And maybe, just maybe, before we leave the tropics there might even be a cassowary. . . ?
Then in the afternoon we took a journey on the Crocodile Express – a trip we can recommend as real value for money. Running commentary from Captain Crash (Dennis) was both informative AND humorous. All the tour guides are in radio contact with each other so when anyone spots a croc they pass on its location to the others – that way everyone sees what they have come to see. The older crocodiles are given names but the juveniles are not named until after they are about five years old – that’s when they’re old enough to be called survivors. Dennis told us that so far this season he has only seen half a dozen young ones; normally they would number in the hundreds. This he puts down to the increased number of feral pigs who raid the nests. Evidence of their destructive behaviour is clearly visible. With CrocExpress, after paying for your first trip (approx 1 hour & $25 for adults) you are given a pass which entitles you to any number of further trips for a week as long as there is room. New paying customers are given priority, but if there’s room for more then you can go as often as you wish – and the trips leave hourly from two different departure points; one at Daintree Village and the other from the Ferry Crossing.
This female is about 3 metres long, and 35-40 years old. The open mouth is a sign that she's upset and could become aggressive any minute.
This wild forest shows how easy it is for feral pigs to evade capture.
Who wants to brush that leaf off Barrine’s snout so we can take a better photo? This is the alpha male in the upper reach of the Daintree River – he is 45-50 years old and a over 6 metres long. Although he looks relaxed he is ever ready to attack. Just two days before this photo was taken he was filmed killing a calf which had wandered down to the river’s edge for a drink. The farmers find it cheaper to lose a beast or two than to be forever replacing fences washed away by the annual flooding of the river.
This is where this little fellow was hiding . . . beats me how they find them.
We took two trips on the river – one from each departure point – and were fortunate to have Dennis both times.
Whilst at Daintree, the weather isn’t as kind as it has been. Drizzle most days, but the company and the surrounds more than makes up for whatever the weather lacks. Unfortunately one day the wind blew up and caused some damage to the motor of our electric awning. Winding 4.6 metres of canvas in by hand to finish almost 3 metres off the ground is no easy task; but it had to be done because the only way it could be repaired is to drive the 100kms to Cairns. Nobody up these parts does ‘site’ work. And as this is the peak season for caravanners and motorhomers to visit, they have no need to put themselves out as there is more than enough work to keep them all busy. We were very fortunate to be served by Mark Leitner at Pickers Vinyl & Canvas (270 Mulgrave Road Cairns) who unfortunately had only bad news for us. Dometic (the awning manufacturer) could not send a replacement motor until mid-August. There being nothing we could do, we decided to go back to Daintree for another week to think about what we should do. Peter & Sally seemed pleased to see us, and we had some good news on the way up – Mark had contacted another agent and had sourced a motor which they would freight over from Perth and he would call us when it arrived. We thought (and told him as much) that he had gone above and beyond the call of duty and that we were very grateful. He also said he would give us a written report for our insurance company, and hopefully they would come to the party.
In the meantime we have another week at Daintree.
Having spoken to fellow travellers returning from Cooktown, we decided not to take Toad Hall, but just to drive up in the ute and stay in a motel or some such. The trip is 290 kms via Mount Molloy and blacktop all the way; or 149 via Cape Trib with 100 kms of that being 4WD along the Bloomfield Track. We opted for the longer, easier route.
First stop was Mt Carbine Hotel – a typical outback pub. Dreadful coffee, toilets none-too-clean, and a fairly nonchalant publican with little or no regard for regulations. He actually served my coffee whilst smoking! Only one thing for me to say there – never to return! Gordon had driven thus far, as when I looked at the map it had more of those squiggly lines which meant it was not my preferred route. From Mt Carbine I took over the driving for the remainder of the journey. On arrival we checked in to the The Seaview Motel. Things don’t come cheap here in the Far North. A very basic motel room – room only – was $110 for one night! We visited the RSL Club and, across the road the RSL sub-Branch (where coincidentally you could buy ‘punkins’ for $2 each). Each of the respective buildings had a M60 machine gun emplacement on their rooves, facing each other. Only in the far north. We also visited the Bowlo, the museum, and peered into many older style houses and business premises.
