Captain James Cook first sighted the stretch of coastline known as Cape Tribulation in June, 1770. His ship, HM Endeavour, stuck fast and managed to lime to the Endeavour River where, for some months, it was laid up for repairs.
Now everyone can enjoy the vicinity without the toil. And the perfect place to stay is Cockatoo Hill Retreat, situated on a rainforest ridge with surrounding views from Hutchinson Hill towards Cape Tribulation, the Coral Sea to the east and Thornton Park in the west. The heart of the Daintree, Cape Tribulation World Heritage area has superb biodiversity. In an around Cooper and Noah Creeks, species of rainforest plants are being discovered that are thought to be 135 million years old.
Rich wildlife visits regularly and there are plenty of birds, including the reclusive rainforest cassowary, as well as colourful butterflies, green tree frogs, goannas and water dragons.
Carmen Fabro and Gilles Germain, hosts at Cockatoo Hill Retreat, extend a grand mix of French charm with warm Australian hospitality.
Visitors can arrive in their own vehicle on the cable ferry which crosses the Daintree River from 6am to midnight each day. It's a ride to paradise.
You can also fly to the country airstrip of Cow Bay, just four kilometres from Cockatoo Hill. You'll see where the rainforest meets the reef, get a birds-eye view over two World Heritage areas and your hosts will meet you at the airstrip.
The Lodge is crafted from local timbers and has a Balinese-style thatched roof. After a lazy, tropical, continental-style breakfast, which includes fresh fruit and can be served as early or late as you choose, it is tempting to just laze and drink in the views. Picnic hampers are available and while there is a good choice of restaurants not far from the retreat, the owners will arrange dinner in for an added cost.
Accommodation is in private, thatched treehouses. They look over the rainforest to the horizon of the Coral Sea. The bedroom has soft lighting and opens to a large balcony. Guests enjoy the comfort and luxury of a hand-crafted timber, king-size bed.
The retreat has a freshwater, wet-edge pool, complete with cascading waterfall and bar. It was dubbed one of the four "cool pools" in the world by London's Sunday Times!
There is so much to do around Cape Tribulation. Visit the Rainforest Environment and Interpretive Centre which has many boardwalks through the rainforests; picnic on the beach or by a river waterhole; take a guided day or night walk through the rainforest; book a cruise on the Daintree River or Cooper Creek, which includes birdwatching, wildlife and crocodile spotting, fishing or sunset dinner. There’s horse riding and sea kayaking at Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation, snorkelling and diving from the Cape, a visit to an exotic fruit farm and a 4WD safari beyond the Cape to Bloomfield and Cooktown.