FNQ Pt2. Daintree River & Atherton Tablelands

After a terrible night of almost no sleep at the Daintree River Village Lodge (I really should learn to travel with my own pillow!) we were up before the sparrows and down on the Daintree Jetty by 6am, still in the dark.  The light came pretty quickly though and by the time we pushed off at 6.30am it was light enough to see.  We took a cruise with Ian ‘Sauce’ Worcester,  Cruising up the various arms of the Daintree and up to the Barretts Creek bridge that you drive across to enter the village, was a silent and serene experience. “Cape Tribulation Daintree Rainforest expands over 1200 square kilometres and is the largest area of continuous tropical rainforest in Australia and is believed to be around 135 million years old — it is also considered to be one of the most ancient and primitive rainforests in the world”

The river is totally still and silent save for the occasional bird call… it was like entering a prehistoric world. The banks of the river are totally overgrown with lush vegetation, and brings to mind what I would expect the Amazon to look like (and I wouldnt be surprised to see a native with dart gun peering out of the trees).

Daintree River

Barretts Creek Bridge

 

Daintree River, morning cruise

Daintree River, morning cruise

Ian is an extremely knowledgeable guide with eyes like a hawk, how he spotted birds and snakes from a moving boat that were camouflaged in was a skill to behold. We saw plenty of wildlife on the cruise, including Crocodiles, Tree Snakes, Sacred Kingfisher and Ulysses Butterfly, though in a small moving boat, none are easy to photograph, especially the crocs.. as soon as they slithered off the bank into the river, Ian throttled up and got out of dodge 😉

Sacred Kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher

Egret

Egret

Saltwater Crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile

Python

Python

 

Returning to the jetty we packed up our room and headed to civilisation and headed back down the Captain Cook Hwy to Cairns, with a stop off at Hartleys Crocodile Adventures for yet more crocs.

Hartleys, while commercial is extremely good.  Entry price is fair, their cafe serves some of the best food we had while in Cairns and at very good prices, the entire place is very good value for money.  We had a delicious lunch (chicken snitzels and salad) and then boarded the lagoon cruise boat which is included in your entry fee.  The cruise is only about 15 mins around the lagoon,  but you do get to see a jumping croc.. rising straight up out of the water you can scratch sitting in a on a low hanging branch tree as a safe haven from crocs in the wild.

croc leap

With our croc adventures complete we continued into Cairns and booked into our hotel… we had chosen the Hilton alongside Trinity Inlet for its proximity to the reef cruise centre and explanade, the room was lovely and the view great but service was pretty average.. if I get back to Cairns again, I wouldnt stay at the Hilton.  We had a delicious meal on the esplanade and returned to the hotel and crashed out early (was becoming a theme, up by 5.30 – 6am and in bed by 9pm lol)

Next Morning…….

was another glorious sunny day and we left the hotel by about 7am and headed up into the Atherton Tablelands and Waterfall Way.

First stop was Curtain Fig Tree in Yungaburra… its a HUGE old tree with massive canopy.  They are Strangler Fig trees with the fig seed dropped by birds in the top a tree, it germinates and sends aerial roots, some as long as 15 metres, down to the ground, eventually strangling the original tree as it takes over.

Curtain Fig Tree

Curtain Fig Tree

From the Curtain Fig Tree we headed to Ellinjaa Falls, a beautiful waterfall that’s about a 15 minute downhill walk  from the car park.  Getting back up was a little taxing, but not as bad as some I have been to.

Ellinjaa Falls

Ellinjaa Falls

From Ellinjaa we drove to Milla Millaa, prob the most famous waterfall on the Palmerston Hwy circuit… its def got a lot going for it, its stunning, is just over 18 metres tall,  has plenty of water pounding over the top, has a pool below it thats popular to swim in, and its right beside the carpark!

Millaa Milla Falls

Milla Milla Falls

We left the tablelands late afternoon and headed back for Cairns, hotel with thoughts of shower, wine and dinner… and suitably accomplished all three before crashing out again about 9.30pm.  Next installment: Green Island, Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail

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