By Lauren Edwards
The deafening slam against the tin roofs of the make do houses is a sure sign wet season has arrived.
As the flood water rushes down the mountain fed creeks and onto the unsealed roads, the tearing of the uprooted trees rips through the rain forest. The place is alive with frogs, insects and all other wildlife thriving in the heavy falls.
I’m sat in the reasonable comfort of my tin room, blanketed by humidity but sheltered from the rain. I’m in the Daintree rain forest, Australia, and I’m taking on the wet season.
Backpacking the well trodden track of the east coast of Australia is no challenge. The swarms of Germans and Brits make it hard to comprehend the distance travelled to be in a place that appears to be so similar to home.
Warned of the heat and rains that blanket the tropics in the summer months, this seemed an unlikely backpacker hive. So this is where I decided to head… And left a year and a half later.
I became addicted to the stress free lifestyle. There was no mains power and no phone reception. Phone lines cut out when the rains started, and stayed off for days, often weeks. Cloudy days meant no TV days, but nobody cared.
When the creeks were low, they were climbed. Days were spent rock hopping your way to hidden waterfalls, camping in clearances and exploring.
When the creeks were high they were transformed into local hangouts. Natural jacuzzi’s, lazy rivers, plunge pools and water slides. Not an inch of this place is taken for granted.
The water in the creeks becomes a release from the unforgiving humidity in the air. The annual cycle gives the few locals a natural playground that flourishes all year round.
In the dry season, when fresh water is low, the ocean is at it’s best. You can swim in the fringing reef off the coast, free from the worry of stingers that the summer brings with it. You can spend days on the headland watching whales enjoying the cooler waters on their annual migration north. Lapping up the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, admiring the fragile world that lives beneath the surface of the water.
The whole place forces you to respect it. That kind of unquestioned respect you give to the elderly. It isn’t destroyed by man. If you decide to live here it’s because you are willing to live in an environment where you maintain no control. You’re immersed in the power of nature, and all that it entails. It is a place where you are inferior to your surroundings.
Just two hours south you are back in the built up metropolis that is Cairns. You’re taken out of the reef and dropped into the sea of tourists. You cross the Daintree river by ferry, a powerful barrier separating the harm of man from the untouched canopy of this World Heritage site.
The crocodile infested river is the perfect welcome to a place where, if you don’t show it respect, it most certainly will not respect you.