Mossman Gorge and the Daintree

Mossman Gorge

I’ve told you about the Daintree Rainforest before. In particular, I’ve told you a little about is complicated political history – you’ll find the post here.

Last time we were in this part of the world we drove ourselves up to Cape Tribulation and had a fantastic day. This time I booked myself on a small group tour with Discovery Tours Australia.

Port Douglas

After a 7am pick-up at my hotel in Cairns, first stop was Port Douglas – both to collect more guests and to check out the look-out. I also managed to nab a pic of this cute little (non-denominational) church – St Mary’s By The Sea.

Heritage listed, it was built in 1913-1914 to replace the previous church that was destroyed in a cyclone. With massive picture windows overlooking the Coral Sea it’s apparently booked out for high season (May-October) Saturday weddings for a couple of years.

Mossman Gorge

The gateway to the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest – the oldest rainforest on the planet – we arrived in the middle of a downpour. This isn’t unusual – during the wet season Mossman Gorge receives almost 2 metres of rain. While it’s heavy, it doesn’t last long.

Last time we were here we called in at the visitor centre but didn’t go up into the gorge itself – you can’t take your car up there and it was late in the afternoon.

At the visitor centre we sampled some Daintree Tea – grown just up the road – and a damper that had been baked in a muffin tin and was served scone-like with jam and cream.

Once in the gorge itself, some of the guests in our tour had a swim in the water – which was so clear you could see the fish swimming along with you. The guide did warn us that during the wet season, the levels of the water – and the currents – can change ridiculously fast, so there are signs up advising people that swimming is not recommended.

Others (me included) went for a walk up the track a bit. There are heaps of walking tracks in here and you could easily spend most of a day exploring them.

Unfortunately due to Covid, they’re not running the Indigenous-led Dreamtime Walks with their traditional “smoking” ceremony at the moment. These will, though, be recommencing from April 1…so maybe next time…

Daintree Teahouse Restaurant

Back on the road for the short drive to the village of Daintree and our lunch stop – the Daintree Teahouse Restaurant.

Lunch was a choice of barramundi, kangaroo, chicken or a vegetarian option – served with chips and tropical fruits. I went with the local (non-farmed) barramundi – and it really was lovely.

After we’d eaten the owner took us through the tropical fruits we’d had on our plates and a little about the indigenous medicinal uses for these as well.

Croc Cruise

No tour in this part of the country is complete without a croc cruise – ie a boat trip down the Daintree River on the search for crocs. There are, apparently, plenty of them around, and the boat drivers know them by name, habit and habitat.

Unfortunately (?) we didn’t see any big ones today – our driver explained that during the summer months they spend a lot more time below the surface and can hold their breath for hours. It’s way too hot for them to lie around on the shore as they do during the dry season.

We did, however, see a few toddlers from last year’s crop of new crocs

and the cutest hatchlings from this year. Just 2 weeks old they were camouflaged so well – apologies for the photo quality – even with my telephoto lens on you have trouble seeing them. Apparently, Mumma croc hangs about them for the first couple of months to discourage predators, but they pretty much need to be able to fend for themselves from the time they hatch.

There are also plenty of facts about crocs along the way – including the way in which they’re attempting to manage the way in which crocs and people coexist in the far north.

Cape Tribulation

On the drive to Cape Tribulation we were lucky enough to see a cassowary with his chick – yes, I did say *his* chick. Mamma cassowaries lay their eggs and leave the rest of it to him. He’ll sit on the nest for a couple of months and keep the chicks with him for around 9 months after hatching.

They’re highly endangered so a sighting (albeit with a very blurry photo through the windscreen of the bus) was exciting indeed.

Cape Trib is the only place where two world heritage sites meet – the rainforest and the reef. It’s said to be one of the most biologically diverse places in the world.

Cape Tribulation was named by Captain Cook the morning after his ship ran aground on a reef during the night. He wrote in his diary “Here begin my trials and tribulations.” and, on seeing the cape the next morning, named it accordingly. Cook also named the mountain behind the cape “Mount Sorrow” and Weary Bay got its name for the same reason.

As beautiful as it is, you can’t swim here – don’t even think about it. In fact, don’t even think about putting your feet in the water. Not only is it croc country, but at this time of the year marine stingers are out and about – and by stingers I mean specifically box jellyfish.

