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Mossman Gorge is situated approx 77km north of Cairns, 20km north of Port Douglas and 2km from the township of Mossman.
Comprising of tropical rainforest, creeks, boardwalks, a suspension bridge and pretty swimming holes; this part of the world is a gem. An eco shuttle bus departs every 10 minutes from the Mossman Gorge Gateway Centre and takes you right to the start of a lovely 2km walk through the exquisite scenery of the rainforest. You can also walk the 2.7km track from the centre which will take around 45 minutes. It is a lovely walk with beautiful streams and trees; listen to the sounds of the birds and the roar of the river and above all fill you lungs with the cleanest forest air. MAGIC! Take your swimming gear with you as there is a chance for a refreshing swim in the cool Mossman waters.
The Mossman Gorge Centre is located just before the entrance to Mossman Gorge. It features a contemporary café, art gallery, gift shop and tour desk. Staffed by local Indigenous residents, the centre offers the opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage that links the KuKu Yalanji people of the region to the land. The eco shuttle bus service was developed to reduce the high amount of tourist traffic entering the gorge, and to ensure the protection of this significant landmark for future generations.
A daily bus transfer is available between Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge, departing from the Port Douglas BTS Office on Macrossan Street. Alternatively you can choose from a number of organised tours that depart Cairns and Port Douglas daily.
Find out more:
Daintree Walkabout - Dreamtime Gorge Walk
Daintree Discovery Tours - Half Day Mossman & Daintree River Discovery
Tropical Horizons - Cape Trib & Daintree Rainforest tour
Trek North - Cape Tribulation
Daintree Wonder Tours
Tropical Journeys - Daintree Tour
KuKu Yalanji People
The Kuku Yalanji people are the Indigenous inhabitants of the land that extends from south of Mossman to Cooktown in the north, and Palmer River in the west, they are the Traditional Owners of this area. Kuku Yalanji are coastal rainforest people who live in total dependence and harmony with nature and their environment. They are the only aboriginal tribe in Australia who still have their own language, and describe themselves as true rainforest people who live in absolute harmony with their environment.
Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest are at the heart of Kuku Yalanji country and are home to many of the sacred sites, bush foods and medicines upon which Kuku Yalanji people rely for ceremony and survival. The landscapes hold spiritual significance including Wundu (Thornton Peak), Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi), Wurrumbu (The Bluff) and Kulki (Cape Tribulation).
A people rich in culture and environmental based mythology, Kuku Yalanji define their calendar and seasons according to the life cycle of plants, mountains and water in the rainforest. By paying close attention to changes in their environment Kuku Yalanji know what foods are ready to eat, what medicines are ready to be gathered and when it is time to catch animals and fish. Understanding the weather cycles and the combination of vegetation types allows the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people to find a variety of food throughout the year—when jilngan (mat grass) is in flower, it is time to collect jarruka (orange-footed scrubfowl) eggs and when jun jun (blue ginger) is fruiting, it is time to catch diwan (Australian brush-turkey).
The deep spirituality and innate synchronicity Kuku Yalanji people have with nature has been passed from elders – fathers, grand fathers, mothers, uncles and aunties to children throughout their formative years so they know what belongs to them, and can continue to protect and this ancient culture share their traditions for many more generations to come. Today, the Indigenous people that live in the rainforest play a very important part in the protection and maintenance of the Daintree. They care for the forest in the traditional ways they always have, and they also continue to pass on their culture and values in the same traditional way.
KuKu Yalanji Dreamtime Walks
Mossman Gorge is a very special part of the world held dearly by the traditional landowners of this region, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. They are true rainforest people, whose culture is built around a deep respect for nature and an intimate knowledge of its cycles. Legends have been passed down through the generations of the Kuku Yalanji – with the members of the community having learned all they know from their elders, parents, grand parents, uncles and aunties.
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk is a very special tour conducted by the local Indigenous people. Ngadiku (Nar-di-gul) means stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language. The walks take visitors on a journey along private, gentle tracks, visiting special places and culturally significant sites, past traditional bark shelters and over meandering cool rainforest streams. Not only will you be able to experience the beauty of this sacred place, you will also be able to share in the history and understanding of the significance of this natural site with an experienced indigenous guide.
