Ocean Magazine : 1 May June 2005
ocean | 67 where the rainforest canopy meets overhead and where crocodiles are regularly seen basking on the bank. Lunch is a gourmet BBQ picnic on a private property in a secluded rainforest clearing. This afternoon return to the river and travel by 4WD and barge across the Daintree River for the short drive north to Cockatoo Hill Retreat. The evening meal is served in the main lodge, which is set amongst aromatic gardens of bougainvillea, frangipani and palms. Your hosts Carmen and Gilles bring a touch of French style to the cuisine. Day 2 -- The Daintree, Cockatoo Hill Retreat For the keen fishermen in the party, your helicopter pilot will be ready to take you offshore for a day's fishing. A 25 minute flight takes you out to Hastings Reef where you join your fishing boat for a day's reef and game fishing. The waters off north Queensland have an incredible array of light sportfishing options with almost every species of Pacific game fish inhabiting the plankton and baitfish rich waters adjacent to the reef and continental shelf -- Wahoo, Spanish Mackerel, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Barracuda, Scaly Mackerel , Trevally and Sailfish are all regular catches. And of course the area is recognised as the Black Marlin capital of the world. Our local fishing guide will show you the best spots. For others in the party, there are a number of options: join a private wilderness guide and 4WD for a trip up the Bloomfield Track, the rugged and spectacularly beautiful coastal road that heads north to Cooktown; take the helicopter south to Port Douglas to enjoy an excellent lunch at Salsa Restaurant in town, or head out for a superb beach picnic on one of the many ocean beaches that line this coast. Return to Cockatoo Hill in the evening. Dinner has been arranged at a private rainforest location in the Daintree. Amidst the sounds of the rainforest and Aboriginal music and with the light thrown out by flamepots in the forest, your private chefs will lay on a gourmet meal under the canopy of the world's oldest tropical rainforest. Day 3 -- Outback Savannah day trip After a tropical breakfast overlooking the rainforest, your driver will take you to the airstrip at Cow Bay to meet up with your helicopter pilot. Fly out over the rainforest, the ranges and the fertile farmlands of the Atherton Tablelands and into the drier savannah country beyond (45 minutes flight). Your pilot will take the occasional side trip en route to show you some of the area's spectacular sights -- Mt. Mulligan is an extraordinary experience, landing on top of its cliffs for morning tea with views across huge expanses of outback savannah country. Continue on to Tyrconnell, a former gold mine and unique Australian heritage site owned by Andrew and Cate Bell. Established in 1876, on the Hodgkinson goldfield, just 150km west of Cairns, the mine was among the richest in the area and still boasts much of its original machinery and several buildings. Your time at Tyrconnell is a fascinating step back into Australia's pioneering history when the mine was at the centre of the north Queensland gold rush. Lunch is a home cooked feast at Andrew and Cate's house, overlooking the bush. Aside from once being a mine, the country around Tyrconnell has returned to its former beauty and boasts some excellent scenery and good wildlife viewing. The afternoon has a surprise option for those who want to involve themselves in an experience of the Australian outback - enjoying a night out in the bush in the style of the early settlers and an evening around a camp fire under the stars that stretches from one horizon to the other. The southern skies over Australia are second to none for their clarity and with an astrologer on one hand to guide you through the stars and galaxies that make up the night sky and a glass of fine Australian wine in the other, a fascinating evening is guaranteed. Also with you will be one of Australia's leading bushmen and raconteurs with stories from his fascinating experiences of travelling the continent and seeking out its most remote corners. These stories make for a genuine experience of Australia's bush and its hard environment - the 'down to earth' sense of hospitality and humour are trademarks of the characters who live in Australia's rural areas. Accommodation is 'swag' camping. Swags were the preferred bedding for the early settlers and for cattlemen who first settled this country --combined with an excellent BBQ dinner and the best of Australian wine, this is the ultimate way to appreciate the size and space of outback Australia. Day 4 -- Cape York An early rise to make the most of the classically beautiful light that bathes the bush in the early morning. This is the time when the wildlife and birdlife is out and when you can expect the most activity in the bush. Your private guide will take you out for a walk or drive followed by a gourmet breakfast in the bush before rejoining your helicopter for the flight back to Cairns.
2 July August 2005