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Daintree

Beyond the Bloomfield Track

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Beyond the Bloomfield Track

It's a day's drive from Cooktown to the 537,000Ha Lakefield National Park, finally setting up camp at Horshoe Lagoon, a serene patch of water covered in white lillies and a favourite haunt of brolgas, parrots and assorted waterbirds.

At the end of the day we meet a group of twitchers camped across the way, having also arrived from Cooktown. "You've come from the south," they ask, eyebrows raised, "from the Daintree, then Cooktown?" We both nod. "You saw the accident on the Bloomfield?" Ah, no. We know nothing of any 'accident'.

Our neighbours are visibly shaken and tell us a vehicle travelling south towing a large trailor-van lost control on a downhill section of the Cowie Range. "You must have seen it!" The driver was badly injured, they tell us, the van and vehicle wrecked, with stunned onlookers sitting around while awaiting an ambulance.

We look at each other but say nothing. As it happens, we did pass an ambulance travelling south that morning... but with no siren and no apparent urgency.

We spend a restless night, our sleep disrupted by wild pigs that grunt and slosh in the shallows just metres from our parked truck... us bothered by thoughts of the Bloomfield Track - with its river crossings and one particularly steep section through the Cowie Range - and us travelling that same treacherous section of the Bloomfield Track uphill, needing low 4WD and 1st gear, maybe minutes before the accident.

The next day we briefly pick up some phone coverage while travelling, a Google search confirming the injured driver was killed on impact.

Postcript - 30 June 2017 - At Laura, Queensland, for the Cape York Aboriginal Dance Festival, a Daintree Parks Ranger tells us there have been 3- Daintree road fatalities in the last 2-months.

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A Daintree dreaming

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A Daintree dreaming

As it happens, I've been here before... to The Daintree that is. And it is a bit odd, to travel back in time as much as 30yrs, when a piece of the puzzle seems to be missing.

I remember a resort right here... somewhere... a glorious concoction of timber, of walkways and treehouses, surrounded by jungle straddling a tarred road that peters out to a 4WD track eventually reaching Cooktown and `The Tip'.

But here we are, me with a fading, almost-mythical memory of a place that may never have existed at all. And it's only after several trips up and down the road, that Sue spots an overgrown, partly-obscured sign on the side of the road - a once-stylish, flourescent sign, now washed-out and broken.

On the beach side of the road is what's left of the cafe, bar, 2-pools now of the brightest green and gift shop, timber walkways and drive through, now broken, rotting and engulfed by this voracious world-famous rainforest, the air alive with morning birdsong and awash with the rush of nearby waves on golden sand.

Up the mountain is the accommodation - what's left of once-glorious treehouse lodges, the grand reception and restaurant, windows crooked and broken, many timber steps and much of the deck rotten. Jungle vines hang, ferns smother and choke, but we push on through. Trees and palms sprout in sodden tropical air, the smell of bats thick, the rampant foliage always damp, eagerly reclaiming its own... and the dreams of all that passed this way.

The owner's vision was to create something special here, The Daintree already special... something special memories are made of, a realized dream that lingers and stays with all that are lucky to have visited here.

But now we stand in a heavy, humid midday silence, the ghostly echoes of guests' footsteps long, long gone... with the owner of the original `Coconuts Resort' having abandoned this dream years back, eventually beaten by the regular, unrelenting, dreary wet seasons - and the absence of guests - finally surrendering to financial ruin and liquidation, followed by a sequence of dreamer-owners who eventually left this place forlorn and empty, at the mercy of the engulfing Amazonian greenery while ensuring the place is even more special as is the way of all lost cities and abandoned dreams.

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