Around the World 1997 Travel Diaries. Part 7, Cairns, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest

1 November, entry from Ørjan, no entry from Tanja

Australian motels have early check outs! Before 10:00 is normal. We used our time after checkout to lounge by the pool. Flight took off at 19:15 and it took 2 hours to Cairns. We met two Danish girls called Rikke and Pernille and we shared a cab to Caravellas 149 since the free pickup shuttle was full. The lady at the motel counter was possibly and old hippie and she had possibly had too many hits from the bong. She was a character for sure. We paid 34 dollars for a double room with discount. Small and claustrophobic rooms but clean and tidy.

We were walking to Cairn’s city centre to visit the travel agent that cooperated with my travel agency. We had hoped that they would offer us some activities at discounted rates but no such luck. Too bad! We ended up walking around Cairns, a nice town. Tanja bought a small new backpack and a pair of shoes. I delivered some photos to be developed. I was in several didgeridoo shops to see how much it would cost to buy one. The prices were half of those in Alice Springs, less than 100 dollars for a nice one. I bought one at 90 dollars and it cost 110 dollars to ship it to Norway.

Ørjan with didjeridoo, never really mastered that instrument….

It will hopefully be waiting for me at the post office when I get back home. We discussed if we should take a trip to Cape Tribulation. In the evening we met Rikke and Pernille, and they had already booked a trip there on Sunday morning for 3 days and 2 nights at 79 dollars. We decided to do the same and travel with them. We wanted to be back in Cairns on Tuesday evening since the OZ Experience bus leaves on Thursday mornings. It will give us a day to pick up photos and sent them back home to Norway on Wednesday. We spent the evening with our Danish friends.


2 November 1997, Crocodillos, close to Cape Tribulation, Australia:
Arrived in Cairns the day before yesterday, went by taxi from the airport, which we got a refund for from the hostel we stayed at, Caravellas 149 on the Esplanade. Met by a somewhat peculiar lady in the reception who was blathering, wanting to tell us everything at once, we were tired and just wanted to go to bed. Paid AUD 34 for a tiny room with no sink, shower or toilet, I wanted to leave straight away – it felt claustrophobic, but funnily enough I slept really well, and so we booked the same room for one more night – at least it was quiet… Went for a short walk along the Esplanade – the street along the sea – reminded me of typical tourist destination in the south of Europe, lots of hotels, restaurants, snack bars and pubs. Got up around 8.30 a.m. yesterday and didn’t get back until around 4 p.m. – went for a stroll around the town. Cairns is much bigger than both Darwin and Alice Springs, but still not a big city. Laid back atmosphere, nice along the sea, no beach really, but a nice harbour, and a beautiful back drop with mountains covered by rain forest surrounding the town. Ørjan finally bought a didgeridoo, cost AUD 90, plus another 110 in shipping cost. He tried to play in the store, and with a bit more practice I’m sure he’ll manage to scare the neighbours back home…

Cape Tribulation

I bought a new small backpack for AUD 49, very practical with many pockets, and a new hat and a net to keep the flies away from my face. Bought a ring for AUD 4 at the market – similar stone as the jewellery I got from mum from Cyprus. Returning to the hotel we met the Danish couple Tim and Johanne, and went with them, Rikke and Pernille to a night club where you could get free food as long as you bought a mug of wine or beer which cost AUD 6 – good deal! Had nachos which were really good – can’t say the same about the red wine. Also booked another tour which we are on now, from Cairns to Cape Tribulation – a bit further north along the coast. Paid AUD 79 for transport and 2 nights’ accommodation – very cheap compared to other tours. Checked with the travel agency Kilroy is cooperating with if we could get some good deals, but there was no one there with the authority to promise anything, so will go back on Monday. Left 7.45 a.m. from Cairns and had a couple of stops before reaching our destination. Drove along a beautiful stretch of coast – the only place the rain forest goes all the way down to the sea. The guide was very informative and spoke a lot about the rain forest, many of the same species grow here now as 150 million years ago. Rain forests cover only 6 per cent of the world’s area but contain more than 60 per cent of all vegetation – no wonder why it will be a disaster if it disappears. Was on a boating trip on Daintree River – looking for crocodiles, but with the current heat they tend to keep under water and are rarely to be seen, so we’ve still not seen any crocodiles – too bad!

No crocs!

Here in Crocodillos we stay at “Silky Oaks” – in a dorm for 20 persons, Ørjan and I have a bunk bed each, we’re not very picky anymore regarding where we stay, so I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep well tonight. We’ve been on the “Orange Walk” – a small path through the rainforest. Packed with different trees, plants and flowers, and we also encountered a wild boar family. Felt a bit anxious with two big ones and a baby on the path in front of us, and one big one behind us, but all went well. We also saw some birds, a lizard, a turtle and a possum – looked like a mix of a rat and a kangaroo. I startled as it jumped up beside me by the dorm, hadn’t seen it was there. Have bought some spaghetti and sauce, which we’ll cook soon – cheap food for four people.


