Thursday, February 14, 2013

Australia's Daintree National Park and Rainforest

Our journey "Around the World" lists the Great Barrier Reef of Australia as one of the stops. However, I chose to partake in a different option along with about 20 of my fellow passengers. Instead of heading offshore to the submarine environment we took a trip back in time to the Daintree rainforest that is thought to have been in existence in this place since the Cretaceous Period, some 110 million years ago. When the southern continents of Gondwana began to fragment, Australia drifted north where this forest likely came into existence.

 Some very nice trails traverse this section of the park...

 ...and take hikers through these giant trees

 Vines are prolific and everything is so green

Our guide Cameron is a member of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. Aborigines first came to Australia about 50,000 years ago. Here Cameron stands before a hut made from fiber from the paper bark tree. He joked that it contained signs that this one was made the men of the tribe. When someone asked how he knew that he said it was obvious because this one leaked.

 Walking the forest floor

These tree nuts have been cracked open on this stone mortar for centuries, maybe even millennia

This portion of the park is located along the Mossman Gorge and river. The water was clear and quite warm with a coarse sandy bottom.

 Cameron found some stones in the river and began to make some body paint

The four coloras were fantastic and easily made

Applying the paint

These large granite boulders suggest that the Mossman River is capable of huge flood events that deliver the boulders to the coastal plain below

Sunlight filters down to the forest floor

Some tools were displayed for us as we enjoyed hot tea from an Australian billie

Cameron gave us a few notes on the didgeridoo

This part of Australia grows a lot of sugar cane

But our next stop was to a place where former cane fields have been turned into a very productive fruit farm

This is the man who has done it, an American ex-pat named Alan Carle along with his wife Susan. He comes from Woodstock, New York (yes, that Woodstock) and in 1975 he decided to search the world for a clean healthy environment where he could raise a family. He discovered northern Queensland in Australia and bought 20 acres of badly abused former sugar cane land. Then he began to travel to other rainforests around the world to see what foods could be grown from them. They call their endeavor the Botanical Ark and you can read about it here.

Here is a root that is a member of the ginger family called tumeric. Bright orange in color, it offers numerous health benefits.

Honestly, I forgot the name of this exotic fruit, we heard of so many

Alan has a pet perch that lives and swims in his homeside lake...

...and it is trained to leap out od the water for food.

Susan serving us lunch on their front porch. They built this house and the once stripped-out rainforest has now returned and surrounds them with a bountiful harvest of rainforest fruits.

This was our dessert tray with fruits from around the world grown here at the Botanical Ark

Alan and Susan Carle of the Botanical Ark

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