The only place in the world where two World Heritage listed sites come together: The Daintree National Park and The Great Barrier Reef. At an estimated 140 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living tropical rainforest on earth. This beautiful area in Far North Queensland features tropical rainforest, unique ( and sometimes scary ) animals, the well-known Daintree River ( with lots of crocs ) dreamy beaches and stunning views over the Great Barrier Reef.
Mossman, last town before going into the bush
After a 15 minute drive up North from Port Douglas, you will arrive in Mossman. Mossman is a little peaceful place with the cutest Saturday market you can imagine. The Mossman Markets are on every Saturday from 7am to 12pm under the massive trees in the park next to St. David’s Anglican Church. The atmosphere is cosy and relaxed and you will find all home-made and local produce from the Mossman and Daintree National Park area. There is also this massive white old Queenslander house standing next to the church and inside you will find a 2nd hand shop full of stuff. Always nice to get yourself a bargain or just look around. In our case we were looking around at the house and imagine ourselves living there and renovating it 😉
Another thing to do when in Mossman is the Mossman Gorge. I went there years ago, during my first visit in Far North Queensland, and back then, I could just drive all the way to the end and walk the last bit of the Gorge, but they recently build an impressive visitors centre, which must have cost a fortune, so they charge an entry fee. You can no longer drive all the way to the Gorge, but have to go into the visitor centre, take a bus ( included in the entry fee, and walk one of the 2 circuits or just wander around yourself and check out the gorges, creeks and waterfalls )
Welcome to the Daintree National Park
The Daintree area starts at Mossman Gorge, and goes all the way up through to Cooktown . If you are keen to go all the way up to Cooktown, make sure you have a 4WD, as you will need this when driving the Bloomfield Track. We did go up to Cape Tribulation, as we have been to Cooktown earlier via the highway. Read our story about Cooktown here
After visiting Mossman, we drove on to the little Daintree Village via a stunning greener than green scenic route. The Daintree Village is super tiny and cute with only a few restaurants, a little shop and fuel. We had lunch at the Daintree Hotel, which was delicious and the people were really friendly. We also had a look at the opposite of the road, where you can find another cute little café with a camping and historical exhibition. It caught our eye from the outside so we had a little look around the small shed where they keep their little treasures.
Crossing the Daintree River with the Daintree Ferry
After the Daintree Village we drove on to the Daintree Ferry, which was around a 15 minutes drive from the Daintree Village. The ferry operates daily from early in the morning to midnight. The Daintree River crossing takes only 10 minutes and you have to stay in the car. The ferry price is $24 dollar return. You can also choose to get a multi pass if you stay in the Daintree Area for a while and want to cross the river. The Multi Pass is $48 dollar. Take cash with you, as the ATM facilities only run between certain times or don’t work.
If you are a resident of Cairns, Mareeba, Cooktown, the Atherton Tablelands or Cassowary Coast you can apply for a Douglas Card, which you can use when you are going to explore the Daintree Area in the ‘low season’. The Douglas Shire Council, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree came up with this idea, to invite more locals to the region in the low season. The Douglas card holders are entitled to free return ferry, and a range of discounts with local businesses in the Daintree Rainforest area.
Handy to know: To avoid waiting for the ferry, try to avoid traveling during peak hours ( going up north between 10am and 12.30 pm and going back south between 15.00 and 18.00, especially in busy tourist season )
Remote beaches and 50 shades of Green at Cow Bay
As soon as you drive off the Daintree Ferry, you will have a wide choice of places to stay, things to discover and remote beaches to check out. Basically all the beaches in the Daintree area have that deserted ‘ We are the only ones here’ feeling. We stayed in Cow Bay Beach, at the beautiful Cow Bay Homestay B&B which is located at around a 15 minutes from the Daintree ferry. Read all about our stay the Cow Bay Homestay B&B here
At Cow Beach you can have the beach for yourself, but if you walk further up North along the beach, you can discover even more remote beaches. NEVER go into the water, even though the water looks very inviting, you are risking your life as there many crocs in the area.
The stunning drive between Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation
Driving straight up to Cape Tribulation from Cow Bay, only takes around 30 minutes. The distances are very small, but there is so much to see and do along the way, that the actual driving time takes much longer. There are also a few really nice cafe’s along the way, like the Daintree Ice-cream company, Masons Cafe, Whet Cafe, Cape Trib Beach House and many more. All great places to stop for a refreshment.
Things to know before visiting the Daintree Rainforest
Driving in the Daintree Rainforest
Is easy and perfectly doable in a ‘normal’ 2 WD vehicle. The road is sealed all the way to Cape Tribulation and even a little bit further up North. If you want to do the Bloomfield Track all the way up to Cooktown, you absolutely need a 4WD, and driving in certain times of the year, especially in the Wet Season after a lot of rain, takes precautions. If you travel along the Bloomfield Track, make sure you stop for lunch at the Lions Den Hotel. They have the best pizza and camping spots and even safari tents in the jungle! Read more about our experience with the Lions Den hotel here.
Mobile phone coverage in the Daintree Area
Is very limited throughout the Daintree Area, same as Internet. Telstra offers the best coverage (like everywhere in Austria, believe us after living in one of the remotest places on earth 😉 If you are planning on driving up North or planning to do some remote side tracks, make sure you bring plenty of water and let someone know what your travel plans are.
When is the best time to go to the Daintree Rainforest
The most popular time to visit the Daintree Area is from May – August, because of the lovely weather and the dry season. In this time it is recommended that you book your accommodation in advance.
