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House of Travel
Many of us could be forgiven for thinking that we would have to travel to South America to discover the ancient forests of the world but factoid - the Amazon is estimated to be around 55 million years old, whereas the Daintree in Tropical North Queensland is estimated to be around 135 million.
It is the world’s last remaining example of warm, moist rainforest from the time of the Gondwanaland supercontinent, and the perfect place for any adventure-seeking family to escape the next NZ winter. The Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics which is known famously for being where forest meets ocean. A diverse landscape of unique plants, stunning coastlines, freshwater rivers and thriving wildlife. For the family, there’s a nice balance of touristy and not-so-touristy adventures to indulge in, the difficulty is choosing, as there is a lot on offer.
1. How to get there
Head to Cape Tribulation which is a two hour drive from Port Douglas, a car ferry runs regularly across the river and once you’re over, most attractions can be found on the main road. There are options to stay locally or if you prefer to base yourself in one of the amazing resorts closer to town, then the QT in Port Douglas is superb.
2. Best time to go
June-August. Humidity is lower and nights are cooler. If you can sneak away outside of school holidays then August would be the sweet spot.
Hot, humid summers (December-February) and mild, dry winters (June-August). The average temperature ranges between 17°C and 29°C.
4. Why we love it
The perfect blend of adventure, education and wow factor for all family members. For those raising screenagers in the city, this is your chance to get them off the grid. Google can’t save you now honey, learn how to read a map!
Our Daintree Top 5
1/ THE DAINTREE DISCOVERY CENTRE
Just across the river, it’s the perfect place to start your appreciation of just how amazing the Daintree is. There are audio guides available for both adults and children. Plus there’s something quite cool about telling your kids they are standing where dinosaurs once roamed.
2/ OCEAN SAFARI
One of the best ways to experience the reef and get up close with an abundance of tropical fish, eagle rays, starfish and sea turtles. Ocean Safari offer both morning and afternoon excursions for small groups of around 25 people; catering for families with littlies as young as two. It’s only a 25 minute boat ride out to sea and they have great coffee!
3/ JUNGLE SURFING
Zip-lining through the forest canopy is freakin’ awesome. Not only do you get to see the forest from above but it’s safe for everyone from 3 to 103 years old. The whole family can have fun (including mum) although she will be having a wee panic attack watching her precious babies dangling their arms and legs from their harnesses. “Look mamma, no hands!”
4/ SWIMMING HOLE & MASON’S FOR LUNCH
Crocodiles are salt water creatures, so anyone up in Cape Trib will tell you that you are as mad as a cut snake to swim at the beach, but madder still if you don’t experience the natural beauty of the fresh water Swimming Hole. Nearby, Mason’s Café is the best place to encourage your kids to get a bit adventurous with their taste buds, serving local delicacies like wild boar, camel, kangaroo, emu and of course, crocs. NOM.
5/ AFTERNOON TEA ABOARD THE M.V. MATILDA
Sit back and relax with a wine and a snack whilst a qualified botanist takes you nature spotting through the mangroves. Crocodiles will warm up on the river banks during the day, so get on the water before sunset and you’ll have more chance of spotting one. If you miss out, Jessie the owner is raising a baby crocodile and stroking his soft underbelly is truly something special.
1. Get there early Head down a side road and drive quietly - it’s your best chance to see a Cassowary in its natural habitat.
2. Get a map. There is no phone reception, so get a map from the local store and enjoy a digital detox!
3. Allow extra time Don’t under estimate the length of Cape Tribulation Road. It is longer than you think and it pays to allow extra time to get to your excursions on time.
4. Try the local food It’s organic, free-range and delicious!
5. Prepare for rain You are in a rainforest.
6. Don't swim at the beach The beaches look beautiful but there are plenty of freshwater options that are croc-free.
7. Wear mosquito repellent Because, mosquitos.
8. Minimise your footprint Take all rubbish with you and stick to the tracks.
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