Roam wild in the Daintree Rainforest region
A 95 km stretch from Mossman Gorge, about an hour’s drive north of Cairns, the Daintree Region is where the rainforest flows down from the mountains to the beach and meets the fringing reefs.
Sir David Attenborough described the Daintree as “the most extraordinary place on earth”.
This is no surprise, considering how ancient and evolved this region is. Compared to the Amazon at 55 million years, the Daintree has been continuously evolving and growing, living and breathing for 180 million years.
At around 1,200 square kilometres, the Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent. In 2015, the Daintree Rainforest was listed as part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This region is the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world.
The rainforest is named after an Australian geologist and photographer, Richard Daintree. Today, the region includes the Daintree National Park, some areas of State Forest, and some privately owned land, including a residential community.
Parts of the Daintree are progressively purchased for conservation purposes as organisations fight to conserve one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet. It is now under threat of being severely degraded.
One of the most significant regional ecosystems in the world, the Daintree has international conservation significance. There are some 180 properties that Rainforest Rescue intends to buy back, replant and protect by 2040. Their ambitious plan for the future of the Daintree Rainforest will require some $15 million in donations to achieve.
Travelling the region
Crossing into the Daintree Rainforest is done by a car ferry across the Daintree River. This reduces the impact of overcrowding and traffic to the area. The roads north of the river wind through areas of lush forest, and have also been designed to minimise the effects on this new ecosystem.
The Daintree region combines tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches, and fringing reefs just offshore, which is a rare combination. Due to the distance between attractions, driving is often the simplest way to navigate between them. The Daintree National Park boasts many walking tracks, and there are a number of accommodation options within the Daintree Rainforest itself. Walking through the rainforest is not to be taken lightly, however. There are many hazards beyond the ordinary hiking experiences, and it is recommended you only do so once thorough research of the area, flora and fauna.
The best weather for visiting Daintree National Park is during the drier and cooler months from May to September. During this time you can expect pleasant temperatures with reduced humidity and less rainfall.
What to experience in the Daintree Rainforest region
This area has not one but two World Heritage-listed areas – The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Taking in the Daintree Village, across the Daintree River, through the rainforest of Daintree National Park to Cape Tribulation and along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown, there is an abundance of wilderness and wild adventures to experience.
Get a taste of culture and nature on the Daintree Walkabout Tour. Offering a wonderful insight into ancient indigenous culture, the Daintree Walkabout Tour includes the Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime Walk at the picturesque Mossman Gorge.
The Daintree Rainforest has the largest concentration of rare and threatened animal species in the world. This unique rainforest ecosystem is home to some 430 bird species, 12,000 insect species and 30 percent of Australia’s reptile, frog and marsupial species. So it is safe to say that wildlife viewing in this area will be spectacular. Some of the stand out wildlife to spot in the region are the Southern cassowary, saltwater crocodile, Ulysses butterfly, Bennett’s and Lumholtz tree kangaroos, Boyd’s forest dragon, Musky rat-kangaroo, Daintree river ringtail possum, Buff breasted paradise kingfisher, Lesser sooty owl and Spotted-tailed quoll.
Visit the Great Barrier Reef
Spend 5 hours on the Great Barrier Reef with SilverSonic Ultimate Dive and Snorkel Adventure and visit three different Agincourt ribbon reef sites. Departing from Port Douglas, the ultramodern Silversonic offers a smooth ride to the outer reef for an exhilarating day of fun, discovery and adventure in the natural wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll have access to explore three stunning and exclusive reef sites at the renowned Agincourt ribbon reefs, each chosen for visual and ecological diversity for your dive and snorkel adventures. The boat offers snorkelling and diving from beginners to experienced and certified divers. As an added bonus during the whale season, Silversonic has one of the few permits available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that allows our guests to swim with dwarf minke whales if encountered – a truly unforgettable experience.
Snorkel down a river
There is no better way to stay cool in the hot tropics than to get in the water. However, while most people think of swimming and snorkelling on the reef, there is another option – river snorkelling with Back Country Bliss. Within an ancient rainforest, step into the cool, crystal-clear water and drift with the current as you explore life under the water’s surface. Watch fish dart in and around the river stones and keep your eyes out for the occasional turtle or even an eel. This family-friendly tour is the perfect introduction to snorkelling before heading out to the reefs. Small children (and adults) can journey down the river on large river sleds. Then, just lay back on your mat and enjoy the serenity of the beautiful surroundings. This is an amazing eco-immersion adventure that’s different every time!
Mossman Gorge takes its name from the valley Mossman Gorge created by the Mossman River through the Daintree National Park to the west. A walk through this area is easy to do by yourself, with a suspension bridge providing access to a 2.4-kilometre loop walk through the rainforest of the National Park. It is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people ( (Goo-goo Ya-lan-gee). A visit to The Mossman Gorge Centre will offer a unique link to the lives, cultures, and stories of Australia’s Indigenous people and their connection to the natural environment.
Cape Tribulation is a breathtaking coastal region where the world’s oldest rainforest collides with the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. It is here you can take some epic off-road adventures, hike or mountain bike ride through rainforest tracks, take a dip in the chilled rainforest swimming holes or explore the rugged terrain of the Bloomfield Track by 4WD. Ancient stories whisper through the leaves of Cape Tribulation, just as they have for centuries. It is essential to recognise the dangers of the region however and swimming in the beach areas is not recommended due to the presence of crocodiles in the region.
Organised tour – Intrepid’s Daintree Retreat
Intrepid takes in the best of the region in a 5-day Daintree Retreat tour. The Daintree trip visits the world’s oldest rainforest and includes a meeting with a local family who hosted David Attenborough’s documentary crew when they were filming. The trip also includes a hike in Mossman Gorge, as well as learning how to throw a spear, identify edible plants and see how Kuku Yalanji people live in harmony with their changeable landscape. Reconciliation is a big focus for Intrepid and on this trip, travellers enjoyed First Nations experiences where they could learn from the local Kuku Yalanji family.
Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Experience
Walking bare foot down Cooya Beach (Kuyu Kuyu), a special place and traditional fishing grounds of the Kuku Yalanji people and home to Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours, you will meet one of two brothers, Linc and Brandon Walker. These Kubirri Warra guides will show you their beach, mudflat and mangrove walk as you discover the traditions of their ancestors. This unique coastal place has three diverse ecosystems – beach, mangroves and coastal reef – that are connected to each other by the ever-changing mudflats and tidal lagoons. Learn how to throw a spear, hunt whilst stalking and observing wildlife, and how to find plants used for food and medicine.