From our base in Port Douglas, we drove to the upper Daintree Rainforest, which began with a short ferry ride over the Daintree River, at a cost of $31 a car (return). Despite having decided to drive all the way through to Cape Tribulation before going to any of the attractions on side roads, we did stop at the first lookout and try to get a clear shot of the vista.
At the Cape we did a walk to Kulki (gool-gee), the name given by the traditional owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji. It is a short walk to the beach, although you can’t swim here, due to crocodiles. We weren’t going to walk on the beach, but saw about 12 people walking back from the other end, so thought we might as well. Silly, really, considering that crocodiles will sit and watch people patiently, waiting for the time to be right. The appearance, shortly after entering the sand, of not one but three park rangers, eased my mind, although they said it was fine to walk on the beach, but definitely don’t swim there, as there is a resident croc who inhabits the waters, usually swimming to find food.
It was quite a lovely spot, and seeing huge, old mango trees at the water’s edge was extraordinary. We next stopped at Dubuji Boardwalk, which means place of spirits in Kuku Yalanji. It is a mangrove walk and the name fits, as it is quite eerie.
The information taught us a lot about the foods in the forest, for animals and birds, and we saw a lot of colorful fungi. A big feature are the fan palms and it was an easy ring route.
An unexpected sign after leaving here had us stop at Madja Boardwalk. Madja means jungle or rainforest, and the place holds spiritual significance for the traditional owners. At this spot, the walk is quite dark and the environment, once again, is mangrove. Although short, there are information boards along the walk, plenty of added examples of colourful fungi, and it ends at a vast expanse that I think is the end of either Noah or Oliver Creek, or both.
The last walk was Jindalba and we chose the shorter, 700m track. This had a lot of classic rainforest, with ferns, streams and very unusual birds hooting and whistling overhead. As we hot into our car, a bright flash of wings had us look up to see a wompoo fruit dove, or two in fact, sitting in their nest above our car. Hard camera shots, I have to say.
The Daintree is said to be the oldest tropical rainforest in the world (https://australia.com) and if I had to choose upper or lower, I think I’d say lower, just because it’s more accessible from major towns. The large areas of swamp in the upper Daintree are bleak but incredibly important to the rest of the world’s ecological health.
Why not see them both? If you have a 4WD you could take the infamous Bloomfield track to Cooktown. Try to get information from other travellers who have done it very recently, before attempting this, especially if you have little or no 4WD experience. We were told, once in Cooktown, that there was so little water we could have crossd but not without an offroad van.
Safe travels. Take water, hat and sunscreen. Ask around if you are unsure and don’t pat the crocodiles.