Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Daintree.

Hello from the hot, humid, wonderful, beautiful northwest coast of Queensland. The rainforest meets the reef here at the salty, floaty Coral Sea.

I'm staying at a rainforest research station for the next couple weeks. The living is easy and the internet is dial-up. Unfortunately, I won't be able to post any photos until I head south. I'll have to do a major update once I find my way back to a high-speed internet area and I'm going to have some good pictures, so it'll be worth the wait :)

The station occupies an area of land in the Daintree Rainforest that was once completely deforested for cattle ranching. Cattle only lasted up here for about three years and then a lot of the land was abandoned. The people here have worked to reforest this area over the past twenty years and it is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, there isn't much community involvement in restoration or conservation of this lovely place because most of the 50 or-so other locals are only interested in building giant party hostels and making tons of money. Good thing the only way in is by a small ferry that carries about 30 cars and slowly makes its way back and forth over a river that is about 50 m wide. That sort of controls the amount of people who can actually come in and stay.

Currently, the station is mainly involved in education. There is a population of Spectacled Flying Foxes that live here, but they are all injured and cannot survive on their own in the wild. Any babies that are born are released into the wild and the local bat populations are monitored. There is a Bat House at the front that tourists can come and visit. It's a really well-maintained and interesting place and has a 1 km hiking trail through the regenerated rainforest area.

There is also a laboratory area with two lab buildings, a workshop, and the captive bat area. In behind that is the kitchen/office/library that is made of of three smaller buildings with a large open concept dining area/sitting area in the centre. This is where we make all of our meals and hang out. The food here is all made by us and we eat very, very well.

Off throughout the forest there are about 8 small cabins for visitors to live in. I have a really nice one with the big bed and a veranda. The windows are all open all the time and just have a screen over them. It's on stilts so I can just see out into the tops of the rainforest trees. I think I'm going to stay here for awhile, two weeks at least.

The other people who live here are Laure and Helena, two french interns both half way through a five month internship, Hugh, the station coordinator, and Hans, who runs the Bat House, takes care of the bats and does everything that needs to be done.

Last night we spent the evening catching fruit bats and today we've been walking the beaches (they do a lot of local restoration work) and seeing all of the projects people have been carrying out. I'm just finishing lunch and I have to head out. Mondays are days off to we will either be catching a boat out to the Great Barrier Reef, Visiting the neighbouring tropical fruit farm, or doing something called Jungle Surfing. Hopefully I have a chance to update later!

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