Into the Daintree

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Apart from being dreadfully long, my flight to Australia was disaster free! My first 13 hour leg I sat next to a girl named Jennifer. The two of us probably chatted for close to 10 of the 13 hours of the flight (as only girls can do) and the time passed by like the blink of an eye!
Then followed a layover in the boring Shanghai airport. There I tried to guess the conversion of Yen to dollars by looking at the items on the menu. I quickly realized that I didn’t even know what half the items were… Such as a “hot stone bibimbap with bulgogi”. For 48 yen I had no idea what I would be getting…
After a quick bite, I met Spandy Andy. An apparently famous young guy, dressed in a tight spandex onesie with purple, pink and blue smiley faced polka dots all over it. He had a fanny pack strapped to his waist with speakers in it, blaring 80s beach tunes and dancing the running man. He let out frequent fist pumps along with a lot of “wooooos!” and “See ya at the beach yaaaa!” He was hilarious. Apparently his mission is to spread cheer and happiness through spandex outfits… And to start a petition for smiling photos in Passports.
You just never know who you’re going to meet on a plane.
Another 10 hour flight and I arrived in Sydney for my second layover. Here I had my first Aussie beer and chatted with a girl from Canberra until my flight to Cairns was ready to go.
When I finally arrived at my hostel in Cairns I was like a cast member from the Walking Dead. I’d been up for 2 days and gone through pretty much every time zone Earth has to offer.
To put it even more into perspective, I shaved my legs before leaving for the airport in Van. When I arrived, I had to again…
Yet somehow I managed to keep myself awake long enough to go for an evening stroll through Cairns. I walked the Esplanade, checked out the Lagoon, and listened to the horrific and piercing screams of thousands of fruit bats in the town’s trees. I had made it!
With only 5 days in Cairns, I wasted no time and booked a trip up the coast to Cape Tribulation for 6:45 the first morning. The early start was nothing to me, as my body still couldn’t make out what time it was.
Our driver was George. A smiling and charismatic little old aboriginal man. He had endless jokes, loads of facts, knew everything there was to know about the flora and fauna of the area… And he was fascinated with telling tales of misfortune and death. For the next 7 hours, every one of George’s stories ended in disaster.
“This is where the young hippies come to hang out and drink beer!” He would say, “til that one girl fell off a cliff and killed herself! Just one day before going back to England, can you believe it?”
“We used to kill all the crocs in this area… As a kid it was rare to see them unless they were skinned and dead on some guys front lawn! … Now there’s a ban on killing the crocs, so they’re everywhere! And now the crocs take the little children that stray too close to the river!”
George also has a strange vendetta against Turkey’s…
“Sure, you can feed this stuff to turkey’s to plumpen them up! Then KILL the turkey and eat ’em for yourself!” He would laugh to himself.
“See those birds over there? They mate for life. When one of them dies, the other dies of heartbreak… They are the most romantic bird. Unlike those damn turkeys! They’re players, they like to play the field! No monogamy there! Those turkeys…” He would mutter.
All in all, George was full of entertainment! He took us to beautiful lookout spots, then for a hike through the Daintree itself.
We stopped partway through the day to take a riverboat down the Daintree River. Our new guide’s fervor and enthusiasm for all the creatures in the area reminded me of Steve Erwin.
“LOOK! A CROC!!” He would yell, jumping barefoot across the boat to get a closer look. “Look at ‘er, she’s about 5 meters! What a beauty!”
A little further along one of the river’s tributaries we heard a little screeching coming from the mangroves.
“There’s a baby bat in here” explained our guide. “She’s been here for a coupla days now and hasn’t eaten. Poor thing must be starving, but I can’t find her!”
A few of us stared into the thick bushes towards the screams coming from within. A couple minutes later one guy saw her.
“There she is! Just about a foot above the water on that branch there.”
“RIGHT!” Yelled our guide. He jumped back to the controls of the boat and steered the vessel right into the thicket of the trees. We crashed into the mangroves, bushes coming in over the sides of the boat.
“I’ll get ‘er!!” Yelled our guide as he stepped off the boat, half supported by branches, half in the muddy waters, just meters from where we’d seen the 15 foot croc moments earlier.
Is he getting the bat? I thought.
Then I heard some squeals, some branches breaking and some wing flapping and my suspicions were confirmed.
“GOT ‘ER!” He exclaimed, holding a flailing bat above his head.
Amanda from my tour turned to me, “Did that just happen?”
“I think so”
He wrapped the baby bat in a red towel and thrust it in the hands of the man in front of him.
“Here. Cuddle her. But careful, she’s probably gunna want a nipple to suck on!” He cackled a laugh as the poor guy on front of him cautiously cradled the starving animal.
We continued on our tour, as if nothing strange had happened. The bat was fed bananas and finally calmed down. From there, she will be taken to a sanctuary where other bats will reintroduce her into the wild… Just another day in the Daintree.
After lunch, it was time to drop me off at Cape Trib. Just as we neared the turnoff to the beach, we spotted something big and blue on the side of the road: a wild Cassowary.
I heard Cassowaries were extremely rare to see in the wild. The lady at my hostel said she’d been living there for a year and hadn’t seen one. I was ecstatic. After looking up Cassowary Attacks on you tube for close to an hour with Ian last week, I made it my personal mission to find one while I was up in Cape Trib. Sometimes considered the most dangerous bird, the cassowary looks part Emu, part Turkey, with the top half coloring of a peacock. And they are deadly vicious! Fortunately for us, this one seemed subdued. We snapped some shots from safety and carried on to the beach.
From here I left George and the group and carried on alone. A successful and exciting first day in Australia… And it was only 2:00!

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