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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Crocodiles, rainforests, and the Tropical North

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 11 January 2007 | Views [2401]

Looking over Australia like its my home

Looking over Australia like its my home

My third day in tropical north Queensland was another exciting one, so I’ll tell you all. I woke up at 6:15 and packed my stuff. On the way down to the lobby, I met this couple from Italy. At the desk, I had got a fax saying that my bus was going to be 20 minutes late picking me up. I paid for my three nights and got breakfast. I had pancakes with syrup, passion fruit, and some water. I also had Weet-Bix, apricots, a croissant, and a piece of toast with Vegemite. I really love the outdoor setting with the restaurant. After eating, I hung out at the reception desk and I was telling the girl how I’ve noticed that everything in Cairns is much cheaper than in Sydney. After waiting for a few minutes, the bus picked me up. On the bus I met a girl named Esther from the Netherlands. I made sure I put on heaps of sunscreen because I’m heavily sunburned. On the way I talked about roundabouts and that I noticed many houses here are built on “stilts.” I still remember going around the roundabout in New Zealand last year; that was fun! Altogether there are about 20 of us going up to Cape Tribulation. We began driving along the Captain Cook Highway after we stopped and picked up our lunch eskies (coolers). We had the rainforest on the left and the ocean on the right. It was incredible! The driver, whose name is Dee, told us that the Captain Cook Highway and the Great Ocean Road in Victoria are Australia’s two great drives. I’ve always dreamed of riding my bike along the Great Ocean Road and seeing the Twelve Apostles. We drove 45 minutes to Port Douglas and picked up our last passenger. About 15 minutes later we visited The Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary. We got there at 9:45 and we had an hour to go through the sanctuary. I visited the wetland section first. I saw many unique birds and then got to pet a python. Then I went to the koala keep. There, I met a lady from San Francisco who grew up in Canoga Park, and she actually went to Sutter Middle School! She remembers Mr. Hanley. It’s funny to be this far away from home and seeing people who lived near you and even went to the same middle school as you. I was hoping to hold a koala, but you can’t do it here. I’ll have to wait until I get to Lone Pine. I got a picture and then walked through the rainforest aviary. I saw eclectus parrots and rainbow lorikeets, with their bright colors. My wildlife fact file cards really helped me learn about Australia’s birds. I saw a few other types of birds as well, I walked through the aviary for about 10 minutes and then did the grassland section. I had to hurry because time was running out. I got some really cool pictures with roos: kangaroos that is! I walked out at 10:45 and got back on the bus. That was so fun. I’ve now seen koalas at 4 different places here, but I’ve yet to hold one. Next up on our journey north was the Mossman Gorge. It was about a half hour drive as we drove past sugar cane fields and banana plantations, and then a short while later, we got there. We took a short walk through the rainforest. Dee (our driver) showed us this plant called a wait-a-while. It is named because if it sticks to you, you can’t just pull it off. You have to wait a while and then unhook it; otherwise the spores could get into your skin. The canopy is definitely a special place to be. We went swimming in the Mossman River.

The water is so pristine and so clear. I swam upstream and talked with these beautiful Aussie girls in bikinis. They were sexy Australians! I then swam up to the rapids and just sat there letting the flowing water massage my back. I reckon it’s the best free massage you’ll ever get. I then said goodbye to those fine young Aussie ladies and then drifted downstream back to where everyone else was. I swam for about a half hour and then got out. I got a photo with an Aborigine. He asked me to tip him, but I left all my money on the bus. I then walked up the trail for lunch. I ate a peanut better sandwich and drank some fruit punch. I didn’t realize at first that it was a mix, and not actual juice, and I drank some and wondered why it was so sweet. Other people made the same mistake though. I also had some of that chocolate and coconut covered sponge cake that I had in the Blue Mountains a couple of years ago. We stayed for like an hour and then we packed up (like a mob of swaggies) and moved on to our next destination: the Daintree River. Here, I was hoping to see a wild crocodile. At the meeting spot, I saw displays of the various butterflies. That beautiful blue butterfly I’ve seen lately is called a Ulysses butterfly. There were also Arnott’s biscuits and genuine Daintree tea, which is an Australian tea. Before getting on the boat, I saw a crocodile warning sign. We started going down the Daintree River and we saw a crocodile. I was so excited and I immediately snapped a photo. Downstream, we saw a snake curled up in the tree and then another crocodile. You must look closely and try to find the snake in this photo.

Next up, we saw fruit bats hanging high in the trees. Then, we saw another crocodile. I was basically hanging over the boat to get a picture. The skipper kind of teased me, but I told him that Steve Irwin is one of my heroes. At most, I was like 5 or 10 feet from the creature. As we continued, we saw some bright green frogs and yet another crocodile.

