Oct 13th: The Barn

We both slept well and it was nice to be off the boat, clean of salt water, and in a relatively comfortable room. My knees were sore from all the diving and my poor feet were a mess from the crappy fins. I always take my own mask when I go diving or snorkeling because it is super annoying when your mask is leaking all the time, which is common with rental masks. I usually bring my own fins too, but we already had enough stuff so I left them behind. Unfortunately, the rental fins were the full-foot kind, which I hate. I had remembered to pack socks to wear with them, but they still tore up my feet.

The victim of bad fins

We had a huge pile of stinky salty wet clothes, so we decided to take the morning and do some laundry. First, we had breakfast and coffee at a nice little place called “Bang and Grind.” The sister hotel to the Abbott, half a block down the street, had a laundry, so we grabbed our laundry and headed over. We tried the 10th floor first. Dryer was out of order. Then the 6th, soap dispenser wasn’t working. Susanne went up to the 8th and got soap and we were set to go.

While Susanne worked on the laundry, I grabbed a taxi and headed out to the airport to pick up the rental car. I headed back; driving on the wrong side of the road is no problem. I have driven a lot in Australia and New Zealand, so my brain seems to be able to switch pretty quickly. I would say it is only in the parking lots that I get confused.

We finished up the laundry, showered, packed, loaded the car and headed out toward Cow Bay in the Daintree forest. We stopped in Mossman to get groceries for the stay as there is not much out there.

Daintree Ferry

We crossed over the Daintree river on the ferry. There was some big bike ride going on and there were tons of bikers on the ferry coming back to Mossman (“ride the jungle”). The road to Cow Bay was pretty amazing—narrow, winding and very much the jungle.


The “Barn” was what we had rented on Airbnb and it had looked interesting on the webpage. We picked it also because it had a nice pool. It was a dirt road into the place and the driveway was quite narrow. Frank, the owner, was meeting us at the house. We pulled in and parked.

I walked in and Frank was there and I introduced myself. He was a scruffy-looking dude that looked like he had gone through a lot in life. He, like most Australians, started chatting right away. He told me “Sorry mate, I have the worst hangover. I was at the pub until closing.” He kind of randomly started showing me the house. I asked him to wait until we had put our groceries into the fridge and went and got Susanne who was at the car waiting to unload.

The house is huge and quite interesting. The view out into the ocean is incredible and it is truly remote. I asked Frank if he built it and he told me that his mother had. He then launched into an amazing, if not bizarre, life story, although many details are vague and we can only speculate based on what he told us.

Evidently he came from a family of some wealth. His mom sounded like she was quite the socialite and didn’t share much of the wealth with him. He went to Thailand for a two-week vacation and ended up living there for 23 years. He met a woman, got married and had two kids. They had some business together and made a bunch of money. Then it turned out she had a gambling problem, lost all of their money over the course of 3 months, got deeply in debt with the Thai mafia. They started threatening him and his kids so he had to pick up and flee back to Australia.

I guess his mom was worth 10 million or so and had decided to build the “Barn.” As we were up in the master bedroom looking down at the pool some 30’ below us or so, he told us that Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer had shot “The Island of Dr. Moreau” in 1996 out here and they had been over to the house for a party. Marlon was a gentleman, but evidently Val Kilmer was not and he kept jumping off the top deck into the pool. I have no idea if this is true, but if so, it was a hairball jump!

val splash

Evidently his mom blew through the $10 million and left the house just sitting there rotting in the jungle for 5 years. When he escaped out of Thailand, and found out his mom had blown all her money, he took over the house. He said it was completely falling apart when he started fixing it up.

It clearly, at one time, was amazing. It is still pretty cool, but it is in desperate need of some additional TLC. It has a 20-yard salt water pool that is quite nice. There are not very many bedrooms, but tons and tons of open living space. Clearly a house built for parties. It runs completely off the grid and can be completely opened up with massive sliding glass doors. The master bedroom has an amazing view. There are many things in the house that look quite antique and valuable. There is a hand-carved stone chest in the master bedroom that has to be incredibly valuable. It was full of a bunch of old pictures from the early days in Australia (yes, I was a big snoop). Frank literally said “nothing is off limits.”

We found all this history out from Frank in about 15 minutes.


The other bummer is that the internet was down. He said the modem was toast and he had to take it back to Cairns. He then forgot to take it with him.

We settled in and hung out enjoying the view sipping on a nice Grenache rosé from Australia. This place is so remote, you could literally wander around naked and not freak anyone out except for the giant iguana that was hanging in the palm tree next to the house. Not that we do that, mind you.



We took a nice swim and then a nap. It was very relaxing.

It started raining as we were eating dinner. Not just a light rain, but a full-on Milford Sound Sheets-of-Water torrent of rain. That is the first rain we have had since being here. It was so loud it was hard to hear each other talk. I tried to attach a video with the sound of the rain, but it essentially told me “you are using the cheapscate version of wordpress” and it wouldn’t let me. There were a few small leaks in the roof that we discovered.

We hung out, worried about the bugs because a few showed up, closed the doors, opened the doors because it was too hot and went to bed.

It was a good day.





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