The One Where We Got Stuck in the Daintree
I've been looking forward to going to the Daintree Rainforest for years. I had a friend travel there a few years ago and she raved about the unique flora and fauna and heard good things from travelers passing through Cobbold Gorge. Being on a budget, we're always looking to see the most we can while spending as little as we can, so when our bosses offered to let us stay in their recently purchased holiday home in the heart of the Daintree, we were over the moon. The house itself is surrounded by rainforest and the Daintree river. It's unreachable by car when the river is too high. I pictured a castle in the forest, surrounded by a moat. "It's slightly hard to get to," they said. "But you shouldn't have a problem in your car."
So we took our slightly vague and small towny directions and were on our way. We turned right onto the bridge and right again at the green cattle yards. We followed the river upstream, then across the channel. The dry river bed was deep sand but we were able to drive across with speed. When we got to the flowing river, however, we weren't game to try to cross. There are a ton of crocodiles in there and I pictured us getting stuck in the middle and having to live out the rest of our days in the car or risk getting eaten by a croc while trying to run to shore. Neither of those options were ideal, so we gave up on our free acommodation, got back in the car, and turned around. Thats as far as we got.
Our back tires dug into the sand and the more we tried to move, the deeper we sank into the sand. We tried digging ourselves out and using makeshift ramps out of flat rocks we found in the channel. No luck. Lots of dirt and a few swear words later, we gave up. We were bellied out and the car wasn't going anywhere any time soon. Luckily for us, the neighbor's house was just up the hill. So we gathered what little was left of our pride and walked up the hill, hoping to find a friendly farmer who owns and operates heavy machinery. As we were climbing through a barbed wire fence, we were greeted by an incredibly nice woman who didn't seem too surprised by our perdicament. She gave us each a beer and we talked while we waited for her husband, who did indeed own and operate heavy machinery, to get home and pull us out. About an hour later, we were getting towed to safety by a friendly man driving a commercial strength tractor. We were SO lucky that this happened so close to help. Australia is so vast and sparsely populated, it's not uncommon to go miles (and miles and miles) between homes and farms. The fact that we only had to walk a few minutes up a hill was a bit of a miracle. With that lovely experience behind us, we set out to find acommodation.
Cape Tribulation and The Daintree River
The next day was far more successful. We set out to go on a Daintree River Cruise with Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruise. They have a solar powered boat and a croc cam that gives passengers an up close and personal view of the wildlife. We missed the first tour, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. While walking to the bathroom, Krista scored a free round trip ticket to the ferry that crosses the Daintree River and takes you to Cape Tribulation. The guys at Solar Whisper were incredibly flexible and helpful. They even gave us suggestions for places to go on the Cape.
So away we went with our free ferry tickets and a highlighted map. We drove to the edge of the map and the end of the paved road to the Emmagen Creek Trail. The drive there was absolutely gorgeous, right through the heart of the thick Daintree Rainforst and along the coast line. Emmagen Creek was an incredibly easy, short walk to a swimming hole complete with a rope swing. We weren't quite game enough to jump in (after seeing 500 crocodile warning signs, swimming didn't seem like the best idea), but other people were swimming and we didn't see anyone get eaten so I'm sure it's fine.
On our way back down we stopped at Cow Bay, a lovely little beach that was relatively deserted and didn't have a plethora of warning signs for things that can kill you. Highly recommend. Our drive on the Cape was lovely, albeit short. We made our way back to Solar Whisper, where we enjoyed some completmentary coffee and tea while waiting for our tour to begin.
I really enjoyed our tour, even though the croc spotting was pretty sparse. Apparently this time of year (November) when the river is nice and warm, the crocs don't need to sun bath on the banks and therefor are much harder to spot. We still saw two animals and had a nice time cruising around the river. I highly recommend Solar Whisper Cruises, as their staff was friendly and took care of us on so many levels. Will's tour was comped (because he took our tour guide, Graham, on a tour of the Gorge a month or so ago), and mine and Krista's were discounted to student prices.
Overall, we had a great day and left the Daintree with lots of memories, mostly good and all funny.
- Cost (in AUD)
- Accommodation: $122
- River Cruise: Adult $28, Student $20
- Ferry: One way $14, Return $26