Tucked away on the Far North Queensland coast of Australia, the Daintree National Park is a stunning Unesco World Heritage Site that is highly valued for its incredible biodiversity. It’s a rainforest that is also home to Cape Tribulation, where you will find some of the country’s most pristine, deserted beaches that offer soft white sand and crystal-clear blue waters. But what makes it so interesting is that it is believed the Daintree rainforest is one of the world’s oldest at 110 million years. Tourists flock to the Daintree for a host of activities and sightseeing tours, which can include anything from a boat cruise for a spot of crocodile watching to jungle “surfing”, camping trips, “board walking” tours on elevated paths (to avoid those crocs!) or a nighttime tour that takes in some fascinating creepy crawlies. Many visitors base themselves in nearby Cairns or Palm Cove and organise their tours from there, while the more adventurous pack up their 4x4s and head into the wilderness for a fun-filled self-catering holiday. But whichever option you take, the natural beauty and incredible wildlife is certain to take your breath away.
There’s so much to do and see in the Daintree that it is hard to choose just one favourite. From gentle walks along elevated pathways to take in the scenery and birdlife, to visiting the funky daily markets in Daintree Village and a tranquil cruise along the Daintree River, there are quite a few candidates. But it has to be “surfing” the deep green canopy of the Daintree on a zip line that is the most exhilarating.
That would have to be the cruise along the Daintree River. As the boat meanders along the water at a relaxed pace, you will be treated to a unique wildlife show that includes crocodiles sunning themselves on riverbanks and a variety of birds and other animals. Be sure to bring your binoculars, but, as the guides warn, keep your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the boat – you don’t want to tempt the crocs out of their noontime naps! It’s also worth noting that the Great Barrier Reef is nearby and worth a trip in itself.
This far north means you are in the tropics, so there’s only two seasons: wet and dry. Flooding can be a problem in the Daintree, especially around Mossman Gorge, which is at the entrance of the rainforest. And, of course, check for crocodile warning signs before you dip your toes in waterholes and other waterways. If swimming in the ocean, you should also be aware of the highly poisonous box jellyfish that is rife from November to May. Wearing a “stinger” suit is highly advised if you are swimming during these months.
From traditional Aboriginal arts and crafts to modern pottery and glass designs, there are plenty of options to cater for all tastes and budgets. It’s also worth checking out the markets at Daintree Village, where you’ll discover some great souvenirs to remind you of your trip to the tropics.
As mentioned, many visitors choose to base themselves in Cairns, which is just over two hours’ drive away from the start of the Daintree. I stayed at a resort in Palm Cove, but there’s a range of accommodation to choose from, from self-catering to budget-friendly hostels, family focused hotels and five-star resorts.