Down Your Way: Daintree
Monday January 13th 2013
The Daintree lowlands in Far North Queensland have become one of Australia’s most beautiful icons, renowned for the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest and diverse range of flora and fauna, including cassowaries, crocodiles and fruit bats.
Located off the Captain Cook Highway just 40 minutes north of Port Douglas, the Daintree Markets are considered a 'must-do' activity in the region.
Originally developed as a base for different stallholders to spruik their wares, with founder Jus Murray managing a stall for her own Daintree Naturals skincare range, Ms Murray eventually decided to combine the separate stalls and oversee operation of the whole market herself.
The market now offers a variety of products for tourists and locals, including homemade cards, Daydream Driftwood decorative sculptures, candle holders, trinkets, tropical fruits and yoghurts, handmade soaps, handcrafted natural skincare products, hand-crocheted clothing, handmade bags, plus and local indigenous art. Just browse and be inspired!
Daintree Naturals evolved from a family tradition; Jus’ mother, Jan Murray, and grandmother Gloria collected and used local flowers and plants as beauty aids before their uses were widely acknowledged and passed on their tried-and-true handcrafted remedies and recipes to Jus.
Ms Murray, a Mossman local, said her fondest childhood memories involved “growing up around motivated women, who had a passion for skincare,"
She is working towards making the markets an interactive experience for Daintree Naturals, where visitors can watch production in situ.
Daintree Village, behind the Big Barramundi.
Open most days, 10am - 3pm.
Ph. 0448 001 336 or visit http://www.daintreenaturals.com
Recently taken over by the Daintree Eco Lodge, the Daintree General Store offers locals, visitors and hotel guests a Souvenir Store, restaurant, tour booking service, visitor information, postal services, and a range of food and household items for sale.
Italian-born Peter Mantis has lived locally for 25 years, and manages the restaurant and retail shop.
With broad hospitality experience, including stints in Victoria and Europe, Mr Mantis aims to offer standard restaurant fair with a local twist – the crocodile burgers are a must-try! He is working closely with his chef to develop a tasty and mouth-watering dishes to entice prospective diners.
The Daintree General Store’s service also recently installed a computer link to allow Eco Lodge guests to charge General Store items to their room.
Born in Mossman, General Store shop assistant Kirsten Jorgensen worked in Bundaberg and Cairns before returning to the Daintree, where she worked during her school years in the General Store and Eco Lodge and where her Mother also works.
Daintree Originals Souvenir Store employee Tracey Vonkeyserlingk also has strong ties to the Daintree community, with her husband driving the local crocodile boat.
A Brisbane native, Tracey has lived in Daintree for eight years.
She joined the General Store team five months ago after working at the Big Barramundi restaurant across the road.
Daintree General Store
1 Stewart Street, Daintree
Ph. (07) 4098 6227
As the first wildlife cruise operator on the river in 1979, Lex Mealing’s Crocodile Express is arguably the most experienced provider of guided nature cruises along the Daintree River.
As well as the diverse flora and fauna of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, the River is home to one of the area's biggest drawcards: crocodiles!
When The Newsport caught up with Mr Mealing, he had just completed a trip where lucky sightseers had seen not only one, but two crocodiles. A not-too-shabby 3.7m and 2.5m respectively, much to the delight of the departing tour group.
A Daintree resident for 65 years, Mr Mealing has a long family history in the area, with a maternal aunt born there in 1901 and various family members involved in the community.
He originally worked as a bulldozer driver, and his brother was involved in the highly emotive and historic Daintree Blockade protest in 1983, also as a bulldozer driver.
Nowadays, Mr Mealing is content to show off the beauty of the Daintree and its big-teethed attractions to visitors.
Crocodile Express Daintree Cruises
5 Stewart Street, Daintree
Tel: (07) 40986120 or visit http://www.crocodileexpress.com
Owners Trish and Andrew Forsyth have created an intriguing accommodation option with Red Mill House, an historic 1920s-era Queenslander with all the modern amenities and service standard of a luxury property, plus charm and character.
Situated in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, Red Mill House has become renowned as an ideal location for birdwatchers, with the Forsyth’s also knowledgeable about the local birdlife to assist in identifications.
A telescope positioned strategically on the upstairs balcony allows viewers to zoom in on birds enjoying the lush mature grounds surrounding the Red Mill.
Visitors can choose from four guest rooms and a two-bed family apartment, along with balconies overlooking the extensive grounds. The property also has connections with an early morning river cruise for “birders” keen for a closer look with a resident expert.
Red Mill House Bed & Breakfast
11 Stewart Street, Daintree
Ph. (07) 4098 6233 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org