One extreme disappointment for me was that the old Bank of New South Wales had fallen into disrepair. For so many years I had heard from a former customer (now long dead – he was over 80 back in 1983) by the name of Bill Graf what a marvellous and ‘grand old dame’ building which had been built early last century and always maintained in its original style – complete with polished woodwork and green-shaded ‘bankers’ lamps. I have had a few such disappointments on this trip. So – from now on I shall NOT expect things to be as I have been told. I will see and accept things as I find them. Weell . . . I’ll endeavour to.
Speaking of ‘endeavour’ – who knew that the illustrious Captain James Cook of H.M. Barque Endeavour was a South Sydney Rabbitohs fan? We have proof. And also Mick the Miner (another Cooktown identity) is yet another. Those Mighty Bunnies sure have pull!
The proof is there for all to see.
We took a drive out to Endeavour Point which is at the mouth of the Endeavour River. There are some lovely homes, and some home-sites which really make you wonder what on earth could the developer be thinking? Overall the two days we spent in Cooktown were probably enough. We also spoke to some travellers and locals whilst here and decided a trip to the tip of Cape York is off. There is no way we could afford a tour (at upwards of $3,000 per person) and we don’t have the wherewithal to camp our way to the top – not tents, sleeping bags whatever. So Cooktown is as far as we come. Farewell to the Cape.
A sheltered Cove at the mouth of the Endeavour River
These glorious palms line the full length of a very long driveway – cannot possibly imagine the price tag as the house is for sale.
On our way back ‘home’ we stopped off at Mount Molloy (just past a very popular Free-Camp) where we came across a cafe advertising itself as the winner of “World’s Best Hamburger – Twice”. Well, that was asking for a test. We ordered a hamburger with egg and bacon (as opposed to the Works) each and two coffees. “Sorry – no coffee, I turned the machine off” says the proprietor. “Well turn it back on and give the lady her coffees” came the female response from the rear of the premises. Well . . . we know who runs the show there! They could well have left the coffee machine turned off, because the coffee was, if possible, worse than that at Mt Carbine! But the burgers were worth it. One of the locals, with whom we shared our table whilst waiting, laughed when he found out we had ordered a burger EACH. We soon found out what Billy (and his wife Elly) meant . . .
Back in Daintree again, we renewed friendships and forged new ones. One couple we met were doing a ‘tiki tour’ looking for their new home. Ben and Ella are an American/English couple with their New Zealand home on the market and looking to resettle in Australia. They became the new owners of our ‘old’ Camps Australia Wide book – the Travellers’ Bible. We had updated to issue 7 at the Maryborough rally and had been carrying both since then. They are quite large tomes so it was good to find a suitable new home for CAW6.
Alas, Mark from Pickers rang within the week to say our new awning motor had arrived, so the time had come to say farewell to Peter & Sally Maher and the Daintree. We had come for a day and stayed for over two weeks. And I think there can be no higher recommendation than that we couldn’t tear ourselves away. The timing was also judicious as we were due in Mareeba by 25th July for the CMCA Far North Nomads’ “Christmas in July”.
So here we leave you with some lasting memories of our time on the Daintree . . .
This coconut tree was deemed dangerous for campers – so it had to go. Bruce the Tree Feller Fella to the rescue!
And so Bruce & Sally were rewarded with fresh green coconut water. Bruce for the work he had done, Sally for her superior supervising skills.
And in time, Mr Whippy will be available. The van works, has a brand new paint job and is just waiting for the right person ‘behind the jump’.
Paella ‘Daintree Style’ – with Barramundi and Crocodile meat
As the sun sets over the Daintree, we wish you farewell until next time . . . from Mareeba and points west.
Live the Life You Love.