The rest of our month in Australia was spent intermittently road tripping and visiting family in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Oz has a killer road trip “glamping” culture, with caravan and holiday parks everywhere you look! There are lots of rental companies to get your camper or RV from, and this digital world offers many travel apps for finding your way. We used CamperMate, which still functioned decently offline. We’ve been opting to be data-free during our days....“free” being the key word!
Daintree Rainforest - Cape Tribulation - Atherton Tablelands
First, we zipped up the coast in a little rental car from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest for a night. After a few hours drive, we found ourselves crossing the Daintree River on the ferry and taking the first dirt road toward to coast. Halfway down the 5 km road to Cape Kimberly, a flash of electric blue caught my eye. “STOP!” I shouted. Josh slammed on the breaks, and there it was....the elusive Cassowarie! And this one had five little babies with her. Unbelievable. After this exciting spotting, we had a nice picnic lunch at Cape Kimberly, with the whole beach to ourselves. Just gorgeous, but watch out for those saltwater crocs!
Heading North again, we made a necessary break from the heat at Thompson’s Creek Swimming Hole, which can be accessed at Mason’s Cafe for a suggested donation of $2.00. The stream-fed hole is deep, clean, and just brisk enough on a hot day!
Arriving at Cape Tribulation just before sunset, we walked the short boardwalk to the lookout point, an expansive reward after a long day.
We slept just south of the Cape in the campground at PK’s Jungle Village, a full-on holiday park with swimming pool, pizza restaurant, and nice showers. There was a non-stop, buckets-from-above rain all through the night. We were so thankful for our inflatable air mattresses to keep us dry above the inevitable pooling water. I have camped in many a storm in my time, but I have NEVER experienced this much rain before. It just never stopped!
In the morning the weather ebbed between dumping and drizzling. We decided to hike the rainforest regardless! We took the Marrdja Boardwalk trail through the mangroves and had it all to ourselves in the most peaceful and dramatic manner. We were enthralled by basket ferns, fan palms, and endless species of Mangroves, some only found within just a few kilometers of this little piece of rainforest.
Leaving the continuous downpour, we ferried back over the river and covered the 25 km to the town of Mossman, stopping for a strong and necessary coffee. Onward we went toward the Atherton Tablelands via Highway 44 (the Rex Range Road) which starts with a series of tight switchbacks heading to Lyons Lookout. Stunning views are found here of the Coral Sea and Port Douglas.
Heading into the tablelands, White Ant Hills dot the land like fallen boulders from the sky.
Just North of the town of Mareeba, we stopped at the Golden Drop Farm Cellar Door for a taste of the sparkling and still wines made exclusively from the heaps of Mangos harvested there. Next we went East on the Kennedy Highway to Kuranda. We enjoyed beef pho and spring rolls at one of the markets and dried out our tent on the lawn. Josh spent some time talking with a local Opal jeweler about the mining areas around Australia, dreaming of a future gig mining for treasure!
A quick stop to look out at the dramatic Barron Falls allowed us some time to re-pack our bags before our flight to Brisbane for a few days R & R with Josh’s cousin. Bye Cairns!