A smiling salty on the banks of the Daintree River
I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Daintree region touring and exploring. But when you head north into this tropical oasis you get a lot of warnings, a lot.
There are the obvious ones, like for the crocodiles. The Daintree doesn't just have any old crocs, in fact having experienced some gators in Florida a few years back these crocs are scary. To be clear the Saltwater Crocodile is THE apex predator, the only animal that eats salties is other salties. Even sharks are killed and eaten by salties.
There is a line in one of the warning brochures that sent chills down my spine. It said "If you can see small crocodiles then the large crocodiles are watching you". They are big, strong and deadly, but they are also stealthy, that makes them really scary.
Saltwater Crocodile in the Daintree River
I watched a 4m male croc simply disappear in shallow waters, after unsuccessfully courting a female he simply submerged and disappeared. No ripples, no movement, just gone. Let me tell you I wasn't leaning over the edge of the boat after that.
But the crocs are just the start. If you go for a swim in the Daintree river, the only question really is whether the crocs or the bull sharks will get you first. Actually, I did two croc tour river cruises on the Daintree and both times the boat had 50 odd perfectly serviceable life jackets on. I couldn't think of anything more terrifying than floating in a life jacket on the Daintree River, it is the stuff of nightmares.
Beautiful scene but look closer...
While on the subject of water, before I wrap up there, if the crocs or sharks don't get you, North Queensland is home to the box jellyfish, this harmless looking jellyfish can kill you with its 3m long tentacles by paralysing your heart and lungs. Lovely I know.
But the birds are also dangerous, yes the birds - try this on for size
The cassowary, looks like a giant prehistoric turkey walking on stilts with a large pointed helmet on its head. It is the second largest bird in the world. It is also the most dangerous bird on the planet. If threatened it will attack with a swift karate-kick with its powerful legs equipped with dagger-like claws.
It may sound like an over-dramatisation, but it isn't. Sadly I didn't see a cassowary, but that said I am grateful I didn't bump into one on my walks. I did bump into a massive pile of cassowary poo, that was scary enough, I knew one was in the vicinity.
Cassowary Poo, for scale this was as long/wide as my size 9 shoe.
So, don't go in the water and be very careful of the turkeys on stilts. If that isn't enough, there are also plants that want to tear you to pieces, literally. The most scary is the wait-a-while, it will entangle you and if not careful it can and will cut through flesh to the bone.
I got caught in some exploring and thankfully was forewarned and didn't get more than a few spikes in me. Although later I slipped and grabbed a palm frond to stop my fall and cut my hand open on the sharp teeth of the frond.
The Daintree is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been but I can tell you that I felt more at ease walking the streets of Brooklyn in the dark carrying $10,000 of camera gear than I did spending two minutes alone in the Daintree. It is a beautiful and ancient land where humans need to respect it or pay the price.
A sacred kingfishers on the Daintree River
But it isn't all doom and gloom. The Daintree is breathtaking and has some stunning wildlife that isn't out to get you, in fact it is just gorgeous. Take these kingfishers for example, I managed to see both the sacred kingfisher and the azure kingfisher in within a few minutes. Until that day I had never seen either in the wild.
Azure Kingfisher Daintree River
As I shot these photos of the beautiful Kingfishers, I was thinking of my friend Natalie Parker and her breathtaking paintings of Australian wildlife. Nat would have loved the morning on the Daintree River capturing the beautiful native fauna.
I have to finish with a big thank you. I spend several hours on the Daintree River with the wonderful team from Crocodile Express. I was lucky enough to go out on the river twice with the Croc Express including with one of the business owners Anja. These crocodile and kingfisher images were captured from the deck of Crocodile Express boats. I thoroughly recommend them if you are visiting the Daintree.
I will leave you with a beautiful scene from Masons swimming hole, one of the few croc free places to swim in the Daintree.
Masons swimming hole Daintree
Have an awesome day.
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