With the development of the Mossman Gorge Centre, local Indigenous jobs and training opportunities have been created as part of this world class eco-tourism visitor and interpretive centre. The Kuku Yalanji Rainforest Aboriginal people are very proud of their indigenous heritage, and with a wealth of knowledge about its plants, animals, landscape and resources you will walk away with a richer, deeper experience of why this Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is just so special.
Find out more:
Daintree Walkabout - KuKu Yalanji Dreamtime Walk
Flames of the Forest
Flames of the Forest is a unique rainforest dining experience and a must-do for anyone interested in history, Aboriginal culture, the rainforest, and creative Australian cuisine. Tuesday and Thursday night is 'An Ancient Culture in a Timeless Spiritual Setting', featuring two local indigenous brothers who will share with you during the evening some of their remarkable culture, in a setting where they adventured as children.
The candlelit rainforest setting provides a natural, authentic backdrop for this spiritual and mystical culture, where timeless oral traditions are shared in an intimate and personal setting through story telling and music.
The area in and around Mowbray is very significant to the brothers. Aboriginal people used to gather here when all Kuku Yalanju people would go to Port Douglas for funerals, warfare, celebrations and for cultural exchange of stories adventures and weaponry. As kids they used to camp and fish in the area, and remember riding their bikes from Mossman out to Mowbray.
The innovative menu reflects a taste of tropical north Australia, combining fresh local produce with native Australian bush foods and local Australian wines to complement.
A huge component of the Aboriginal people's culture involves living in harmony with the land. The Aboriginal people believe that if they look after the land then it will provide for all their needs. Prominent rocks, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, islands, beaches and other natural features - as well as sun, moon, visible stars and animals are all significant to living in oneness with nature. With very few simple tools, used with incredible skill, the Aborigines have learned to live in unison with the land and its animals.
The Kuku Yalanji people are Indigenous inhabitants of the land that stretches from Mossman in the south to Cooktown in the north, and Palmer River out to the west. Their culture is built around a deep respect for nature and an intimate knowledge of its cycles, that has been passed down through generations.
Linc and Brandon Walker, known as the Kubirri Warra brothers of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji clan host guided fishing tours around Cooya Beach, the traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji people. They share the traditions of their ancestors by offering visitors a personal and unique glimpse into their own daily rituals and practices of hunting, gathering and caring for their land. No expensive rods and reels here – all that is needed is a wooden spear and a good aim! Wading knee-deep in water, you will learn to spear-fish, hunt for mussels, dig out mud crabs, and identify and gather bush foods and medicine. Learn how to track coastal resources and spot grazing paths of dugong and sleeping nests for rays. For most of us Cooya Beach is like any other tropical beach, but for the Walker brothers this is an open-air supermarket. Afterwards enjoy freshly baked damper and delicious just-cooked seafood delicacies.
Linc and Brandon Walker are dedicated to educating visitors about their traditional country in order to ensure the survival of their Kuku Yalanji culture. It seems there's a lot our modern world can learn from these people.
Find out more:
Daintree Dreaming Aboriginal Cultural Tour
Janbal Aboriginal Art Gallery
Janbal Gallery, located in Mossman township sells a selection of local authentic Aboriginal art, artifacts and jewellery handmade by local Indigenous artists of Far North Queensland. All of the art works at Janbal Gallery are one off originals, hand painted by local Aboriginal artist Brian “Binna” Swindley.
100% Aboriginal owned and operated, learn the stories and meanings behind some of Binna’s paintings, including his signature Yiki People and share precious Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime stories about the animals, environment and language of the Indigenous rainforest people from Mossman and Daintree area. As well as learning about Aboriginal ochre paints, Indigenous art history and painting techniques, Binna will tell you stories about traditional bush foods, construction materials and medicines. If they are in season when you visit he will show you useful plants including Black Palm (Duwar), Mat Rash (Jilngan) and Soap Tree (Karrandal) that he has growing at Janbal Gallery.