We went during the Wet Season ( Dec – April ) in January. We were very lucky with the weather and we are used to extreme heat. But keep in mind that heavy rain may occur in this time of the year and roads can be flooded badly. It is also very hot and humid in this time of the year. The good thing about this time is that there are fewer visitors, so lower prices, no tourists in your photo’s and waterfalls flowing nicely.
Dangers in the Daintree Rainforest National Park
The Daintree Rainforest is absolutely lovely, but in this remote part of the world are some dangers you have to be careful with, especially if you have little children or are not familiar with being remote and with certain animals or plants.
Between November – May it is jellyfish season. They can be in the ocean near you at any time of the year, but in this period there are lots of them. If you want to swim or snorkel in the ocean at one of the islands of the coast of Cape Tribulation in this time of the year, you should wear a stinger suit to protect yourself. Always listen to the locals and watch for signs.
Welcome to Crocodile country. We lived in crocodile invested country Australia for over 4 years now, and we are aware of the dangers, but if you never been here, or have no idea of the risk, you can get yourself into serious trouble. We can’t say it enough, but there are lots of crocs in the Northern regions of Australia and you can’t underestimate the risks of being in their natural habitat. There are crocodiles everywhere around the Daintree Coast and the Daintree rivers. Watch for signs ( they are everywhere ) and only swim in rockpools after confirming with locals if it is safe ( especially after the wet season and flooding ) Swimming holes located upstream, or private swimming holes are usually safe, but use your common sense when entering their natural habitat. What would you do if an intruder comes into your house at night? Attack right?! How temping the water might be, you are seriously risking your life and if you think its fun to go into the water at night to do some skinny dipping, you drastically increase the change of going to be consumed as crocodiles are pretty noctornal. Sadly, quite a few people have been attacked and taken by crocodiles in the last few years. Only in the last 7 months of living in Cairns, 2 people have been killed and another few have been attacked by crocodiles, so please never ignore any warnings. There are several jungle treks in the area of Cow Bay, led by experienced guides if you want to see a crocodile in real life without being their next meal.
Another danger in the Daintree Area. Snakes have a general scare factor, although not all snakes living in the rainforest are venomous. But you never know where you might bump into. So if you find a snake, don’t touch it and don’t try to get rid of them with a stick, but tell your guide, host or other local expert about it, and they will deal with it. If you want to see snakes in a safe way, you can go on a guided night walk or Jungle adventure. There are plenty of operators who offer those kind of excursions in the area.
This tree has large heart-shaped leaves with very fine hairs on them. It often has red berries hanging from the trunk which are very tempting to touch. Don’t even try! If you touch a leaf, you can expect a very painful sting, which can last for a long time. These trees are generally found on the edge of forest clearings
They look really cute and colourful ( a bit like an ostrich without colours ) but they can be very aggressive. If you happen to see one ( not a big change ) you should think of your safety first, before thinking of from which angle you would like to photograph it. They can run at high speeds ( like Usain Bolt ) and they can hurt you big time with their claws. Try to back off slowly and look for a tree or bush to hide behind or waving and yelling might help to get him away. Make sure you drive slow in the Daintree National park as you don’t want to hit a poor cassowary with your car either.
There are quite a few spiders around in the Daintree Rainforest, but as far as our concern, there are no venomous ones ( apart from one that can cause redness, itching and swellings, but nothing major ) We bumped into the Golden Orb Weaving Spider. This is a spider that is quite common in the wet season and is one of the most interesting ones in the Daintree Rainforest as they are able to weave a golden web. They have long legs and are dotted with orange colour. We managed to capture a nice close up of it. ( Not suitable for people who are afraid of spiders as the thing is massive! )
Australia is home to many snakes, but most of the venomous ones, don’t live in the Daintree Rainforest. If you do bump into one, just stay away and never try to poke it with a stick, or trow rocks at it. Just let it pass and try to avoid hollow logs, piles of leaves and rock holes.
MOSQUITOS AND SANDFLIES
Who doesn’t hate them?! Those are probably the most annoying creatures on earth and very common here in Northern Australia. The little tiny bastards love the rainforest, swamps and creeks, so the Daintree Rainforest is heaven for them. Don’t forget your insect repellent and try to wear light, cotton clothes that cover your body. The sandflies are mostly annoying as you can hardly see them, but the mozzies can be dangerous, especially for little children and elderly people as there are some nasty ones that carry diseases around here in Tropical North Queensland like Dengue, the Ross River Virus , Barmah Forrest Virus. So better safe than sorry and protect yourself if you are in the Rainforest.
LEECHES AND TICKS
And then we have of course another few little tiny creatures that can cause unpleasant surprises like Leeches and Ticks. Both very small, but very powerful. So if you come home after a nice bush walk or exploring the area, check your body for Leeches and Ticks as you want to make sure, you remove them asap when one of them felt attracted to your body.
Don’t worry there are many amazing animals too, like colourful butterflies, tropical birds, frogs and Goannas! We were lucky to spot one massive Goanna when we were walking around.
The last thing is to just enjoy this amazing and unique part of the world. We loved living in the beautiful Far North Queensland area for the last 7 months. In those 7 months, we saw almost every corner of the area, but there is almost more to discover, so give yourself the time, take it all in an enjoy!
If you want to stay in the Daintree, make sure you stay at the Cow Bay Homestay b&b! Such a peaceful luxury little gem in paradise. Read about our Stay at the Cow Bay Homestay here
Have you ever stayed in a Rainforest? Do you have any tips and tricks? Talk to us in the comments below!
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