Queensland is renowned for its natural beauty. The East Coast of Australia is home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, dozens of National Parks, and countless other sights and activities. Attractions like the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday’s, and Fraser Island, are already on most travelers’ itineraries, but what about the lesser known gems? Living in Queensland for the last year has given me an opportunity to explore this part of Australia well beyond the major sights and tourist attractions.
In this 5 PART SERIES, I’ll introduce you to the top Queensland National Parks, conveniently located along the Eastern Coast. Many of these parks have an ongoing connection with the Aboriginal communities in Australia, making them all the more special for those that want to embark on a more cultural experience in the Land Down Under.
First, and probably my favourite, is the Daintree National Park, located 100km northwest of Cairns in Far North Queensland.
Daintree National Park
Daintree National Park is a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. This national park is known for its exceptional biodiversity, hundreds of tropical animals and unique species, as well as its remote location and quiet laid back natural environment. As you cross the Daintree River on your way to the Daintree National Park, you quickly realize how remote and untouched this park really is. The majority of this area is located off the grid, so be ready to put down your phone, and immerse yourself in the rainforest.
Daintree National Park is the only place in Australia, where the dense rainforest meets the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef. The park itself is divided into 2 sections: the Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation.
The Mossman Gorge
Walking through the Daintree Rainforest on the way to the Gorge, I was immediately enchanted by the sights, the smells, and the sounds of the rainforest. The majority of the area near the Mossman Gorge is covered in inaccessible rainforests and mountain woodlands, but access to the Gorge itself is still possible from the Mossman Gorge Centre. This was my first rainforest experience and it was like no other! Everything was different, so lush and green. The sun was peeking through the small openings in the thick forest, its rays playfully shining on the tree branches and illuminating incredible details of each and every plant. The trails were lined with king ferns, birds of paradise flowers, plum pines, and oak trees, the air – filled with sweet scent of hydrangeas.
As we reached the opening of the Gorge, the sweat from the hike was beating down my neck. The crystal clear waters looked incredibly inviting and with a quick nod of ok from our guide, I followed the rest of the group into the water.
It was cold, despite the scorching sun beating down from above. The Gorge is surrounded by the rainforest with a few impressive cliffs towering over the water. It didn’t take long for someone to venture up to the top of the 30 ft cliff and jump off. Within minutes, I was standing at the edge of that same cliff, terrified. The cliff didn’t look that high, but standing at the top, looking down, I quickly realized that this maybe wasn’t the best idea after all. I’m not all that good at jumping off cliffs, boats, and such. Despite that, I stepped off the ledge and dove straight in…butt first. It hurt like hell and for the next week I had a pretty blue bruise covering my behind. Sigh. At least I had a good story to go with it.
After cooling off in the Mossman Gorge, we travelled further North, to Cape Tribulation, a place that to this day tops the list of my favourite places in Australia. This section of the Daintree National Park covers over 17,000 hectars, and contains some of Australia’s last lowlands rainforest, along with extensive beaches.
I was excited to spend a couple of nights in the jungle and PK’s Jungle Village was a perfect place to unwind and take in the nature around us. I wasn’t expecting much from a hostel in the jungle, but PK’s was everything I could have asked for and more. There was a Jungle Pool, where you could cool off after a day of trekking, a Jungle Bar, to connect with fellow travelers over a game of pool, or a few drinks, and a Jungle Restaurant, that served delicious $10 pizza!
The lack of electricity and a strict midnight curfew, ignited an adventurous spirit in our group. Shortly after the bar shut down, we made our way to the beach and spent the rest of the night sitting around the fire, exchanging travel stories, and singing guitar tunes with a few locals and a bunch of other travelers. Seeing a different side of Cape Tribulation at night, made me so jealous of the people that call this beautiful village their home.
Activities in Cape Tribulation
The was no shortage of things to do in Cape Tribulation. From guided rainforest walks, wilderness crocodile cruises along the Daintree River, to Jungle Canopy Tours – you can easily fill your days with activities or simply relax in the serene environment of the jungle.
Guided Rainforest Walk
Daintree River Crocodile Cruise
The Daintee National Park is a true nature lover’s paradise offering an experience that isn’t comparable to other National Parks in Australia. It’s a perfect place for those looking to disconnect and immerse themselves in the enchanting green shades of the rainforest, falling asleep to the sound of crickets, and awakening to the joyful chirping of over 400 species of birds that live deep among the trees.
Essential Travel Information:
You can get to Daintree National Park by car, it’s about 2 hour drive from Cairns. You won’t need a 4×4 to get up to Cape Trib, but a car is recommended to help you get around and take advantage of all the activities in the area. A number of companies also operate tours to Cape Trib from Cairns. You’ll be able to book these at any travel agency in town or online. Check out Cape Trib Connections, Jungle Tours, or Tropics Explorer
There are plenty of accommodation options in Cape Tribulation, ranging from holiday homes, to bed & breakfasts, and backpacker type lodges/camping grounds. Start your search here
The best time to visit Daintree National Park is during the dry season, from May to September, as the air will still be warm but less humid. In the rainy season (Australian summer), the temperatures range from 27 to 33 degrees Celsius, with humidity often exceeding 80 percent.
Bring suitable walking shoes and comfy clothes. There is no one to impress in Daintree!
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Have you ever been to Daintree National Park? What attracts you here the most?
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