WHERE IS IT?
In tropical far north Queensland, Mossman Gorge forms the southern region of the Daintree Rainforest, and with ample car parking available at Mossman Gorge Centre (the gateway to Mossman Gorge), self-drive is a great way to travel. If you’re coming from Port Douglas then it’s a simple 20km drive north. If you’re travelling from Cairns you’ll follow the Captain Cook Highway for about 77km in a northerly direction. The route is part of the Great Tropical Drive, and one of the most memorable roads in the southern hemisphere due to its majestic coastal rainforest scenery. Once you hit the township of Mossman it’s a mere 2km to the Gorge itself. There’s no on-foot access but shuttle bus services depart every 15 minutes to get you there and back, and your bus ticket includes multiple trips for that same day of purchase.
If driving ain’t your thang then you can always hop a bus. Daily transfers are available between Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge, using Port Douglas Bus services. Alternatively, book an organised tour from either Cairns or Port Douglas, via your local visitor information centre or hotel tour desk.
WHAT IS IT LIKE?
Covering 120,000 hectares, the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest is the largest portion of tropical rainforest in Australia, and home to one of the most complex ecosystems in the world – there are more than 30,000 species of animals and plants found in just one hectare alone! It is also the oldest, continuously surviving rainforest on earth, having existed for more than 135 million years and, with the right protection, it’s expected to continue to thrive for many more generations.
This pristine rainforest boasts a towering treetop canopy, which is framed by dramatic mountains and embedded with refreshing streams and, of course, the dramatic Gorge itself. Mossman Gorge is widely considered as the evolutionary cradle for much of Australia’s wildlife and plant species. For this reason, all visitors to the area are urged to treat the area with respect, act responsibly and leave behind no trace of their visit, other than footprints.
WHERE TO STAY
Mosman Gorge Bed and Breakfast is located – literally – minutes from the walks and swimming holes of Mossman Gorge. Overlooking the historic Drumsara Plantation and the mountains of the Daintree National Park, from your very own split-level veranda you’ll enjoy watching native birds, butterflies and other wildlife – that is, if you’re not spending all your time relaxing in the saltwater pool.
If it’s luxury you’re after, then book a stay at Silky Oaks Lodge This boutique eco lodge sits high above the crystal clear waters of the Mossman River and is nestled deep within the the lush Daintree Rainforest. Silky Oaks Lodge offers absolute luxury, privacy, genuine hospitality, and individualised service.
Situated on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Motel and Holiday Villas specialises in catering to the needs of couples and families. It offers 22 luxury villas, all with quality mattresses, premium linen and the capacity to accommodate up to six people together.
Demi View Motel is located in the heart of Mossman and is a family-owned and operated motel. The Byrne family have owned and operated the Demi View Motel for over eight years and specialise in competitive tariffs and exceptional customer service.
WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE
The first thing you’ll experience on your way to Mossman Gorge is the Mossman Gorge Centre. This Indigenous eco-tourism development is the gateway to the Gorge, and offers a café and restaurant, an art gallery, a gift shop, as well as restroom (including shower) facilities. The Centre is open 364 days a year (Christmas Day is the only time it’s closed).
Without a doubt, the must-do experience at Mossman Gorge is the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, which are conducted by local Indigenous people. In local Kuku Yalanji language, Ngadiku (pronounced “Nar-di-gul”) means “stories and legends from a long time ago”, and that’s exactly what you’ll experience! The Dreamtime Gorge Walk is a guided tour that starts with a traditional “smoking” ceremony to cleanses and deters negative spirits. The (approximately) one and a half hour tour sees you meander along private, gentle tracks, past traditional dwellings and culturally significant sites, and across picturesque running streams. Your guided tour provides you with a deeper insight into traditional customs and the rainforest’s ancient flora and fauna.
You can, of course, opt to explore Mossman Gorge independently (i.e., without a guided tour). Maps are provided upon entry and trails are all clearly signposted. Be aware that seasonal track closures may occur in the event of track maintenance or flooding.
In addition to packing your insect repellent, hat, sunscreen and umbrella, be sure to include your togs and a towel because during your explorations you’ll see how Mossman River Cascades over granite boulders to form the most inviting waterholes, that make perfect places to stop for a swim. You can also pack and carry a picnic, as these waterholes make excellent picnic spots.
There are four distinct walking tracks at Mossman Gorge; each of which are designed to suit different walking abilities and experiences. You can choose from:
1. Baral Marrjanga
Rated: Easy (5 to 10 minutes)
Note: this track is suitable for wheelchairs, strollers and the vision-impaired.
2. Lower River Track
Rated: Moderate to Easy (5 to 10 minutes)
3. Rex Creek Suspension Bridge
Rated: Moderate to Easy (10 minutes)
4. Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek Bridge)
Rated: Moderate to Easy (45 minutes)
Distance: 2.4km (includes return distance)
Warning: Safety is your responsibility. Entering the Mossman River can be dangerous and is done so at your own risk, since Mossman Gorge is unsupervised and unmonitored. Water conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly due to heavy rain in other areas. Before entering any body of water, always assess the conditions carefully, and always use extreme caution.
Beyond Mossman Gorge, the town of Mossman itself offers exciting and unique activities as well. You can put your tastebuds to the test with some of the award-winning mango, pineapple or passionfruit wine at the Tropical Fruit Winery, or experience a real Australian outback working cattle station. You can explore working sugar cane farms, cacao farms, and exotic fruit plantations. Or, if you’re visiting between June and October you’ll be sure to celebrate sugar cane crushing season, when the region’s biggest sugar mill offers guided tours to learn about the eye-opening process of making sugar. The Mossman Markets are held every Saturday from 7am to midday, and is a popular spot to buy local fruit, veggies, herbs, spices, and other homemade goodies.
And of course, a visit to far north Queensland is not complete without stopping by the Great Barrier Reef! Mossman (and Port Douglas) are the closest departure points to access the largest coral reef in the world. With 3,000 reefs and islands spanning more than 3,200km, it’s no surprise the Great Barrier Reef is considered the world’s largest living structure, and one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders.
Demi View Motel
Mossman Motel & Holiday Villas
Mosman Gorge Bed and Breakfast
Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks
Port Douglas Bus
Silky Oaks Lodge
About 100km north of Cairns, you’ll find the wet tropics of the stunning Daintree National Park. In the southern part of this 1,200km² rainforest you’ll find Mossman River. The crystal clear waters running over granite boulders are beautiful. A stunning place to visit.