Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Welcome to Northern Australia- for the next two weeks I’ll be in and around Cairns way up north in Australia. I’m currently in the Daintree Rain Forest World Heritage area where I’ll be until Sunday working on the mangroves part of the program. Sunday, our group of 24 swaps with the other group of 24 and travels to the rain forest and the outback west of Cairns in the Atherton Tableland, where we’ll be for four more days. Finally, I’ll have five free days in Cairns itself. I’m still working on plans for those days- hopefully lots of diving and maybe a little hiking.
Yesterday morning we left Brisbane at 10 AM for our 2 hour flight more than 1000 miles north to Cairns. After a quick lunch, we drove north for more than 2 hours along the coast of the Coral Sea and through the rainforest, past numerous sugar cane plantations and even a ferry crossing, finally arriving at the Crocodylus Village, nestled into the rain forest. This morning we started bright and early to take a cruise down the Daintree River to study mainly mangrove species, but also crabs, birds, fish, and as you can see from the picture crocodiles. It seems as if crocodiles control life up here- they inhabit all the streams, creeks, rivers, and even beaches, largely minimizing any desire to go for a quick swim. For the next four days, we’ll be travelling around in our “troopie” (see picture), wading knee deep in mangrove mud, and preparing for a presentation and exam Saturday afternoon- the real work has begun!
On a side note, that bottom picture is a slightly-modified road sign warning visitors of the (somewhat amusing) consequences that speeding can have on Cassowaries- an endangered peacock-like bird with razor-sharp claws that lives here in the Daintree Rain Forest (and apparently wanders around our hostel at night). We’ve been assured that they aren’t aggressive as long as we steer clear of their chicks…