Adventure,  Australia,  Food,  Jungle,  Photography,  Travel

How to Speed Adventure through the World’s most Ancient Jungle

The Amazon rainforest is 7 million years old, ancient right? Not on the scale of the Daintree Rainforest. On the tip of North Eastern Australia, clocking in at 150 million years old, this wild environment is the oldest rainforest on planet earth, and that’s exactly what it feels like when you get there. You could easily fill a week in the forest, but we speed adventured up and back in 24 hours and spent one night in a beachfront rainforest cabin.

1. Start with a “Ute” (pronounced ‘yoot’). Everything off the beaten path in Australia starts with a utility vehicle. You don’t have to drive yourself in the Daintree, but I highly recommend it. These mighty little trucks are right-hand drive and the stick shift is on the left, this is a fun challenge on its own. Add a few soggy S-curves, patched gravel roads, and it’s a white-knuckle ride for those of us North Americans accustomed to sprawling freeways. But hey, why do we travel if not to push our comfort zones? Myriad bus tours are available for those looking for a little less drama on their jungle journey.

2. Watch for crocs. Enjoy transitioning from civilization to raw wilderness when you take the cable car ferry across the Daintree River. The moment your four wheels tumble off the crocodile ridden river boat ride, which only takes about 8 minutes, you feel the raw wilderness around you. The air is cool and humid, the ancient jungle is dripping with wet vines, and the cassowary crossing signs abound on this 20km stretch of road.

3. Stop for ice cream – at least twice. Flavorvilla makes healthy and delicious probiotic rich ice cream in local flavors including Daintree Rainforest which is suitably sweet and earthy.

Then there’s the Daintree Ice Cream Company. It is not to be missed under any circumstances. The ice creams are made and served right in the middle of the orchards where these wild fruits are grown. If they have waddleberry give it a try. These little seeds burst flavors of chocolate and coffee in the middle of mild sweet cream ice cream. Soursop, mangosteen, and passionfruit are served alongside a dozen other exotic flavors.

4. Where the rainforest meets the sea, take lots of walks. One amazing walk is along the Dubuji boardwalk. This ethereal winding pathway delivers walkers through the mangrove wetlands onto a seemingly endless sandy beach. The beaches are home to sand bubbler crabs and sprawling patterns of tiny sand balls spit out by dugout happy crustaceans form intricate designs that, like beautiful Buddhist sand mandalas, are washed away each day as the tide sweeps in. 

5. Pet a Kangaroo and sneak up on a croc. Explore Northern Queensland’s wildlife from a safe distance. Just outside the Daintree, on your way to or from the cable ferry is the Wildlife Zoo. Here, in the safety of raised walkways you can watch saltwater and freshwater crocodiles do what they do best, nothing. Unmoving, the algae around the fresh water croc pond takes on the ridged backbone of a nearly submerged animal. Take your time and enjoy the ominous vibe of being so close to these perfectly still and perfectly silent predators because once you are in the Daintree that last thing you want to see is one at eye level. As the zoo keeper mentioned to us on the way out of his park, “the reason I love crocs is because you always know where you stand with them, they just want to eat you. Always.”

6. There’s nothing quite so nice as escaping the city for the serenity of the deep wilderness, except perhaps escaping the wilderness back into the city after the adventure. When you’ve had your fill of rainforest bathing, take a quick swing through Port Douglas and enjoy the fruits of civilization. The local specialty is a dream, a literal bucket of prawns and a glass of Australian wine. Just because you are back in civilized company, doesn’t mean you can’t eat with your hands like a jungle beast.

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