“So has anyone actually been taken by a croc around here?”
In retrospect it was a fairly inappropriate question, but I couldn’t help myself. This was Wonga Beach in Far North Queensland, and we were allegedly in croc territory.
“Yep,” the owner of the caravan park said. “Woman was taken just up the road not that long ago.”
Oh. Right. Those croc signs were obviously legit then. I hadn’t planned to go in the water, but now it was definitely off limits. I remembered a conversation we’d had with a friend of Jared’s in Cairns:
“I’d much rather be taken by a shark than a croc,” he said. “If it’s a shark that’s just bad luck but when you get taken by a croc there’s no sympathy. People go, what was that idiot doing in croc-infested waters anyway?”
It was true. I’d said something similar myself in response to a recent news story, and now I felt guilty for blaming the victim.
Wonga Beach calls itself the ‘Gateway to the Daintree,’ a tropical rainforest that I imagined was crawling with crocodiles. It lent an element of drama to our brief visit, especially because it’s easy to believe a croc could come charging out of the bush at any minute.
The trees are dripping with thick green foliage that spills out onto the white sand beaches, and the Daintree River flows to the south. There are a handful of croc-safe swimming holes, though I was still wary when I slipped into one.
Cape Tribulation is the main town in the Daintree, and its beaches are dazzling. Not that I stepped a single toe into one, but they’re so beautiful that I was able to appreciate it from a croc-safe distance.
Of course, there is more to the Daintree than the presence of crocodiles. There are a small number of restaurants and resorts, as well as a jungle surfing canopy adventure and rainforest boardwalks. There are also two divisive ice cream shops, with plenty of arguments for which one is the best. Only one way to find out:
Floravilla had more choice, but the Daintree Ice Cream company might have the edge because you get four flavors in one cup. They rotate daily so you have to take what you get. (Don’t worry, no one loses in this scenario.)
I’ll be the first to say that we didn’t do the Daintree justice, despite our significant efforts in ice cream eating. One day isn’t enough to get to know anywhere, but when you’re pressed for time it’s better than no days.
The timing of our trip went against conventional wisdom, because we hit north Queensland in mid-October, right at the start of the rainy season. Though we were tempted by Cooktown, it was a bit too far and the Daintree became our practical turning point. The threat of camping in the pouring rain just does not appeal to me, no matter where I am.
It has helped to view this trip in a series of legs; the Daintree was the end of the East Coast leg for us, and the last time for a few weeks that we would see the beach. On the plus side, we were leaving the crocs behind, which meant that all we needed to worry about were snakes and spiders.