Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Daintree Rainforest










Daintree Rainforest

Our flight from Sydney to Cairns arrived at 5:10 pm local time (6:10 Sydney). The rental car company we were using, Cruising Car Rentals, did not have a kiosk at the airport so we took a shuttle into town. We got dropped off at 5:50, not knowing what time the place closed. Luckily it was open until 6. The guy working there thought we were no-shows. He quickly did the paperwork and handed us the keys to our sporty little red car.
I squealed with joy when I saw that it was an automatic. That was going to make it soooo much easier to drive on the windy roads and through the round-abouts. The sun which had been setting close to 10:00 pm in New Zealand was beginning to set already at 6:00 and we had a 2 hour drive up to Daintree where we were spending the next two nights. The dark grey clouds blocked what little light was left in the sky. The roads were fairly windy and there weren’t any street lights since it was the highway. We wound our way around the cliffs near the ocean- similar in feel to driving Highway 1 in California.
We didn’t want to take any time to stop for dinner because we just wanted to get there before it got too late. By the time we passed Port Douglass it was pitch black and we were driving on tiny little two lane roads. There was a ferry we needed to take to cross the Daintree River and I wasn’t sure how late it ran. We spent an extra half an hour searching for the road to the ferry in the dark. Thankfully we saw headlights across the river from a car that was coming towards us. Yeah, we weren’t stranded in the middle of nowhere. After the ferry the road became really windy and we only had our headlights to illuminate it. We could tell that it was jungle on both sides of the road but we couldn’t see it. Frogs jumped around in the road in front of us and hoped that I didn’t hit too many. Eventually we found our way to our motel and they had closed up for the night. They put a sign on the door for us to honk when we arrived. We were shown to our room and we ate a late dinner of cracker, cheese and apples.
The Daintree Rainforest Retreat Motel is really cool. It is very eco-green and has solar panels for its energy. There is a pool and dining area and lounge space all outside with roof coverings. The birds and insects and foliage leave us no doubt as to where we are. It rained hard most of the night and I loved listening to the sound of it drumming on the roof. It is warm and humid but not blazing hot like the 109 degree day in Sydney.
The owner Eric told us we should get up early and go for a walk at a nearby place. We got up at 5:45 and were at the spot for a walk by 6:30. We had hoped to see some animals but no luck. The sun was up before us and the animals must have been hiding. We headed up the road to Thorton Beach and had a nice walk on the sand. Unfortunately, it is jellyfish season and they advise people not to go in the water. They do provide a bottle of vinegar near the beach so if you go in and get stung you can pour vinegar on the sting to make it hurt less.
Every few kilometers on the road, there are signs warning about the danger of hitting the local bird of fame, the Cassowary. Despite the signs, we have yet to see one of these huge flightless birds. Or any other animals for that matter except spiders and lizards and birds… Tonight that might change because we are going on a guided night walk in the rainforest.
We came back to the motel to speak to the owner about options for our day. He said he would try to book us on a 4WD tour tomorrow. That should be a blast. We decided that today we would go on a bunch of walks and hikes and maybe lounge around the pool here a bit. We drove all the way to the end of the road. We parked and tried to find our way to a swimming hole Eric had told us about. Laurel headed off on what she claimed was a trail but was a bit more treacherous than I wanted. It didn’t seem like a real trail to me so we went back to the car and tried again. This time we found the correct trail and made our way through the rainforest to the swimming hole. It was amazing to walk through the forest listening to all of the birds and insects and startling the occasional lizard. I went for a dip in the swimming hole but didn’t go too far because further out the ground was dark and I couldn’t see what was in the water. Back at the car there had been a sign warning about crocodiles in the area.
We stopped for lunch at a picnic area near a mangrove forest. It was so beautiful walking along the path through the mangroves out to the beach. Another path took us through a fan palm forest. It seemed like the right time for some ice cream after all of that hiking. A local ice cream place makes all kinds of fruit flavored ice cream from the fruit grown in their orchards. The drive in from the road went past trees laden with exotic fruit and were kindly labeled so that we could tell what they were. Gorgeous red and hot pink ginger plants surrounded the little ice cream stand. Today the ice cream flavors were: banana-mango-guava, wattle- seed, sapote- aka chocolate pudding fruit, soursop. They sold us all four flavors in a cup. We both like the wattle-seed the best. It tasted a little like coffee. The woman at the counter cracked open an enormous jack fruit and gave out samples to everyone with the disclaimer that we should suck on it and either swallow it like an oyster or throw it in the garden. I did a bit of both.

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