Rain in Daintree

Monday, December 26, 1988
Daintree, Queensland, Australia
Today is the first of our major phases. We were to be driven by a unimog with another group (Evans') and dropped off in some remote place Alex had planned. As the other group were not ready, we only left at 1530 h.
By 1610 h were were standing on a track looking down a precipitous slope leading to a valley . Trust Alex. After a bit of recce, followed a (animal?) track down along a rdige. At the bottom, saw a raging bull! After a gradual ascent, at 1800 h we arrived at a junction and came across a marijuana patch (fenced up with lumber). We chose a camp site on a hill side beside a creek. Water was a bit brackish but flowing. Made a fire and cooked rice, tuna, vegetables. Saw a huge green grasshopper, small stick insect, heard bats (all good to eat?). It drizzled in early morning and was uncomfortable sleep. It was too hot to put on clothes, but without clothes, the mozzies would bite. Had lost mosquito net and too hot to look for it.

Dec 27
0500h awake, and set off at 0715h. After 30 mins, checked out what looked like a lizard's tail. turned out to be a coiled Death Adder, sleeping but very much alive. 0810 a drink stop. We followed the creek on slippery rocks at times, using animal tracks on bank, at time rockclimbing. Saw skeleton of a bull, little black frogs 1-2 cm, tadpoles . Gradient was slowing increasing, slipping, wet with intermittent rock pools, clear water. Near a ridge, we climbed steeply up a slope.
1100 at top of ridge and time for lunch stop (and for Alex to remove a stone from his boot). Took out stuff to dry like socks and boots. Then kept going till what we thought was 827m, and went down a ridge and gully (steep) , till at 1300h, realized going wrong direction (W instead of E). Backtracked to gully junction and went up a steep hill. Very hot and testing. At top, saw ridge and Daintree Valley. Followed cattle track which was good walking gradient (animals are not stupid). Some ups, direction E so good, then decided to cut down to valley. Went into steep gully, rocky and tricky. Negotiating carefully as tired and could see and hear the river (maybe an illusion) at end of gully. Last part was very steep, and we went down on bums.
1600h Daintree River is very welcome at the end of 8.5hr walk. Stopped to wash and soak feet. 1630h continued looking for rock pool. Came across a small waterfall shortly . Track did not go much further so decided to camp on sandy bank. Alex then decided to camp on opposite side.
Pitched 3 flies quickly as it started to drizzle. Cooked with a Trangia under a fly, of spaghetti, sausages and veg, tomatoes, onions & veg and cup of quik.
2000h went to sleep using poncho to form what I thought was a very effective bivvy bag, as water drips from seams of fly, with cotton blanket (I brought all the way from Geelong, intending to dispose at the end), under and wearing a sarong. Mossie net on standby.

2200h rained heavily but kept very dry under poncho and kept track of water level of river.
2300h Alan evacuated his fly as sheet was 2" under water. I was sitting up by then watching the water level inch up and eventually my feet got wet. Sandy and I inched into corner of tent, while a tree frog came in and joined us. We had pitched our flies on the drainage of a gully. Suddenly we heard the scream of Nic who was alone in another tent. Her Thermarest was floating on a bed of water and she rolled into it. We all got out and pitched a tent much higher up.
0130 Sandy, Nic and I huddled under using a space blanket to keep warm. Somehow managed to sleep despite not being able to stretch out legs and to move without disturbing one another. Slept with damp shirt, damp blanket under, wet hair, and warm body one side, cold body on weather side as Sandy was fighting for the amazing space blanket (it works).

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