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.
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.
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.