Daintree – Cape Tribulation Rainforest Experience
Daintree is the heart of rainforest experience. This is where the rainforest meets the reef. A place that you come to reconnect with nature and see the rainforest in its splendour.
Daintree in Brief
Daintree-Cape Tribulation, the oldest tropical rainforest national park in Australia and a UNESCO World Heritage Listed, is one of the Australia’s most popular visited place for travellers looking to experience cinematic Australia. There is an abundance of guided tours to show you this incredible part of the world, but exploring Daintree-Cape Tribulation on self-drive, without time restrictions and with an open itinerary is an adventure that is pretty hard to top. This place is where you can still see and feel the real rainforest and the centuries-old palm trees have survived invasions. The area has a diverse mixture of nature, culture and history. Daintree-Cape Tribulation is an area of breathtaking beauty with mountain ranges, narrow coastal strips and dense rainforest reaching to the edge of the beaches.
Many people think, the Daintree-Cape Tribulation warrant only a Day Trip from nearby Port Douglas or Cairns, but Stay a few days and the Secrets of the Rainforest really open up to you.
Though Daintree-Cape Tribulation area has a thick and dense rainforest which covers most of the area, it is easy to get around the area. Daintee area just only 140 kilometres further north of Cairns, so an early departure scheduled in my itinerary was necessary and I planned on cramming as much into my day trip as possible. Just 140 kilometres further north of Cairns, away from the major cities and famous resorts, you will find very laid-back area of Daintree-Cape Tribulation region. It is the place where time is seemingly stands still and is untouched by mass developments. You’re surely to find some of the most beautiful rainforest coastlines you have ever laid eyes on. This area is undeniably one of the most exciting, diverse and magical region to visit in Australia and the Great Barrier Reef sits at the very heart of it. It is richly blessed with nature, culture and history – A place where rainforest meets the reef. It is one of the popular iconic places in Australia to visit.
The road stretches along the edges of Great Barrier Reef to Cooktown along the coastal drive and is known for its vast stretches of stunning coastline, with its breathtaking waterfalls, scenic vistas at every turn, impressive rivers, lush rainforest, rugged terrains and rivers and creeks infested with crocodiles. Given its remoteness and raw, natural beauty, it was the perfect place to visit where I could be safe and also find a ton of outdoor activities to fill up my weekend. The visit to this area promises to be one of the great contrast, beauty and exploration. It gives me an opportunity to enter the tropical wonderland – the Daintree National Forest.
Leaving Cairns early Friday morning, driving north from Cairns to Cape Tribulation known as the ‘The Great Barrier Reef Drive’ took me along spectacular coastline, hugging two World Heritage areas – The Great Barrier Reef and The Daintree Rainforest before I hit the edge of the rainforest. Whilst the road is sealed and easily accessible by conventional vehicles was much easier and comfortable but they’re not without their surprise bumps and bruises. Driving in the early hours of mid-morning (7am) means smooth driving without heavy traffic, absorbing the cool breeze coming off the ocean and gave me enough time to keep a sharp eye on the views and time for photography along the way. Driving along the windy coast road and through canfields to Mossman, a tiny town north of Port Douglas where I stopped for breakfast and coffee break at a local cafe located on the main street of Mossman township.
From the tiny town of Mossman, I continued my drive through cane fields, with the back-drop of tropical ranges on one end and the ocean on the other, until reaching Daintree River Crossing. Daintree River Crossing is the gateway to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest Wonderland. Arriving early at the Daintree Ferry crossing meant that I didn’t have to wait longer than 30 minute and the cost of Ferry crossing is $31 return. Crossing the ferry is an another experience, as you sit in your car while enjoying the views of the crocodile infested mighty Daintree River.
