Cairns and the Daintree Rainforest

I’m finally back on the road again yayyyy! I got so settled in Perth over the three months that I spent there, that I sort of forgot I was travelling in the first place. So it feels really good to pack up my bag, get on another plane, land in another foreign place and feel like a backpacker once again!

This next stop of my adventure is Cairns, just for five days before heading back to Thailand to be reunited with my mum, sister and niece. Having only five days here, I wanted to do as much as could, whilst sticking to a low budget. I’ve been getting really anxious and panicky about getting to Sydney and not being able to get a job and running out of money, but I know this is very unlikely and I haven’t wanted this fear to stop me from enjoying my time in Cairns, else what’s the point in being here in the first place?

Luckily Cairns is sooo much cheaper than Perth! My hostel sells beer and wine for four- five dollars, as opposed to ten- fifteen! And it’s a smaller place, so almost everywhere is walking distance. I’m staying at one of the Mad Monkey hostels on Sheridan Street, slightly more expensive than some of the other hostels I’ve seen online, but it’s really nice. There’s a huge kitchen and dining area, a cheap bar, swimming pool, cinema room (where I slept for like five hours waiting for my room to be ready), a bean bag room and a Happy Travels desk in the reception where they organise tours for backpackers.

It’s been weird adjusting to hostel life again- living out of a bag, sharing a room with five other people, having to constantly remember a key, having to take handfuls of toiletries and clothes into the bathroom and not being able to sleep naked. But I’ve really enjoyed the social side of being in a hostel- nights sat out in the bar area playing cards and getting boozy with people you’ve only just met. What I mainly loved about this hostel and the people there is that I could completely be weird self the whole time I was there, and didn’t feel socially awkward or like I needed to force conversation at any point. Any people I met, we all seemed to bounce off each other and could banter each other within minutes of knowing each other. Pretty much everyone just gone with each other and it was really nice, especially as some hostels can be quite cliquey.

I went with Michael, who I met in Perth, and Josh, who I met in Cairns, to the botanic gardens on my first proper day. Although it was a long walk, it wasn’t that far from where we were staying, and the gardens are free so it’s a really good cheap day out. They have wooden walkways which take you through thick mini- rainforest and lakes where you can spot some fish and mud skippers. There’s a building you can go into and see rainbow coloured plants and big  butterflies. You can actually get married there too; we spotted a wedding and considered gate crashing for a laugh when we walked past.

The weather in Cairns was definitely more humid than it is in Perth; you can really feel that tropical air where it’s closer to the equator. On the days I was there it was a bit overcast and rainy at points, but there was never a day where I had to go out wearing a jacket.

Knowing that I’m coming back here, I decided just to pick just one day trip this time round. Doing the Great Barrier Reef would have been amazing, but I know that’s something I’ll 100% do when I’m back in Cairns with Jenny, Bilal and Georgie, so I decided to do the Daintree Rainforestcape Tribulation tour instead.

It’s always been a dream of mine to go exploring in the rainforest. And as someone who adores any kind of nature the beach, mountains and rainforest, I made the right choice in deciding to go to a place where all of these places meet. The tour costed 159AUD, which I thought was expensive at first, but it was actually great value for money.

Our tour guide, Joey, was amazing, and the rest of the bus was a great crew. There were a couple of French girls that just had me cracked up all day, some really friendly German girls, and another European girl that I clicked with as soon as we got talking. On the two hour drive to the Daintree, we saw a shit load of wild kangaroos and got stunning view after stunning view of the huge stretched out rainforest and beautiful coast that ran alongside it.

We stopped at four mile beach, Port Douglas, for coffee and cake to get the day started. It was a good chance for everyone to get to know each other. Four mile beach was long, pristine and other than us there was only about three people there. It was such an inviting beach, with calm, warm water, and it was so teasing that we were advised to not go for a swim. Not only was it stinger season, but someone recently got eaten by a CROCODILE. Even though it was very unlikely that we would, it’s best to not risk it.

Joey actually told us quite a few crocodile horror stories on the trip and stopped off at a lot of places to show where these attacks took place. It scatted me out a bit, but we were reassured that 99% of the time these attacks happen because of people being stupid (for example, swimming in the sea at night when you can’t see what’s lurking around in the waters).

When we first reached the Daintree, we had lunch at a quirky and colourful pub. When I came out of the toilet I spotted everyone stood around with their phones, and when I went to investigate I saw this big boy.

At first I screamed and ran off, but in the end I built up the guys to get a couple of photos. I’ve never seen a spider so big it actually didn’t feel to me like it was a real spider!

