My night in a Tree house

16 Apr

After Magnetic island most people tend to stay on the bus all the way up to Cairns, completely missing out Mission Beach. A few months ago this wouldn’t have been the case. Mission Beach was a huge destination for most back packers owning to the fact that it had great beaches, beautiful national parks, amazing rainforests and is a great place to try white water rafting or sky diving. it’s also a great place to try and catch a sighting of the rare Cassowary bird, a giant emu type bird with a blue neck, red decorative dangly bits and a horn on its head. They also have massive claws and have been known to attack people if provoked – quite why you’d want to stumble across one is beyond me?! Give me a koala any day thanks – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassowary

But that was all before Cyclone Yasi hit and ripped through the whole area. The Cyclone caused mass devastation. Homes were blown down, power lines ripped out and whole areas of rainforest completely decimated.  Mission Beach was effectively wiped out. Even back in Agnes Water word was filtering through that Mission Beach still hadn’t recovered, despite serious clean up efforts being made, and really wasn’t worth seeing as there was nothing there. At Magnetic Island the same stories were being told, people who’d been there said it just wasn’t worth visiting.

But I wanted to go. I wanted to see for myself what had happened, how the community was coping and to show them that tourists were supporting them. How else is an area supposed to recover. They rely on back packers and tourists coming through, so if I could go, maybe that would help, maybe I could pass on the word that it wasn’t so bad, tell people to give it a chance and go there, see it for themselves etc.

There was only one place I wanted to stay in Mission Beach, it was called the Tree House. It was a hostel built into the rainforest, situated high off the ground, built into the surrounding trees. It was wild, open to the elements and about as close to nature as you could get. I couldn’t wait.

The bus pulled in to Mission Beach late in the afternoon, me and three other people got off. A few months ago the whole bus would have got off, such was the areas appeal. Not to be deterred I jumped on the mini bus to the Tree House. The ride there gave me a small glimpse of the devastation caused by the Cyclone. It’s hard to describe but all along the road, hundreds and hundreds of massive trees laid toppled on top of each other, pulled up from their roots, just lying on their sides – like a giant had come along and just blown them all over. As we neared the rain forest you could see that massive sections were just missing. Completely gone. The trees that remained had been stripped of every single leaf, all that was left was their bare trunks. It was such a strange sight, these huge trees should have been thick with foliage instead they stood like tall matches, not a scrap of green on them. It was a very strange, surreal and sad sight.

Mission Beach - some of the Rainforest, still a little in tact

It was beginning to hit me quite how insanely terrifying it must have been to be in this place when the Cyclone hit. The level of destruction is massive. It must have been horrendous to live through and I can only imagine how these people coped that night, listening to the Cyclone rip through and destroy every single thing in its path.

The Treehouse though was spectacular. As expected it had suffered some damage from the Cyclone but the staff had done an amazing job trying to get it back to some kind of normality. I asked how many people were staying there, three was the answer. In the weeks before Yasi they had been fully booked every day with about 40 guests.

It was the most unusual and unique hostel I have ever stayed at. There are no walls, literally one big open plan level with the kitchen, dinning/front room and dorms all gathered together. It has a very hippy, laid back vibe, it’s a serious chill out place and it’s easy to see why. There is no TV, only book shelves from which to help yourself, board games, a guitar, a few hammocks and the amazing views over the rainforest. It also had a very lovely pool, which we had all to ourselves. I felt very spoilt to be able to stay here and experience the breath-taking rainforest all for myself. What a treat.

The open plan Tree house

Just me, the pool and the rainforest....gorgeous

But being this close to nature is always a bit of a challenge for me. I love the views, the sounds, the beauty of it all – but I am still not so good at the bugs and beasties. The ‘don’t look up rule’ was probably the most important thing to remember here. The ceilings were teaming with every kind of bug and insect you could image. It was like every lizard in the rainforest gathered on our ceiling for their by-monthly conference on what months were in season…massive toads (yes toads!) also liked to roam about, especially near the showers…..I’d just been told I wasn’t to lick any of the toads because they can be very poisonous and the venom on their backs could actually kill me. This was very disappointing to hear as I’d just that moment picked the very toad I was planning to lick from head to toad toe all night….such a shame, ah well maybe other time (?!!!).

I won’t dwell too much on the beasties as I don’t want to put anyone off from visiting this great place, lets just say that night I slept in all of my clothes with a hood over my head and just prayed I wouldn’t wake up until morning!

I only stayed in Mission Beach for one night, not because of the beasties, but because my time was running out and I needed to get to Cairns. But if I’d had more time I would have loved to stayed there longer, get involved with the clean up operations and try to help these wonderful people get this area back to some semblance of normality. But I couldn’t. All I could do was come, see it for myself and tell everyone I could to please stop at this amazing place, go see it for yourselves, it’s still there and it needs all the support it can get.

Misson Beach is a beautiful place and very much open for business. Go there, you really won’t regret it.

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