No phone ser­vice? No wor­ries. Get the kids back to na­ture in far north Queens­land

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION | QUEENSLAND - RUTH LAMPERD

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.



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”.



Ex­plore Cape Tribu­la­tion and the Dain­tree on a va­ri­ety of tours.

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