It’s not hard to get out and about when you live in paradise.
Being a local means we don’t have to do it all in a day. We can explore little bits of our backyard over time, whether a couple of hours, half a day, a full day, or a cheeky overnight stay. Over the weekend, I decided after all the drudgery of housework and children’s homework that we would head up to the Daintree after lunch on Sunday for a wander and a cassowary spotting adventure.
After lunch, and only 45 minutes from our door in Port Douglas, we had crossed the mighty Daintree River, taken in the stunningly clear view from the Alexandra Lookout and pulled in to the Jindalba recreation area. As we always do, we reminded the children, that after alighting the ferry and driving a mere ten minutes, we had already driven past more plant species than existed in the entirety of North America.
Hats off to the Douglas Shire Council for the work completed at Jindalba. There is plenty of well-considered and laid out car parking, excellent bathroom facilities, several picnic shelters and fantastic interpretive signage contributing to an exceptional local and visitor-friendly experience.
Initially, we had decided to stroll the 700-metre boardwalk experience; however, the 2.7-kilometre loop trail beckoned, so with water bottles in hand and cameras at the ready, the four of us began our trek into the forest.
Jindalba is the traditional Kuku Yalanji name for the area, meaning “foot of the mountain”, and one of Australia’s most extensive remaining tracks of tropical rainforest. The area is a last refuge for many plants and animals, offering visitors an opportunity to view, from the elevated boardwalk, the
beauty of the lowland rainforest, crystal clear creeks, towering fig trees, a myriad of ferns, and my favourite – ancient cycads. Education opportunities abound through a range of interpretive signage explaining the complexities of the forest, its evolution and survival, giving even an old local some new information.
Five hundred metres into our walk, the bright blue cassowary plum became prominent on the forest floor leading to much speculation as to the presence of the elusive bird. Another 100 metres, and the strategic avoidance of a significant poop pile was necessary. Rather excited by the fresh mound, it was only another 100 metres until our eldest stopped dead, dropped the “oh s*&t,” and alerted us to two adults merely ten metres to our left. Although I have seen cassowaries many times, I had never seen two adults together before – they have either been solo, or a dad with chicks. Adult number one was sitting on the forest floor, completely unperturbed by our presence. Adult number two gave a cursory glance toward the open-mouthed humans before calmly turning around and moving off into the forest.
Moving on, we spotted all manner of stunning flora, and I always remind the kids to look up occasionally to spot the giant ferns in the trees and the birds on rainforest limbs. It is the peace and tranquillity of the Daintree that has kept me going back again and again. Just wandering through the oldest living rainforest in the world keeps one grounded – particularly amongst the madness of COVID-19 – and reminds us how important it is to ensure the continued World Heritage status of this special place, while vigorously striving to protect it.
Walk completed, we headed back to the ferry, just as the sun was beginning to lower in the sky.
Driving off the ferry on the south bank, it was back to reality, but with the knowledge that anytime we wanted to, we could jump in the car and be back in that special place in under an hour, because that special place, was our backyard.
Jindalba is located approximately 10 kilometres north of the Daintree ferry crossing, on Tulip Oak Road, Cow Bay.
There are two options to experience the Jindalba area. The 700 metre, elevated and shady boardwalk, will keep your feet dry as it leads you over creeks and your brain active through interpretive signage. The boardwalk takes about 30 minutes to complete and does not require a high level of fitness.
For the more adventurous, the 2.7-kilometre circuit track is perfect for those who are not put off rock hopping over creeks or navigating a rough, often stony track and have at least 1.5 hours up their sleeve.
The best time to walk is early morning or late afternoon which also offers the highest chance of spotting a Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo, foraging musky rat-kangaroo or the majestic Cassowary.
For those wanting to make more of their day, stop in at the Daintree Discovery Centre and experience the aerial walkway, 25-metre canopy tower, interpretive centre or indulge in a snack and coffee.
If your body is calling out for a sugar hit, five minutes from the Daintree Discovery Centre, the Daintree Ice Cream Company awaits!
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