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Charles sees aboriginal traditions in Australian rainforest

The prince took part in a traditional smoking ceremony.

The Prince of Wales has ventured into Australia’s Daintree Rainforest to discover the traditions of its 50,000-year-old indigenous people.

Arriving by helicopter at Mossman Gorge, near Cairns, Charles marvelled at how the Kuku Yalanji aboriginals made use of the forest as a rich resource.

He reacted with awe when he was shown by elder Roy Gibson how leaves from a certain tree could provide relief for mosquito bites, and took a particular interest in a handmade hunting boomerang.

He also took part in a traditional smoking ceremony, said to help ward off evil spirits.

Wearing a cream suit and matching shoes, the prince took a stroll through the world heritage-listed forest before joining a roundtable discussion on sustainable forestry.

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Charles is given a gift at the Royal Flying Doctors Service base in Cairns (Steve Parsons/PA)

Earlier, the prince attended a Sunday church service where he met a woman who made headlines 40 years ago when she gave him a kiss.

Leila Sherwood first met the heir to the throne in 1979 as a 14-year-old, when she skipped school to see him at Cairns Airport.

“I broke through a barrier and jumped out in front of him,” she said.

“I said, ‘Charles, may I kiss you?’. He said, ‘yes, alright then’, so I pecked his cheek. I was all over the TV afterwards.”

Greeting the prince again outside St John the Evangelist Church on Sunday, the 54-year-old showed him a newspaper clipping from the time.

She said: “He held my hand and said ‘bless you’ – I didn’t want to let go of his hand!”

Charles also visited the Cairns base of the Royal Flying Doctors service, and hailed its “remarkable” work.

He spoke by video link to Lyn French and her grandson Robert, who live in rural Queensland, about 370 miles from Cairns, and rely on the Flying Doctors for medical help.

Charles, who was also shown how to treat a snake bite, said: “I’m very proud to be patron of the Flying Doctors. It’s a remarkable operation.”

On a busy day for the prince, he even found time to head on board HMAS Leeuwin to present the Gloucester Cup to Hydrographic Ship Blue Crew – an award for the Royal Australian Navy unit displaying the highest level of overall proficiency for the year.

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