Altogether, we saw four crocodiles. It was an amazing cruise! Dee picked us up at the end of the cruise near the Daintree River auto ferry. Our next stop was tropical fruit ice cream at the ice cream shop. On the way, Dee pointed out jackfruit, which is the world’s largest tree-bearing fruit. It’s even larger than watermelon! At the stand, I got an ice cream with passion fruit and two other types of tropical fruit. One of them tasted like coffee. It was so interesting. After we left the stand, I read about the various tropical fruits grown in northern Queensland. Fruits like cassava, papaya, and many others are grown up here. The next stop was the lodge we were staying at. On the way, we passed the “dead cassowary sign.” Someone drew a head and feet on a hump sign to make it look like a dead cassowary after it had been hit, and there’s a sign below it showing the cassowary beforehand. The message to it is to watch for these birds and to drive carefully, as the sign on top reads “chill out, not flat out.” We kept on going and a short while later Dee dropped us off at the Cape Trib Beach House at about 4:30. I got a towel at the desk because I wanted a shower tonight. Also, I booked a night jungle walk for tonight and a trip on the Rum Runner out to the reef for tomorrow. All of this I got for $150. I’ve spent heaps of money on tours and almost none on souvenirs. I’ve only bought a shirt in Fiji, like 10 postcards and an opal rock and a hat in Cairns. The place I’m staying at is in the middle of the world’s oldest rainforest, so it’s really a special feeling being here. I’m staying in the same room with this girl named Emily from Canada. It’s weird how they put guys and girls together in same rooms. I don’t care though, it’s not like we’re having sex or anything. I wanted to get some stuff to eat for tonight. So, I hired (rented) a bike so I could ride down to the store for $10. About a hundred meters up the road, my chain busted.  There was loads of oil on it and I got my hands all greasy. I had no napkins, so I had to wipe my hands on my swimming shorts. My road bike would not be good on this dirt road. I got to the store after a short while and I had to leave the bike outside although I was worried about it being stolen, but the clerk told me that no one would mess with it out here. At the store I browsed around and I got a Red Bull and some cup and noodles. I have to teach myself to eat cheaper whilst traveling. I called Karla at Ralph’s but she wasn’t there. I talked to these pretty girls at the PK’s hostel next to the store and then rode the bike past Daintree National Park back to the Beach House. It was about 6:30 when I got back. Emily was joining me on the jungle walk. I tried to check my email, but the computer was acting weird. At 7:20, we got picked up for our night jungle walk. There were just four of us. Our guide, Ian drove us along until we saw about a 30-foot python crossing the road.

We all got out to have a look and I snapped a photo. After the python crossed the road, we drove to the jungle hut. Ian gave us each a flashlight and I saw a map of all the countries people have come from to do the jungle walk. We began our walk. Ian pointed out a cane toad, which is a major pest in Australia. It was introduced from Hawaii in 1935 as a means to control the sugar cane beetle, which damaged the sugar cane crops, but instead it bred rapidly and became a pest itself. On the way down the track, we released some praying mantises. I took a close up photo of one of them. The jungle really comes alive at night. I could hear bats, crickets, and other creatures that I’ve never even heard before. We continued walking and saw katydids, lizards, fungi, and many exotic plants. I got a picture that has all three biological kingdoms (animal, plant, and protist). It had a katydid, some leaves, and tree fungi. We were under the canopy, and I felt like I was in the Amazon. It’s truly a magical feeling being under the tropical rainforest canopy. Ian had us all turn out our lights so we could see fireflies. I remember when I lived in Pennsylvania, I used to catch them and I called them lightning bugs. Ian caught one and handed it to me. We all sat for like 20 minutes with our lights off and enjoyed the sounds in the complete jungle canopy darkness. As we continued, we saw a snake in the tree, and I got a really nice photo as we watched it slither through the tree. We spent a total of about 2 ½ hours deep in the jungle. We then walked back to the hut. So far, this is the best tour I’ve got for the value: Only $30 for a memorable night rainforest walk. Ian then drove us back to the Beach House. We thanked him and told him I had loads of fun, the Aussie way! I’ll tell you one thing about me: when I tell people how much I love to travel, I tell them that I’m a traveler, not a tourist. I learned before I came here that a tourist enters a country whereas a traveler lets a country enter them. That’s the way I am; I absorb everything when I travel. I visit nude beaches or whatever just because I’m absorbing Australia as a whole. After getting back, I charged up my camera battery and cooked up some cup and noodles. After I ate, I was really, really exhausted. It’s kind of fun sharing a room with other people from all over the world. I’ve been up 17 hours today, and I have another busy day tomorrow. I hope to go scuba diving. Good Night!

Tags: the great outdoors

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