Tropical Queensland!

How time flies.

It’s been more than a month since I came back from my vacation in Cairns but I’m still hung-over the trip. Going to Queensland was like going back to my native Philippines. No kidding when they call it Tropical Queensland. Sun, sand, surf, palm trees, rain forest – it’s all there. I must say I was surprised to see how different Queensland is from Melbourne and Sydney.

Queensland is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. And these two were what brought me to this state.

At first glance you wouldn’t think that Queensland has that much to offer. It’s rural pretty much in every sense of the word. Unlike Melbourne or Sydney, this place does not have skyscrapers and busy city streets. However, that simplicity serves as a prelude to the adventures that Queensland holds.

About 2 hours away from Cairns by boat awaits the Great Barrier Reef. This place has legendary status in my mind. People talk about it in very high regards that’s why I had to be there myself. And it didn’t disappoint. The only other place I’ve ever gone diving to was our very own El Nino in Palawan. It was breath-taking so I had a very high expectations with the Great Barrier Reef. And boy it didn’t disappoint.

The slow descent to the bottom of the ocean was the build up to what awaits. Slowly as you get closer and closer to the ocean floor, your vision becomes clearer. It’s so surreal to be under water. To be almost weightless and floating with schools of fish and surrounded by colourful corals and anemones that sway with the ocean current is an experience that compares with nothing else. It was amazing to see that the Great Barrier Reef still pulses with so much life.

The dive was short but it was sweet. I didn’t get to see a shark which is an experience that I was really looking forward to but what the hell, I was in one of the most bio-diverse places in the world. So yeah, shark or no shark, it was an experience that I will never forget.

The next place that we visited was Cape Tribulation. Don’t be fooled by the name. I know tribulation means hardship and shit, but the place is such a stark contrast to the name. It’s all about balanced relaxation and adventure in Cape Tribulation. You can either while your day away in the beach and just soak up the sun or go jungle surfing for a bit of adrenaline rush. It all depends on what you want. In my case, I wanted both.

It’s not easy getting to Cape Tribulation. It’s about a 4-hour bus ride from Cairns but trust me, it’s all worth it.

Cape Tribulation is home to the Daintree Rainforest. It’s the largest rainforest in Australia. And by that I mean you will feel tiny once you step into the forest.

We had the chance to do a night walk in the rainforest and the experience was exhilarating. Imagine the darkness of the forest swallowing you with no light except for your torch. You’re in the mercy of the forest and at any point in time you’re at risk of being attacked by drop bears. Don’t know what drop bears are? Google them. They’re scary. :p

Kidding aside, walking tin he forest at night was an awesome experience. You get to see what actually happens when the sun comes down, in the cover of the night. Plants glow in their own light and the forest is still abuzz with the sound of nocturnal animals. Our guide was very specific in telling us to keep the noise down so that we don’t drive the animals away. Nocturnal animals are not very visual but they have very, very sharp hearing. Something that they develop by being in the dark much of the time. I was amazed at how much the forest was still so alive even at night. Point your torch light in the right spot and you’ll be surprised at the things you’ll discover – reptiles, insects, glowing mushrooms. Take your pick. Nature truly is amazing. 🙂

The next day we got our harness on and glided our way through the rainforest. They call it jungle surfing and basically it’s a series of short zip lines that course through the Daintree. This gives you a chance to be so high up in the trees and have a different point of view of the forest. From up high, you see mountain and ocean views. And you realise that this makes the Daintree so special because it actually spills out to the ocean. It’s enormous. It’s beautiful.

On our way back to Cairns we stopped by Mossman Gorge. This was my first time to visit a gorge of any kind and I’m now so glad that Mossman was the first I visited. Towering tress, giant boulders, and raging rapids give the gorge a life of it’s own. And to be in the middle of it all is a privilege like no other.

This trip has reinforced my respect for nature. It’s beautiful and magnificent but also fragile. And it is our duty as humans to take care of it. 🙂

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