Part character, part dry humorist and certainly a full blooded naturalist – your eyes will be opened to the wonders of this unique part of the world. His “office” is in the world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree. This rainforest dates back 140 million years old – the landscape has certainly changed since then – several islands continued the heritage of the Daintree when the oceans were much higher. These islands are now tall mountains in the neighboring mountain ranges which generally run north and south – bordering the Coral Sea.
The diversity here is mind boggling both in flora and fauna. It is an incredible feeling when you are actually walking in this rainforest – when you start thinking about how old it is and as some of the diversity and creativity that both plants and animals employ to actually stay alive. Take one of the Kingfisher birds for example. It incubates its eggs in some of the local termite mounds because of the regulated temperature the termites keep. The termites actually build a wall around the eggs and then when the birds leave this “nest” the wall is removed.
A typical tour day starts with Nick arriving at your lodging location in the morning and then heading out from there. His vehicle is a 4wd, which is much needed during the rainy season when rivers can rise dramatically. They don’t call this the ‘wet tropics’ for no reason. Nick is always on the lookout for anything unique and interesting – and he has eyes like a hawk!
One of the main highlights of any tour here is to hopefully spot a Cassowary – one of the largest birds in the world and in this immediate part of the Daintree there are under 100 in the wild. Nick has a success rate of about 130 days a year where he will see this bird in its natural habitat. They are hard to spot as the forest understory is dark as are these birds.
When the weather is decent and the water clear Emmagen Creek is a secluded location in the rainforest for a refreshing swim. Weather permitting, Nicholas will take you here.
Lunch is at the Daintree Tea House Restaurant with your hosts Peter Ryan and Richard Seivers. They are extremely knowledgeable about tropical fruits grown in the region and you will almost be guaranteed to try tropical fruits you have never seen or heard of. The tropical fruit and the related education, is certainly a highlight here. So to is the fillet of wild Barramundi, a delicious fish that lives in this part of Queensland along with other parts of the northern part of the country.
Daintree Tea House is not the only local establishment that incorporates the richness of tropical fruit into a visitor’s experience. There are a number of tropical fruit farms in the area; one company which has incorporated the rich flavors of fruit into tropical ice creams is the Daintree Ice Cream Company. Their flavors always vary depending on the day you visit, but common ice creams are Jakfruit, Durian, Soursop and the Wattle Seed – which has a very pleasant mild coffee or mocha flavor. Visitors are also free to wander through their onsite fruit orchardAnother highlight of Nick’s tours is a boat ride on the Daintree River with another local guide. Here you will most likely see crocodiles in their natural environment, spot colorful crabs on the mud banks, learn about the mangroves growing in the area and see a number of birds.
One of the highlights is seeing an Archer Fish in action. This amazing fish can shoot a high powered stream of water straight from the river up at any food that might come near the surface. One of the “wow” moments on this boat ride are stunning reflections of the nearby mountains including the tall Thornton Peak framed by glass like still waters.
A few intriguing plants you might see on your tour are the Match Pod – these are the largest pods we have seen on our travels. Historically they can be used to inflict pain – if you take one of the seeds in the pod and rub it vigorously against a stone it quickly heats up and can burn you if you touch it. The ‘fart bush’ is appropriately nick named. Crush the leaves in your hand and voila you have a certain annoying smell.
With so much experience leading tours over the years, Nicholas has the timing down – he knows when to be somewhere so you won’t see many other people, be on the boat tour so you have a better chance of being alone on the river and he knows the good restaurants in the area.
#ad I have been commissioned by and will be working with Tourism Australia for this program and resulting content.