Nature Immersion in the Daintree, Port Douglas

From the largest rainforest birds to the smallest reef creatures, from the furry to the scaly we saw it all in just a few days filming in North Queensland.

butterfly in North Queensland

In Australia it’s easy to take our wildlife for granted and not recognize how amazing it is.  There was no mistaking or denying the magic of our native animals in North Queensland on a recent trip filming for our Queensland Weekend Travel Show.

Mossman River, Port Douglas

Our trip started in Port Douglas with a activity we’d wanted to feature on the show for a while.  Back Country Bliss, a local company run by the brilliant Michaela and Barney, have a series of tours to choose from and our adventure was River Drift Snorkelling.  Less Huckleberry Finn and more nature immersion experience.

River Drift Snorkelling, Port Douglas

River Drifters don wetsuits (the Mossman River is fresh water straight from the mountains at a crisp 17 or so degrees) and snorkels (the mountain water is also crystal clear and home to more than 10 freshwater fish, turtles and even platypus) and  drift with the current down the river.

A phenomenal slice of the world and an experience where you really get to see another side of the rainforest becoming part of the landscape rather than just an observer.

River Drift Snorkelling, Port Douglas

There’s also a few fun little ‘over flows’ where the pace of the river picks up into mini rapids (don’t worry there are options for those who would rather by pass these sections as well).

Mossman River, Por Douglas

From one nature immersion to another our accommodation was at the stunning Thala Beach Lodge (pronounced Ta-la, the local indigenous word for sea eagle).  The resort is set in 150 acres right on their own private beach and headland in Port Douglas. It’s simply paradise.  Even more so if you’re a nature lover, birds are everywhere and our nature walk guide, Brett, told us often sitting on the headland you can often see turtles and dolphins playing in the bay.

Thala Beach Lodge

The resort itself is quite flash as well, private luxury tree top suites decked out with everything you can think of or need.  Plus they have views across a landscape that looks almost frozen in time, barely a scaric of man made structure as far as the eye can see.  I really think there is something serene and calming about that.

Thala Beach Lodge views

And one final note with Thala – the restaurant, Ospreys is divine and even if you’re not staying at the resort you can still book in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  The food was top notch and not only will you’re taste buds be jumping for joy but your eyes will be overcome with the natural beauty of this place – the setting up in the trees with natural bird baths and native birds playing and bathing just metres from where you are sitting, as well views across the ocean and mountains, they couldn’t have painted a better scene, pinch yourself and it will still be there, just magic.

No time to sit back on the beach with a cocktail, we had a train to catch, the iconic Sunlander.  The train is celebrating it’s 60th birthday and also getting ready to retire next year so we wanted to spread the message to people to get in before it was too late.

On board the Sunlander

First Class on the Sunlander is known as Queenslander Class, where not only do guests get sleeper cabins, arrival gifts and robes but the best part is the dining and lounging options.  A bar cart and lounge area leads through to the dining cart.  We were treated to scones with jam and cream for morning tea, oh so regal!  And then lunch was a seafood platter and gourmet dessert, all while relaxing and watching the coastal landscape change as the train ventures down the route. What a way to travel!

After eating our way down the coast, and of course filming the experience for the telly, we said goodbye to our new railway friends in Ingham and met up with Ross from Hidden Valley Tours.  The plan was to head to Wallaman Falls, the largest single drop waterfall in Australia at 268 metres, but mother nature had other ideas.  Read Part 2 – Into the Wild

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