May 27 & 28, 2018
Mission Beach was our last stop along the road trip before finishing up in Cairns. I could feel how close we were to the end and was buzzing with excitement. The town consists of a small downtown area with a few shops and restaurants, lush green rainforests in the Djiru National Park, and kilometers of rocky beaches. The roads are crowded with signs shouting warnings to slow down and watch out for cassowaries. These are Australia’s most aggressive bird and look like dinosaur ostriches, and are quite loved by the community. There had to be at least twenty signs within the 3 km stretch, yet we didn’t see a single bird.
Our hostel was a cozy wooden lodge tucked back in the jungle among the palm trees and ferns. The sun was shining when the receptionist (a dreadlocked hippie girl from Germany) gave us a tour and pointed out the inviting pool and hammocks. Ten minutes later, the skies opened up and poured rain for about half an hour. The wet jungle mist lingered for the rest of the night.
The next day, we enjoyed some free cereal and toast for breakfast and set out to hike the Musgravea trail through the Djiru National Forest. The mozzies were out in full swing (mosquitoes) and the trail was muddy from the rain the night before. The trail was flanked by walls of thick jungle vines and ferns, interrupted only by the occasional creek crossing. This continued for 6km, and dumped us out along a random road. We either had to walk back another monotonous 6km, or hitchhike. Without many cars to choose from, we just strolled back along the same path and chatted about our future plans for when we’re back in the states (which seemed to be coming up soon!).
Back at the hostel, covered in mud and mosquito bites, we chatted with the receptionist about how we hadn’t seen a single cassowary yet. He mentioned that he’d seen one in the backyard of the hostel once or twice. Ten minutes later, and sure enough, Byron called me to go get the camera. The cassowary was way bigger than I expected, standing at least two feet high with a coat of furry looking black feathers. The silliest part (aside from the droopy dangling gobble) was the cone shaped party hat on top of its head. Needless to say I was glad to be standing within the securely gated pool area. Then I started wondering if it could fly…
We did another hike that afternoon along the Clump Mountain National Park trail up Bitcon Hill. If you’ve ever thought that everything in Australia is out to kill you, you might be right. There was a sign at the beginning that warned of the dangers of the TREES attacking you. No lie. The Stinging Tree is the most dangerous in Queensland. Here’s an excerpt:
“If your skin comes into contact with the leaves, fine silica-tipped hairs inject venom like mini-syringes.
It causes extreme pain with symptoms including an intense stinging sensation that can last for several weeks.”
We tread carefully and enjoyed a view from the top with glimpses of Clump Point and Dunk Island in the distance.
Back at the hostel, we got ready for our last day on the road and enjoyed the speedy wifi (this is a rare treat and must be taken advantage of).
May 27th & 28th
Accommodation: Jackaroo Treehouse, $22
Distance covered: 235km