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ITINERARY: Cape Tribulation 3/4

In the first few articles in this series we have focused on some of the general information and the interesting history of Cape Tribulation. This article will give some insight into places you can visit on the way to and whilst in Cape Tribulation. This will help any avid tourist set up a cracking day or two in the region.

Cape Trib’s Ultimate self drive Itinerary

Port Douglas (58km north of Cairns, about 1 hour drive)

Obviously the drive up to Cape Trib is astounding, and if you are starting out in Cairns we would definitely recommend stopping in at Port Douglas. It is an impressive little beach town with the picturesque 4 mile beach. 4 Mile beach is definitely a tropical oasis that will add some glorious photos to your holiday album. There is also a swimming beach which has it’s own lifeguard and is safe for swimming. Beware to only swim if the lifeguards are on duty as they check the water regularly. There is also a great walk from the beach up the Flagstaff Hill trail for some sensational water views. Also if you are interested in some of our wildlife you will find a visit to the Wildlife Habitat interesting.

Mossman Gorge (78km from Cairns, 1 hour 15 minutes)

Mossman Gorge is an amazing place to go for a hike, a swim or even do an Indigenous Cultural tour. On arrival at the information centre it is advisable to jump on one of the buses and head up to the gorge. Once you arrive at the top you can either do a shorter walk which is just over 1km long to Rex Bridge, and back via the creek for a swim and finally along the lower river track. This is the easy walk, not very strenuous, and it gives you a huge amount of time to soak in the pure waters of the gorge. The second option is to do the rainforest circuit track from Rex’s Bridge, this will add 2.4km and an extra hour onto your hike and make it a little more strenuous. It is definitely worth it as it is like entering another world back there. It is one of this guide’s favourite walks in the whole region.

When at the information centre you can also organise for an indigenous cultural tour from a Kuku Yulunji local. This tour delves into life in the rainforest, the bush tucker, medicinal benefits of the rainforest and some of the local cultural beliefs. It is definitely worthwhile.

The Daintree River (106km north of Cairns, 2 hours drive)

On the way from Mossman through to the Daintree river the drive is awesome (it’s brilliant throughout this whole trip) but there is also one place to make a short stop and that is at Rocky Point as it gives great views of Snapper Island (which looks like crocodile in the water from this angle). It is easy to pull over on the side of the road for a few quick happy snaps.

The Daintree River is not far now and it really is quite majestic, timid in the dry season and can be ferocious during the monsoonal troughs of the Wet. It has been known to increase in height by up to 18m during some wet seasons.

Not only is the Daintree river fascinating for the possibility of seeing a crocodile on its banks, but also for the way in which you cross the river. It does not have a bridge, but only a cable ferry that runs from 6am to midnight each day. If you are travelling in the school holidays you want to make sure to get here early to avoid the queues.

The other thing of note to do at the river is to go on one of the many crocodile cruises. Most of them run for about an hour, and they go looking for one of the many Estuarine (or saltwater) crocodiles that inhabit these regions. If you are lucky you might be able to spot Scarface, one of the local crocs measuring in at just over 5m long. When you organise one of these tours, make sure you can go a second time for free if you do not successfully spot a croc on your first outing (most will provide this option).

Alexander Range Lookout (114km north of Cairns, 2 hours 15 minute drive)

After the stunning river crossing there is about 8 km of windy road leading up to the Alexander Range Lookout. Many of the breath-taking wonders of the region can be seen from this lookout, you get views of the Daintree River, Snapper Island, Low Isles and all the way down the coast as far as Double Island near Palm Cove on a clear day. If you love stopping for that all important photo, this one is a must, a stunner.

Jindalba Boardwalk (116km north of Cairns, 2hrs 25 minute drive)

After passing by the Alexander Range Lookout, the next major attraction is only a few kilometres further down the road and definitely worth a stop. Turn right onto Tulip Oak Road (before Cow Bay) and follow it all the way to the end. You will arrive at a car park for Jindalba Boardwalk, a free walk in the Daintree National Park.

This is one of the most astounding walks in the region and takes you back in time to see so much of the biological history of the Daintree region. One of the more amazing plants you see throughout this walk is the very endangered and endemic Hopes Cycad, a relic left over from the dinosaur era. You will also get to see species of flora from all stages of earths plant evolution.

There are two choices of walk here. The first is the shorter walk that sticks to the boardwalk itself. At about 650m this is relatively easy and it is one of the better places to spot the rare Bennet’s Tree Kangaroo (but you’ll have to be lucky). The boardwalk will probably take around 45 minutes. The longer circuit walk is quite spectacular too, and we have seen Cassowaries many times along this track close to the base of Mt. Alexander. The longer circuit track is close to 2 km and will take over an hour to complete. If you have the time and the desire we would recommend doing both hikes as they are very different even though they are so close to one another.

That brings us to the end of this article, but please stay tuned as in the fourth of our Cape Trib Series we will include some more amazing stops on the way to, and in, Cape Tribulation.


Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Scott Plume, Barefoot Tours