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Daintree & Cape Tribulation
The Daintree & Cape Tribulation region encompasses the area between Mossman Gorge and the Bloomfield River. It is the largest continuous stretch of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent and one of the oldest intact tropical rainforests in the world, dating back to Gondwanan times. Along the coastline north of the Daintree River you will find long sandy beaches, rocky headlands and steep mountain ranges intersected by numerous creeks and rivers, and tropical rainforest that grows right down to the edge of the sea. A visit to this area gives you a rare chance to experience two of Australia's most significant World Heritage sites side by side — the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest. Both are valued for their exceptional biological diversity. Most of the world's 19 primitive plant families are found in Daintree National Park and the surrounding area. The Daintree is also home to a large number of endemic animals — those found nowhere else in the world, including the southern cassowary, a fascinating bird that is large, flightless and extremely important to the health and regeneration of the rainforest. This Daintree National Park is truly worth a visit for the culture, diversity and exceptional natural beauty.
Mossman Gorge is located in the southern part of Daintree National Park, about five kilometres from the cane-farming town of Mossman. The gorge attracts visitors from far and wide who come to marvel at the outstanding natural beauty. The rainforest is prolific with wildlife, many endemic to the region, including unique green possums, ringtail possums, fierce marsupial cats, rare bats, and tree kangaroos and the rare antechinus. Butterflies are among the most commonly seen animals. Look for the brilliant, metallic-blue Ulysses butterfly and the striking black and green male Cairns birdwing butterflies along the walking tracks and near the river. Brush-turkeys are commonly seen scratching for food on the forest floor, meanwhile the trees in the gorge play host to the “Boyd Forest Dragon”. Often seen basking in the sun, this quiet creature is a chameleon and can change its colour to blend in. Access to the Mossman Gorge day-use area is via an eco shuttle bus from the Mossman Gorge Centre. They depart every 15 minutes (charges apply), between 8.00am and 6.00pm daily. Taking you into the heart of Mossman Gorge you can then experience the lush surrounds, rainforest walks, picnicing and swimming in one of the many water holes.
KuKu Yalanji Dreamtime Walk
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people are the Traditional Owners of the Daintree National Park. While their tribal borders extend from Port Douglas in the south, to Cooktown in the north and Palmer River in the west, the Kuku Yalanji are mainly concentrated around the Mossman River area which is of particular spiritual significance to the tribe.
The Kuku Yalanji culture is built around a deep respect for nature and an intimate knowledge of its cycles. They are deeply connected to the lands and waters of the Wet Tropics region, living in complete harmony with their environment. The Kuku Yalanji are active participants in ecotourism, as custodians of a wealth of rainforest knowledge they have developed the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks to share their knowledge, history and stories to protect their land for future generations.
The Mossman Gorge walks are conducted with a local indigenous guide who will share stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions as you journey along private rainforest tracks, visiting special places and culturally significant sites. Here your guide will demonstrate traditional plant use while identifying local bush tucker sources. Surprising plants include the sticky bean, whose sap is used to trap birds by gumming up their feathers; the milky pine with sap that drugs freshwater fish; the thorny vines of
wait-a-whiles, which, placed across a track, make a simple pig trap; the candlenut tree, which has sap that cures fungal diseases and oily nuts that burn slowly to provide light.
The Daintree River is 120km long and home to a dazzling array of tropical life including Estuarine Crocodiles, endemic birds to the region, frogs, pythons, tree snakes, butterflies and insects, some of these are rare and only found in this area. The river winds through thick mangrove swamps where the water remains very salty. As it progresses through the rainforest, the water turns fresh and this is where it merges with the World Heritage Rainforest of the Daintree Region. The river is surrounded by mountains and deep valleys. The best way to really appreciate this significant wilderness area is onboard a Daintree River Cruise. Cruises are provided in a small vessel which enables an intimate exploration of the river banks and wildlife in the trees and sky above. The River guides are local well informed naturalists and biologists and also keen bird watchers. There are a number of river cruise operators who depart from various locations along the banks of the Daintree River. Due to the river's isolation and legislation, saltwater crocodiles have flourished in recent years, so it is important not to step close to the riverbank, or stay within the confines of boats, and absolutely never swim in the river.
