Don’t Miss This!! Daintree River Dawn Cruise, Far North Queensland

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

The third-hardest part of a Daintree River dawn cruise is selecting one. The second-hardest part is rising well before dawn to get there. But the hardest part of all is getting off the boat when it ends over 2 hours later! Yes, it really is that good! 

Although now you’re thinking the pictures look a bit dull, right?  Well … this is what happens at dawn on a cloudy day.  Deal with it.

We chose a dawn cruise randomly from the plethora of glossy brochures – each with unique claims like ‘original’, ‘local coffee’, ‘photography’, ‘binoculars available’, ‘comfortable seats’, ‘wildlife viewing’ etc etc etc, when in reality all of them are on (surprise!) the Daintree river and all of them spot wildlife.

After narrowing the choice by eliminating ‘photography’ cruises (click HERE for my views on giant lenses) and cruises focusing on crocodile spotting (croc spotters and birdwatchers are pretty much mutually exclusive), we rang #1 on the order of merit and got an answering service! SO … #2 – Daintree River Wild Watch – was the lucky winner! Besides, how could we go wrong with a guide called Ian ‘Sauce’ Worcester?!

Our tour’s exotic ethnic distribution – Dominican Republic, Ireland and Aussie – easily trumped that of the rival boatload of giant-lens-clutching-Americans – don’t ask me why they wanted to know, but they DID ask … And with only 4 on our tour, Sauce could devote the time and personal attention we deserved!!

The electric motor propelled us with barely a sound enhancing our bird-spotting, most notably Great Billed Heron (a lifer!), Azure Kingfisher, Double Eyed Fig Parrot and a pair of roosting Papuan Frogmouth – always a pleasure to actually spot their superb camouflage. While Eclectus Parrot remained elusive – real birdwatchers will wonder why I’d even THINK of seeing them 5-600 km south of their normal home – Sauce is hopeful a local population may be established by some escapees from the nearby Pt Douglas ‘Habitat’! So there!!  Incidentally, Eclectus Parrot is my favourite Australian bird – and I could tell you it’s a fine example of avian sexual dimorphism, but that would just be showing off …

Wild splashing of heavy creatures upriver reminded us of the smallness of the boat relative to, say, a 4 metre (12+ft) crocodile, but Sauce pronounced the splashing most likely to be fish – hippos being unknown in these parts!  If so, several small Pacific nations could dine in style for a week on one of those babies. And yes, I shrieked like a girl while passing under a tree with a green tree snake cunningly camouflaged in the branches directly above, but hell … I AM a girl! It makes no difference whatsoever that the green tree snake isn’t venemous. Or that no one has died of green tree snake bite in living memory. As any reasonable person would know!! But I digress …

A post-cruise breakfast in Daintree village on a bird filled verandah (was that Sauce in the next room knocking back a hearty meal?!) prolonged the cruise euphoria. As we reluctantly left this divine spot behind, our departure route followed the stretch of the Daintree river we’d just cruised.  As we rounded a bend with a clear view over the river, we experienced our first absolutely unassisted crocodile sighting! Yes, you can see it too if you click on the photo and take a look on the sandbank (one day I MUST get a camera with a bigger zoom …) – that speck on the sandbank is a croc about 3 metres (~10ft) long, and we’d cruised past that same sandbank about an hour before in a tiny boat!! Maybe there’s a closet croc-spotter lurking in this amateur birdwatcher’s heart after all …

Full of the utter fabulousness of our cruise experience, we set off for Julatten and our next appointment – to hunt down the rare Blue-Faced Parrot Finch! But … that’s another story!!
Happy hunting!!
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  1. @Toni – Yeah, it’s amazing! More posts to come on the Daintree in the future!
    @Jim – ‘Awesome’ is one word – ‘scary’ and ‘pre-historic’ are others!!

  2. Haven’t been through there, but saw many freshies and salties up top of Western Australia last year. Awesome creatures.

  3. Oh, thanks for the memories! We stayed in the Daintree a few years ago and it was one of the most magical, peaceful places I’ve ever been.

  4. OMIGOD!! Hey, everybody – meet my new best friends, Sauce and his daughter Pamela!!! Thanx both for visiting, following and for your very kind words!!

    Red Nomad OZ

    PS Yeah Sauce – knowing the snake isn’t venemous doesn’t actually equate to no fear …

  5. Hi Red Nomad, this is “Sauce’s” daughter(Secretary), I too am glad you enjoyed your cruise with Daintree River Wild Watch, I miss it every day…I also have added you to my profile page on Facebook and now also one of your followers, really looking forward to reading many of your stories, thanks. 🙂

  6. Hi Red Nomad, my daughter passed your blog onto me as she is my Secretary and found it while searching the web. I am thrilled that you enjoyed my cruise, sorry about the snake!!!! but again they are harmless. You are a very entertaining writer and your travels are just amazing, keep going and enjoy every moment. I have put your blog onto my Facebook profile “Daintree River Wild Watch” for everyone to share your travels. If you would like to email me one of your photos from our cruise I would love to put it on our website , thank you!! “Sauce”

  7. @Fnkykntr – makes the supermarket brands look really dull, huh!
    @LV – I guess you’ll just have to come back then! Glad you’re enjoying the ride!
    @Grey Roamer – Of course you’re right! My apologies if it’s misleading, but my posts are of both current & past travels & experiences rather than being a chronological journey. I hadn’t realised this was unclear – I’ll put a date of actual travel in future posts! Thanx for pointing it out!!

  8. Geee, you sure seem to get around! Mt Molloy: 2nd October, Isisford: 9th October, Daintree: 11th October. Surely you can’t do justice to the country by travelling that fast?

  9. What a wonderful cruise this must have been. I was in your lovely part of world many years ago, but was not there long enough to have done this. I always enjoy seeing the different things you share from there.

  10. @Cathy – if you’re inspired to visit, then my work is done! Thanx for dropping by!!
    @Fnkykntr – sadly we dipped on the bbpk – they hadn’t arrived when we did our cruise. The other good thing about the Daintree is def the hand-crafted icecreams, yes?
    @Jayne – as should those who want to get close to them 🙂

  11. We went on a river cruise on the daintree a month or so ago, was awesome – got so close to a croc and saw a tree snake too and a buff-breasted paradise kingfisher. we went on a solar powered boat, definitely good to go with a quiet motor. Also ended up crossing daintree at dawn on one of the first ferries, it is pretty special with the mist on the water. We stayed at a cool place in the daintree (nr cow bay) called coral sea views – great little cabin with hammocks and geckos living in the ceiling, recommend!

  12. Oh my, I love your travel posts. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and it’s moving higher and higher on my list with every post I read. I would shriek too if I saw a green snake hanging overhead. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

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