For the last month, I’ve been living right in the midst of the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet.
The Daintree Rainforest, located in the far north of Queensland, Australia, is estimated to be over 125 million years old, and the incredible nature here supports this outrageous claim.
Every day I walk past gigantic, gnarled trees that have lived through more history than I ever will. Every time I stroll along the beach I realize that these warm, jellyfish and crocodile infested waters have been faithfully rolling along this coastline for centuries. On my first day in Cape Tribulation I was lucky enough to see one of the world’s rarest and strangest giant birds, the cassowary, meandering across the street with its fuzzy, ostrich-like body and its bright blue head topped with an intimidating horn.
Living here really does feel like living in another age sometimes: an age where technology has not yet taken over people’s lives and where the powerful essence of nature is the force that drives day to day life. With no free wifi and very limited phone reception, my days have become filled with quality time with the natural world.
I take leisurely walks along the sunny beach and hike through the thick forest. I often embark on adventures with friends to find fresh water swimming holes, where we can escape the blazing heat and swim freely without fear of crocodiles. We also love to climb a giant rock on the Cape Trib headland, where you can see sea turtles swimming in the turquoise waves below.
I’ve had run-ins with crazy insects, giant spiders, glow in the dark fungi, jungle turkeys and pythons. Every evening giant flying foxes screech while soaring just over our heads, and every nighttime walk to the bathroom involves dodging giant toads that hop across the walkways.
Even just walking home from a night out feels like an adventure, as there are no streetlights whatsoever in Cape Trib. I remember walking home in the dark one night with two friends, in the rain, and we literally couldn’t see two feet in front of us. In that moment I felt so small and insignificant compared to the overwhelming darkness, and it was strangely beautiful.
The lack of internet really forces everyone to look for entertainment outside of our phones, and I’m really grateful for this opportunity to disconnect and just live in the moment. We are truly so isolated here; the closest actual town with shops is about an hour away. After spending so much of my life with everything I could ever need right at my fingertips, living here is teaching me to be content with what I have.
Every day I get to feel soft white sand beneath my feet and see rich green mountains towering behind me. I’ve torn through so many books and had so many hilarious, interesting conversations with people. I’ve shaved a local’s back so he could be more confident while dressing in drag for the night. I’ve endured many foot races, thumb wars, arm-wrestling matches, and other sorts of childish contests with my coworkers. I’ve finished a workout with fresh water straight out of a coconut and eaten my body weight in mangosteens. I’ve slept in an abandoned cabin on the grounds of a bat rehabilitation center, and seen some of the most gorgeous stars right from our backyard.
Our little community in the Daintree has grown stronger every day. We’ve been having bonfires on the beach, having a blast on rope swings over a creek, checking crab traps in the muddy mangroves, picking rambutans at the tropical fruit farm across the road, having group workouts, runs, and yoga sessions, playing hilarious games in the pool and playing card games when the torrential rain prevents us from going outside.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve lived so immersed in nature. I’ve grown accustomed to the humidity and the constant presence of spiders, insects, frogs, lizards, and other creatures. Constant bug bites, sunburns, and unknown scratches and cuts have become normal, and this little oasis in the middle of the jungle has become like home.