The Daintree, The Lion’s Den & Arriving in Cooktown

At my last blog on Saturday, I left you when I told you Ben was going on a fishing trip in the Daintree. He had a great day and more importantly finally landed his barramundi. He caught 5 decent barra’s that day in the beautiful Daintree and almost pulled in a massive one but it got attacked by Giant Trevally on the way in so he ended up getting some of those as well. He got a small Mangrove Jack and got to see some crocs. It was a magical day and a once in a lifetime experience. That night it was fresh barra for dinner and mash for dinner, which we shared with our neighbours at the park Chris and Greg.

On Sunday, we spent the day exploring Mossman Gorge and did a Daintree River Cruise together. The gorge is fantastic and worth the effort if you are in the area. You can catch a bus (which we did) to the gorge from the information centre then walk the gorge tracks or you can walk the entire way. The water of the Mossman is as clear as it can be and the rounded pale boulders are most impressive. The trees of the Daintree and at Mossman seem ancient and are an incredible sight. The large fig trees make you feel tiny and mystify with their curling, thick ribbon like roots. The walk is a fairly tricky one with lots of roots crossing the track and a few narrow, rocky stairs but it is worth the walk.

If you are not up for exercise and the thought of battling the narrow tracks of the Mossman Gorge doesn’t sound like you then a cruise on the Daintree may well be up your alley. You simply sit back in a spacious, clean, open boat and let your guide tell you all of the interesting facts about the river and the fauna and flora of The Daintree. We learnt about the different tree and mangrove species and how they filter the salt from the water. We saw birdlife, some small crocodiles and were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of two wild pythons. It was truly an amazing day!

On Monday, we left Mossman Riverside Leisure Park and headed north again. Three hours later we arrived at The Lion’s Den Hotel. The Lion’s Den is a historical pub 20 minutes South of Cooktown, which was built back in the 1870’s. It offers a great country pub feel, cold beer, decent meals and pizzas and also a camp area. We paid $15 per person ($30 total) for the night (unpowered, extra $10 if you want power). They provide showers, toilets and coin operated washing machines and dyers. The camp ground is clean and spacious and the creek that runs alongside it is apparently croc-free. Most pubs that we have camped at have offered free camping or we have paid a very small donation to stay and they also tend to provide showers and toilets in hope you will come in for a beer and a meal… so I will let you guys decide whether The Lion’s Den is good value or not. In saying that, it is historical and it is a good stop-over in a fairly expensive area of Australia.

We had a great night at The Lion’s Den, we met some locals, the bar staff were great and we chatted with a few people who had already been to The Cape and were on their way back. We happened to meet a couple, Tanya and Kev, who we had dinner with. Unfortunately, they lost their two dogs to 1080 just the day prior to meeting us and they were kind enough to give us some supplies for our dogs as they no longer needed them. We could not help but feel for these two as we knew how sad we would be if it had of happened to us. After many beers, Canadian Clubs, rums and scotch’s we stumbled down the hill into our camper and slept the rest of the night away.

Tuesday came and it was time to move on. We packed up again and off we went to Cooktown. On the way to The Den and Cooktown, you notice two things in particular… the first is that the rainforest and greenery slowly but surely disappears and the landscape turns to browns and oranges. The foliage on the trees is no longer bright and they are spread out over the dry grasses and rocky soil. There are ant hills protruding from the ground. The second thing you notice is that there are many other campers and travellers coming the opposite way on the road, most of which are covered in red dust. At the moment the site of red dust covered vehicles is exciting for us. It means we are getting closer to The Cape York Peninsula and this is something we have really been looking forward to.

Cooktown is smaller than what we expected but still has all of the necessities. We are staying at Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park and it is pretty good value at $36 for powered camping per night. It has a nice camp kitchen, pool, clean amenities and is within short walking distance of the main street and pubs. We have a really nice shady camp spot and here we will prepare as best we can to head for The Cape. Yesterday, after we set up, we had a look around and checked out the pub. We had a fish off the pier this morning and tonight we will head back to The Top Pub for a beer and a hit in their local pool competition.

Arriving in Cooktown gives you a great feeling, after just over nine months of travelling, here we are in the Far North, preparing for even further North. What a historic place and an unforgettable experience!

Author: benandleahscamper

I'm a freelance writer and blogger who loves to travel with my husband, Ben. We normally choose our off road camper for adventures but sometimes we'll take a different path. I am also a veterinary nurse. I am also available for content and copywriting jobs.

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