Stephen and I spent our first full day in Cairns walking around town and enjoying ourselves. We also managed to find some cool art along the Esplanade, take in the views, and eat some deelish burgers. We were starting to adjust to the jet lag and ready to get out an explore a little more of what Cairns had to offer besides the main drag. That brings us to our first excursion. (And it was a doozy!)
We were out of bed, fed, and waiting in the lobby by 8am. Jase (our tour guide) collected us and we joined a few other couples in his big ol’ van. All told, in our vehicle, there were five people from southern Australia, a honeymooning couple from Spain, sisters from Germany, a family of South Africans, and three girls from Japan. We were the only Americans. Jase would often stop to explain things, “to his American friends.” As in, “Sunnies, for our American friends, are what we call sunglasses.” Stuff like that. I ate it up!
We drove along the Captain Cook Highway (one of the most scenic coastal highways in the world) to Port Douglas. Port Douglas has a reputation of being like Cairns but fancier. Celebs often stay there and movies have been filmed there. (Fool’s Gold and The Pacific were the two that Jase mentioned.) Fun fact: Bill Clinton was at a bar in Port Douglas when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. The Cairns airport was completely shut down the following day so he could fly back to the US.
From there, we continued north to the Daintree National Park. All along the way, Jase told us about rainforest facts and kept us entertained. He knew a ton about a ton! I think my brain nearly exploded when he was going on about Pangea and giving out genus/species names of animals. Info overload!
When we arrived at the Daintree River, we were all treated to morning tree and biscuits. We then hopped into a river boat with another tour group and a different guide. He led us down the river in search of crocs. We got lucky and ended up seeing quite a few babies as well as big mama and daddy crocodiles.
Jase collected all of us at the other end of the River, and it was on to lunch. We had the choice of fettucine, fish and chips, or steak. (I love that everywhere we went, there were vegetarian options!) There was also a buffet with salad, pasta, and fruit. I picked up some passion fruit (not knowing what it was) and I had to ask the Aussie couple we were sitting with, “What is this?” Haha! Yeah, we don’t see much of that at our local grocery store.
Stephen wanted to get a closer look at the forest, so he and I ate and then explored a little on our own. I’ll admit it, I was freaked out. Jase had been talking about leaches, and it’s a friggin’ rainforest! Who knows what else lurks in there! We didn’t get in very far before I was running to join the rest of the group.
The next stop: Cape Tribulation! This was one of my favorite parts of the day and of the entire trip. Captain Cook, who discovered this area, named it so because of of the troubles he was having at the time. His boat hat hit the reef and he spent days stuck and miserable. He also named Mt. Sorrow and Mt. Disappointment in this area during that time. I find it fascinating!
The Cape was breath-taking. I can only imagine how gorgeous it is on a clear day. Rain, clouds, and all, I loved it just the same. I wish we could swim there, but it’s not really a safe spot. (Crocs, reef, jelly fish, oh my!) I was bummed that we could only stay there a short while.
The last big adventure of the day was at Mossman Gorge. This location is part of an aboriginal land, and run by aboriginals. We were served afternoon tea with aboriginal wattleseed dampers. (It’s a cross between a scone and a muffin, similar to a biscuit.) So good! I wish I could find something similar here! I only ate one, but I wanted to eat many, many more!
We got to spend 45 minutes at the Gorge. Had the water levels not been so high, we could have gone swimming. Alas, the water was quite rough and probably very cold. We just walked around and enjoyed looking instead of getting in.
Everyone was rounded up, and Jase took us the 80 kilometer drive back to our hotel to drop us off. It was such a full, informational, interesting day. I learned about the history of Australia, the keystone species that is the Cassowary, the fun factoids of the little towns, and I had so much fun. We were pooped when we got back to our hotel room. We still managed to walk ourselves to get some grub. (This was the night Stephen got to eat his kangaroo meat. I went with barramundi, which is fish and way less crazy than kangaroo.) Then it was time to collapse into bed, as we had another big day ahead of us in the morning…
Next up, our Zootastic adventure!*