The Daintree ferry is the gateway to the Daintree Coast. The north and south banks of the Daintree River are linked by the Daintree Ferry which operates on a cable system, capable of taking up to 16 vehicles across the river at a time. This is the only cable ferry operating in a World Heritage area in the world. It makes continuous crossings of the Daintree River throughout the day, averaging more than 100 crossings a day, and travelling over 10,000km each year along the wire rope. Crossings takes about 5 minutes and a fee is payable to use the ferry service prior to boarding. The ferry operates 6.00am until midnight every day with a reduced service on Christmas Day. After crossing the Daintree Ferry you will travel through lowland and tropical rainforest passing road junctions for Cape Kimberley and Cow Bay.
The Daintree Village is located on the southern banks of the Daintree River, about 12 km past the turnoff to the Daintree ferry, and has an interesting history going back to early pioneer days. Originally a settlement created in the 1870's by timber-cutters who came to log the red cedar which once flourished in the area, today the lifeblood of this laid-back little township lies in low-impact tourism, sustainable cattle and tropical fruit-farming in the beautiful valleys beyond. The Village hosts a number of restaurants, galleries and shops selling local arts and craft, and from here you can hop on a scenic river cruise and explore the unique bird and wildlife along the Daintree River.
Mount Alexandra Lookout, or Walu Wugirriga (“look about”), is situated about 5 km north of the Daintree River, and provides breathtaking views of the coast including Cape Kimberley, the Daintree River mouth, Snapper Island and Low Isles in the distance. On a clear day you can even see as far as Double Island near Palm Cove. It is an ideal spot for those postcard photo opportunities.
Just past Cow Bay is the Daintree Tea Company situated on the Cubbagudta Plantation. The name Cubbagudta means "Rainy place" in the language of the local Kuku Yulangi Aboriginal people. Rainy place is significant of this wet region which makes perfect conditions for growing quality tea. With a high rainfall of around 4 metres per annum and a temperature range of 25 to 35 degrees, along with granite alluvial red soils, these assets all combine to make the perfect growing environment for this unique tasting tea. Cultivated as mother nature intended, without the use of any pesticides, Daintree Tea is pleasantly mild with an earthy taste that reflects this beautiful growing environment.
The Daintree Icecream Company is well worth a stop to reward yourself after a day of sightseeing in the Daintree Rainforest. This boutique ice creamery is renowned for its homemade tropical fruit ice cream made with the fruits from their own orchard. Flavours vary according to the season which include Black Sapote, Soursop, Wattle Seed, Mango, Passionfruit and Jackfruit. All the ice creams are made on the premises and only fruit in season is used. You can walk around the orchard and discover over 20 varieties of tropical fruit trees that bear the flavours for the ice-cream.
Daintree Discovery Centre
The Daintree Discovery Centre is an award-winning world class interpretive facility that allows visitors easy access to every level of the Daintree Rainforest; from the forest floor to the upper most reaches of the canopy. The Centre features Boardwalk tours, a 23 metre high Canopy Tower, Aerial Walkway and comprehensive Display Centre. It provides an excellent introduction to the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest. The Canopy Tower comprises five different viewing platforms allowing visitors of all ages to access the various levels of the rainforest – from the forest floor to the upper most reaches of the canopy. The Aerial Walkway allows access to the mid-level rainforest and offers stunning views over McLean’s Creek. The walkway also allows for wheelchair access to both the Interpretive Display Centre and the base of the Tower.
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Daintree Discovery Centre
Daintree Entomological Museum
If your curious about the strange bugs and butterflies of the world, this is the place to visit, they’re all here! The Daintree Entomological Museum and Gallery established in 2003, and houses one of the worlds best private Butterfly and Beetle collections. This beautifully displayed collection of Australian and Worldwide insects has been collected and bred, by one man, Stephen Paul Lamond. It has taken over 40 years to establish this world renowned display. The buildings and cabinets have been designed and handcrafted by Stephen which he now exhibits his life’s long work including his personal artwork, breeding houses, live insects, and new local discoveries in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.
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Trek North - Cape Tribulation
Jungle Canopy Surfing
Jungle Surfing is a unique eco-adventure where your feet don’t touch the ground! Fly through the trees on flying fox ziplines, stopping at five tree platforms taking in spectacular bird’s eye views over the treetops. A guide will greet you, connect you safely to the tree, and introduce you to different elements of the forest before sending you on your way to the next platform. This fun, educational, all weather experience is suitable for all ages from 3 to 103. This is certainly a unique way to see the rainforest up close.
