Part 6: Far North Queensland …
Cool ocean breeze: lush rainforests: tropical islands: thoughts that were now foremost in our minds. Hence, it came as something of a relief to reach the east coast following such a lengthy tour of the outback.
Arriving in Cairns, I headed straight for its northern beaches. The palm fringed picture postcard beaches of this area are an irresistible combination for any photographer.
My first location, Palm Cove, photographed through lofty palms in the morning’s pre-dawn glow, captures a mainly unseen aspect of this beautiful beach.
Reaching for the map, it didn’t take me long to discover my next locations. The beaches at Holloways, Kewarra, and Yorkeys Knob were a must. Add to this the amazing coastline that stretches to Port Douglas, some 67 kilometres to the north.
No visit to Far North Queensland would be complete without visiting the world renowned Great Barrier Reef. One of the best places to see the reef is from the coral atoll of Green Island. At low tide, the exposed reef seems to quadruple the size of this tiny islet.
The Great Barrier Reef also boasts some 600 or so ‘Continental’ or ‘High’ islands. Fitzroy Island is comprised of 339 hectares of world heritage rainforest fringed by white coral beaches. This island really is an Australian paradise.
Bordered by the Daintree River in the south and the Bloomfield River to the North, Daintree National Park is home to some of Australia’s most spectacular rainforest. The park is primarily made up from two parts, Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. Together they combine to form the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Walking though Mossman Gorge is a wonderful experience. Huge buttress roots tangled with vines spread across the forest floor, whilst a myriad of birds forage in the canopy above. Crystal clear streams tumble through towering forests to form some of Australia’s most recognized rainforest environments.
Cape Tribulation was named by Captain Cook after his ship was holed just north of the cape in 1770.
It’s here that the rainforest covered ranges of the Daintree meet the stunning beaches of this coast. There’s probably no better example of this than at Noah Beach.
Climbing the headland, I waited patiently for sunrise. On this typically stormy looking day, the sun finally put in an appearance. Beautiful warm light flooded the beach, lighting the foreground pandanus. I think this has to be my favourite beach in all of Australia.
It was on the night of the 10th June 1770 that Cook’s ship, The Endeavour, struck the Great Barrier Reef. Managing to steer his crippled ship into harbour, it was beached and repaired.
Today, a monument stands on the Endeavour River identifying the exact location of such an important event in Australia’s recent history.
It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that Cooktown was established, built to serve the gold rush following a discovery at Palmer River. Today, charismatic Cooktown is a thriving tourist destination.
The Atherton Table lands are a patchwork of rolling green hills punctuated by picturesque rainforest. Throughout the tablelands pockets of rainforest hide cathedral sized fig trees, along with scores of beautiful waterfalls.
The best known falls of this area are centred on the loop road at Millaa Millaa. Millaa Millaa is the aboriginal word for ‘plenty water’, an apt description for these beautiful veiled falls, surrounded by fertile rainforest and tropical plants.
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With glorious views over to Dunk Island from a 14 kilometre shoreline, Mission Beach is a quiet, laid back sort of place.
Heading south we continue our journey. With forty thousand kilometres on the clock and counting, we’re now on the final leg of our trip.