When I envisioned the rainforest, I thought of giant trees, hot sticky weather, and the sights and sounds of animals everywhere. What I saw in my head was the Daintree. Sleeping in platform tents in the middle of an isolated forest was the best experience of a rainforest adventure I could have hoped for.
When we tumbled out of the vans at the Hostel Crocodylus I was astounded by the way that somewhere so remote could also be super classy. We enjoyed some of the best food on the trip so far (I would highly recommend the roast lamb chops and chocolate cake) and slept cosily under the towering fig trees. But we didn’t stay on site for long, since the Daintree Rainforest is so full of adventures.
The Daintree is home to some cutting-edge research facilities investigating the carbon-flux process which occurs at the tippy-top of the rainforest canopy. To see this in action we suited up in harnesses of a lovely safety-orange color and rode a gondola on the Daintree Canopy Crane. I was so amazed to see the Pacific Ocean far away in the distance, and little flocks of cockatoos gliding across the horizon. From the gondola I could almost reach out and touch the tiny buds of the treetop flowers and hear lots of insects buzzing around.
We got a taste, literally, of the rainforest when visiting a tropical orchard to sample some fruit. I especially enjoyed the yellow-green Abiu, which was described as having a “caramel-cream” flavor. It was so different than any fruit I’ve had in the past, like many of the others we sampled, especially in terms of texture. It was sometimes hard to get past the squishy, oozing quality that some of the tropical fruits had, but their flavors were fresh and delicious — with the exception of durian, which tastes and smells like rancid onions.
During our visit to the Daintree we had many chance encounters with local wildlife. Outings in the vans were frequently punctuated with exclamations of, “Cassowary!”…. “Where?!” and then, ”Oh, it’s gone.” We saw some really unique fish that could shoot water out of their mouths to stun prey flying above the water. Unfortunately we missed out on any sightings during our Croc Cruise, but perhaps this was for the best, as the guide assured us of their particularly aggressive nature at this time of the year, their breeding season.
After safely returning to the Center, which has quickly become our beloved home in our own personal rainforest, it began to sink in that this trip is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I wake up excited for every single day, because I never know when I’ll see a rare animal or try something I could never experience at home. We’re all aware of time creeping past faster than we could have believed, and are anxious to fit in lots more adventures before our return. For now, we live in the amazing land of Oz, and there’s no place like home.