Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daintree Rainforest (last Port Douglas day)

(Sorry for the delay: retro-posting this some weeks later)

I woke early this morning to the sound of pouring rain. I pulled the covers back up for a few more moments of dozing, thinking as I did so that there could be no more perfect sound to hear at the start of a day we planned to spend in one of the worlds oldest and most spectacular rainforests.

The Mossman Gorge lies twenty minutes North of Port Douglas. Most visitors to the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world, build their visit around this gorge. Wide and well-maintained trails wind through the lush, towering, and rather inhospitable trees and vines, following the coursing river. An impressive steel cable suspended bridge that swings over a tumble of rapids provides an excellent vantage point for photographers. Actually taking a picture proved tricky, however, because, being suspended, the bridge is remarkably springy underfoot. Most visitors – regardless of age – took time to enjoy bouncing.

The Gorge and surrounding rainforests are the traditional lands of the Kuku Yalanji people. As they understand and articulate it, their lands are where the rainforests meet the sea. We started our day in Daintree by visiting one of the communities’ organisations, the Dreamtime Centre, which had a gallery and educational materials, and offered a guided walk through some of their more sacred land. Led by a tall dark and handsome Aboriginal man with beautiful ‘locks (I was rather enamoured), we wandered up into the rainforest and learned about traditional housebuilding techniques, the uses of native plants (from trailmarkers to tools and weapons to food), and a bit about the spiritual component of the land. Circumspect as always to keep secret Aboriginal business secret, our guide nevertheless gave us a wonderful glimpse into his people’s history and worldview. The walk concluded with tea and damper (simple bread) at a campfire with our own private and very impressive didgeridoo performance. I loved it all! Erika especially loved learning all the practical stuff. An excellent rainy day.

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