Soldiers with Axes, and Trees Branches, in the Expedition of Queen Hatshepsut to the Land of Punt. Relief from her mortuary temple at the Deir el Bahari, at Luxor. 18th Dynasty, ca.1507-1458 BC. New Kingdom.
Last weekend, our LGBT group went to Daintree National Park. It is about 100 km north of Cairns, but since the road is winding and hilly, the journey takes at least two hours. And if you add a ferry across the Daintree River and a couple of stops (to enjoy the views and to stretch), it’s no less than three hours. However, the road is picturesque, a significant segment is along the sea coast, the views everywhere are impressive, so time flies.
The organizers of our trip, Dan and Mark, planned joint activities only on Sunday. Dan and Mark have two dogs, the other guys – Keaton and Brett, and Gavin – also have dogs; in the national park, dogs are not allowed, and there is no one to leave them with, that’s why it was only one day for the group this time. I have no pets and so I arrived the day before, on Saturday. I did my own program, and on Sunday joined the group.
Daintree National Park includes the world’s oldest forests, which are 150-200 million years old, they are older than the Amazon forests, which are about 30 million years old. There are many fern trees here, and other vegetation that dates back to the time of dinosaurs. In addition, there are unique places there where the reef joins the rainforest.
In addition to the rainforest, I love local beaches, which, in my opinion, are the best in our region. There are also many transparent rivers and streams, where you can swim. This is a tourist area, with different types of accommodation: from five-star to camping. You can find good restaurants here too. Tour companies offer numerous activities: crocodile river cruises, jungle surfing (where tourists compete in agility with Mowgli and Tarzan), kayaking, snorkelling, visits to the tall multi-floor Discovery tower to explore the rainforest, etc. Most people, however, organize things themselves, which we did too.
I stayed in a small, neat room in my favourite tourist village P.K. Jungle Village. There is also “luxury” accommodation here, if you have money to spare. People can also set up a tent or sleep in their own camper. I took a tent with me just in case, but decided to go for a little more comfort this time, so I rented a room for $48. Simple, but cozy. By the way, the village offers kitchen facilities, and there are plenty of tables under the roof and under the sky. There is a good restaurant and bar there too. The village also has a swimming pool. Just opposite the office there is a small supermarket (however, prices bite: 2.5 times higher than in Cairns).
From the village you can go directly to the beach, through a mangrove boardwalk. When on the beach, you can walk for hours. Our beach joins others – to the right and to the left. Plenty of room for everybody!
After settling in, I rested for half an hour, and then went out for a walk and was away for two and a half hours. I returned home only when it was getting dark.
The next day I got up early – I love the dawn and sun-rise. I had a good walk, and took photos. Then I went to our meeting place. On the Cape Tribulation beach I saw our group. The same five as in Bloomfield, plus one guy – Gavin, whom I had not met before. A nice, sociable guy who impressed us with his drone, from which Gavin even shot videos and took photos.
Cape Tribulation… What a sad name. Not far from there Captain James Cook on his ship “Endeavor” ran into a reef. He miraculously managed to get off of it in the end, but the beauty of the area was no longer pleasing to the eyes of the legendary captain and he gave some places names far from optimistic: Cape Tribulation, Mount Sorrow… Then he went north in search of a suitable place for repairs and found a river in the place where Cooktown is now – I have already told you about it. There Cook’s mood improved, and the ship was repaired. After that, he sailed to Batavia, the current Jakarta, the largest port in this part of the world, where he finally managed to fully repair the ship (bark). After that, Captain Cook returned to England, where he and his crew were greeted as national heroes.
Our group of 6 gays and the same girl from England, Beckie, had an excellent time at Cape Tribulation: walks, swimming in the sea, kayaking (the kayaks were brought by Dan and Mark), just enjoying the sun. Three people immigrated to Australia from the UK, and the climate – the sunny and warm weather, which they so lacked at home, played an important role in their decision, and Beckie, as I had said before, came here to work and have fun for several months. She’s from Birmingham.
After Cape Tribulation, we swam in a river nearby, in its cool and transparent (and free from the crocodiles!) waters.
Then we stopped at a local ice cream factory. Big name. In fact, it’s a small business with a cafe. The place is popular.
And finally, we went to Cow Bay. Why such a name? Because previously, there were lots of sea cows here. The official name is dugongs, marine mammals with a dolphin-like body. They eat seaweeds. Now they are almost non-existent here. Probably because they were hunted down due to their delicious meat. However, I also heard that there are few suitable seaweeds left for them now. The dugongs migrated to the north – there are many of them, say, in the Torres Strait, between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
We had a walk on the beach. This was our last activity. After that – the ferry, and back home. We were glad that we managed to finish the program before dark. We were able to enjoy the views again while driving.
Our team leaders have a few other events planned for the coming weeks. I can take part in one of them. Then they leave for three weeks for England, to visit relatives. In September, new plans and activities. I hope to join the group again more than once.
Here are some pictures of the trip.
Last weekend our new LGBT group went camping to Bloomfield. It took me 4.5 hours by car to get there. I made a couple of stops on the road to have a rest. The other members of the group had arrived before me, but we, of course, found each other. We were 5 gays, and one girl, 21 yo, who is cousin to one of the guys and who came from England on a working holiday visa for several months. The girl said that she is straight, but we classified her as queer because of the lilac color of her hair, alternative behavior and complete tolerance for LGBT people. In addition, we had periodic company of the parents of one of the guys, who can be considered as LGBT allies. We chatted, had meals together, played table games, walked with three dogs, had a 2-hour outing at night to the beach where we made a bonfire under the stars and where the girl, the object of jokes, was periodically flashing the shore with a torch to detect the moment when a crocodile comes ashore from the water (she was scared of the prospect, but still did not want to leave our company).
The people packed up on Sunday morning and left, whereas I stayed for a while in the camp waiting for my tent to dry out completely (there was some rain during the night). I also wanted to go to the waterfall, which the others had already visited. After the trip to the waterfall, I decided to go to Cooktown, since it is not far off, and although I had been there several times before, I felt like visiting it again. It is a small (10,000 people), quiet city with beautiful views. It was named in honor of Captain Cook, who was repairing there his ship Endeavor, stuck a few days before on a reef for some frightful hours. In these places, his team, incidentally, first saw the kangaroo, studied other Australian animals, and plants, and had a contact with local aborigines. The river carries the name of its ship – Endeavor. The town has several monuments in honor of his expedition, and once a year a costume re-anactment of the landing is organised.
I spent a little more than two hours in Cooktown, did not stay more as there was a long way back and I did not want to drive most of the time in the dark.
In conclusion, I must say that the trip was a success: I met new people, visited beautiful places and had a good relaxing short holiday. Here are some photos.
Adam Rippón (DOB: 11.11.1989) is an outstanding American figure skater. He is openly gay. He won lots of medals at national and international competitions. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea, Adam won a bronze medal in the figure skating team event. Also, this year, he won season 26 of Dancing with the Stars (with Jenna Johnson), and became the first openly gay celebrity to win the competition.
Adam is also a gay rights activist. And I think he is a classy guy! Here are some photos (from Instagram).
And here is a link to one of his performances.