Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Trip Journal Dec. 22

There was a silver lining to our 3-day transportation marathon last week: we can now sleep in just about any vehicle. The night in our tiny Toyota Echo passed quickly, and at 7:30am, we met the B&B owners, who apologetically explained that the cottage with the curtains drawn and lights on was ours, and led us there for breakfast.

We drove farther north to Cape Tribulation, so named for the troubles that Captain Cook had navigating the shallows of the Great Barrier Reef and subsequently getting his ship repaired. I remembered this episode from the book "Blue Latitudes," so it was interesting to visit the place even though the location was no more impressive than the other beaches of FNQ (Far North Queensland).

Along the way, we took a rope-drawn car ferry across the Daintree river, then continued to trace the coastline, stopping at overlooks and in national parkland for nature walks. We lunched at the Fan Palm Cafe and sampled mango, coconut, date nut, and wattleseed ice creams at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. Wattleseed is an acacia seed native to Australia, and when roasted, it tastes like hazelnut coffee. It was definitely the most interesting flavor, but not the tastiest.

The highway had some tantalizing signs warning us of cassowary crossings, crocodile bites, and kangaroo zones, but we didn't see any of those animals. The best sign featured a picture of a standing cassowary, labeled "before," and a picture of a speed bump, labeled "after."

We took several boardwalks through the rainforest, looking for animals and reading about the history of the plants. We managed to see a tree snake, but little else. The coastline looked like a cross between a tropical beach and the central California coast, and made for a pleasant drive both ways.

We satisfied our hunger for more local animals with emu, kangaroo, and crocodile carpaccio at dinner.