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Crikey! Croc spotting in Cape Tribulation

We weren’t planning to stay any further north than Cairns, but we did want to make a short trip up the coast to Cape Tribulation and Daintree – the oldest rainforest in the world.

We took a day trip, passing the pretty Port Douglas along the way. This was an old fishing town but is now tourism based and full of upmarket resorts.

Our guide, Joe, pointed out one particular street lined with palm trees. Nothing unusual about that we thought, until he told us that these particular palms aren’t native to Australia and actually come from Africa at a cost of about $3,000 per tree!

Our guide, Joe, pointed out one particular street lined with palm trees. Nothing unusual about that we thought, until he told us that these particular palms aren’t native to Australia and actually come from Africa at a cost of about $3,000 per tree!

70 Mile Beach next to Port Douglas – there seem to be a lot of multiple mile-long beaches in this part of the world!

70 Mile Beach next to Port Douglas – there seem to be a lot of multiple mile-long beaches in this part of the world!

The next stop on our tour was Daintree River, where we boarded a boat for spotting one of Australia’s deadliest animals – the saltwater crocodile. Despite being told that the crocs are harder to spot before the rains (they spend more time submerged to keep away from the heat of the sun), within minutes we found a biggun!

There's one!

This big alpha male called Scarface is 4.5metres long and he was swimming upstream (effortlessly) to check his territory and see off any challengers.

Scarface

Scarface

It was amazing to see him slicing through the water – such a huge creature making not so much as a ripple.

Apparently crocodile scales or ‘scutes’ are an evolutionary masterpiece and designed so that the water passes cleanly through them, without disturbing the surface of the water and causing tell-tale ripples that will alert potential prey to their presence.

Apparently crocodile scales or ‘scutes’ are an evolutionary masterpiece and designed so that the water passes cleanly through them, without disturbing the surface of the water and causing tell-tale ripples that will alert potential prey to their presence.

Did you know crocodiles can live for around 70 years in the wild? They change their teeth 46 times during their lifetime and they don’t actually die of old age but starvation – because they run out of new teeth!

There's another one!

There’s another one!

After the excitement of crocodile spotting, we headed into the depths of one of the oldest rainforests in the world – Daintree.

At more than 120million years old, this rainforest is prehistoric (the Amazon is only 10million years old).

At more than 120million years old, this rainforest is prehistoric (the Amazon is only 10million years old).

It’s incredible to think that it has survived all this time in a country that is known for its hot and sunny weather (with barren areas of extreme dryness). Quite obviously a rainforest needs rain to survive – they are steamy places dripping with moisture – but Daintree has adapted to cope with prolonged periods of dry weather. Its survival is all down to humidity – as water in the air condenses on all the leaves on all the plants in the jungle, it drips down onto the forest floor, watering the trees. Studies have found that this rainforest can actually survive without any rainfall for up to three years.

Top left: This lichen is what army camouflage is based on! Top right: See how these leaves are veinless?

Top left: This lichen is what army camouflage is based on! Top right: See how these leaves are veinless?

Walu Wugirriga lookout – a great view of the coastline, stretching south from the foothills of Mount Alexandra.

Walu Wugirriga lookout – a great view of the coastline, stretching south from the foothills of Mount Alexandra.

While Joe was showing us around the jungle, our group came across a baby cassowary – an Australian icon – just wandering around in the scrub.

Baby cassowary! We were a little worried about running into its protective parents (they have sharp long claws!)

Baby cassowary! We were a little worried about running into its protective parents (they have sharp long claws and a lightning-quick kick!)

Our next stop was Daintree Entomological (insect) Museum, which houses a world class private collection of rare and local butterflies, moths and beetles…

This intricate mask on the left is made completely from insect parts

This intricate mask on the left is made completely from insect parts

…followed by a tasty Barramundi lunch next to Cooper Creek.

Hope there aren't any crocs lurking about in there!

Hope there aren’t any crocs lurking about in there!

We ventured into the jungle again along a boardwalk, where Joe expertly showed us the canopy of enormous fan palms, strangler figs and vines.

A strangler fig that's killed its host tree and is now standing on its own - the host tree has since rotted away, leaving just the outer frame of the fig

A strangler fig that’s killed its host tree and is now standing on its own – the host tree has since rotted away, leaving just the outer frame of the fig

It’s incredible to think that some of these species of plants would have been around when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

More jungle flora and fauna

More jungle flora and fauna

Our last stop for the day was the isolated Cape Tribulation beach.

Where the rainforest meets the ocean

Where the rainforest meets the ocean

Here we took a stroll along its coral sands and climbed up to a lookout point to see the only place on Earth where two World Heritage listed areas (the rainforest and the reef) meet.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation

This part of the world really is unique and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit to Daintree and Cape Tribulation to complete any visit to north Queensland.

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