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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

World

Flying without wings in the Daintree rainforest
Sonia Nazareth
April 15, 2012
First Published: 11:58 IST(15/4/2012)
Last Updated: 13:04 IST(15/4/2012)

Secluded resorts the world over have begun to sell themselves as destinations where you can leave the world behind. At Cape Tribulation, in tropical north-east Queensland, that's not a clever advertising ploy; it's a way of life.

In this the largest clump of tropical rainforest on the Australian coastline, which spreads right down to the sea, there is no cellphone network and minimal internet coverage. Just the rainforest and Daintree river.

Like the giant strangler figs and exotic fairy wrens, the mood on this peninsula is primal, quintessentially wild.

The best way to get around Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest is by jungle-surfing, which involves hurtling over trees on flying-fox ziplines, stopping along the way at tree platforms to take in views extending all the way to the Great Barrier Reef.

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At each stop, you debate afresh whether you are brave enough to slide off the edge again. You quiver. You quake. You pretend you're taking so long because you love the view of cascading streams way below.

But each time you let go and float through the air, attached to a rope like Tarzan, you realise anew that flying over Eden is exhilarating.

Back on the ground, sign up for a four-wheel-drive safari or a guided walk if you want to crawl under the skin of the prolific plant and bird life. Pick a night tour if possible, because this is when the rainforest and its inhabitants are at their talkative best. A day safari, meanwhile, comes with the added treat of a picnic under the trees, on the banks of the Woobadda river.

The following morning, walk along the Bloomfield river to spot crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, then go on a mini-trek to the 40-metre Bloomfield Falls. To be authentic, this walk must be taken with a member of the Kuku Yalanji clan, an aboriginal tribe that lives in Wujal Wujal, 30 km north of Cape Tribulation.

Sweet-talk your guide through her dreamtime stories and she will take you on a traditional hunt for indigenous food, point out native medicinal plants, and eventually crush a live green-ants nest in her hand to release a chemical concoction that can purge the sinuses if you have a cold. (Be warned, however, that the treatment may be as uncomfortable as the malady.)

Finally, head to Cowie Beach, where trees grow not just down to the water but in it too, and select your free souvenirs from among the intricate seashells that dot the golden sand.

While it's hard to imagine living in Daintree, it's easy to contemplate a visit once a year - to a place where fruit grows in abundance, where you may just sight the rare flightless cassowary bird. And where, between bites of a wattle seed, black sapote and soursop ice-cream, you realise that you haven't heard your cellphone ring in days.


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