A must-do for Tropical North Queensland is a Cairns Australia Rainforest Tour. Wait-a-While offers a lot of wildlife sighting, including platypus and kangaroos.
One of the highlights of my trip to Cairns, Australia was a Rainforest Tour. There is rainforest located just outside of Cairns and seeing it was an incredible experience. Based on glowing TripAdvisor reviews, I booked a tour with Wait-A-While rainforest tours.
Paul, the owner, picked me up from my hotel in his white sprinter van. Groups can be as large as 11, but I won the lottery and I was the only one on the tour that day. We had our first wildlife spotting before we even left Cairns. Apparently the suburbs of Cairns are absolutely overrun with wallabys, which are in the same family as kangaroos.
Paul also pointed out green ants on a nearby fencepost. They are actually a delicacy and can be made into ice cream and even a soup that cures the common cold. Here’s a first – I licked the butt of an ant. Sure enough, it had this sharp sour tang that gave me a preview of just how delicious that ice cream must taste. I think it’s the weirdest thing I’ve eaten – and I had kangaroo on this trip!
We then headed about an hour outside of Cairns to the Tablelands, stopping briefly to admire the view.
We drove winded our way up the Great Dividing Range, which is part of the fourth longest mountain range in the world.
There are actually five types of rainforest – cold temperate (like in Washington), warm temperate, subtropical, dry and tropical. We first passed through dry rainforest, which gets rain only 4 months out of the year, but still meets the 1.3L/year requirement. The main tree there is eucalyptus.
Shortly thereafter we passed into the wet rainforest, about 2400 feet above sea level. The awesome thing about this trip versus one of the more famous Daintree Rainforest trips is there are very few mosquitos this high up. I didn’t get a single bite the entire day! We also saw only 2 or 3 other people the entire time we were walking.
Paul also pointed out the deadly Stinging Tree (above right photo). Who knew a tree could be dangerous? This tree is actually covered in fine hairs that contain a deadly neurotoxin called moroidin that can cause anything from anaphylaxis to shock. Even if you escape that, if the hairs get stuck in the skin they can lead to a lifetime of pain and irritation. The only fix is to get them waxed out or treated with dilute hydrochloric acid within a couple of hours. As if that isn’t tricky enough, the tree has gorgeous berries to lure you in. There are reports of a soldier coming into contact with the tree during World War II and shooting himself after using the tree for ‘toileting purposes’.
One of the most memorable stops on our trip was the Cathedral Fig Tree. The tree is actually a Strangler Fig tree. It gets its name from the fact that it germinates around another tree and puts roots down to the ground. As it grows it actually kills the host tree. So intense, right? The first photo in the post is another view of the tree.
The vine in the right photo above is over 250 years old. It was incredibly massive and sturdy.
We stopped outside of a tea plantation to look for tree kangaroos. There is a small plot of land there that is a protected reserve. The tree kangaroos are quite sedentary and hard to find, but we did manage to see the one in the right photo above. If you look closely you can also see it’s baby sitting in the branch directly above it.
Other wildlife sightings – a termite nest in the tree above, many birds, and a platypus!
Paul has a 90%+ success rate in finding platypus on his rainforest treks. We got lucky and found one at the second spot we tried. It was so close I could have reached out and touched it! What a special experience to see this amazing creature in the wild, although I have to admit in these photos it kind of looks like a turd.
After a delicious Swiss dinner at Nick’s restaurant in Yungaburra, we headed back into the rainforest for more wildlife spotting. Over 80% of Australian wildlife is active at night, so the extension of the tour into nighttime meant I saw a wider variety of wildlife.
We also made a stop at the Curtain Fig Tree, which was absolutely incredible. The photo above just doesn’t do it justice. It’s another Strangler Fig, but this one was formed around a tree that was leaning sideways, leading to the very wide ‘curtain’ effect.
I was so impressed by the rainforest trek with Wait-A-While tours. I highly recommend Paul for the personalized ‘off-the-beaten-path’ approach he takes to exploring the rainforest. The amount of wildlife we saw on the tour was incredible.
Wait-a-While Rainforest Tours in Cairns, Australia
Domestic Phone: 0429.083.338
International Calls: +61 0429.083.338
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