Stretching from the north of Port Douglas and through to Cooktown, the Reef and Rainforest Coast is the only place in the world where two most complex ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage tropical rainforest known as 'The Daintree', meet at high tide mark. It is a spectacular stretch of coastline that has become a magnetic destination for travellers from around the world. To reach the Daintree National Park, the road travels north from Port Douglas to the town of Mossman, through green sugar cane farms, and backed by magnificent mountains clad in lush green rainforest and often capped in mist.
Stretching from the north of Port Douglas and through to Cooktown, the Reef and Rainforest Coast is the only place in the world where two most complex ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforest known as 'The Daintree', meet at high tide mark. It is a spectacular stretch of coastline that has become a magnetic destination for travellers from around the world. To reach the Daintree National Park, the road travels north from Port Douglas to the town of Mossman, through green sugar cane farms, and backed by magnificent mountains clad in lush green rainforest and often capped in mist.
Mossman Gorge, only five minutes out of town, is the edge of the Daintree Rainforest and the nearest and most accessible pristine rainforest to Port Douglas. Fresh from the mountain, the water in the Mossman River tumbles over granite boulders, between lush green forests to cool, clear swimming holes between the rapids. For preservation of the area and for the convenience of trvellers, the Mossman Visitor Centre runs a shuttle bus to and from the Gorge , which is serviced by extensive paths and boardwalks.
Passing through the township of Mossman, under a magnificent canopy of fern covered rain trees and past fruit and coffee plantations, nestled in a bend of the Daintree River, Daintree village was once the heart of a thriving timber industry based around the prized red cedar. it is now the departure point for the numerous river cruises bringing nature lovers up close to a huge array of wildlife supported by the Daintree River's tidal estuary.
Tour boats depart daily from the Daintree village and take the intrepid traveller away from the crowds and deep into the Daintree, cruising the mangrove-lined creeks inhabited by a myriad of birdlife, colourful butterflies, green tree frogs and reptiles including the saltwater crocodile.
'Over the river', as the locals call it, and just a carferry trip away, a whole new world of rainforest magic opens to you. Being largely untouched wilderness due to its remoteness, the high rainfall of the area averages four metres annually, so vegetation can virtually grow before your eyes. With the sealing of the road from the Daintree River ferry to Cape Tribulation, this magnificent area is no longer restricted to only 4WD vehicles. Now an all-vehicle road from the ferry crossing winds its way beneath the forest canopy, through dappled sunlight and crystal clear air pierced with sounds of the rainforest, over the Alexandria Range and follows the coast to Cape Tribulation.
This region is breathtakingly spectacular: a lush, centuries old rainforest teeming with wildlife and criss-crossed by freshwater streams, sweeping down to the reef fringed coast.
The diversity of life in 'the Daintree', or more correctly Cape Tribulation National Park, is such that the forests of North Queensland, covering only one quarter of one percent of Australia, contains roughly half the continent's species of animals and plants.
The Daintree rainforest itself is ancient, and thought to be 200 to 300 million years old, making it the oldest intact rainforest in the world. At 7million years, the Amazon rainforest is quite young. This tropical rainforest ecosystem is one of the most complex on earth; and of the 19 primitive flowering plant species in the world, 13 are represented in the Daintree. This World Heritage region has become the last remaining refuge for some species dating back 110 million years.
The Daintree does not have a long societal history, but it certainly has been eventful. The place names reflect some of the area's turbulent history: Mount Misery, Mount Sorrow, Cape Tribulation, Weary Bay, Pauls Luck, Darkies Downfall. The origin of some of these names is obscure, but all point to a colourful past.
The coastal area of the Daintree near Cape Tribulation is where these two World Heritage ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropcs rainforest, meet at the high tide mark. It is possible in some places to walk less than ten metres from the rainforest and be walking on the reef. Resorts and hostels nestle amongst the rainforests, and the combination of reef, rainforest and beach is stunning in its beauty.
For those of you choosing to travel further north beyond Cape Tribulation, four-wheel drive vehicles are able to traverse the Bloomfield Track to the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community, the Bloomfield River and Cooktown. This road is not suitable for two wheel drive cars as there are several creek crossings and very steep inclines. Driving into Cooktown, the road passes the mysterious looking Black Mountain, site of many legends. Cooktown is the last township before reaching the sparsely populated wilderness of Cape York Peninsula, with its pioneering past still evident in the character of the town of old buildings telling the tale of a very affluent past.
Cooktown is so named after Captain James Cook's stopover to repair his ship whilst sailing north along the Australian coastline, with its historical charm and tranquility, and has become a departure point for those intrepid adventurers and well equipped safaris to trek to the 'Far, Far North' following the old packhorse trails and telegraph lines to explore Australia's last frontier, Cape York Peninsula.