What else?

On the drive back we stopped a few times – for a wander through the rainforest, an ice cream made from local tropical fruit, and to check out a couple of lookouts.

Strangler Fig

Steve, our driver, also told us about the bouncing stones at Thornton Beach (where we stopped for lunch last time I was up here). True story. The stones in one part of the pebbly beach do, apparently, bounce against each other, as in properly bounce.

When the road was a dirt track this place, thanks to the Leyland Brothers (who were travelling all over the countryside in a TV series in the late 70s) this place was signposted and part of the tourist trail.

The problem is, and it’s a big problem, the site is sacred to traditional indigenous people of the area and was an area where the women of the tribe discussed their secret women’s business. Anyways, people began taking some of these stones home with them and bad stuff began to happen to them – accidents, illnesses, deaths. Were the stones cursed? I’ll leave that one to you. In any case, the signs were taken down and stones were sent back – care of the general store at Cape Trib.

He also told us the story of Black Mountain – the Bermuda Triangle of Far North Queensland; a place were entire mobs of cattle can disappear. You can read about it here.

In any case, a great day out – albeit a long one – and the best way to not just see this area, but to learn about it too.

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

32 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo what a fabulous trip and so pleased the weather was good! I’m thinking of taking MIke back to Cairns for a trip for his birthday in a couple of months. It should be cooler and we haven’t been there since a ‘romantic’ weekend over 25 years ago. I’m definitely going to check out the day tour that you did rather than hiring a car. Thanks for the info and yes, as Vanessa commented I want damper scones too!

    1. It’s a great one to do, Sue. Small group (I think 14 people) & covers what you need it to cover. We’re back up again in the 2nd week of July.

  2. What a wonderful adventure, Jo. When we can finally travel again, I want to visit Australia. Daintree Rainforest is on the list of places I want to go. Lots of beautiful pictures of nature, but the one that really caught my eye was the one of the scone! 🙂

  3. I love the entire concept of a tour by yourself, Jo. It is a different way to enjoy an experience, without negotiating, compromising and concerned about family/friends. (Sometimes) Your photos are stunning! I shared your ‘hatchling’ story with my husband. Amazing how they start of very small. Interesting about the stones and taking them home. I always wonder about the concept of energy. A great post!

    1. I find I learn more and meet more people if I’m on my own. I think because I can listen. I hope you’re having a great weekend Erica.

  4. Wow, it looks like a great get away! And glad you could get out despite Covid, even if that did limit a couple of things.Anyway, beautiful images and it all sounds interesting, even if no large crocs…

    1. We’ve been pretty lucky here in Queensland – things have been very normal for quite a while. We need to check in if we eat out or go anywhere but there’s certainly no masks or restrictions. It amazes me just how huge our state is – and how much there is to see.

  5. I really enjoyed your post Jo, as this area is one we have plans to visit one day soon. Your photos show it off so well and your yummy food stops make me drool. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. What a fabulous post this is Jo. I’ve loved the Daintree since I was there in the Qld bike ride. Many memories there. I haven’t been to Cape Tribulation but it’s on the bucket list. I’d love to see the bouncing stones. Sounds like a great trip

  7. Sounds like a great tour and brings back many fond memories of our trip up north. It’s been way too long in between visits to FNQ but once I can fully relax about the borders, I think it’s going to top of my list of places to visit! Photos are fabulous by the way, what about the bebe croc?!

  8. I love the photos and the trip / tour itself sounds great.

    I love that church and guess Port Douglas would be perfect for a destination wedding!

  9. This brought back many memories Jo because I have actually been here…3 times! I did a tour with a group on the final trip up there and he took us to a clearing in the Daintree, he set up lunch and we got to paddle – very rocky in the river and I remember thinking “what are those back in Sydney doing now” it was magical. Many great experiences here and your photos do justice to it all. Didn’t get to see a Cassowary so you did well. I have taken some many photos back when sadly, they are not on my computer – 2003, 2002 and 2010 visits but they remain in my heart.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week, and as we approach the changing month to April, may you have some good weather where it’s enjoyable to be outside. Next week, the optional prompt is the second of the Self Care stories. Are you self caring enough? See you on Monday 5 April for #lifethisweek link up. Denyse.

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