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For Rosemary and her mother, who once walked through Daintree mangroves together


The road to Cape Tribulation is punctuated by boardwalks that penetrate the Daintree. The Marrja one is billed as botanical, which of course draws my particular attention. It's one of the few places where you can find plants representing all stages of the evolution of land plants over the last 400 million years, including cycads that cohabited with dinosaurs. Some of the species tucked away here are very localised: some such as the ribbonwood, suddenly reappeared from presumed extinction, rediscovered when they poisoned cattle in the 1970s.

The walk begins in rainforest country, beloved, but familiar. Or so I think till I see the heavy wooden tracery of twisty trunk, or zebra stripes of shadow, or fan palms, beautiful in all their stages.

Then I move amongst the mangroves: perfectly strange territory. I'm in a mangrove forest, a place such as I've never seen before: buttresses, reflections, spiracles, basket ferns, like something from a fairytale. I ramble, enchanted, every place I look spectacular.