After lunch we explored through the forest to go to a beach spot where the forest meets the reef. Wondering through the thick, full of life forest was so dreamy- like being in a mystical fairy land or something out of a Disney movie. We spotted hundreds of crabs with red pinchers in the swampy grounds under the bridge we walked on to go to the beach. The air was exactly how you’d expect it to be in a rainforest- steamy and almost wet. Sounds of crickets and exotic birds made me feel like I was in a David Attenborough documentary. In fact, the whole day felt just like that. It was like watching natural geographic right in front of you instead of on a TV screen. Perfection.

The beach was perfect too. Looking at everything from a side angle and seeing the bright blue waters beam against the golden sands and the golden sands light up the deep greens of the forest, was just too beautiful to take in. I felt gobsmacked. We were the only people there, so we got that real sense of being isolated in paradise from the rest of the world. The sand was actually GLITTERY- something I have never seen before, and was covered in thousands of tiny little sand balls where little crabs had made their tunnels. You could see them dart in and out of them as they scattered across the sand. Gently rubbing you hand over the sand balls felt so relaxing. The tropical sound of the rainforest now played beside the hypnotising sound of the crashing waves. I’ve never appreciated our planet as much as I did at that moment.

To make the day even better, we next stopped at a natural water hole, where we got to take a dip in the fresh, cold water. It was so clear that you could see the colour and detail in every rock and pebble underneath. The waterhole was wrapped up in different types of trees like a snow globe. The leaves blocked out most of the sunlight and vines strangled the trunks and hung down like long fingernails. We all had a go at being Tarzan as we swung on one of the dangling vines and plummeted into the water below.

At the beginning of the day, Joey had told us about a rare bird called a Cassowary, which can grow up to two metres tall and come from the same family and emus and ostriches. They actually look like they could have been alive when the dinosaurs were. There is only approx. 1,500 left in the whole world, so as desperate as I was to see one, I told myself it was very, very, very unlikely because I didn’t want to feel let down. But in the end, not only were we lucky enough to see one, but we found it bathing in the same waterhole as us! It kept looking over at us curiously, and at one point was stood just a metre or two away from one of the guys.

I’m so gutted I couldn’t get a photo (I wasn’t going to risk taking my phone into the waterhole with my history of destroying every iPhone I lay my hands on), but I have the memory so clear in my head so I’m really happy.

Our last stop, probably the most exciting on of the day, was to go actual crocodile hunting in a boat down the river. Once again I didn’t convince myself we were definitely going to see one, because I didn’t want to give my hopes up. The guy driving the boat was what Ozzie’s would call a ‘proper Bruce’. He had such a strong accent and used all sorts of Ozzie slang and knew pretty much everything about the crocodiles.

We had binoculars so we could spot them from ages away, then we would go right up close to them on the boat. They’re actually terrifying animals. The way they sit on the shore completely still, baring their lethal teeth and giving you evil stares with their little beady eyes. They are soooo scary. The first one we saw has been nickname ‘bender’, he checked us out for a while then disappeared underneath the boat. It felt like we were in jaws, but a crocodile version. I kept expecting one to jump up and try and snap someone’s face up, like a shark would in jaws.

The next croc we saw was ‘scar face’, five meters long and actually the dominant male apparently. He looked angry and could have probably swallowed me whole. All of a sudden he started gracefully swimming down the river alongside our boat, his spikes and eyes sticking out of the water. The boat drive told us how he knew there was another crocodile a bit further down, and that scar face was on his way down to go and scare it off to get it away from his territory and his women. There was a chance we were about to see a crocodile fight.

It was so intense watching scar face slowly stalk and creep up on the other crocodile, which was hiding in some reeds and plants. We waited for ages for him to attack but in the end he decided not to. Apparently he’d already shagged two lady crocodiles that day, so he probably wasn’t feeling as eager to get the other croc to go bugger off.

I couldn’t stop smiling on the bus journey home. Joey said we had, had one of the luckiest days there had been in a very long time. Not only did we get that intimate experience with the Cassowary, but we then got to see three crocs, one of them being the dominant male. We listened to music all the way home and once again got to enjoy the beautiful views as we reflected on the perfect day we just had.

My last day was spent with a girl called Kate, who was lovely and sooo hilarious. We wondered around the shopping mall in the town centre and had to take a trip to the medical centre to get Kate’s infected finger popped, then later met up with Josh to go and get a burger and chips for our last night meal. I plan on meeting up with both of them and Michael again in Sydney.

Cairns was such an amazing few days- short but sweet. I definitely preffered it to Perth- I think it’s because it’s a quiet town with short buildings and a gridded structure like America. It’s surrounded by rainforest and the general vibe there just seems more fun. There is so much to do there like go snorkelling in the great barrier reef and go exploring to waterfalls like the one in the Herbal Essences advert. I’ll definitely be going back.

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