The Great Green Way is an area of outstanding natural beauty stretching between Townsville and Cairns and including two World Heritage listed natural treasures in the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests. Rugged mountain ranges and stands of sugar cane, tropical fruit farms and long stretches of golden beaches offer stunning views and photo opportunities.
The area has over 25 tropical islands off its coast, the most famous of which are Dunk, Bedarra and one of the world's largest island nationalparks, Hinchinbrook.
The Great Green Way is an area of outstanding natural beauty stretching between Townsville to the south and Cairns and including two World Heritage listed natural treasures in the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests. Rugged mountain ranges and stands of sugar cane, tropical fruit farms and long stretches of golden beaches offer stunning views and photo opportunities.
The area has over 25 tropical islands off its coast, the most famous of which are Dunk, Bedarra and one of the world's largest island nationalparks, Hinchinbrook. A quick turn off the Bruce Highway presents access to such fantastic locations as Bramston Beach, Ella Bay, Flying Fish Point, Etty Bay, Cowley Beach, Kurramine Beach, Bingal Bay, Mission Beach, Tully Heads and Cardwell. Each features seemingly endless stretches of clean golden sands, with many fringed exquisitely by rainforest greenery.
Towering 1622 metres above the coastal lowlands, the summit of Mt Bartle Frere offers unparalleled views of the Great Barrier Reef to the east and the Atherton Tableland to the west. Despite the rugged terrain, walking tracks are popular with locals and visitors, and bushwalkers regularly accept the challenge to climb to the top of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland's tallest mountain, in exchange for the splendour that the view from its summit bestows upon those who scale its height. Starting at Josephine Falls, a well known swimming spot about 50 kilometres south of Cairns, the climb is a tough 7.5 kilometre haul which should only be attempted by fit, well equipped hikers. Mt Bellenden Ker, at 1593 metres, falls just short of its highest neighbour in terms of height, but it is home to just as diverse a range of natural gifts.
The Bellenden Ker National Park encompasses 79,500 hectares of wild mountain range, making it the largest rainforest park in Queensland and an outstanding feature of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Due to dramatic changes in altitude and soil density created by a range of geological phenomena, the mountain is clothed in several disparate types of rainforest. From tall, large-leaved forest on the foothills, the vegetation changes to a smaller-leaf, lower canopy on the wind swept peaks above 1500 metres. The summit is a wild, boulder-strewn environment that can cloud over without warning.
Sudden rainstorms are common and temperatures drop rapidly at night throughout the year. This relatively untouched wilderness remains the wettest region in Australia, with annual rainfalls exceeding 10 metres historically commonplace. As a result, rivers, streams and waterfalls (including Australia’s tallest breathtaking 340m Wallaman Falls) cascade through lush rainforest on their way to the ocean below.
The best part of the World Heritage rainforest in this region is its easy accessibility - just turn off the highway and visit places such as the Mulgrave Valley, the Boulders, Josephine Falls, the Palmerston National Park, Mission Beach, the Tully River, Cardwell's Forest Drive and the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway. Many well marked walking tracks of varying difficulty are located throughout the entire region.
The Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway is an exciting attraction offering visitors a rare opportunity to walk amongst the butterflies and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the rainforest treetops. Just 90 minutes from Cairns, the canopy walkway is set in the rugged gorge country of the Mamu Aboriginal people, halfway between Innisfail and Millaa Millaa, where more than 1100 metres of walking tracks (suitable for wheelchairs and prams) meander through the forest. The main walkway wanders for 350m through the rainforest, about 15m above the ground and, with the help of interpretive signs, visitors can understand the exuberant tangle of growth surrounding them. At the end of the walkway, a massive 37m high observation tower looms above the tallest trees and offers wide-ranging views over pristine rainforest and the rugged Bellenden Ker range.
The walkway is on the edge of Wooroonooran National Park. Visitors wishing to explore the rainforest further will find more walking tracks, leading to scenic waterfalls, just a few more kilometres further up the Palmerston Highway.
For those looking for a physical challenge, this area is also home to some of the finest and most adventurous recreational activities. Why not try white water rafting down the untouched Tully, Russell or Johnstone Rivers or perhaps skydiving, water skiing, sailing, doughnut rides, boomnetting, sea kayaking or game fishing while you're in the region?
Within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area bounded by Tully, Mena Creek, Innisfail, Millaa Millaa and Ravenshoe is the Gambil Yalgay Misty Mountains, a 130km network of short and distance walking tracks and roads. The Misty Mountains trails have been constructed on old logging tracks which originally followed Aboriginal walking tracks. These trails cross the Walter Hill Range and the Cardwell Range, extending from the coastal plain to the tablelands. The area is recognised for its diversity of rainforest types, plant species and outstanding landscape features.
Further information on the Misty Mountains trails may be obtained at information centres or the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service or online at www.mistymountains.com.au.