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Daintree National Park
Daintree National Park

Daintree National Park: travel activities, things to do

A place where a tropical forest UNESCO world heritage meets the Great Barrier Reef is a place where visitors can relax into the timeless spaces of forest, ocean and reef. A day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas is to cheat the visitor out of the magic of the Daintree. A tropical story of ancient survivors, the saltwater crocodile, rare plants and enormous flightless birds, the cassaway you will find it hard to leave. Breath in the forest experience, indulge in quiet moments and indulge the soul with the qualities that make the area special. A landscape with striking diversity, the Daintree is a destination to discover mountain ranges, flowing streams, tall waterfalls, lagoons and gorges. The park is approximately 1200 square metres and the home to the Kuku Yalanji people. The Daintree is a living record for its traditional owners and a living timeline of evolution. The Daintree is millions of years older than the Amazon and a place that grabs the heart.

Southern cassowary Daintree National Park, Australia

Daintree Weather

Best time to go

Dry season from May to October

MOSSMAN GORGE

A 20 -25 minute drive from Port Douglas brings you to the Mossman Gorge at the southernmost end of the Daintree Rainforest. Mossmann Gorge is ancient and primal. Mossman Gorge is free to enter. I strongly recommend you purchase a pass to catch the shuttle bus into the main walking area. It is not recommended you walk as the road is narrow with no access path. From the visitor information centre a boardwalk takes you to the Mossman River and an inviting swimming area. The river can be dangerous after heavy rain, check with rangers before swimming.

Remember to have your insect repellant handy.  It is tropical with the usual biting mosquitoes. Covered walking shoes are recommended even for areas where there are boardwalks.

Mossman Gorge Walks:

  • Baral Marrjanga—270 m (5–10 mins) Grade: easy. …
  • Lower river track—300 m (5–10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy. …
  • Rex Creek bridge—460 m (10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy. …
  • Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek bridge)—2.4 km return (45 mins) Grade: moderate to easy.

Guided walking tours are popular. It is recommended that the tours are booked before departure to avoid disappointment.

Take a moment to visit an Indigenous gallery adjacent to Mossman visitor centre. For art lovers this is a must do activity.

Ten favourite things to do in Daintree

1
Crocodile Central - Daintree River tour

Top of the list is an oldie but goodie, a river cruise. You get really close to the fearsome saltwater crocodiles. The jaw crunching, body twist acrobatics of the primeval creatures millennium old is a gloriously memorizing sight. In fact it is not surprising that many visitors are repeating the tour to get another sight of the monsters of the mudflats of the Daintree River. Winter is the best time to track these scary beasts or plan your cruise to coincide with low tide.

2
Foodie tropical treats

From exotic fruit tastings, ice creams packed with melting sweet moments. It’s warm and humid with the option of cool ice cream. It is unlikely visitors will turn down the opportunity for an degustation experience focused on ice cream. The Daintree Ice Cream Company concoct tropical flavours from star fruit, lychee, custard apple, macadamia and mulberry. Seasonal favourites are tropical exotics such as jackfruit or Malay apple identified by its burst of a stunning red flower.

3
Let’s get back to school at the Daintree Discovery Centre

A guarantee not to bore kids with animated dinosaurs and parents will want to explore a 23m canopy tower and 125m skywalk among the ancient forest. The Jurassic forest experience is magic as well as an informative experience. Remember to peer into the jungle to spot a cassowary in the wild. Admission to the centre gives visitors access to nearby attractions, a guide book geared towards explanations for all ages and seven days to explore boardwalks and the Bush Tucker Trail.

4
A spa under a natural waterfall sounds glorious

Experience the therapeutic powers of the rainforest at the Daintree EcoLodge and Spa. Named ‘Wawu-karrba’, or ‘healing of the spirit’ in the local language, the spa harnesses the pure waters of a nearby waterfall believed by the Indigenous Kuku Yalanji women to have ancient healing properties.Opt for the Julma at the Waterfall experience and take the rocky trail down through the rainforest to a wooden platform set up by the cascades where your masseuse awaits. Then head back to your private ‘bayan’ – a treehouse nestled in the leafy canopy – and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest.

5
Test your 4WD credentials with a road trip

Cape Tribulation is an iconic road trip with detours to test hardy souls. Remote bays where the Daintree National Park meets the intense blue of the Great Barrier Reef. The importance of the nutrients flowing into the tropical reefs of the Barrier Reef, the sheer sight of lush bright green forest being framed by white sands and a marine environment. Don’t simply drive the Creb track rather stop and admire the views, indulge in those quiet moments where the sound is the forest and ocean breathing. Best time in the dry season, May to October.

