If you’re planning a trip up to Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas you should definitely aim to visit Mossman Gorge and the Daintree National Park. Located in the southern part of the Daintree, the Gorge is close to the lovely little town of Mossman and a really beautiful place to visit.
How to get there
It should take you around an hour and ten minutes to drive from the heart of Cairns or 20 minutes to get there from Port Douglas. If you’re coming from Cairns, the drive takes you along winding roads past the coastline, with plenty of perfect spots to stop for a swim or enjoy the view with a picnic. Great spots to stop include Rex Lookout, which offers up spectacular views of the coastline and the chance to take a paragliding flight. As you get closer to Mossman, you’ll be taken past lush green sugar cane fields. The drive is super easy and well worthwhile, we did it without a GPS, just going North and following road signs to Mossman, then to the Gorge. If you don’t have a car there is a daily shuttle service running between Port Douglas and Mossman, find out more here.
Arriving at the Mossman Gorge Centre
When you arrive, you’ll find yourself at the Indigenous ecotourism centre. There’s a big carpark, so park your car and make sure you secure your valuables before heading off. The centre is a great way to experience the Indigenous culture in Tropical North Queensland. Inside, you’ll find a fantastic Indigenous Art gallery that displays absolutely beautiful artworks created by local Kuku Yalanji artists. If you love the artwork, you can buy fine art prints on-site.
You’ll also find a whole host of other cool things to explore in the shop, so it’s worth spending a little bit of time inside looking through the great collection of items that reflect the culture and heritage of the local Indigenous people. Also on site is a cafe, perfect for grabbing a cup of tea or coffee after your trip to the Gorge.
Exploring the Mossman Gorge
A shuttle bus service operates between the centre and the heart of the Mossman Gorge. A return ticket costs $9.10 per adult, less for children. The shuttle operates daily between 8am and 5:40pm, departing every 15 minutes. It’ll drop you at the start of a trail taking you into the rainforest. Follow the trail and you’ll find yourself at a fantastic water hole, perfect for swimming. The lovely, cool water of the Mossman River flows dutifully over huge granite boulders, making it irresistible.
You can jump right into the water or go for a hike first, which is what I recommend you do. Take the Circuit Track by following the signs through the rainforest, it should take you along a round track approximately 3km long, which will only take you about 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace. It’s pretty easy going and it winds you through some pretty spectacular spots, from great views of mountain tops to lush rainforest and hidden water holes, perfect for a mid-walk dip.
At the end, when you’re all hot and sweaty, jump back in the water at the first swimming spot and cool down before catching the bus back to the centre. If you’re interested in them, the centre offers some very special Dream Time walks, hosted by a local Indigenous guide. These walks share stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions and will show you the area in a way you wouldn’t see otherwise.
What to pack
If you’re going to go swimming, you’ll need to wear your swimmers or change into them before you leave the centre. There are no change rooms within the park. You’ll also need sunscreen and a towel, of course.
If you’re going to do the walk, you’ll need some comfy walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Make sure you’re wearing a comfortable walking outfit. You don’t need to be decked out in professional gear, you just need to be comfortable in what you’re wearing.
You should also pack a water bottle and insect repellent into your day pack. I’d also recommend packing a snack, so you can sit in a quiet part of the rainforest and just relax, letting it all soak in. There are no bins within the park, so make sure you take any rubbish with you! Be respectful and mindful. Also, exercise safety when you’re swimming. There are no lifeguards or security on-site, so don’t do anything silly. Swimming is at your own risk and there can be strong undercurrents in swimming holes.
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