The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Cairns, and where the rainforest meets the sea


As mentioned previously, we were in Cairns (Queensland, Australia) for a couple of days. Cairns is a gorgeous town with a nice laidback and relaxed atmosphere. It's very well-laid out with many good and well-maintained public facilities, particularly along the Esplanade (including a huge children's playground, plenty of barbecue stoves and a good-sized sports recreation area that includes a skating park). It's kinda touristy, and many of the tourists are Japanese. In fact, Cairns caters so well for the Japanese people that the second major language (after English) on the signs is Japanese - it was almost like we'd never left Japan! Eventhough Cairns is in Australia, the tropical flora and fauna are so different from those in the Mediterranean climate of the south-west of Western Australia that it didn't really feel like Australia to us.

A huge tree in the middle of downtown Cairns; and a gorgeous spider lily at Fogarty Park at the end (or beginning) of the Esplanade:

We also noted that the indigenous community in Cairns is quite unlike anything we've seen in other Australian cities. For one thing, the Aboriginal people are a lot more respected here. If there were any homeless Aborigines, we did not encounter any. One evening after dinner on our way back to our hotel, we saw a group of Aborigines participating in a game of beach volleyball whilst their little children played in the sand nearby. It's sad when I realised that this was my first time seeing a group of Aborigines having a great time and laughing. I think the bigger cities of Australia can learn a thing or two about indigenous relations from Cairns.

Daintree Rainforest Tour

For the second day of our stay, we went on a day tour of the Daintree Rainforest (the world's oldest rainforest) and Cape Tribulation. We enjoyed the beautiful lush greenery of the rainforest and walked along the foreshore of Cape Tribulation Beach. The cassowary is an important bird to the rainforest (a keystone species), and although our guide was eager for the tour group to see a wild cassowary, unfortunately we didn't get to see these large birds. However, we did see wild crocodiles in the Daintree River on a wildlife river cruise! Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge and we were inundated with historical, environmental and social information about the region. Included were stories about stupid things that he has seen people do in a crocodile-infested river, such as fishing knee-deep in water, or allowing children to swim in the river.

Anyway, rather than bore you with words, I figured that pictures will do a much better job at describing what we saw, so here are a few of the 160+ shots I took during the tour:

View from Flagstaff Hill in Port Douglas on our way to the Daintree Rainforest:

Daintree Rainforest

Walking around the National Park; and crossing the swaying and swinging Swing Bridge over Mossman Gorge:

Panorama of Mossman Gorge (painstakingly manually-stitched from three shots):

Wildlife cruise on Daintree River and spotting wild crocs

A gorgeous bunch of Ladies Slipper Orchids (I think?) spotted prior to boarding the cruise boat:

Crocs! And we saw 3 of them! Our cruise guide said that we were luckier than the group he took before us who unfortunately didn't get to see any crocs. The first shot is of the resident female called Liz, measures about 2m, and she's our guide's favourite because she has been very 'reliable' for the past few years producing offsprings every year. She's pretty laidback and is not fussed or bothered by the frequently passing cruise boats. The second croc is named Scarface, a big guy almost 3m length, and would happily attack any boats that dare to venture too closely (hence the faraway shot of him):

The brilliant Azure Kingfisher; and the Common Tree Frog, a frequent stowaway on this boat:

Cape Tribulation and "kissing" an ant:

A road sign on the way to Cape Tribulation, asking drivers to be aware of endangered cassowaries on the road. Someone had graffitied at the top of the sign with a marker "Chillout Not Flat Out":

Where the forest meets the sea: our guide pointing out the border between the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef which is the high-tide line on the beach. Near the beach on Cape Tribulation, the tour guide saw some green ants and told us of its wonderful medicinal properties which you can reap just by "kissing" one. He then proceeded to grab one and lick its backside. Apparently the Aboriginal people would use these ants this way to treat coughs, sorethroats and colds. Rob was the first to go for a try at "kissing a green ant" and convinced me to try it too. For such a tiny little thing, it packs such a strong acidic punch to your tongue. It's like licking the back of a watch battery, if you've ever tried that. By the way, the ant is annoyed but unharmed.

Daintree Discovery Centre

A road bridge crossing over a river on the way to the Daintree Discovery Centre which was our last stop before heading back to Cairns; and the aerial walkway at the discovery centre enabling us to view the rainforest canopy at various levels:

After that, it was a long 2 hour drive back into Cairns. I was still tired from the lack of sleep on the overnight flight into Cairns from Tokyo, but I managed to have a great time on the tour.


  1. I like the panoramic should try taking more picture next time, it will make the transition from 1 picture to the next much smoother :)

  2. Oh but that would mean stitching more photos together, and that would take a lot of time (especially with adjusting the exposure and shearing the edges to match the photos with each other)!! If only my dSLR had a function to do auto-stitching!
    Thanks for the compliment and advice though :)