Australia, 2007

Palm Cove, Queensland

Home Up: Holidays Back: Melbourne
Palm Cove Trees Palm Cove Trees Palm Cove Trees

We had to catch the 7am flight from Melbourne to Cairns, which meant getting up at 4, which was pretty bad, but that then gave us an extra half day in Queensland. The Paradise on the Beach hotel wasn't expecting us, as no-one had told them our flight had been changed, but by the time we'd had some lunch, they'd made up the room. It wasn't a fabulous hotel, but it was only 50m from the beach and the staff were friendly and helpful. Our main criticism was not with the hotel but with the local businesses, which seem to have deliveries from about 5am, the trucks beep-beeping loudly as they reverse back out. Very hard to sleep through.

Looking north at Palm Cove Looking south at Palm Cove Paradise on the Beach hotel pool

After settling ourselves in, we took a walk along the beach. Sadly, it had been very windy for 2 or 3 weeks, and the wind was still quite strong, though we were promised better weather in a day or two. That meant the stinger nets (still box jellyfish season) were not in use, so we couldn't swim in the sea which we had been looking forward to. Back at the hotel, we spoke to a tours representative, who recommended a rainforest trip to Daintree and Cape Tribulation, with Billy Tea Safaris. She said all the cars in the resort had been hired out as a result of the bad weather, so we would be stuck in the resort if we didn't do some kind of a tour.

Jenny in the Daintree rainforest

Daintree rainforest 1

Daintree rainforest 2

Daintree rainforest 3

Frilled lizard

Daintree rainforest

The 7.45 pickup was not as bad as it sounds, but I was pretty sceptical about the whole business, imagining it to be dreadfully touristy and hating the thought of sharing a bus with a bunch of strangers. Then we were last pickup, so our seats were right at the back of the bus, and I was convinced I was going to get terribly travel sick. How wrong I was! John, the driver/guide was good, being both knowledgeable and good company, and the rest of the party were pleasant too. And I didn't get too sick in the back of the bus, to my complete amazement.

The rainforest boardwalk was interesting and informative, though we didn't see much in the way of wildlife. Lots of forest, of course. I spotted a spider, but it was too far from the path to be worth pointing out to the rest. John promised me a much better specimen later, but by the end of the walk we still hadn't seen it, and we imagined he must have forgotten.

Butterfly Ulysses Butterfly

We had lots of short stops through the day, at one of which I saw these 2 butterflies. The blue one is a Ulysses butterfly, and this photo was stolen from the web, as I failed to photograph the ones I could see, despite chasing them around like an idiot. I'd say both butterflies were 4 or 5 inches across.

Daintree river cruise /Daintree river cruise

The river cruise was quite fun, though again, we didn't see too much wildlife. We did see an amethyst python, a green tree snake, some Papuan frogmouths, a couple of crocs and some egrets, but it was all rather end-of-season-ish. Still, that's the closest I've come to any of those in the wild, so I'm not complaining. Most of my photos are pretty dull, so I'll spare you those.

Cape Tribulation

Rob at Cape Tribulation


Mangrove at Cape Tribulation

At Cape Tribulation we walked on the beach and found these really sweet little crabs. They extract food from the surface of the beach and roll the leftover sand into a ball, which they leave on the surface around their burrows. As at most of the stops, we didn't really get all that long at the beach, so just wandered towards the point, then back to the bus where we were not quite last back.

On the way back to the bus we passed a man filming a small girl playing on a liana. It drooped between 2 trees, reaching down to about a metre above the ground. She was perhaps 7 or 8 and naked, just with a big towel around her shoulders. It was an idyllic scene, but I quickly started to feel guilty just for watching. Jenny took a photo, but it didn't come out as well as she'd hoped.

Creek where we swam

For the second part of lunch we stopped at a creek rather north of Cape Tribulation, where some of us changed into swimming kit and swam in the river. It didn't look too promising to start with, but in fact was just gorgeous, the untreated water cool and soft on the skin. On 'our' side the water was up to about a metre deep, maybe a little more, which is OK, but not great. On the other side, however, it deepened to more than 2 metres. The flow was quite slow and gentle, and it was great to lie on my back and just drift downstream, gazing at the forest canopy overhead, and watching more Ulysses butterflies flying around. Pudding was chunks of fruit, including sapote, which I'd not had before, and which I liked a lot.

Spider at the fruit farm Spider at the fruit farm Tree frog at the fruit farm

Heading homewards, we stopped at a tropical fruit farm, where they make their own icecream. There's a 'mix of the day' which most people bought, which was one scoop each of jackfruit, apricot and cinnamon and was completely delicious. From the canopy out front a huge yellow-kneed spider had spun a vast web, and everyone was taking photos. We surmise it's a female, as you can see a tiny male clambering over her in one of the shots. The 'tiny' male is probably 3 or 4 cm span! John came up to us and said "Promised you a better spider, didn't I?" The tree frog was there, too, though not near the spider.

Rob and Jenny at Alexandra Range lookout

The final stop before getting back was at the Alexandra Range lookout, where you can get a good view across the coral see, and John took photos of all of us on our own cameras.

Low Isles

Low Isles

Low Isles

Low Isles

Our first snorkelling trip was with Sailaway on a small sail/diesel catamaran with about twenty other people, out to the Low Isles on the inner reef. It was a leisurely 90 minutes cruise, then the boat moored up and we snorkelled off the beach. We had lycra stinger suits, though we were told it was the end of the stinger season, but in any case, the suits protect from sunburn as well, so they're a sensible precaution. The water wasn't fabulously clear, but we could still see well and there were lots of fish and coral to see.

Jenny saw a small white-tip shark and I had a green turtle swim directly under me, no more than a foot or two beneath my tummy. Astonishing. The beach above high water mark was nice and sandy, but lower down was littered with broken coral, which made walking barefoot quite painful.

Garfish at Low Isles Black fish at Low Isles

After an excellent lunch back on the boat, the prawn scraps were thrown over the side, and some much larger fish had evidently become used to this, as they circled the boat the whole time we were eating. There were long thin garfish, bat fish, something big and black that I didn't recognise and quite a few other, smaller fish. Once the feeding was over, some of us snorkelled off the back of the boat, getting quite close to these impressive fish. The return trip took the same time as the outward one, but was entirely sail powered, and very relaxing.

Outer Barrier Reef Outer Barrier Reef

On our last day, we went on a 75 foot catamaran to the outer reef, where Reef Magic had a pontoon moored. Again, it took 90 minutes to get there, but this time we were going 40kph and it was pretty hard work. The water was clearer, improving as the day went on, until it was brilliant just before we had to leave. We saw a different set of fish, just as spectacular as the previous day, and were left very keen to see more. The water, at 27°, was pleasant to get into, but after an hour, even in a lycra suit, our core temperature had dropped enough to make us feel chilled. Even after lunch, we needed to bask in the sun for a while before we felt warm enough to get back in, and then didn't stay in for long, wasting about 45 mins potential snorkelling time. Though the water was better, we'd preferred the more relaxed atmosphere and smaller group of the previous day on Sailaway.

Back: Melbourne

Last updated 26th April, 2007 by Rob Clack