Cape Tribulation was named by British navigator Lieutenant James Cook on 10 June 1770, due to the trials and tribulations he encountered whilst navigating his ship through the reefs in the area. Cape Tribulation has become a small tourist destination in itself with a number of backpacker and eco-lodge accommodation in the area plus facilities such as a cafe/restaurant, local store and pharmacy. Attractions include The Bat House, Exotic Tropical Fruit Farm, Cape Trib Beach and a number of touring options that depart from here such as horseriding, sea kayaking and reef trips.
Cape Tribulation Beach
The best part of the Cape Tribulation experience is the beaches. Most of the beaches in the Daintree region are untouched with golden sand, fringing reef and rugged rainforest that frames the coastline. Cape Tribulation Beach is a popular spot for visitors and the view says it all... A short 10 minute walk up to the headland opens up a breathtaking view of rainforest clad mountains which literally roll down to meet with the fringing reef. Cape Tribulation Beach has toilets and picnic tables, keep a watch out for Lace monitors (goannas) as they are often seen patrolling for food scraps.
The section between Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield River is a four-wheel-drive track called 'The Bloomfield Track'. This is is one of Australia's most scenic and challenging drives. Travelling through the heart of the Wet Tropics, the drive features waterfalls, creek crossings, rainforest-clad ranges and stunning views. The road is only partially sealed with very steep ranges and natural creek crossings, and as such, can become impassable after heavy rain. Motorists are strongly advised to check weather conditions beforehand. Steeped in history and controversy, the Bloomfield Track was at the height of protests in 1982 when the Douglas Shire Council began construction to open the road and gravel it. Protesters tried to stop the road, leading to several arrests. In spite of almost no local support, the road was built in a matter of weeks. Although conservationists lost in their efforts to stop the road to Bloomfield their efforts served to bring attention to the Daintree rainforests which influenced ploitical thinking and the decision for World Heritage listing.
There are plenty of walks in the Daintree - Cape Tribulation area where you can submerge yourself in rainforest. No matter your level of fitness or mobility, young or old, experienced hikers or casual strollers, there are walks to accommodate all. Simple walks include Kulki - Cape Tribulation Beach Lookout (10mins), Marrdja Botanical Walk (45 mins), Jindalba boardwalk (45 mins) and Dubuji Boardwalk (45mins), or for the more experienced hikers Jindalba circuit track (1.5 hrs), Emmagen Creek & Beach (5 hours) and Mt Sorrow Ridge Walk (6 hours).
Jindalba boardwalk—650 m return (45 mins) Grade: easy
The Jindalba (meaning ‘foot of the mountain’) boardwalk explores tropical lowland rainforest. Quiet walkers may be lucky enough to see a tree-kangaroo or cassowary. There is a large picnic area with toilets and tables. Wheelchair access to the creek is from the exit end only, near the disability access parking bays.
Jindalba circuit track—3 km return (1.5 hrs) Grade: moderate
Near the entrance of the Jindalba boardwalk is the start of the Jindalba circuit track. This forest walk is well marked but is stony in places and crosses rainforest creeks. A reasonable level of fitness is required.
Marrja boardwalk—1.2 km loop (45 mins) Grade: easy
The Marrja (meaning ‘rainforest’ or ‘jungle’) boardwalk allows visitors to experience both rainforest and mangrove communities, without getting muddy. Along the walk learn about the plants found in each of these environments. There are no toilets or picnic areas at this site.
Dubuji boardwalk—1.2 km loop (45 mins) Grade: easy
The Dubuji (meaning ‘place of spirits’) boardwalk travels through lowland rainforest swamps and mangroves. Signs explain the survival strategies used by rainforest plants and animals. The site is close to Myall Beach and has large grassed areas with picnic shelters and toilets.
Kulki—600 m return (10 mins) Grade: easy
Kulki day-use area has a boardwalk leading from the picnic area to a viewing platform overlooking the ocean and beach. A short walk from the Kulki car park takes you to beautiful Myall Beach. Toilets and picnic tables are provided.
Mount Sorrow ridge trail—7 km return (6-7 hrs) Grade: difficult
This is a steep and difficult trail and walkers need to be fit, self-reliant and well-prepared. The trail climbs from the coastal lowlands of Cape Tribulation, up the rainforest-clad ridge of Mount Sorrow to a lookout offering views of the beautiful Daintree coastline, Snapper Island and beyond.