Made my first visit to the tropical north last week. Having arrived in Cairns to the aspect of clouds sodden with rain, three days later we wondered if it really was the dry season. With the beach out, we hired a car and headed north. Our destination Cape Tribulation named by Captain Cook as this was the place where things on his expedition began to fall apart. As we head north past Port Douglas along Captain Cook Highway there are cane fields on either side of us and the sleepy town of Mossman. The cane growers have a massive crop this year and with prices at $500 ton they’re fairly panicky about the wet weather. They’re trying to harvest. There is also a tea plantation which looks like a field of manicured english hedges and the odd banana plantation, the fruit swathed in plastic bags like swaddled babies. We cross the wide expanse of the ¬†Daintree River by ferry and crawl up the windy narrow road in the rain. I was suprised to see the number of private residences in the dense forest. Many of these families have resided in the area for years and remained after the Daintree was World Heritage listed in 1988. This is Cassowary country. These dangerous birds are a glossy black, with a blue head and red wattle. They come armed with a dagger like claw on each foot, can grow to 2 metres in height and can run up to 50km/hr. The local scrub turkeys a more compact version of our bush turkeys are more my thing. We get as far as Cooper Creek where a line of cars in front stops us. The river has swollen and there is a massive sink hole in the road ahead. We watch as a small car from our hire company attempts to make the crossing against the advice of local tour operators in 4WDs. The passengers make a quick exit as their car is washed down the river. We turn back reluctantly as we’re almost half way to Cape Trib. Half way back to the river the rain stops and we wander along the Jindalba boardwalk. Trees tower above us. Massive figs have swallowed smaller host trees and the ferns reach above me. This is a 135 million year old rainforest, thought to be the oldest in the world. It feels like it. The air is dense with oxygen. I think of the Amazon. At 10 million years old and already partially destroyed by loggers you wonder why the QLD government and local councils put up such a fight to stop the world heritage listing. Next wk, how cattle growers and wild crocs live together on the Daintree River! Plus pics.