The Daintree Rainforest


Inside our bungalow



Great Barrier Reef
Cape Tribulation
Daintree River cruise


Two bucket list items were easily accomplished here. Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef and stay in a rainforest. I was quite surprised to learn that Australia had a rainforest, needless to say, the oldest rainforest in the world. 

We got off the plane from Sydney to Cairns and it felt like we had just landed in Hawaii. Tropical, humid air and unpredictable skies. We rented a car and headed up the Gold Coast. Stopping at our first opportunity to see a beach, we wandered onto an empty vast strip of sand where it seem like we were the last people on earth. Every once in a while we could see a Qantas airliner dip out of the clouds. We jumped back into the car and stopped at a little hamburger stand and chowed down on burgers topped with beets- that's a thing in Australia!

We soon came upon our destination; an eco-lodge and spa just off the road, deep in the Daintree rainforest. The lodge has several raised bungalows embedded right in the thick of the forest. We were greeted with a gift of a necklace made from a decorated pod from one of the local trees and then showed how to get to our sanctuary in the trees. 
Our bungalow was natively and luxuriously decorated, but the real treat was a hot tub on the screen-enclosed balcony. We spent each night soaking and listening to the sounds of the rain forest. The eco-lodge has a great room where meals are served and lectures on aboriginal culture are given, as well as serving as a general recreational center.  The spa on site at the eco-lodge was top notch and the hydro treatment that I had on our last day was one of the best spa treatments I've ever experienced. 





If you want to get away from the lodge at all, there's enough to explore that is driving distance. We basically set out without any plans and stumbled upon a small farm that made ice cream from their fruit trees, boardwalks that wind through the shady palms of the rainforest, and up to the hippie gathering point of Cape Tribulation. We also took a day to visit the Daintree Discovery Centre and were deeply educated on the rainforest and all of its living creatures.

Most of the snorkeling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef departs from the town of Port Douglas.  Port Douglas is a small, beach town with coral colored homes and tasty eateries along the main drag.  It felt like a strange mix of California and Australia, which to me felt like home.  I could seriously live here...

The snorkeling trip was well organized and a blast!  The water was incredibly blue and after about 25 minutes to our destination, the the large grey patches of the reef began to emerge from the surface. Another surreal moment to be at one of the great natural wonders of the world.  It was a surprise and neat to pieces of the reef sticking up out of the water.  Finally it was time to get in the blue abyss.  Literally the second we got into the water, we saw a shark swim right in front of us.  I have a clear memory of looking at my husband and his eyes looked like a cartoon, filling up the entire space of his goggles.  Of course it was a harmless, black tip shark or something, but what an introduction! The experience was truly incredible.  I saw things that I only thought existed on the submarine ride at Disneyland!        

For our last evening in Australia, the lodge helped us book a Daintree River cruise. We wandered down a trail, through the mangrove trees and met a large bear of a man who would be our tour guide. Turns out he was originally from Oklahoma and visited Australia to do some biology research and never left! We boarded the tiny boat with a few new friends and had the treat of a lifetime. The journey took us down the river at sunset, coming across birds nestling in for the night and seeing the smoke from the burning cane fields in the distance. As night grew dark all around us, we were able to catch a glimpse of a couple of baby crocodiles, which were specially eerie with the loud sounds of the night and not knowing if mama was nearby.

Australia is a place that is worth the time planning, worth the dollars spent, and worth the long trek.  two and a half weeks felt like a blessing but I know there is so much more to explore down under. It carries a special place in my heart and I even toyed with the idea of living there for a coupe years, applying for some teaching jobs in Brisbane and Melbourne.    How ever I get back there, I can't wait to share the adventure with you!

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