Big Question Marks

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cassowary-spotting & Birthday in the rainforest

First off... thanks for all the awesome name suggestions for our van! Somehow along the way, she just became "Daisy" (sorry Adrian), which was Geneva (from the Gazette)'s suggestion. A good cow name, and rolls off the tongue well when we're coaxing her up the hill :) But I think she could use some middle and last names! Lots of updates in our videos, so be sure to check 'em out!

So the big trip began on Friday (August 17) when we woke up just down the street from our old our new "apartment", Daisy the van! Thought we'd try our first stint at camping-in-a-park, down at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. It was a little odd (kinda felt like we ran away from home, only to pitch a tent in the backyard) but worked out fine. Worked out a couple of glitches (ie. our freshly-painted kitchen cupboards were stuck shut!) but a little sanding and we were off.

Everyone in Port Douglas was always talking about heading north to Cape Tribulation, a jungly/white-beaches kind of place that's a national park and World Heritage-listed, and where Captain Cook's ship originally ran aground in 1770. Since we worked too much and never got around to it, we thought it's about time! All geared up, we started the trek north though sugar cane fields and with the mountains on our left and the ocean on our right, it was a pretty, windy-road drive that put Daisy's gears and Adrian's manual driving skills to the test. We crossed the Daintree River (a wide, croc-infested, densely-forested 5-minute ride on a "ferry", or a moving platform for cars), and visited beaches along the way. Cape Kimberley was the first stop, a long deserted beach with squishy sand, and then we stopped for the night at Cow Bay (Daisy comes home!), where we saw a snake slither across the parking lot and it was so dark and windy that we hid in the van for the rest of the night from yetis and other creepy forest beasts.

Saturday morning we woke up early and headed to our legit campsite in Cape Trib, right by the beach as well. We got to use out Hello Kitty toaster (yay powered site!) and had a long walk up the beach, trying to find this mystical Beach cafe that we really don't think existed. We did a lot of walking and kept our eyes out for cassowaries (none yet) but Dayle got a cute stuffed one from the general store, which Adrian named "Dong-aleeza Rice" (for the quandong fruits we kept seeing everwhere, which these crazy dinosaur-like birds like to eat). She's our trip mascot for the Far North now! For the evening, we had this wonderful plan to have a campfire and wine and cheese on the beach that night, but then we found out (A) fires are probably illegal in a National Park and (B) as soon as we got there it started raining. Yarrr! So much for that.

Sunday was Dayle's birthday and we woke up to a grey day... no suntanning for us! Instead we had some lazy breakfast and hit the Bat House, a local sight that sounded like it'd be chock-full of bats everywhere (or as they call them here, flying foxes), but there was only one out, a funny-looking thing up close named Pushkin, who was flightless due to a hole in his wing. He was a squeaky thing who kept wrapping his leathery wings around himself everytime we tried to get a picture with him! Later we went for a walk on a boardwalk in the rainforest and that's when it started pouring rain... and it was no quick tropical shower... it kept raining till the next morning. It was brie and red wine under a quilt in our van, till we finally got out the umbrellas to hunt down a restaurant... quite a spooky walk in the pitch-black (there's no power lines in Cape Trib-- just solar-power and generators running the place). But we made it to the Dragonfly cafe, an art gallery/restaurant with a huge porch and a turtle pond, the perfect place to have some food and chocolate cake in the jungle. Yum! A happy birthday feast!

Of course, the day after Dayle's b-day was sunny and gorgeous... and we went for another rainforest boardwalk in the arvo (that's afternoon!). And we were lazily strolling, reading plaques about mangroves and forest, when we both jumped when a huge creature crossed the path ahead. Hearts pounding, we look at each other and whisper, "CASSOWARY!" and scramble for the camera. It was so scary... way bigger than expected, with a big black feathery butt, HUGE feet, bright red wattle and a bright blue head. When it turned to look at us, we immediately thought of the veloceraptor scenes from Jurassic Park. We had read you should back away slowly and make lots of noise if it seemed like it would attack, since this thing is known to disembowel humans with its foot-claws. It was EEK! and YAY! at the same time-- there are thought to be only 1200 left in the world, an endangered bird that's so prehistoric and rare,and we were seeing it in the wild, not even at a zoo. So we had to stick around, and video and snap it (Check it out on our video and photo links), with some other tourists. And then, just when we lost it, we found a tour group on the path who were following ANOTHER cassowary-- a young one. It was about 5 ft tall, and not as bright. And it grossed everyone out with a huge reddish poop of still-intact rainforest fruits on the trail (and yes, we giggled and snapped a photo of that too). Late on we saw the dad (or the mom?) lope down a swamp, and it felt in a funny way like we were moose-spotting in Algonquin.

Cassowary in the Woods! from BigQuestionMarks and Vimeo.

Now we're back from the Daintree (in Mossman, the sugar town that neighbours Port Douglas) and soon it'll be off for the outback and for the coast south of here. Queensland is a huge state and I think we'll be exploring it for a while. We'll be posting more on the blog now that our lives are a little more exciting (on the road!) and hope we can hear/read your updates too. miss you all lots xoxoxo A&D


Paula said...

Yeaye!!!! Happy Bday miss Daylio!!! You two have a fantastic time outback and keep us posted on the adventures!!! Love ya´ll!

pauline said...

omg, sounds like an amazing time!! kyle and i are thinking of getting a vw camper of our own... come meet us for a west coast camping trip!!

:) miss u guys.

Bass Nole said...

Dad described this bird as being more like a velociraptor than Big Bird. We've all seen Jurassic Park. I'm FedEx'ing you two a machete... if one gets crazy, go for the neck. Endangered bedamned.

Dayle said...

thanks for the birthday wishes Paula!!! can't wait to read more about your adevntures too :)
we're thinking of you all too. good luck with the vw camper Pauline.... yay, i've always wanted one too! (they're too expensive here) we'll race you for sure. and neil, i'm waiting for the machete... but more for the killer kangaroos :S
love dayle

kyle said...

nice video, i can see what you mean by eek-yay!

effing huge little guy.

much love

Tony said...

Good job! :)