Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation – Why visit?

Daintree In Queensland Australia

Walu Wugirriga view from Mount Alexandra lookoutDaintree National Park – a visit promises a variety of unique opportunities to see rare flora, fauna, and coastal vistas. It boasts exquisite scenery of waterfalls, gorgeous remote coastline and beaches, and the Mossman Gorge for an experience of Aborigine culture. This park is in the extreme Northern part of Queensland, considered the ‘Wet Tropics’ of Australia. The lush biodiversity with swamps and mangroves, eucalyptus woodlands, various birds, including cassowaries (a beautiful rare bird, and only 1000 left) is an extraordinary experience. Daintree is one of the few places in the world where the rainforest meets a coral reef (Great Barrier Reef).  Check it out …

Wide view of Cape Tribulation beachCape Tribulation, which is a part of Daintree, is located in a remote and sparsely populated area. Even the Australian government does not know how many people actually live there. Due to the remote location, there is no law enforcement. People who have gone off the grid have been found hiding there 20-30 years later. We learned that some of the world’s most wanted have been found living here deep in the rainforest.
Most people go to Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation from Cairns, and some leave from Port Douglas, which is 1 hour north of Cairns and only 20 minutes from Mossman. We stayed in the small town of Port Douglas when we went to Daintree.

A trip to Daintree with Foaming Fury

Foaming Fury started its pick-ups in Cairns around 7:30, so we got to sleep a bit later since we were in Port Douglas – the 9 AM pick-up. Then we headed for Mossman Gorge in the southeast corner of Daintree National Park.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge Kuku Yalanji demonstrates traditional uses of local plantsOur first stop in the pristine rainforest was Mossman, part of the traditional lands of the Kuku Yalanji people. These indigenous people have lived in harmony with the environment for thousands of years. Kuku Yalanji, like all Aborigines, welcome visitors to their land and inform visitors of the land’s ‘great spiritual and cultural significance’ to its people.

Here we learned about the culture of the people, about objects found in nature that were used as tools, and the natural resources that sustained the people. We partook in the smoke ceremony that welcomed us and cleansed us of evil spirits as part of the visit. Our indigenous host demonstrated making bread, use of nuts, plants used for war paint and decoration, and how sassafras was used for making soap to clean the paint off.

After the welcome smoke ceremony, we were off for a walk in the rainforest where we saw a forest dragon and a walking stick who posed on Stu’s hat (Stu was our guide for the day). We hiked to waterfalls for a refreshing swim and crossed narrow treetop bridges before heading back to the bus for our trip to the Daintree River.

During our walk we saw trees that started out as vines on a host tree, and eventually surrounded the trunk with a net-like web. When the host tree died and rotted away, this unusual tree structure was left. The leaves of some trees and shrubs have needle-like thorns sticking straight up from the leaf to ward off predators; other trees have serrated edges leaves to help them climb and to ward of other plants that may want to overtake it. It all sounds like fantasy cartoons; you can see the plants in action in this forest.

Daintree River

Mountains viewed from Daintree RiverA part of the UNESCO World Heritage of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, the Daintree River along the Great Dividing Range. This is Australia’s most substantial mountain range, the third largest in the world according Wikipedia. This river divides the Daintree Rainforest from the rest of the world. It flows through thick mangrove swamps where it becomes salty; saltwater crocodiles can be easily spotted here.

A short bus ride brings visitors to one of the Daintree River Cruise operations. We boarded our boat; it was part of the tour package with Foaming Fury.

After quietly boarding the boat, we slowly motored along the crocodile infested river, watching for wildlife. Not surprisingly, we began to spot crocs, large ones, huge ones, and babies, too. Those babies must be careful so they don’t get eaten.

During our boat ride, we learned about the mangroves and how new trees start out. Check out this photo with the pear shape at the top and a long pointed growth. The trees drop these seed pods which impale the mud or float to shallow places and root new mangrove trees.

Daintree River cable ferryThere is no bridge across this river. The ferry looks like a large rickety raft. It is the only way to cross the river other than private boat, costing $20 AU per car for a round trip. You must be ready for delays since over 400,000 people visit yearly. Our boat cruise delivered us to the far side where Stu had crossed earlier; he was waiting with the Foaming Fury bus. On the return trip, we waited for quite some time; we got out of the bus to watch the river for wildlife.  We were warned to stay away from the shoreline and out of the woods by the river due to a risk of crocodiles.  Sound advice since we’d already seen them in the same river.

Cape Tribulation

After crossing the Daintree River, we were off to Cape Tribulation, situated at the end of the paved road. Cape Tribulation is the remote headland of northeastern Queensland, the unique spot where the beach meets the Great Barrier Reef. The beachgoers here also risk crocodile attacks so be careful if you stroll on the beach. It’s quite remote here with no mobile phone or internet service. This isolation is part of the beauty and serenity of the place.

Things to do at Cape Tribulation

  1. Visit or stay at Cape Tribulation Beach House, and go to the Lookout. – We visited for lunch and had some time to walk the beautiful expansive beach.
  2. Experience a Swim – at the Beach House, or at safe swimming holes.
  3. Go for a walk – there is a board walk that takes goes south along the beach, or go for a rainforest walk.
  4. Try the jungle swing.
  5. Take one of the many land tours or a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
  6. Go to the Cape Trib Fruit Farm for a tasting tour.
  7. Enjoy horseback riding on the beach.

