Day 3 was my highlight of the rainforest. And that is saying something when you look at all the great things I have already done and things I still have to come.

If you go to the Daintree, there is one tour that you MUST take. It is done by an outfit called Cooper Creek Wilderness. I did their 4 hour walk. No boardwalks, no manmade structures. This is a 6.5km hike through the forest.  This is their description on the webpage;

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My tour guide was Neil who is the owner of 160 acres of land in the forest and this tour takes place on his property. Who better? He has owned this land for over 30 years and has grown up in the Daintree. There is no one better suited who knows the history, the cultural issues, the political issues and has watched the eco-system over many years and is a great speaker. I have little doubt he wrote the above statement as he speaks as elegant as that paragraph is written.   I have nothing but praise for this tour. It was wonderful that Neil is so open with his opinions about how to save the rainforest, of which all I did not agree with, but he was respectful of anyones disagreement. At the end of the day, agree with him or not, you walk away with a much better understanding of all the issues, both environmental and political surrounding this amazing place.

I thought the night walk was really educational until I spent 4 hours with Neil on a piece of land that he knows so well. By the end of the 4 hours I was completely blown away. I digested so much information that only a fraction of it has remained in my brain, I would take this tour again in a heartbeat on my next visit to the Daintree.

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Our guide Neil, so passionate about a place that he loves.

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Neil and his partner met us in the driveway and ensured we had water and were geared up to go. The walk is not too strenuous but it is 6.5km’s over flat but root covered land. Was glad that I wore my hiking shoes and the heat wasn’t to crazy that day. He starts off with a wonderful overview of the rainforest and how it became a world heritage site after it was discovered that fruit and animals that should not exist still do. This ecosystem is still 135 million years old and has not changed much in that time except for the impact of man.

He then starts an easy walk around some fields in his yard by showing camouflaged insects and spiders. Things you would never see.

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Can you see the spider on this tree?  Hint, it is not small.
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Can you see the stick insect?
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Spot the very BIG bug on this tree.  Look for the antenna.
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Things you do not want to rub up against.

Much to my surprise, just a few minutes into the walk, out walk two Cassowary’s. There are signs everywhere in the rainforest telling you to drive carefully and not hit this endangered bird.

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Cassowary Crossings

But everyone you talk to moans about never seeing any, it is a very elusive bird. It is also a dangerous bird that can kill pets and humans if provoked. It is one that you watch from a distance. The Cassowary’s are so important to the life of the rainforest. They eat the fruit of most of the trees (even the ones that are highly toxic) and poop out the seeds that then germinate in their excrement. If a seed falls to the ground on its own, it has about a 3% chance of germination. If it falls out of a Cassowary, those odds are closer to 90%. They are key to the survival of the rainforest but there are less than 1500 of these birds alive today. I was very fortunate to see 3 on this walk. Two in the first few minutes and later in the walk while Neil was talking, a head suddenly appeared and then disappeared in the background. Even he was surprised but commented that he thought a female had her eggs back there.

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The female is actually the larger of the birds and the most colourful.
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Male in the back.  These things can do serious damage to humans and pythons.
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and can eat fruit that would kill a human.
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One of the last of the dinosaurs.

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I could document many of the stories that he told but I am not going to do that. Go for the walk and put the money in his pocket, it is worth every penny. Just seeing a Cassowary in itself – wow. Although no guarantees of seeing such things but even without them the other things you see and the stories that Neil tells are brilliant. Here are some pictures and more stories.

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The canopy is so thick that it ties all the trees together.   The root structure is only a few inches below the soil and all the tree roots are intertwined along with the tops of the trees.  This allows the entire forest to communicate and survive cyclones, everything uses the strength of the others.
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Trees that are hundreds of years old.
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A tree that a stranger got the better of.
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Just to give you some context of the size.  I  am sitting on a root.
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Flying foxes sleeping through the day.   They are located just high enough to be away from the pythons.
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A Boyd Forest Dragon
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Another Dinosaur
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This is where the pythons hang out.   Not something I would want to climb into.

After the walk we had 90 minutes before a crocodile tour just town the road from Cooper Creek Wilderness. Off to CJ’s for a bit of lunch – as they were nearby and I had eaten there on day 1 and knew it was a decent place. Had to walk through a small Mangrove forest to get to the boat as the tide was low – always unnerving walking anywhere in the wetlands with crocs around. Unfortunately because the tide was down and it had been so dry, this was not a good croc spotting day.

Shortly after slipping into the river, he showed a small croc on the opposite beach. It is funny as I have spoken to others who have taken this tour and they all talk about this small croc. I have a suspicion it may not be real but a dummy 🙂 This way you can say that you seen a croc! But we did get lucky and see 2 more. A shy female who really didn’t want to get too close and another one that was far down a gully that we could not get into to. My lenses managed to get a picture and it looks pretty big to me, but what do I know about crocs. It was a nice little cruise but Neil’s tour was definitely the highlight of the day.

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Our croc hunter/ride
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Is he real or not? 
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The elusive female.
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She liked to hide.
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One that I could barely see from a distance but photoshop and my lens pulled out.  Looks big to me.
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The river was covered in mangrove trees allowing us to see the root structure.

Drove back to the Beach House afterwards and hit the pool to cool off my aching feet and spent the evening reading books and thinking about all I had learned that day.

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