After Sydney, we flew up to Cairns to experience that part of the country for a few days. During our planning stage, we decided that we would stay 2 nights in Port Douglas. The best way to get around the area is by car and so our first road trip abroad was in the books. I was nervously excited about driving in Australia. This was going to be my first time driving on the left side with a right sided vehicle!
The morning after we arrived in Cairns we were picked up by the rental car company to sign some paperwork. I said to the employee, “Any tips for my first time driving in Australia?” His eyes widen and he replies, “Uhm…stay on the right side.” Great advice, man. Before we take off, I check to make sure the mirrors, seats, etc. are all to my liking. We snap this momentous occasion and drive north.
We actually had to make our scheduled Jungle Surfing Adventure just after lunch before finally settling into Port Douglas in the evening. So we were looking at a 2 hours drive up the coast. The region we were in is called Far North Queensland. Its in the sub-tropics with grossly humid summers, dry winters, but scenery that was simply ah-mazing.
It was also suggested that during the drive we stop at Mossman Gorge, an area of the Daintree National Forest still inhabited and worked by local Aboriginal people. The gorge is quite popular with crystal clear waters, untouched lands, and rich culture. We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived but thankfully they had a full service Visitor’s Centre. We decided to just pay for the shuttle bus ride up the hill and walk through the rain forest ourselves.
We were dropped off at an opening of the forest marked with a raised walkway made of steel. When we reached the watering hole there were other tourists enjoying the water. With the day being rather hot and moderately humid, the cool waters felt refreshing against my legs. It would have been the perfect day to swim but our time restraints didn’t allow us to. We stuck around for about 30 minutes to snap some pictures before heading back to the Visitor’s Centre. We ran into some local fauna which I was more than excited about. I kept my space from the bush turkey as I watched it walk about and kick sand.
The same travel agent that told us about Mossman Gorge forewarned us about crossing the Daintree River. There was no other way of crossing it but by a barge for a small fee. Driving a car onto a boat was another first for me! Like most waterways in Australia, the river is inhabited by those infamous crocs. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any of the large creatures but we sure were trying.
The remainder of the drive was all rain forest with roads that were dangerously narrow and winding. It was a bit nerve wrecking driving so incredibly close to the face of the cliffs with loose rocks strewn about the road. Warning signs of flash floodings, cassowaries, and loose rocks dotted the road every so often until we reached the Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours.
After our zip lining, I got some rest from driving with Cassandra behind the wheel. We headed straight back to down to Port Douglas but not before we could get our hands on some locally made ice cream. The Daintree Ice Cream Company produces tasty ice cream flavors made from local fruits. We stared at the fixed menu wondering what exactly black sapote, yellow sapote and wattleseed were and tasted like. The 4th flavor, macadamia nut, was something we all were relieved to recognize.
It was such a great way to end the day! As we sat around devouring our ice creams, we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery one last time.