Daintree Rainforest

Possibly the world’s oldest rainforest, around 110 million years old, Daintree National Park is a pretty special place just a couple of hours drive north of Cairns. It wasn’t quite as Jurassic Park as I was expecting, but still a deeply atmospheric and impressive place.

I drove pretty much directly from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, in a little under three hours, getting the long drive out of the way while fresh. Bonus of this approach was that places were generally less busy, though leaving Cairns at 6.30am (helped by the two hour time difference from New Zealand) also helped.

I made a couple of quick stops though to stretch the legs. Firstly before reaching the national park, at the rather lovely Ellis Beach, deserted and glorious at seven in the morning, with more views of it from up the road.

The Daintree River marks the boundary of the national park, crossed by a short chain ferry ride.

Second quick stop was at the Mount Alexandra Lookout, looking out toward the mouth of the Daintree River.

After some pretty winding roads, and some interesting road signs, I reached Cape Tribulation, where the sealed road ended, but my exploring for the day started.

Cape Tribulation was named by Captain James Cook in 1770, as the place where their troubles first started. Shortly after visiting the Endeavour ran aground on a reef, 15,000km from home. The scene appears unchanged since, as I came through the bush out onto an epic tropical beach.

Kulki took me to a lookout for views of the bay.

Dubuji out to another seemingly endless beach (Myall Beach).

Mardja had the first intricate fig tree I’d come across (more to come), reminding me of something from Alien. It also had the best mangrove forest I saw, fascinating and atmospheric.

Thornton Beach was worth a quick stop for another epic expanse, though as with all of them there are warning signs about crocodiles.

Jindalba was home to one of the best rainforest walks of the trip (I did quite a few…), along boardwalk weaving between the trees (sometimes growing through the decking).

My final Daintree stop was at the functional Daintree Village, just outside the national park, which could be seen across the beautiful Daintree River.

An hour further down the road was a somewhat unexpected memorial to Japanese bombing in WW2. Amazingly they set off from Papua New Guinea and bombed Townsville, though one got lost and dropped bombs over the Mossman area, injuring the two and a half year old Carmel Zullo while she slept. Thankfully she survived and unveiled the plaque fifty years after the bombing.

Author: jontycrane

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