You can’t have a Rainforest without the Rain

After our wonderful adventure of Cape York, we headed back to Cairns, so I could catch a flight to Melbourne.

Knowing they were going to be held up in Cairns for a few days, the kids asked if they could go back to BIG4 Coconut Holiday Resort. They just loved it so much, and great memories from our last visit. They wanted to do some of the activities they missed out on last time, such as the big screen movie night, and fire engines rides. As I was getting my treat, I just couldn’t say no.

Coconut Big Red fire EngineI know you have all been wondering why I went to Melbourne, so I won’t keep you is suspense any longer. A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from Playgroup Australia. Their National Conference was coming up, and they were launching two new media awards. The Playgroup Profile awards would be ‘awarded to a journalist(s) or communicator(s) whose work is assessed as having most effectively communicated the value of Playgroup to the Australian public through traditional or online media’. There is a second category for a photographer whose pictures capture the essence of Playgroup.

Anyway, I was the winner for the 2011 Profile award, for my blogging of ‘Playgroups around Australia’. The prize included a trip to Melbourne to the National Conference. Of course I gave a little speech about our trip, and how much we enjoy the experience of visiting Playgroups. I am absolutely thrilled to win this award. For me, its acknowledgement that people really are reading, and getting something out of our experiences and my writing.

During my stay, I also was able to sit in on a few other presentations from some childhood and play experts. To read more about my trip to Melbourne for the National Playgroup Conference, click HERE.

While in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to do some shopping. Also, a mate of mine from Port Fairy drove up especially to see me, so we had a fun night out catching up. All in all it was a fabulous, if not somewhat busy trip.

Mike and the kids picked me up at the airport and we moved onwards to Mareeba. Mike had spent his days in Cairns getting the truck fixed. We had coolant leaking from a gasket, and needed this changing. A relatively simple job, but the mechanic managed to break the radiator spout in the process, so we had to cough up for a new radiator as well. Grrrrrr.

As the Bloomfield Track is another fun 4WD adventure, we decided to leave the caravan behind again, and camp it up to Cooktown and back. There are so many more options for sleeping in the rainforest when you have a tent.

Our first major stop was the southern side of the Daintree River, where we decided to go on a river cruise with Solar Whisper Cruises. Their vessel is a solar and electric powered boat, which made the journey quiet and without the diesel fumes. Our guide and skipper, Matt, had spent the greater part of his life in Northern Queensland, and was incredibly knowledgeable about the rainforest, plants, birds and animals. He took great care in pointing out plants to avoid touching while visiting the rainforest. I never knew some plants could cause you so much pain.

Solar Whisper CruiseWhite Lipped green tree frogOne of the great features of Solar Whispers is their croc cam. The camera can zoom in on crocs (or other wildlife) so you can see it on the onboard screen. You won’t miss anything. Unfortunately, we were at that time of the year that crocs rarely crawled onto the banks to bask in the sun. We only caught a brief glimpse of a submerged croc, who took off as we approached.

We found the entire cruise to be a lovely, peaceful way to experience the rainforest and river system of the Daintree. The quietness of the boat made it easy to do some bird watching. We were also lucky enough to see a white-lipped green tree frog. Rarely, this species of native frog is able to camouflage itself to its surroundings. This one was grey, like the bark of the tree he was sitting on.

They have cruises around 6 times per day, for between 1 – 1½ hours. Long enough to get a great feel for the place, and short enough to avoid the kids getting too fidgety. To learn more about Solar Whisper click HERE.

Noah BeachFungi in the Rainforest nr Emengen CkWe used the car ferry to cross the Daintree River, to the northern section of the National Park. We camped at Noah’s Beach campground in the Daintree National Park. Noah’s is located next to a beautiful and pristine white, sandy beach. We spent the next day walking all the rainforest boardwalks and making seashell mermaids on the beach with the kids. I could never get over the beauty, sights and scents of the lush green forest.Cape Tribulation

Both nights, it rained. Not too hard, but enough. Packing up that second morning in the drizzle was not fun.

We made it just over the halfway point of the Bloomfield track, when the truck temperature skyrocketed. Michael stopped the truck, and coolant was pouring out the bottom onto the ground. A lull in the weather ended and it started bucketing down. To top it all off, we didn’t have mobile reception. Luckily a local took pity on us, and offered use of her phone to call the RACV. Two hours, and a flatbed ride later, we made it to a mechanic in Cooktown.Whoops

Of course the upside to this was we got to spend the night in a Cooktown guesthouse, courtesy of the RACV. I was pretty happy about this as the rain poured and the wind howled overnight. The next day we were not so lucky. The truck was fixed, so we moved to a local campground, braving the elements. We spent the day trying to hide from the rain by visiting the library, the tourist shops, and the camp kitchen (it wasn’t very weather-proof) and eventually the RSL (for several hours). I had one of the most sleepless nights of my life as the wind threatened to launch our tent into space.

Grassy Hill lookoutBloomfield causewayBy the next morning, we were well and truly over camping. We managed to pack up the tent in a rare spate of dryness, and started the journey back down the Bloomfield Track. The morning was spent travelling the 40 km down the road to the Bloomfield River, only to discover the causeway was impassable due to the high flow of water. Our inexperience strikes again, and I was cursing the fact we didn’t check road conditions at the Lion’s Den Hotel, where we had coffee that morning. We had to backtrack and go the long way round.

We made it back to Mareeba and our caravan by mid-afternoon, without breaking down or getting even more wet. I think I am happier dealing with the rain in a more weather-proof caravan. It could have been worse, Cairns received a particularly high level of rainfall, and there were stories circulating that going south were proving difficult.

But southward we will go (just not quite yet) there is still more things to do and rainforest to see. Find out why were headed back to the Atherton Tablelands in our next post. Despite the weather, the adventure continues…


3 Responses

  1. We met at The Gap in South Australia last February which was the near beginning of your journey.
    We have been following your blogs all the way and enjoyed.
    We are heading south back towards Sydney.
    I have started my blog on Travellingwillows.wordpress for you to see.
    Have a safe journey.

  2. Congratulations on your award Sharon – brilliant! I think you have uncovered a fantastic new skill on your trip – I hope you’ll be able to continue your writing when you get back to real life. Hope all well. xx

  3. amazing story have a safe journey

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