Daintree Rainforest Safari: a tour that would never be legal in the states

The Daintree Rainforest tour was by far the best day tour I have ever done. It was another early day, and given our previous night out on the town, we were slightly slow to start.  We were picked up at 7am by our wonderfully spirited tour guide named Gary. After picking up the rest of our tour group, we headed out on an hour or so drive to the edge of the rainforest.

Our first portion of the tour was a ‘Crocodile Cruise’ along the Daintree River. Gary left us in the hands of our cruise captain – for lack of a better title – and our group of about 10 loaded on to an old metal boat. The river was beautiful, and the water so serene it reflected the distant rainforest as if it were a mirror.



Our cruise captain was born and raised on the river, and you could tell. He would point the boat in one direction, run to the front to point a few things out, and right when we all thought we were about head right into the marsh I so wanted to avoid, he ran back to the wheel and turned us around right in time.  This happened about 10 times, one of them we were about one foot away from a snake hanging off a tree, and the other we came within about 10 feet of a ‘resting’ croc.  Not to mention he did this all in barefeet. I’m telling you – he was classic. Now I’m really wishing I had a picture of him, but I guess some things are left better to the imagination.

I was really hoping to see at least one croc, and I was pleasantly surprised (not to mention very excited) when we were able to see three!


Above is a very ecstatic me after the first croc sighting. (he is peaking out of the water basking in the sun)

We were informed by our river-raised tour guide that each crocodile claims its own territory to guard, the only other crocs allowed in the territory are its female companions.


The first croc we sighted was head-honco, and the few we saw after him were his female friends. We also learned it takes a few weeks for most crocodiles to digest their meals, most of which they spend doing exactly what is pictured above.




Another neat fact is that crocs can regulate their temperature by keeping their mouth open, allowing the brain to cool through evaporative cooling while the rest of their body heats up. It is referred to as a ‘mouth gaping’ posture. (pictured above)

After our river cruise we were treated to biscuits and cream with tea. The next leg of our adventure was a safari style drive into the rainforest to visit a beautiful waterfall. Reunited with our trusty tour guide Gary, we drove into the hills up to a locked gate where we abandon our tour bus and all loaded into a legit safari style cruiser.  (pictured below with our tour bus to the left)


After starting the car with a screwdriver (you can’t make this stuff up), Gary took off into the rainforest. I’m pretty sure he drove the entire way without touching the brakes once.  He revved up and down all the hills, taking special interest in freaking us all out by speeding up significantly before crossing any rivers.  I felt like I was on an un-locked version of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.

This is pretty much how the entire ride felt…


We got the edge of the waterfall safely and the rainforest was absolutely stunning.



Of course, part of the adventure was jumping in and swimming over to Cassowary Falls.


Next comes the most horrifying part of the adventure. During each of our turns swimming back to the mainland, Gary threw copious amounts fish food into our swimming path so a huge number (I’m talking 30 or 40?) of batfish came to the surface fighting for the food.  Having huge fish flap up against and swim into you is not fun, to say the least.  After we all safely returned to the other side of the swimming hole, Gary brought out more fish food to feed the eels. But no worries, he said he knew they wouldn’t touch us swimming because they were “too picky”.

After drying off, we were told to put our stuff in the safari truck. Gary then drove off in the truck leaving us to wander through the rainforest until we made it back to the truck.  I learned he has a unique sense of humor.


Above is the moment I was overcome with joy upon spotting the truck again. We were a little bit slower making it back because when we were told to put our stuff in the truck, we also put our shoes in the back. My feet were not happy with me.


We had a celebration dance after emerging from the rainforest’s canopy. The group hopped into the safari truck and made our way back through the hills of the rainforest, only to find our actual tour bus (the one that was supposed to return us to Port Douglas and our accommodations) had a flat.

Luckily, two amazing guys on the tour offered to help put on the spare.



With the safari truck back in its home and the tour bus all fixed up, we took a few group pictures, drove out of the rainforest, and made our way back to Port Douglas.



Thanks for the unforgettable day Gary!

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The Great Barrier Reef (eep)

In the words of my father, ‘The Great Barrier Reef is on most people’s bucket list – and you got to check it off!’  I feel so incredibly blessed to be traveling around Australia and visiting new places my eyes haven’t seen. Not a day goes by where I don’t acknowledge how lucky I feel to be experiencing so many things so early on in life. But life is short — and I am determined to cram in as many ‘firsts’ as possible.

We started out the day early, arriving to the marina around 7am to check into our Quicksilver tour and have time to grab a cup of coffee.


Turns out we chose a gorgeous to day to visit the reef, there were barely any clouds in the sky and we had just the perfect amount of wind to catch a comfortable sail out to Low Isles.


Throughout the day we were able water taxi out the island and back, indulge in an all you can eat lunch and were welcomed to all you can drink coffee and tea (dangerous)! We scuba’d for the first half of the day and enjoyed walking around and exploring the island in the evening.








Overall, it was a fantastic tour that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun day on the reef. They even let us take all the left over cheese and crackers for dinner!

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Getting to Port Douglas

Given that the weather was still quite nippy in Melbourne, Port Douglas was a fantastic getaway to the north.  Queensland was beautiful, and very warm! Given our tight budget, we left for the airport at around midnight to catch our 1:40 am flight.


We landed in Cairns at 4:40 am, where we slept in the airport for a few hours before catching a taxi into Cairns for breakfast. After breakfast, we caught a free shuttle up to Port Douglas.  The drive followed the breathtaking coastline pictured below.


After checking into our our hostel in Port Douglas, we explored the city, grabbed a jug (aka pitcher), and relaxed. It was great to take in the views and just chill when first arriving, because after that it was a pretty packed trip!


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Moving from Malvern to Brunswick was like going from the Four Seasons to Motel 6. But as always, I was excited to explore the area and ended up being pleasantly surprised with my new ‘hood. Incredible street art fills the city and makes me feel as though I am walking through a gallery every time I walk to get groceries or stop at the corner pub. Now I know why Melbourne is rated the street art capitol of the world!

p.s. – I knew it was fate the moment I found the taco truck









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Host Family Love

I was lucky enough to have an amazing connection coming over here – Jules, Dean and their three children took me in like I was one of their own. I have never felt so loved and accepted as a part of a family so fast before.

In the days before we moved out and headed to Brunswick – we went to the Zoo with Jules and Sebastian.  It was my first time seeing kangaroos in person (some even had little joeys!) and I was very excited to be in their presence.  We also got to see some cool lions, lemurs and koala’s. I’m still waiting for my chance to cuddle a Koala – but I have no doubt it will come.




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Porter’s World Tour

I have no words for the amazing show Porter always puts on.  From SF –> Melbourne, this was a great way to start out a new journey across the world.



and you can’t forget our first brunch in the city! (unfortunately no eggs included 🙁 )



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The Leap of Faith

Heading to a new country is scary – you don’t know what to expect, how get around, if the people will be chill, the food will be good — basically it’s all one big ‘what if?’ until you land. And then you’re thrown right in.

I’ve been in Australia for just over one month now. Melbourne, to be exact. It is a wonderful city (just rated #1 liveable city in the world) but definitely didn’t meet any of the expectations I had for Aussieland. It has been better in a lot of ways, and a lot colder – literally – and expensive in many other ways. Regardless, I have come to love this new city, my adventures in it, and the people I have met.

3 months to go – – and I’m living every day to the fullest.

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