WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
No phone service? No worries. Get the kids back to nature in far north Queensland
It was the end of the sealed road. And, for the purposes of three teenage city brothers, the edge of civilisation.
Several hundred metres after the Daintree River ferry crossing, en route to Cape Tribulation, phone data service dropped out. Then phone coverage. This was “unexpected”.
But the disconnectivity gave these boys every chance to instead soak in the dripping beauty of far north Queensland, a place of the natural double whammy, where the World Heritage reef sits alongside World Heritage rainforest. Crocodile searching, zip lining through tropical rainforest canopy, a four-wheel-drive tour, electric bike rides and a half-day trip to the Great Barrier Reef – if these things can’t distract teens from social media cold turkey, nothing can.
The dripping green foliage of Cape Tribulation Beach House basic backpacker accommodation (capetribbeach.com.au) had the feel of a garden you’d expect only in manicured resorts. But it was natural. A relaxed, open-air bar and restaurant down by the beach gave plenty of space for socialising. With five days to spare in this jungle paradise, there could be lots of that.
Tourists would call up from Cairns on day tours. They stop for a quick wander and an activity, then disappear back to Cairns. They should have stayed much longer. Here’s why.
For visiting southerners, there’s nothing wrong with being wet, if you’re still warm.
On the particular five days we spent in Cape Tribulation – supposedly at the start of the dry season – it rained nicely for a part of each day. It didn’t stop us. (If anybody complained, the locals would roll their eyes and say: “Ahem … it’s a RAINforest?”)
The Jungle Surfing Canopy tour has won awards for clear reasons. Sure, the basic ingredient for an exceptional attraction is on tap – ancient rainforest – but the rest is man-made.
A handful of enthusiastic and reassuring jungle surfers, who know how to attach you safely to zip lines 20m or more above the jungle floor, lead you from tree to tree across six platforms. A human hamster wheel lifts you up to the first wooden ledge in the trees, driven by the next tree surfers who will follow you up. It’s a rush, not just for the adrenalin but because the smells, sights and sounds of the forest don’t come so fresh as they do so high up in this place.
For a change of pace, and altitude, Jordan Roger, from Freeride Electric Adventure Tours takes holidaymakers far deeper into the Daintree forest than you’d ever see on foot in half a day of walking. You don’t need to know how to ride an electric bike to go. A quick lesson gives you enough, and the tracks, while rough in spots, are safe. The push of the electric motors means you spend half the energy going the same distance. So fitness isn’t an issue.
Jordan takes us on private property to a swimming hole 30 swift minutes into the ride. It was deep, and, although flowing straight from the mountains behind, it was warm enough to drop into and encounter the small schools of inquisitive river fish through a supplied snorkel and mask.
Steve Maloney from Cape Trib Horse Rides will take you and your horse for the morning on to the beach and through the shallows on a calm day. From horseback, the birdlife is less flighty and you get up close with butterflies on foliage at horseback height.
Steve is quaintly brusque and friendly and, understandably, talks about having the best job going. In some of the most beautiful, life-giving parts of Australia, you can see why.
JUNGLESURFING.COM.AU, FREERIDEELECTRICADVENTURETOURS.COM, CAPETRIBHORSERIDES.COM.AU
SPOTTING WILDLIFE (OR NOT)
Everyone knows north Queensland has crocodiles. The boys were keen to spot their own. We’d heard the tragic stories – the youngster taken by one not long ago; the local fellow whose dog was taken in the Cape Trib shallows only “last month”.
FOR VISITING SOUTHERNERS, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING WET, IF YOU’RE STILL WARM
Explore Cape Tribulation and the Daintree on a variety of tours.