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January 25, 2016 / cmfletcher

In the rainforest

Today was an adventure, especially for someone like me who is not all that fond of Mother Nature (I get eaten by bugs and have bad reactions, totally hate snakes, and am not too fond of any reptiles). So why go? Because it is here! Our tour included an driver, Covel, one of the indigenous people, who was extremely knowledgeable and made the day fun and really informative. For example, there are in fact about 70 different tribal languages and cultures among them. He told us that this exquisite rainforest was suffering from tourism — the odor of deisel fuel from the buses for the 1,000,000 visitors a year, for example — and so in 2013, a preserve was set up with good paths, and indigenous guides or a self-guided path that you were warned to stay on.

We started at the Mossman Gorge with a guided walk led by another indigenous tribal member, a young man who made a choice to come back to the tribal lands and learn his culture. He’s been back for 10 years and the elders have just decided he is able to do this job. Bill Bryson is right –Australia wants to kill you. We saw walnuts that will kill you, fruit that will kill you, bushes that will make you wish you were dead (the stinging tree above that shoots thousands of quills with poison into you if you brush against it). The amazing thing is how the tribes have adapted to these harsh environments. Our driver called it learning the land.

Lunch was at a beautiful resort high in the rain forest, no air conditioning, next to the Mossman river — the 2nd cleanest source of water in the world. The plants were gorgeous, and made me wish I had studied more botany. Again, the day showed me wide swathes of my ignorance about ecology, biology, history etc. etc. Travel makes you humble.

After lunch we went on a cruise on the Daintree River, to spot salt water crocodiles. The guide was self taught, and a true naturalist. We found two crocodiles. The guide’s opinion was that if you are eaten by a croc, the gene pool is better off. The rules are simple, stay 10 meters away from croc infested waters; the croc that will get you is the one you can’t see.

Covel finished the day with a couple of photo ops — the island that looks like a large Croc, and the lookout above Port Douglas that shows four mile beach. We are here in what should be the rainy season, and have had dry weather. Tonight there is a chance of rain. Even on a sunny day, though, you can get caught in flash floods around here. I tell you Australia wants to kill you. Got to admire the people who live here.

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