Daintree National Park
Without requiring a permit to enter Daintree National Park, my adventure began from the moment, I drove off the Daintree Ferry. Leaving the scenery of cane-field farmlands, the drive along this seal all-weather road north of the river winds through areas of lush natural forest wonderland and has been designed to minimize impacts on the Daintree Rainforest ancient ecosystem. Driving along this windy road, passing through pristine thick rainforest filled with stunning views of Daintree Rainforest, beautiful beaches and coastlines to Cape Tribulation, my final stop. This drive is one of the most spectacular and thrilling experience I ever have. The pleasure of going through lush tropical rainforest, narrow and windy road lined with natural and unique ferns, vines, trees and plants that are unique and only found in this part of the world is quiet and unique experience. The whole area provides a vast array of flora and fauna, rough and dense terrains. It is one of the natural botanic kingdoms in the world. A great place to come and enjoy, admire and appreciate nature amidst the oldest rainforest in the world.
The Daintree Rainforest and the entirety of Cape Tribulation boast many stupendous boardwalks through the trees, walking trails and impressive lookouts with stunning views. Prior to weekend getaway, I dotted few ‘must see and do’ pit stops on my itinerary throughout the trip.
Cape Tribulation & Lookout
Cape Tribulation, the final stop for many tours and non-4wheel drive adventures before returning the same route lies on the coast of the rainforest, where it meets the reef. Nestled in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation offers stunning natural scenes from remote headland that looks outwards to Great Barrier Reef. It has a long-stretched secluded beach with the backdrop of lush tropical rainforest and the reef. Reowned for its adventure trails through the rainforest, pristine and untouched lush rainforest, remote beaches, quiet and secluded tourist accommodations and the world heritage rainforest of Daintree National Park, it has it all.
A short well-paved walk-way to the lookout has the most stunning view of the coastline and headland. Cape Tribulation is home to two interpretive walks – Dubuji Boardwalk that takes you through the rainforest and mangrives that the Madja Botanical Boardwalk and pathway that takes you through the high value Daintree coastal rainforest. Taking the easy walk on Dubuji boardwalk to the Kulki lookout. The lookout point provides excellent view across the Cape Tribulation beach and the pristince coastline.
Almost 150 kilometres of solid road time from Cairns to Cape Tribulation with short stop for photo opportunities and board before I checked into my accommodation – Heritage Lodge. As soon as I set foot into the lodge I was made to feel at home. I feel like, I step back in time as I experience the magic of this place but it was the warm welcome and that attentive of local staff that won’t my heart. The staff were eager to share their local knowledge of the area and assisted in making the most of my time in this magnificent area.
The private setting of my rainforest cabins was the ideal place for me to spend two nights to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine or a rejuvenating cup of Daintree tea which is local produced right in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Just relaxing by the poolside or rainforest walks were just part of the experience while staying there.
As the sun rises over Daintree’s seemingly never-ending rainforest, a profusion of local birds and wildlife sing songs as my alarm cock outside my secluded cabin, signalling that it is time to head out and explore more of this untamed rainforest. When it comes to rainforest walking trails and boardwalks, Daintree should be on your list, and the naturally stunning and pristine environment is a terrific day under the canopy or rainforest with family, friends or even alone. Many thousands of keen rainforest adventourers come to Daintree-Cape Tribulation each year to explore this oldest rainforest in the world.
Taking the late morning/early afternoon to explore the rainforest up close and headed to Marrdja Boardwalk. As this area is protected, World-Heritage Listed, I had to keep intact on the boardwalk without disturbing the pristine natural ecosystem. I was surprisingly faced with impressive rainforest ferns, palm trees and many exotic plants. This popular boardwalk in the Daintree area is undoubtedly one of the best in the area. This incredible rainforest boardwalk is a paradise for nature lovers as the rich vegetable and thriving wildlife allow you to get lost in the beauty of this natural park.