We are getting to be professionals at getting up early. 06:30 to get the bus to Cape Tribulation. The driver was the talkative kind. We drove into the oldest rainforest in the world, it was so lush and green! We were to spend the night at Crocodylas some place in the middle of the rainforest. It was perfectly placed and camouflaged in the forest. We spent the night in a 20-person dorm room. The romance! We went for a walk in the forest. We saw wild pigs, a chicken that makes huge mounds of twigs and leaves. Lots of turtles and a couple of bandicots, a cross between a wallaby and a rat. The vegetation was awesome, and we saw the “wait-a-while” shrub, so called because of its sharp spikes and if you get stuck in one, it takes a while to get unstuck. We did an alligator cruise, we saw no crocodiles, it was too hot. We played Trivial Pursuit in the evening and went to bed early. The amount of sounds emanating from the forest surrounding our dorm was just deafening! I got chilly and a bit damp during the night, so I was glad I had an extra blanket with me. Tomorrow we will travel to PK’s Jungle Village closer to the coast at Cape tribulation. And a possum broke into my backpack during the night and nibbled at my soap.


3 November 1997, PK’s Jungle Resort, Cape Tribulation, Australia:
What a lovely day! A bit boring and some time to kill before we were picked up at 12.30 p.m. to go here, but that was all forgotten when we got here! A bit sad we didn’t know how nice this place is, we could have stayed two 2 nights here instead. Surrounded by rain forest here as well, and the beach at Cape Tribulation is so beautiful – fine white sand which almost feels like snow, and by the sea it’s hard, so easy to walk along. Not many people here, and no sellers to hustle us. The rain forest reaches the beach, it’s so scenic! Wouldn’t mind staying here for a week, but we have no time for that of course. Will try and rebook our tickets to try and stay one more week in Australia. The Oz Experience bus stops at some prescheduled places whether we want to or not, so we’ll probably be spending some time in places we wouldn’t necessarily have visited otherwise. Anyway – we’d much rather stay here for another week, than two weeks in Tonga. Tonight we’ll stay in a dorm with eight beds – an improvement from last night’s 20 beds. Don’t really mind, I slept well last night, although I was a bit cold and had to get into Ørjan’s bed for a while. A pity that it’s not safe to swim here, there might be box jellyfish – the most toxic animal in the world, which can kill you in matter of seconds. A group were horse riding in the sea – looked so nice, wish I had booked a tour too, maybe I’ll get the chance in New Zealand? Trying to save some money at the moment – they seem to vanish very quickly – this is almost as expensive as at home…

Beach at Cape Tribulation

After a long and quite surprisingly cold night we had to check out at 09:30. We sat around until 12:30 when the bus arrived. PK’s is next to Cape Tribulation. When we arrived, we regretted not booking 2 nights there instead of stopping at Crocodylas on the way. PK’s had the same jungle location but livelier vibe and a stunning beach just below the compound. They have a large pool and a sand volleyball pit. We spent the afternoon relaxing at the beach. There were people snorkelling, but we opted not to do this since there was a chance for the deadly box jellyfish in these waters this time of year. We just waded and had a swim in the pool instead. We got booked seats with OZ Experience from Cairns but since the ride down to Townsville takes more than 30 hours we are wondering if we should rent a car or take a train or flight since we are running a bit behind our schedule. We have found that the drawback with OZ Experience is that they use many hours on short stretches of road. If you are in a hurry that is not so good. For example, you use from 08:00 to 16:00 on a short 100 kilometres stretch from Cairns to Mission Beach. We are also contemplating to change our departure from Australia with one extra week here, and to cut a week at Tonga. Maybe we will because we love Australia so far!

4 November, entry from Ørjan, no entry from Tanja

It was a pleasant night’s sleep even though it was a dorm and snoring were all over the place. After breakfast we wanted to walk up to Cape Tribulation Beach, but Tanja was a bit grumpy, and she stayed behind. It was a short hike, and the beach was like the one at PK’s. Bus back to Cairns was once again driven by a loony local driver who looked like he could play bass in ZZ Top. He drove like a maniac and played loud music, what a character! After having visited a tropical fruit farm and the Mossmann Gorge we came back to Cairns and checked into our motel. We used a free voucher to get a free meal with purchase of a beer at The Beach bar. We also found that we could get a Greyhound ticket to Townsville for 22 dollars as a night bus, we could book that and save a night’s accommodation.

5 November, entry from Ørjan, no entry from Tanja

My cold got worse in the night. I got a high fever and my head hurts like hell. We decided that a trip to the doctors would be wise. I got a good check; I had a sinus infection and got some antibiotics that would sort this out. We also took a blood sample to check if we had contracted malaria in Asia and got told by the nurse that Chlorokin we took was worthless and old fashioned as a contraceptive against malaria. While I was with the nurse getting my blood drawn, I noticed a commotion in my fevered state. Tanja had passed out during the blood draw and was now carried by two orderlies to a bed in an adjacent room. Nice job from the both of us. We were allowed to keep our room to 12:00 due to our sickness and we took a courtesy bus to the Greyhound terminal where we stored our luggage. We picked up the photos we had developed and sent them home by mail. We walked around the promenade and saw pelicans and had pasta with Rikke and Pernille. To pass time we went to the cinema and saw “My best friend’s wedding” and it was OK. Walked to the bus station a bit before midnight and boarded the bus at 01:00. The trip to Townsville took 5 hours with a stop at a “papaya fruit quarantine area” were we had to turn in any fruit we had with us. It was to prevent fruit flies spreading across states.

The rainforests north of Cairns were just magical. Our first visit to a proper old forest filled with magnificent beasts and birds. We can still smell that very damp “rainforest” smell if we close our eyes and think back to our visit. It seems like we love Australia!

Ørjan and Tanja 2022

Coming up next: Magnetic Island, seeing koalas for the first time and driving a Moke!

Categories:Around The World 1997, Travel

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