Daintree Forest

The Daintree Rainforest

It was only a brief experience, a day trip to the Daintree Rainforest, but it was a fantastic taster of all that was on offer.

We had been told that the world’s most dangerous fish (the stone fish), the world’s most dangerous tree (the stinger tree), and the world’s most dangerous bird (the cassowary) lived in the Daintree Rainforest.   Jeremy, our guide, then said, as if we were in any doubt: “Rule of thumb – everything will kill you”. Well that was a cheery start to the day. However the Daintree is the oldest rainforest in the world, more than 135 million years old, so I guess it has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Daintree Forest

Daintree Forest

First on the agenda was a walk through the forest to find a stinger tree. These are the mean older brothers of the common stinging nettle, delivering a nasty neurotoxin when touched. It didn’t look much, but I wasn’t going to test it out. I kept my hands in my pockets and was glad of my long pants.

Then we headed down to the beach, which sounded innocuous enough, and the Cape Tribulation beach is really very pretty. Then Jeremy cheerfully told us that the very pretty cone shells are actually venomous with the potential to sting people if handled. So should you think you’ve struck it lucky to see one on the beach, you’re better off to leave it there. Whatever you do, don’t pick it up and put it in your pocket. So I got to the beach and went for a walk and did not add to my shell collection at all.

Daintree Forest

Daintree Forest

Next stop was into the thick of the forest for our jungle surfing adventure, a flying fox zip-line . Stunning scenery, and a thrilling ride through the air to enjoy it. On our final ride we could fly upside down. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and it was definitely the highlight of the day, swinging through the trees hanging by my feet. Maybe I have a career as a circus acrobat after all?!

However the quest for killer beasts wasn’t quite over yet. Driving towards the Daintree River for our croc tour, a car ahead of us stopped. The pointing and cameras alerted us to something interesting, and sure enough as we slowed our van we spotted cassowaries to our right, a glimpse of their beautiful blue plumage through the greenery. A very rare and shy bird, we were exceptionally lucky to have seen not only one, but three of them together. It’s probably not a bad thing they’re so retiring given they are also potentially deadly. The cassowary apparently has a killer claw, and has been known in rare instances to have killed people by kicking at them. Spotting a cassowary family was unusual; I think getting out of the car and trying to quietly observe the cassowary foraging for food was probably quite foolish. However our guide had told us that to protect ourselves we should stand behind a tree if a cassowary charged us. We were in a rainforest and surrounded by trees, maybe it wasn’t so dangerous after all. Could it possibly be that simple?

Daintree Forest

The croc tour was fun and there was plenty to see, as luck would have it the first that we saw were some quite sweet little baby ones. The little ones were so tiny they seemed kind of cute….until you remember that baby ones grow into big ones and they are definitely not cute at all. However to balance the deadly man-killing saltwater crocs we spotted the most beautiful birds – I was particularly taken with the stunning azure kingkisher, and the very greedy giant egret who definitely had eyes bigger than his stomach as he gulped down a whole fish at least one size too big for him.

Daintree Forest

Daintree Forest

My final wildlife sighting for the day was a gorgeous little lost tree frog, who was hiding behind a hanging display in a gift store. I felt sorry for the little fellow and hope he found his way home.

All in all, having survived close encounters with the stinger tree, a snake, a cassowary family, and a whole bunch of crocs, who were all completely uninterested in increasing their bodycount, I started to relax about the killer Australian wildlife. I think humans are the really dangerous mob!

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