As am meandering down the Marrdja boardwalk, it took me into another world where the lush vegetation changing and evolving the richness of the earth and the rainforest echoes with life. Here, I not only got the chance to see the tangle of fig trees embracing each other but the gentle music of the bright streams spilling over rocks and the mangrove forests entwining with the dewy fresh rainforest made for an incredible sojourn. The constantly changing scenery and vegetation within 1.2km along this boardwalk are captivating and it just kept me me enthralled as I stroll along this stunning and impressive boardwalk. This boardwalk has to be among the most accessible and interesting of all these trails and it is well worth stopping to see some of the abundant flora and fauna of the Daintree Forest. This boardwalk is a looped walk that begins and ends at Oliver’s Creek, a glistering stream that emerges from beneath the thick rainforest canopy. The boardwalk is only 1.2km in length and is entrely wheelchair accessible. It is really, an instructive and nice boardwalk and there is so much to see. I get to see different types of mangroves, basket ferns, palms, strangler fig trees, birds, green butterflies, exotic mushrooms and the list just goes on. The informative signs along the boardwalk teaches of this land from prehistoric times and I walk, I found signs explaining that this rainforest is one of the places on earth to still be preserving many ancient trees. It is truly an amazing place to be. Taking an easy walk and relaxing to the sound of rare birds and exotic animals in this tropical paradise adds up to an unparalleled, unforgettable experience.The glittering of the setting sun through the canopy interior served as a reminder to get my camera out and catch a photo of this extraordinary setting before the evening sets in.
Food options around Daintree are scattered and come with mixed reviews, so it is a relief to know that while staying at Heritage Lode, I was looked after with gourmet meals with local produce that wouldn’t be out of place in the country’s top restaurants. The best was the fresh smell of freshly baked bread.Using the locally soucred ingredients, the menu list offers variety to suit all tastes.
The final day of my weekend, I took the same route back travelling down south towards Daintree Village, one of Daintree’s most historical village, with a quick stop at Alexandra Lookout, followed by a quick visit to Port Douglas Sunday markets after visiting Daintree Village.
Just before the Daintree River Ferry crossing and 20-minutes drive south bound from Heritage Lodge is the Alexandra Lookout. The drive along this road from Heritage Lodge gave me an impression of what Daintree Rainforest has to offer. Widely known as the oldest natural rainforest in the world, boasts plenty of native and exotic plants and animal species along the way. The surrounding landscape is home to some breathtaking natural wonders, many of which can be soaked up from the excellent vantage point of Alexandra Lookout. Enjoying this stunning and jaw-dropping view from the lookout, it shows how Daintree and its surrounding regions have a rich indigenous history that spans back thousands of years and the Alexandra Lookout is no exception. Taking time to read the sign-boards enabled me to learn more about this fascinating slice of Australian history and discover the importance of Alexandra Lookout in the region’s Indigenous history.
Just few kilometres after Daintree Ferry crossing is the Daintree Village. This quirky tiny town, originally was a settlement created in 1870s, a base for timber-cutters. Today, the village is an unspoilt oasis in the midst of some of the most unique and breathtaking scenery in northern Queensland region. The laid-back, tranquil atmosphere of the village will take you back to Australia’s colourful past. Most of the storefronts in the syle of yesteryears. The mighty Daintree River flows past the village. It is home to many estuarine crocodiles which are frequently spotted from the safety of one of a number of wildlife-watching cruise-boats which leave from the village jetty or even at the river. Daintree Village is the entrance to many walking tracks, bird-watching and more and is a great place to begin your Daintree Adventure.
Daintree National Park is a great location to explore this tropical World Heritage Listed rainforest but for those who want to experience a more adventurous road trip, travellers can drive beyond Cape Tribulation coastline. The road along the rough coast way to Cooktown and surrounding villages along the way is only suitable to 4-wheel vehicles. Some of the rugged part of this terrains are rough, dusty and crocodile infested rivers to cross.
One of the many tips when taking on Daintree-Cape Tribulation is to learn to take your time. The sheer size of the park means generally an hour or more in the car is needed to get between destinations, so strict time-frames are of no use out here. This rule also applies as you plan your departure from the park. Whatever direction you choose to exit, be sure to make a quick detour.
Knowing that it was going to be a wonderful getaway of rest, rejuvenation and spending priceless time alone and doing things I haven’t done in a long time made it even more exciting for me.
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