The Rain Forest and the Great Barrier Reef - two of the most majestic examples of nature at her best!
On the north Queensland coast you have both and we took full advantage to explore.
One day we drove to Fairwater station, about halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas. From there we rode the
Kuranda railway, which winds up into the high country, the Rain Forest enclosing us on all sides. The views
were spectacular, the more so when you consider that the track was laid by hand in the worst of conditions.
The railway came into being to form a supply route for the miners, who would otherwise have been cut off from
civilisation through the winter months. It's now a 'must see' on the tourist trail.
The Kuranda Railway - click to enlarge
Kuranda itself was a lovely place to spend an hour or two - we visited the butterfly farm and were
enthralled by the variety there. So many colours and ranging in size from the minute to the giant! Kuranda is
also a market place for the gorgeous opals mined in the area.
A meal on a terrace overlooking a sheer drop into the forest and we were ready for the next adventure, the trip
back down on the Skyrail. This is well worth doing. You sail above the greenery and there are several places
to stop and stroll along the boardwalks. Plenty of information points dot the route, so there is always
something new to discover and learn about.
When the Skyrail was constructed, men and equipment were dropped in by helicopter, so that
damage to the environment would be kept to a minimum.
Below are views from the Skyrail boardwalks. Some of the viewing platforms hang out over sheer drops down
the mountain into the heart of the rain forest. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
On another day, we drove north, passing through banana plantations and noting the particular Queensland
style of building for the farmhouses. They're all raised to allow passage of air underneath - and possibly to
avoid meeting a crocodile in your kitchen! We stopped at Mossman and took a stroll through the forest. The
trees are huge and ancient. This is an Aboriginal ground and there was a lot of information along our route.
We strolled partly because of the rough terrain and partly because the humidity in there precluded anything
One of the river crossings was by rope bridge - true 'Indiana Jones' stuff. They really
are as wobbly as you imagine, but the views are always worth the effort! In the silence of the forest, we
could hear the sound of running water long before we saw it and would suddenly come downhill and break out of
the deep shade into brilliant sunshine, to be confronted by sights like this on the right - Mossman Gorge. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.
Driving further north along the coast road, we crossed the Daintree river by ferry - taking careful note
of the warnings at the landing stage: 'Danger. Estuarine Crocs' - we decided to stay in the car!! More driving
(through sun and showers) brought us to Cape Tribulation, so called by Captain Cook, whose ship was damaged on
the reef just here. This is the `Cassowary Coast`, as it is here that the endangered bird lives. (We didn't
spot any, but saw them another day on a trip to The Rainforest Habitat, a wildlife sanctuary). This was as far
as we could go, not having 4WD. The road beyond degenerates very quickly into rough track, totally unsuitable
for our hire car, so after a walk along the beach, we set off back to Port Douglas, looking forward to a cool
drink and a dip in the pool!
An aerial view of Cape Tribulation.
I mentioned the Great Barrier Reef at the top of this page and haven't said a word about it since!
The Oz 6 link will tell you about our day on the Coral Sea.
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