Golden Orb Weaver spiderWith all of the rainforest and coastal beauty disguised as calm and peaceful come dangers. Watch out for cassowaries in the rainforests, beautiful, very large, flightless birds unique to northern Australia can attack and cause serious or fatal injury to humans. Trees in the rainforest often have stingers,  needles, or serrated edge leaves to protect themselves.  These cause very painful stings and sometimes severe injury. Be careful not to get caught in the web of spiders, particularly the Golden Orb spider.

Of course, crocs can be a threat in the river and on coastal beaches. Dangerous and sometimes deadly jellyfish are often found in these coastal waters, more frequently in warmer months; however, with a full body wetsuit for protection, you are safe to enter the water. Although these risks exist, it’s worthwhile to visit Cape Tribulation. Just be aware and take precautionary measures.

On our way back to town from Cape Trib, we watched for cassowaries. Some tour groups see them in the rainforest. No such luck for us. But our next stop had us forget about what we missed.

Homemade Ice Cream

We had a treat on our trip back to civilization, a stop at Floravilla for homemade ice cream in Cape Tribulation. It’s all natural ice cream from ingredients local to the rainforest. With coconut, dragon fruit, goji berry honey, macadamia and more, the ice cream delivers the essence of the rainforest. Floravilla makes 26 flavours. Yumm! We enjoyed our ice cream at the Walu Wugirriga overlook, high in the Alexandra Range in the rainforest, where we viewed the rainforest treetops out to the coastal beaches and sea beyond.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas beachThe last stop on our Foaming Fury tour was in Port Douglas. After riding through the marina, we headed up a winding, steep, narrow road to glimpse a view of Port Douglas’ coast. More beauty!

After several stops in Port Douglas, including ours, the rest of the group was off to Cairns for their final drop-off.


Foaming Fury tour busIt was a terrific day with Foaming Fury and our guide Stu. Stu is a very knowledgeable guide who took great care of us, and made sure everyone had whatever they needed. We enjoyed the mix of culture, river, beach, rainforest, homemade ice cream, learning about the local Aborigines. Thank you, Stu, and Foaming Fury! We highly recommend Foaming Fury for fun and enlightening excursion to Daintree.

Disclaimer: While we were invited by Foaming Fury, this is a totally independent and honest review based on our experience.

29 thoughts on “Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation – Why visit?

  1. Such a beautiful experience! A lot of green places!! I would love to have a homemade ice cream in Cape Tribulation and to experience a Swim – at the Beach House Lovely pics and a very interesting blog

  2. How beautiful is this! And Cape Tribulaton is nature at its finest. We all need that time to disconnect from the stressful world of technology once in a while and this looks like the ideal getaway. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow! This looks like quite the excursion. So much to see and do, while trying to stay safe from the creepy crawlies, and sharp teeth of the local species. The pictures offer an intriguing glimpse into the region. (I was caught off guard by the wooden croc pic. Lol) Thanks for sharing your experiences in Daintree National Park. This is certainly some place we need to consider.

  4. The Daintree is a wonderful and unique area. The areas closest to Cairns and Port Douglas are not nearly as remote as those further north making the rainforest accessible to just about everyone. If you are pushed for time you can get a great taste of the Daintree by taking the Gondola skyway up from Cairns.

    • We were there in late April and the weather was perfect – not too hot, sunny, not muddy. I think Australia’s mid-to-late Fall is a great time to visit the far northern parts of Queensland. Their summer – Dec. – Feb. is extremely hot and wet, so I would avoid that. Times close to their summer, places are still flooded. I am not sure about their winter, but as you go south into the mountains in Queensland it will be cold in their winter.

  5. I will be candid with you, I’m not sure I could do the boat ride through croc infested waters. I’d also be really skittish hanging around the beach! The weird thing is that I’m fascinated with alligators and crocodiles.

    I also didn’t know anything about cassowaries, so it is interesting that they are large land birds who are dangerous. It is a little bit of bummer you didn’t get to see one, especially since they are endangered.

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  7. This really does look like a fantastic day! The welcome smoke ceremony sounds very interesting and the waterfall swim must be so very refreshing indeed. What a great day!

  8. I love how out of the way Daintree and Cape Tribulation are. A real chance to disconnect and enjoy all the beautiful scenery. Lots to do and explore including the welcome “smoke cleansing.” A really fascinating read.

  9. Yikes about the crocs. Cape Tribulation, however, sounds absolutely riveting. If I ever need to disappear I’ll know where to go. I stayed at the Daintree Eco Lodge years ago and I’ll never forget the stunning forest. But I want to see a forest dragon!

  10. We always love visiting National Parks—I’ve never heard of Daintree National Park, but it looks really gorgeous! I’d love to visit sometime. That’s really cool that it has both rainforest and coral reefs to explore, and the jungle swing sounds like fun! Love the shot of the walking stick on your guide’s hat, too, lol!

  11. So nice when you can find a company that puts on a great tour for you! Daintree National Park, with all of its waterfalls, beaches, exotic wildlife, and river cruise, sounds amazing! You’ve got to watch out for those crocodiles, though — that scounds pretty scary!

  12. Waterfalls, lush tropical jungles, abundant wildlife – AND homemade ice cream??? Where do I sign up? ;-D Looks like a beautiful place to visit and explore. I love the fact that they integrate indigenous culture as part of the experience…I’d love to learn more about the Aboriginal way of life. Excellent photos, by the way!

    • Jim, We went with Foaming Fury. They put this combination excursion package together; it is one of their standard 1-day trips. They do a great job, and pick up in Cairns and Port Douglas. If you want the combined experience, I recommend them. Their driver knows a lot about the Aborigines too.

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