The last 10 days of our month-long campervan trip in Australia was spent travelling across Tropical North Queensland from Townsville to Cape Tribulation and I must say these ten days were very memorable and included some of the top highlights of our 2 month Road Trip around Australia. This region is where rainforest meets the reef and is the only place where two World Heritage-listed areas are located side by side – the Great Barrier Reef and the oldest tropical rainforest, Daintree National Park. In between we passed through mango, banana and other tropical fruit orchards, (too many) sugar plantations, gorged on several fruits, saw amazing wildlife and stayed at some fancy campervan sites (which will have its own post). Here are our top five highlights of far north Queensland.
This was one of the lesser known attractions in this region but we were recommended Paronella Park by one of the locals we met at Rockhampton and it was definitely one of the more unusual places we have stayed at – In a Spaniard’s Castle in Tropical Queensland! fascinating story of this man José Paronella with a big vision, who came to work in the sugar plantations back in the early 19th century and few years on, bought 13 acres of virgin scrub along Mena Creek and built a castle with local materials from the area. Read about his fascinating story here. We had a lovely day and night tour, walked through the ruins, fed turtles, fish and eels and got to stay on the grounds of this castle with the sound of Mena Falls in the background. A very memorable start to our travels in North Queensland!
Crocodile spotting with Lady Douglas
As soon as you head to North Queensland, you start seeing advertisements for several places where you can see the largest terrestrial predator and the largest reptile in the world – the salt Water crocodile or as called here, the Saltie. Unfortunately in most of these places, the animals are not in the wild and are either there for entertainment or as part of a crocodile farm where they are bred and kept for their skin and eggs. We didn’t want any part of that and wanted to see crocodiles in the wild. There are a few places you could do that, but we chose to go on a lovely river cruise in Port Douglas and saw two of these magnificent creatures. It was also great seeing the mangrove systems which are so similar to the ones we have in Bangladesh. As added bonus, they give you complimentary wine and beer plus delicious nibbles throughout the hour and half long cruise. That makes for a very memorable evening indeed 😉
Snorkelling and Diving at the Great Barrier Reef
This is one for the bucketlist and super happy to have fulfilled this dream of ours! The details of this trip – how we chose which company to go with, which reef to visit and where to visit the reefs from, costs and what the day entails – has to be a post on it’s own. In short, we went with Calypso and visited one of the outer reefs, Agincourt Reef. We did the day trip from Port Douglas. We visited three different sites, the kids snorkelled and we both snorkelled and did the beginners dive. The experience costs an arm and a leg for four people, but it was magical 🙂 We can’t wait for Shahaar to get certified next year when he turns 12 and for Ashique and I to get our Padi Open Water Certification (I already have mine but I last dived 19 years ago, so want to do the course again!). So many diving trips to look forward to in Thailand and Indonesia now that we will be based in Asia.
Daintree National Forest
Located within half hours drive from Port Douglas lies Daintree – the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. There is incredible biodiversity and high level of endemism, meaning that many plants and animals are only local to here. As such this rainforest is of immense biological value to the wider scientific community. There are several guided tours through Daintree National Park but we drove here on our own and did two memorable activities – visited the Mossman Gorge and did the Ngadiku Dreamtime walking tour. Both were amazing and will get a post on its own. For now I will only add this was our top swimming hole in Australia and up there with our favourite swimming hole in New Zealand! The walking tour was very informative, we learnt about the useful properties of many local plants, as well as ones which are poisonous. Our guide was really good and told us many fascinating stories about his ancestors, the Ngadiku tribe. The take home message for all of us – “Take what you need, think about tomorrow, tomorrow is another day.” Wise words indeed!
The day was cloudy so we didn’t really get to experience the nice beaches up north but even better than what we had expected – we saw a male cassowary and a chick crossing the road! Here is Shama’s version of the story. It’s really great that both kids have been writing so much about the trip as well 🙂
In Shama’s words which she typed in herself: The Cassowary Crossing
“We’re almost here” called my dad. “Look” cried me, my mum, and my dad. There right before our eyes was a critically endangered, one of a kind cassowary with feathers of blindingly bright, brilliant, blue, a “cassow” of radiant, ruby, red, and a beak of creamy, faded orange. The amazing thing was that, trotting merrily beside his mother was a… BABY CASSOWARY!!!I mean how astonishing, how extraordinary is that. “Where?!”Cried my brother who obviously couldn’t see it. At those words, as if the cassowary took those words as a warning zoomed of faster than a rocket. We arrived at Cape Tribulation, Daintree National park with a gloomy brother. A neat little café stood tidily beside the beach. “Maybe if we go and look for it we might see it” suggested my dad? “Ok” mumbled my brother gloomily. So off we went on a cassowary hunt. I sighed. So far no cassowary. I didn’t want to get my brothers hopes down but I don’t think we are going to find even a trace as small as a feather. “I think we should go now. Should we”? I suggested. “Oh well. Maybe next time” said my Dad. But as I looked back the way we had walked on the path, to my amazement, at those particular words, as if it was a signal, the exact same cassowary with the exact same baby came trotting merrily behind us! When we got back to the beach, I thought to myself, that was an experience that I would never forget 🙂
A glimpse of few other random fun things we experienced here – tea gardens and star fruit! We ended our month long campervan trip with Britz on a very high and happy note in Cairns, North Queensland. It’s been quite the adventure 😀
Britz is offering a 5% discount until end of June 2016! Follow the link here to take up the offer 🙂
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