Vacation Diaries - As seen through the eyes of Nishadi Liyanage; a Sri Lankan wanderer in Aussie.
Cape Tribulation - Queensland
While studying in Australia, my plan was to cross off as many items on my bucket list, and the newest addition to the list was to try and visit all the eight states in Australia (of which I managed to visit six). In the process of doing so I visited tropical Queensland, during Fall/Winter of 2013. This is the best time to visit Northern Queensland if you want to avoid the heat and humidity that Queenslanders experience during Spring/Summer.
Another main objective during this visit was to cross off an important bucket list item, which was to go snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. However, during my travel research, I came across some information about a place called ‘Cape Tribulation’. Many tourists visit Cairns in Northern Queensland and head out to the reef from there because it’s more convenient. For those who like to explore a bit more and are willing to spend a few more hours driving around, then Cape Tribulation is definitely a visit, because get this; Cape Tribulation is not just a headland, but a headland where two UNESCO World Heritage sites (namely the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef) meet!
The flight from Sydney to Cairns is around 3 hours and the drive to Cape Tribulation from Cairns (by car) is around 2.5 hours – this includes the Daintree River Ferry (which may cost you $25 return per car/light vehicle). If you do decide to rent a car though, just make sure you request for a package with unlimited mileage.
The drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is an impressive one because of all the beautiful beaches you pass along the way, but it gets even better once you pass Port Douglas because you get to drive through the Daintree Rainforest. I’ve always preferred mountains, trees and wilderness to beaches so this drive through the rainforest was very exciting for me. A must-stop location on the way to Cape Tribulation is Mossman Gorge, which offers tropical rainforest walks, and rivers that are perfect for swimming – but let’s discuss this location on another day.
Once you cross the Daintree River on the ferry, do make a stop at Walu Wugirriga lookout point to get a bird’s eye view of how the two heritage sites join up and embrace the colours, the scents and the sounds of the rainforest. Sir David Attenborough has described this rainforest as extraordinary and I wouldn’t be surprised, because there’s probably no greater diversity of animals that want to kill you, ranging from crocodiles and jellyfish, to the snakes and spiders! Haha!
The turnoff point to the headland can be easily missed because there is very little signage here, so keep an eye out for any directions. Once you park your car here, there is a boardwalk through the mangroves, which leads to the beach. The beach looks ordinary at first, but once you walk towards the sea and look back, you’ll be mesmerised by the greenery that surrounds you and be awestruck by the hues of blue that engulfs the rest of your view. Don’t forget to dip your feet in the inland stream flowing to the ocean in the left hand corner of the beach.
Cape Tribulation’s name denotes James Cook’s troubled times at this very location centuries ago (1770 to be precise). The reef here, now called Endeavour reef, damaged his ship and the harsh conditions of the rainforest didn’t help either. European settlers however, aren’t the only ones with historical tales about this location. If you do get the chance to have a chat with some aboriginal folk who live around the area, do find out about the myths that are much more incredible than another European losing his way and crashing his ship.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and you don’t like colder climates, head over to the sunshine state – the warm drizzle and crazy hair days thanks to the humidity will remind you of Sri Lanka. Most of all, if you are conflicted about whether to visit a forest or an ocean first, head over to Cape Tribulation to experience both simultaneously!
A few thoughts,
· A must have in your backpack on your way to Cape Tribulation?
A bottle of water to keep you hydrated.
· Must make stops, along the way?
You'll come across lots of streams/creeks/water bodies, don't be afraid of being killed by a croc, just take a leap of faith and stop to dip your toes in them.
· It is not unusual to see...?
Cassowaries! Giant birds that resemble an emu but more colourful!
· You're not getting the full experience if you...?
Rush things. Take your time to soak in the beauty of the Daintree rainforest and end up at Cape Tribulation. Finish off your trip with a dive/snorkelling session at the Great Barrier Reef - you won't regret!
As told to Eshani Seneviratne