Welcome To This Journey (The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest)
Nothing you have heard prepares you for the first time you see the Great Barrier Reef.
Situated 15 km northeast of Port Douglas, the Low Isles is a 4 acre coral cay surrounded by 55 acres of reef. The corals are very close to the island, which makes snorkelling an easier enjoyable experience.
It is just another day in paradise.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic construction on earth. It is the oldest and most famous coral reef in the world.
There are 150 different species of hard corals in the waters surrounding Low Isles. These are dominated by 15 species of soft coral.
You can’t take anything from the reef. Not a shell or stone or dead piece of coral –no souvenirs –this was very hard for me.
When snorkeling, watch out for coral, giant clams, zebrafish, turtles, sharks. jellyfish and multicolored fish of many sizes.
Don’t touch anything. Handling certain corals and organisms can kill them.
In 1928, this cay was the base for a year long scientific survey that examined the structure and ecology of the surrounding reef. This was the first scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world and many current theories of coral reef ecology are based on the findings of the expedition.
Make sure you go on a reef tour that has the eco tourism logo.
It is best to wear a lycra body suit when the jellyfish are stinging. Or if you are a lifeguard and out in the very strong sun all day. They are layered from head to toe.
They only cancel reef tours if there is a hurricane. Or cyclone as it is called in the southern hemisphere.
Steve Irwin died in the Great Barrier Reef. It was a freak accident where a stingray hit him straight in the heart. That almost never happens.
Sharks are immune to all known diseases.
President Clinton was on vacation in Port Douglas at the Sheraton Mirage (closest city to the Great Barrier Reef) when 9/11 happened.
Nothing in Port Douglas is allowed to be built over the size of a coconut tree. Mcdonalds is not allowed to be built either.
There is no smoking in any building or National Park (beaches and rainforests included) in Queensland. (State where GBR and Daintree rainforest are located.)
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest in the world and somehow has bypassed-ecological change and has plant life that has long since dispersed everywhere else. It is a Unesco World Heritage site.
The Daintree Rainforest situated north of Cairns in tropical North Queensland. Approximately 1200 square kilometers in size, it supports over 3000 species of plant, over one third of Australia’s mammalian species including 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world. It is also home to a quarter of Australia’s frogs, a third of the country’s freshwater fish and nearly half of Australia’s birds.
Mossman Gorge ( where we were) is located in the southern part of the Daintree Rainforest. Our guide was from the Kuku Yulangi tribe. His ancestors lived in the rainforest.
During the rainy season, the rain is measured in meters. The rainy season is called the green season.
The rainforest has cassowaries and tree kangaroos – both endangered species. I didn’t see them.
The Aborigines of the rainforest are not overly tall hunter gatherers.
Dreaming stories pass on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations of the Aborigines. Through song, dance, painting and storytelling which express the dreaming stories, Aborigines have maintained a link with the Dreaming from ancient times to today, creating a rich cultural heritage. The indigenous people in Australia were treated badly throughout history. It is clear that efforts are being made to tell their stories .
In Queensland there are over 600 dialects of Aboriginal languages but none of them have words for yesterday and tomorrow. They saw the world differently then the Europeans did.
It is important to learn from the elders in the rainforest. –which plants make the medicine for which illness, where to find food, how to make a shelter, how to send a message by hitting on certain hollow trees which echo through the forest ,which trees make the best musical instruments and much much more. (this type of tree is hollow and makes a loud echoing noise when hit – good for sending messages in a forest)
The rainforest is a supermarket, pharmacy , hardware store, etc to the Aborigines. Everything they need to exist is there. When you get your food from the bush, you understand the connection to the natural order of things.
Ants are used to treat the common cold and flu. The sacs on their back is loaded with vitamin C. Sarsasparilla leaves become soap when mixed with water. Yellow wattle is used in cancer treatment.
Mangos grow well in this area. It is almost mango season. They make mango preserves, mango chutney, mango syrup,mango wine and even mango toothpaste. Never pick a green mango because they are poisonous.
Cocatoos destroy banana plants.
Wallabies destroy the grass for the sheep and cows.
Cattlle is big business in Queensland. (This is cattle is in Tasmania – I just like this cow picture -I didn’t have to say anything. You would not have known.)
Crocodiles can live up to 200 years.
There are twenty three varieties of crocodile in Australia. The largest and most dangerous are called by the cute name of “Salties.” They can live in fresh and salt water but prefer the combination of waters found in the Daintree rainforest rivers.
Here we are in the Dainntree wetlands looking for one of the big crocodiles who lives here named “Wallet.”
Instead we found Brahmins from India. They are imported here because they are tic resistant cattle.
If you are going to be on this planet for millions of years, you better be very good at what you do. Crocodiles are the top of the food chain in Australia.
Do your part at home to protect the environment and fight against global warming. The current theory is that global climate change affects coral reefs and rainforests throughout the world.