Robinson Crusoe meets Jurassic Park in Cape Tribulation

For today’s Insiders’ Guide to the Tropics, we’re packing a gourmet picnic hamper, we’re hitting the road, and we’re heading north to Cape Tribulation!

The day’s adventure is fuelled by a hearty salmon and avocado omelette, and a fresh dragonfruit juice (lip-smackingly tasty, pretty and uber good for you too!) from the friendly brekky crew at Julaymba Restaurant before we pack up our picnic hamper and hit the road!

It’s a good idea to get an early start for day trips to Cape Tribulation, to avoid the crowds, especially during the busier winter season, so we’re off by 8.30 am. The trip north starts with a river crossing on the ferry.   Keep your eye out for the famous resident reptiles (????crocodylus porosus????).

 

Heading over the river, we feel liberated by winding down the windows, and letting the cool rainforest air kiss our skin.  We’re beginning to feel a little like we’ve time-travelled back into a Jurassic world!

While the rainforest life dates back over 100 million years, the first local human inhabitants were the  Kuku Yalanji. Thousands of years of Aboriginal history, culture and Dreaming lie in this rainforest. Many of the roads we travel along are based upon these traditional Aboriginal walking tracks along the coastline, mountains and valleys.

Time travel indeed.

Heading north, we keep our eyes peeled for cassowaries, trying our best to maintain impeccable standards of road safety while being captivated by a myriad of birdlife and iridescent butterflies,  amidst thousand shades of green. During the wet season, it’s fun to count waterfalls along the roadside!  To get a bit of geographic perspective, and to take a breather on the narrow winding road, we stop off at Mount Alexandra Lookout for a panoramic view over the Daintree River mouth, looking out to (the appropriately named) Snapper Island, and of course, snap a few obligatory selfies!

#daintree

Ooh dubi duu, quiero ser como tú.. ????????

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Next stop is the Daintree Discovery Centre (12 km after the river crossing) for a more in-depth understanding of the tropical rainforest and its’ evolution. There is a great aerial walkway and a  canopy tower onsite.

As well as a giant thunderbird.

And a diprotodon.

While we visited, an animated life-sized dinosaur exhibit was being held, enhancing the whole Jurassic Park vibe we’ve got going on.

Just behind the Discovery Centre is the first of the National Parks’ boardwalks, Jindalba, a short 700 m, picturesque and worthwhile meander around and across a small creek beneath a towering canopy of green dinosaurs-ancient palms, cycads and ferns.

Hot tip for the more intrepid traveler~an interesting perspective on life in the forest is gained by a visit to Jindalba at night time – {we’ll save that story for another time???? }

Heading on further north, we take a right towards Cow Bay, a protected bay popular with the locals.  Depending on the tides, there are three beaches that can be accessed, one of which is located to the south, and accessed via a mildly challenging walk along the rocks (try a spot of fishing at the farthest point) and over a small headland.  This gorgeous romantic bay is aptly named “Robinson Crusoe” beach, and is complete with a refreshing freshwater ‘trickle’ during the wet season.  Make sure you’ve got a good understanding of the tidal movement before you take this hike.

Rope swings ????????☀️

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The main road heads on further north, over Cooper Creek.  The higher reaches of Cooper Creek are breathtakingly brisk and beautiful, while the estuarine sections are home to some pretty hefty ancient dinosaurs.  This time they are well and truly living and breathing.  Saltwater crocodiles are plentiful in these parts.  Stay away from the water.

Stay away from the water.

If you are keen to completely lose yourself in a deeply immersive rainforest experience, Cooper Creek Wilderness hosts two and four hour guided walks, as well as seasonal night walks.  They are a truly profound and genuine wilderness experience on an incredible family-owned property right in the heart of the Daintree.  You can also tie the walk in with a crocodile cruise on Cooper Creek.

Back on the road, and just around the corner, the rainforest opens out onto Thorntons Beach where we stop off for a cold drink at the waterfront café and take a walk along the beach.

 

Onwards troops!

This section of the drive is quite striking at times, hugging the coastline closely, with a number of opportunities to stop off for a walk along secluded beaches and play Robinson Crusoe again.

You might like to take your very un-Robinson Crusoe picnic at one of these beaches.

Just stay out of the water.

There are several more National Parks boardwalks along the way each showcasing different aspects of the Daintree, where the rainforest meets the reef.

Cape Tribulation is where the civilised section of the road north finishes, and the 4WD access through to Cooktown and the last frontier takes over.  “Cape Trib” is a hub of accommodation options, as well as cafes, tours, activities, a general store, pharmacy and the homeground for the famous PKs Jungle Village where an ice cold brewsky and a chat with the locals is obligatory.

If you are looking for something a little more swish, Whet Restaurant is an epicurean delight. Fab local produce including  fine local seafood are the cornerstones for a menu that oozes creative flair.  Whet have been trading for ten years in Cape Trib, and that’s no mean feat!

Enjoy their sunny outdoor deck by day, or their rather civilised cocktail lounge by night. The coffee is great, and finally we’re back in {free} wifi territory and can load up those #daintree selfies!

Right, all fueled up again, and we’re off to the jewel in the crown, the iconic Cape Tribulation, so named by Captain James Cook  “because here began all our troubles”.

Stay out of trouble by taking a cool dip in one of the safe local swimming holes in Cape Trib (there is one at Masons Café, and another further north at Emmagen Creek-but you have to traverse a couple of kilometres of unsealed road to get to Emmagen.

While in Cape Trib, try on some Tarzan and Jane, and experience the rainforest from the perspective of  Jungle Surfing!   Ziplining between tree canopy platforms is a memorable and kinda unique way to do the forest, for all ages and all abilities.

Jungle Surfers prepare for take-off, it’s going to be a fun flight through beautiful tropical rainforest….

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Cape Trib is naturally a great location for horse riding on the beach, or setting off to explore the GBR by boat.  Ocean Safari offers a super speedy express half day trip out to Mackay and Undine reefs.  Word has it that a new luxurious trip to the reef will be launched later this month~stay posted for more on that one!

 

Morning horse rides along the stunning beach at Cape Tribuation… @tropicalnorthqueensland, you are such a dream! ????????

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When you’ve decided to head back homewards, drop in to the Daintree Ice Cream Company on the way home for tropical fruit ice creams and gelati. Jenna and Dave, the entrepreneurial new owners of this eco-sustainable property, manage a wildlife sanctuary, a fruit orchard and an ice cream factory rolled into one.

Give the black sapote, jackfruit or soursop gelati a whirl!

Appropriately re-invigorated, we head homewards to the Ecolodge, just in time for Happy Hour, where we can share our tales, and start planning our next adventure!

Soursop, wattlesfruit, Davidson Plum and passion fruit. #flavoroftheday #namethefruit #icecreamwithaview

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Gig Guide

~Daintree Discovery Centre

~Cooper Creek Wilderness

~PKs Jungle Village

~Whet

~Jungle Surfing

~Ocean Safari

~Daintree Icecream Company

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