The last thing we wanted to see in this area was the Daintree Rainforest. Listed as an Unesco world heritage site, it is the largest rainforest on the Australian continent and contains an impressive number of species in it.
There are many tours to take to the rainforest, and while I considered these for the guided aspect, they are not cheap. Given that we’d spent a lot of cash on the Reef tour and that we could go through the rainforest on our own, we chose to drive up and see ourselves about the place.
The rainforest is only accessible from the south by driving your car onto a ferry which ports you across the river. Immediately after you cross the river you are in dense rainforest. You can’t see further than maybe 10 feet into the forest in any direction, other than the road ahead. There’s signs all over like this:
Which mean, “Cassowary crossing”! I’ve been taking pictures of fun signs I’ve seen here in Australia and will compile them all at some point.
We took the first turn off and found an area with a guided Boardwalk tour and also a 2.7 km hike through the rainforest which the sign said was for “Adventurous people only.” Well, are we adventurous or not? Off we went into the muddy red trail. About 5 minutes into the trail, you are in deep rainforest. You hear loud cackling birds, small cheeps, song birds (one sounded like “pomp and circumstance”) and occasional scurry sounds. The forest floor is cool and shaded, with light just peeking through the upper canopy layer. There are no people around at all, and there were times I was pretty scared, especially when there would be a loud kee-rak cry just off to my left. The eerie thing is, because the animals all live in the canopy, you don’t see any of them, just hear them.
We drove a bit further down and went onto a couple more boardwalk trails which are well trampled by people. My favorite was a strangler fig, a tree which grows when a bird poops in the canopy and its seeds push roots all the way down to the floor to take root and then the seeds put out vines to encircle the tree. Eventually, the original tree rots inside as the fig kills it, leaving only the sculptural cage of the fig. So beautiful.
Near the end, it seemed that we weren’t going to see a cassowary in the wild after all, despite all the road signs, but then just off to the side there one was! We pulled over to get a picture but didn’t want to get too close. There was a small cafe there and the owner and her friend came out to see, asking each other, “Is that Nelson?” “No, it’s a female.” I love that they have names for the cassowaries in the park. Lulubelle talks a bit about cassowaries in her post.
That night we watched Michael Phelps win his 20th gold and the stunning USA gymnastics team, before turning in for the night and for an early morning flight to Alice Springs and our camping trip to Uluru.