Daintree In Queensland Australia
Daintree 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 …
Cape 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.
Our 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.
A 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.
There 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.
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
- 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.
- Experience a Swim – at the Beach House, or at safe swimming holes.
- Go for a walk – there is a board walk that takes goes south along the beach, or go for a rainforest walk.
- Try the jungle swing.
- Take one of the many land tours or a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
- Go to the Cape Trib Fruit Farm for a tasting tour.
- Enjoy horseback riding on the beach.
With 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.
After several stops in Port Douglas, including ours, the rest of the group was off to Cairns for their final drop-off.
It 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.