Cairns: Hiking Mossman Gorge


[via nprsr]

After four relaxing days on Hamilton Island, we headed up the Queensland coast towards Cairns.  The further north we went, the hotter and more humid it got, temperatures can easily hit 38 C / 100 F in the summer. We rented a car and headed towards Port Douglas, a sleepy little beach town right on the coast. This region is a unique blend of sandy beaches and tropical rainforest.  The lush green forest gives way to to clear blue water, both only separated by a winding road.  As we were driving on the road to Port Douglas, we could not help but admire this distinctive landscape. 


After we checked into our hotels and dropped off our luggage, we headed right back out.  About a 30 minute drive from Port Douglas is the beautiful Mossman Gorge.  It is part of the Daintree National Park, one of the largest rainforests in Australia. This is a sacred place for the indigenous Kuku Yalanji tribe who inhabitated the area over 4000 years ago.  The dense tropical rainforest is home to many of Australia’s unique plants and wildlife like strangler figs, massive staghorn ferns, platypi, and wild turkeys.  


We parked at the Mossman Gorge center and took a shuttle bus that departs every 15 minutes to the gorge.  It was too hot during the day to attempt the 3 km walk under the blistering sun.  There are self guided paths through the forest that are not too strenuous and easy to navigate. From the parking lot where we were dropped off, we followed the River Circuit track along the roaring river. The fast flowing water cascades over the smooth grey boulders in the Mossman river gorge.  We stopped at the swimming hole, a makeshift beach that’s a perfect location to dip your toes into the cold water and cool down from a hot day. Those who are not scared of the strong current can jump into the ice cold water.  We took a dip by the shore but kept a keen eye out for any crocodiles that might turn up. IMG_0978

After an invigorating swim, we continued on the well marked path and explored the rest of the rainforest. Along the way, there are signs providing information on the local fauna and flora and their uses by the Kuku Yalanji people in their traditional life.  Slightly past the Mossman River lookout point, there is a turnoff to the Rex Creek suspension bridge. We crossed Rex Creek and followed the track upstream to the Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi) lookout for a stunning view of the peak.  A little way past the lookout the track divides to form a 2.7 km circuit that loops around the rainforest in a slow circle until it returns to the river.

IMG_0921   IMG_0983

The tranquility of the rainforest was mesmerizing and we ended up staying longer than anticipated.  Due to poor planning, we missed the last shuttle back to our car and had to walk an extra 3 km to the parking lot. On the way back we passed wild mango trees laden with fruits on the side of the road.  Kids were trying to knock the mangoes from the tree with their well aimed rocks. This image reminded me of stories from my mom’s childhood when she and her siblings used to sneak out to pick mangoes. We decided to join in on the fun. A few times, the hard mangoes fell down and hit Fausto on the head, but we were not deterred. We ended up with a shirt full of fruits for our efforts.  It was a memorable afternoon.


Information Roundup:

  • Total Distance: 6.5 km (including walk back to car)
  • Time: 1-2 hours for circuit walk 
  • Cost: $5 AUD for shuttle bus

2 thoughts on “Cairns: Hiking Mossman Gorge

  1. Pingback: Cairns: Port Douglas | life after 9to5

  2. Pingback: Trip Report: Australia | life after 9to5

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