Day 3 of the trip was by far our most eventful day- seeing a wild crocodile, getting into a car accident with a giant bird, driving through a forest fire and sleeping under a noose. But before all of that, the day started out pretty peaceful by waking up in our cozy JUCY van in Daintree Village.
My main goal on this trip was to see a wild crocodile, so we woke up early and signed up for the Crocodile Express, which ran out of the Daintree Village campground. When we were boarding the little boat I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that they had life jackets on board. I mean seriously, if your boat sinks in these crocodile infested waters you’re probably not going to die from drowning.
It was a cold winter day in July (aka still 20 degrees) so the crocodiles weren’t out sunning themselves, but I did manage to spot a lot of crocodile imposters (logs, rocks and sticks). Eventually we came across our first, and only, crocodile that was bigger than me and had its mouth wide open, which was great for pictures. And although we didn’t see a lot of crocodiles or anacondas, like we were hoping to, I’m sure they saw us…
After the croc tour we hit the road with the plan to continue heading north, towards Cooktown, to meet up with our new friends Ronnie and Berry, who had left earlier that morning. They had told us about a campground that they had found on Wiki Camps, a great app for anyone camping or going on a roadtrip (not that I would really know because our phones had no service the entire trip so we didn’t download the app, but it looked great!). Ash had done all the driving the day before so she asked if I would do the driving today, which I happily agreed to. Within ten minutes of me being behind the wheel I hit a giant Eaglehawk (which according to Wikipedia is the largest bird of prey in Australia!!!). Luckily I didn’t swerve because we were on a windy one-lane highway in the middle of the rainforest, but there was definitely a lot of screaming that went on before, during, and after the incident. There was no blood on the car, so the bird is probably alive but just has a headache (right????). Anyways, I was traumatized so my poor vegan friend, Ash, had to clean the giant feathers off of our windshield. Besides hitting Australia’s largest bird of prey, Day 3 was an incredible drive. We started off by backtracking south through the rainforest, to Mount Molly, and then heading north again, inland, through the Queensland outback. We were on the lookout for kangaroos but sadly only saw ones that had been hit by cars. Now that I think about it road kill may have been the theme of the day. The only live animals we saw were wild cows, which were actually really cool to see.
An hour outside of Cooktown we started to notice that the ground was black and that all the trees were burnt. We saw signs warning of smoke and then noticed that the smoke was coming from small forest fires on both sides of the road. For some reason we continued to drive through the fire and luckily it was just in that one area. I should also point out that we didn’t see many cars on the road that day and we didn’t get cell phone reception anywhere so we couldn’t really tell anyone about the fire, so we just continued on until we got to Cooktown. We were later told that fires in that area are really common and appear all the time out of nowhere because it’s so dry and hot. Locals don’t think it’s a big deal and you usually just leave it if it’s a small fire.
Cooktown was a really cute small town with a wharf (that’s basically the only thing we really saw in Cooktown), and is one of the most Northern points in Australia. Once in this tiny town we were able to phone Berry and Ronnie, who told us that the campsite that we were planning to stay at was full and that they had found an even better free campsite in a close by area that was called Archer Point. At this point the sun had set and some locals had warned us about driving to Archer Point in the dark because we would have to drive on a dirt road and kangaroos might hit us (yes they may hit us). I was really hesitant but Ash convinced me to go, so we headed to Archer Point, and of course didn’t see a single kangaroo.
We arrived in the pitched black and by some miracle stumbled upon Berry and Ronnie. We were really freaked out when we realized that the campsite was not a campsite at all, and more just a spot in the middle of nowhere in the forest. The first thing we saw when we pulled in was a sign warning about crocodiles in the area. The second thing we saw, when we got out of the car, was that we had parked directly under a noose. Seriously we actually parked under a noose (or something that looked exactly like a noose). As we were changing in the van we realized that we were in the middle of nowhere (with no cell service) with two guys we didn’t know and started to panic because they could have been serial killers. We decided to stay (thinking back I’m not sure why… maybe because it was too dark to drive) but I’m glad we did. Berry and Ronnie didn’t end up being serial killers, just two guys from Holland wanting to explore Australia in their van like us! We sat by the fire and ate jackfruit together. When it was time to go to bed Ash and I got into our JUCY van and made our bed, which was under the sunroof. As we got into bed we looked up at the starry sky and the noose, which was swinging around in the wind directly over us. I don’t think I slept for a single minute that night.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting the day by day accounts of my very JUCY road trip around Northern Queensland so keep checking back! If you missed my blogs about the first few days, you can read them by clicking on the links below.
PROLOGUE- A JUCY Road Trip: Prologue