6
Aboriginal foraying tours

Join Aboriginal guides on a foraging tour with traditional spears on Cooya beach. You will share the beach with locals exercising their dogs. The tour is low key, with your feet paddling through swallow waters. You will be encouraged to prepare the catch and have a BBQ on the beach. The unique coastal place has three diverse ecosystems – beach, mangroves and coastal reef – that are connected to each other by the ever-changing mudflats and tidal lagoons. Today, the brothers can teach you how to throw a spear, hunt whilst stalking and observing wildlife, and how to find plants used for food and medicine. Don’t worry if your spear throwing technique results in no fish, the brothers will share their feast.

7
Tropical beach

Find a deserted tropical beach to indulge your stranded on a tropical island fantasy. Emmagen Beach is clearly identified by the massive Strangler Fig by the side of the road and the signs pointing to the beach walk. The track is 1.4 km (return) and flat. Visitors will pass towering coastal rainforests merging into the mangroves at the mouth of Emmagen Creek. The track is flat, but can be rough in places due to tree roots. The views of Cape Tribulation are spectacular, the beach is rocky, but good for exploring, and the mouth of the creek lined with mangroves. Do not swim here as crocodiles may frequent the creek area. You can walk along the beach from here to Cape Tribulation if the tide is not too high around the rocks. The track begins opposite the car park, in behind the fig tree.

8
Swim in a cool tropical river pool.

The sea is often box jellyfish hazard territory and the slow moving major river tributaries are stocked with prehensile crocos making the idea of a dip unappealing. While your accommodation offers a glorious filtered swimming pool the Mossman Gorge has phenomenal natural rock pools. The luxury of soaking in creek rock waterholes is very tempting.

9
Walk

Channel your inner explorer and walk the forest. Dubuji walk, 1.8km, begins at Daintree Village car park, wheelchair accessible, meander slowly listening to the rainforest and looking up and down for signs of local wildlife. Do not step off the boardwalk. The walk finishes at Myall beach. Or Marrdja Boardwalk is a 1.2km loop track. Wheelchair accessible. Starts at Cape Tribulation Road, 10 minutes drive south of Cape Tribulation. You will be looking at strangler figs curling their vines and branches around vegetation. The enormous gan palms and pandanus trees gradually clear to views of cannonball mangroves. Look for their big seed pods which are known as monkey puzzles when flowering. Tropical forests are known for their orchids often tucked into the trees and high in the canopy.

10
Night tours

Nightlife the jungle becomes alive, take a nighttime forest tour or day ziplining adrenaline tour. On a private reserve are the award-winning tours Jungle Surfing and Jungle Adventures Day & Night Walk. By day, on a guided day walk or zipline tour exploring the flora and fauna of the Daintree. By night, armed with a torch, you’ll take to one of the rainforest’s natural walking trails. A landscape lived in by tiny dragons, serenaded by forest frogs and dancing insects. This is the most exciting way to see the Daintree Rainforest. For details check out Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours & Night Walks – Call (07) 4098 0043.

Travel Pack Information

The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people are the Traditional Owners of Daintree National Park. Their country extends from near Cooktown, south to Mossman. Many natural features of the landscape have spiritual significance for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. They welcome you to their country and ask that you respect their special place

Swimming holes in the Daintree National Park

Check Mossman Gorge Safety Information before entering the water.

  • Mossman Gorge is the location for the well known swimming holes. The inviting clear water refreshing in the humid warmth of the forest. Get to your new favourite spot by mid morning as Mossman is the most popular spot for day trippers.
  • Cassowary Falls
    Staying at Daintree village, the nearby Cassowary Falls is nestled in an isolated spot deep within the bushland, with lush greenery and fantastic wildlife. The area provides a unique experience for keen swimmers, with deep, cooling waters and untouched scenery. The watering hole is surrounded by large rocks, perfect to sun bake and jump into the water from.
  • Emmagen Creek
    If you are looking for a walk and a swim, Emmagen Creek is for you. You’ve got off the road to explore Emmagen Beach. The swimming hoel is a well signposted short walk away. The swimming hole is quiet, with ancient polished rocks and clear water. The track is 0.8km and an easy walk. The Emmagen creek holes run alongside the Creek, about 5km north of Cape Tribulation. You can reach in a 2WD however do not travel any further North and in the wet season only 4WD.
  • Consult Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park | Parks and forests | Department of Environment and Science, Queensland for detailed information about Daintree National Park.

The journey is worth it.

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