The celebrated Cooper Creek Wilderness Experience (CCW3) has dominated these past 17-years as the most popular activity from the Cooper Creek Wilderness product range. Designed to showcase the richer diversity of natural and cultural heritage values within the prestigious Cooper Creek catchment by day, discerning eco-travellers immerse themselves into a 5 to 6 hour odyssey, comprising a 2-hour Grand Fan Palm Gallery day tour, a 1-hour cruise through the world’s most diverse mangrove community in search of elusive estuarine crocodiles, a delicious lunch in a rainforest setting and a cup of tea or coffee in a rainforest picnic setting alongside Cooper Creek.
It is a day filled with the beauty and grandeur of world’s oldest rainforest, the diversity of ancient and primitive flora and fauna and the spectacular contrasts of coastal scenery and fan palm dominated cathedrals.
Today, a French family from Hong Kong, and an English-Irish couple from Sydney, were not only astounded by the profundity of Nature’s Masterpiece, they were also presented with three living dinosaurs, in the form of Jalbil, the Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii), which is a Jurassic relictual species found nowhere else in the world;
the remarkable mimicry of the Twig-mimicking Spider (Poltys noblei);
Strong Stick Insects (Anchiale briareus) admittedly much smaller than the image because these are early days;
Five Estuarine Crcodiles Crocodylus porosus);
Lichen Spiders (Pandercetes gracilis);
AND Southern Cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius):
A perfect Queensland day provided the rainforest with dappled sunlight, and the warmer weather brought the wildlife out of their winter hibernation. Our spotters for the day, 6 year old Adrian and 4 year old Gabriella, worked tirelessly, finding seeds, spider ants, an amazingly colourful insect that I couldn’t identify and a variety of fungi. For these budding naturalists, the rainforest was an enormous playground, with challenges to be confronted and dealt with. Warnings about stinging tree, gympie gympie, slowed them down as they learned that there are dangers in the wild. The two cassowaries looked like giant chickens, with strange helmets on their heads, but they heeded the warnings and kept a safe distance from the big birds.
This tour is really a model of successful ecotourism, with 3 local businesses combining to showcase the best of the Daintree in the famous Cooper Creek Valley. To improve the experience, I would recommend a nocturnal wildlife tour and a trip out to the reef from Cape Tribulation.