On The Road: Trials of a rainforest trek, on the hunt for an elusive bird
Saturday 28 November 2009
A loud rustle came from the undergrowth at the edge of the boardwalk. I stopped and waited, holding my breath as I listened. The noise came again, louder this time. Expecting a bush turkey but hoping for a bigger bird, I craned my neck to see more. From under the dry leaves crawled a monitor lizard.
When I'd heard about Cape Tribulation I was sold immediately. It boasts some of the oldest rainforest on earth and it's where cassowaries live. Cassowaries are huge, prehistoric-looking flightless birds found in parts of north-eastern Australia and New Guinea. They are endangered – and thanks to a fearsome kicking ability – can sometimes be dangerous. Who wouldn't want to see one?
So I shoved everything into my rucksack, turned my back on Cairns and headed for a new adventure. I was ready for isolation and wilderness. But instead I found myself stranded in a hostel with nothing to do but read novels and make friends with other tourists.
"It's a lovely walk along the beach," I was told. "Here's the route: it should take about an hour each way." So I crammed my hat on my head, lathered up with sunscreen and set out onto the sand, past the sunbathers, past the mangroves, towards the headland.
I know you'll be relieved to hear I made it there and back. There were a few wrong turns, but I didn't end up a desiccated skeleton sprawled on the sand. And Cape Tribulation itself really is breathtaking. This is how I imagine Northern Queensland might have looked before the Europeans arrived.
So go, try jungle surfing through the canopy or broil yourself on the white sands. I've been back in civilisation for a few weeks now and I'm thinking of returning to the Cape. After all, I still need to see a cassowary.
Footprint's East Coast Australia (£13.99) is available now
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...