Welcome to the magical world of the Daintree Rainforest! As your virtual guide, I’ll take you on a journey through one of the world’s oldest rainforests, revealing its secrets and uncovering the many wonders that lie within.
I want to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands mentioned in this post and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Altogether, there are 18 Rainforest Aboriginal tribal groups in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
In this area, the Traditional Owners are the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. Their country extends from near Cooktown to Port Douglas. For the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people many natural features of the landscape have spiritual significance including Wundu (Thornton Peak), Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi), Wurrmbu (The Bluff) and Kulki (Cape Tribulation).
About the forest
Australia has several stunning cities, but to truly appreciate its breathtaking natural beauty, you need to escape the bustle of the city. North Queensland is where you’ll find the Daintree Rainforest.
The Daintree Rainforest is not only breathtaking and great for photo opportunities, but it is also home to one of the planet’s oldest rainforests.
During my stay in Cairns, I went to the Daintree Rainforest. Make sure to provide enough time if you intend to dive the Great Barrier Reed to also visit the Daintree!
The Daintree Rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and one of the oldest rainforests in the world, roughly 130 million years old.
The Daintree has a lush canopy and is covered in ancient ferns and green foliage. The forest is also the largest tropical rainforest in Australia at 1,200 square kilometres.
How to get there
Driving your own vehicle or renting a car is the best way to reach the Daintree Rainforest. Having a rental car can make you life a lot easier if you plan to explore North Queensland, since there are few options for public transport.
The city of Cairns, which is a wonderful stop in of itself, is the closest airport to the Daintree Rainforest. The forest is roughly a 2 hour journey from Cairns airport.
To reach the Daintree, you will need to take the Captain Cook Highway, heading north of Cairns. This highway has the most breathtaking views, the drive will be an adventure in itself.
Although travelling there by rental car is the simplest method, you can also travel to the forest via bus. Coral Reef Coaches travels from Cairns to Cape Tribulation twice daily, and upon request, they will make a stop at the Daintree Rainforest.
To reach the rainforest you need cross the Daintree River, as you ride the ferry across you are about to enter the oldest rainforest in the world. There is minimal to no phone reception so you will be able to immerse yourself and connect with nature.
Where to stay
If you love the forest and want to stay a little longer, you can choose to stay close by.
Silky Oaks Lodge
In 88 acres of it’s own rainforest on the outskirts of the Daintree, Silky Oaks Lodge is a luxurious eco-lodge located along the Mossman River. Accomodation consists of a number of rooms and collection of treehouses with a larger house, and the design is lavish and elegant. A fantastic restaurant and luxurious spa are also located at the lodge.
Daintree Eco Lodge
The Daintree Eco Lodge, which is tucked amongst the canopy of the rainforest, offers family-friendly Daintree lodging. The exclusive eco-friendly bayans (treehouses) are the ideal home base for family outings to surrounding attractions including Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree River as well as the eco lodges indoor pool and private waterfall.
Daintree Wilderness Lodge
Daintree Wilderness Lodge experience will stay in your memory, with only 7 raised cottages that were build to blend in with the enormous Fan Palm gully of the rainforest. The lodge is situated in a prime spot of Kuku Yalangi land, situated between the Great Barrier Reef Marine ark and the Daintree National Park, both of which are included as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Get ready to uncover hidden boardwalks, trails, swimming holes, unique fauna, birds, or snorkel off Cape Tribulation. This is the place where you can really immerse yourself in the rainforest.
Things to do at the Daintree Rainforest
After taking the auto ferry across the Daintree River, our first visit in the Daintree Rainforest was Alexandra Lookout, which was only a short drive away.
You can see far into the rainforest, the Alexandra Range, and Snapper Island from this lookout. It offers a fantastic view of the point where the rainforest and the reef, two locations on the World Heritage List, converge.
1. Jindalba Circuit Track
Distance: 650m (or 3km loop)
Time needed: 30 minutes (or 1.5 hours)
Things to know: Jindalba Boardwalk is not wheelchair accessible
Jindalba was named by the traditional owners of the land, the Kuku Yalanji people, and means ‘foot of the mountain’. It’s located at the bottom of Mount Alexandra, close to the Daintree Discovery Centre.
2. Dubuji Boardwalk
Time needed: 45 minutes
Things to know: Myall Beach is part of the trail but you can’t swim due to crocs.
The Dubuji Boardwalk, meaning ‘place of spirits’ in Kuku Yalanji, was the first Daintree Rainforest walk I did, and it didn’t disappoint.
3. Emmagen Creek
Time needed: 15 minutes for the walk and 30 minutes to hang out at the swimming hole.
Things to know: It’s safe to swim here.
The Daintree River is a wildlife haven. Discover amazing species, such as goannas, crocodiles, birds, frogs, snakes, butterflies, lizards, and insects. One of the most crowded mangrove estuaries in the world are located here.
Daintree Discovery Centre
Everything you need to know about visiting the Daintree, including its history, things to do nearby, and where to stay, is available at the Daintree Discovery Centre.
There’s more, though! With its many walking routes, the Discovery Centre is a delight for children.
Explore the Cassowary Circuit, Aerial Walkway, 23-meter Canopy Tower, Jurassic Forest, Bush Tucker Trail, and even the Discovery Theatre, among other sections.
The dinosaur trek in particular will be a hit with the kids!
The Daintree Drive offers breathtaking scenery that ranges from remote tropical beaches with palm trees, quiet coves, and craggy headlands to luscious sugar-cane fields and mountains covered in rainforest. Even if you don’t enjoy hiking or don’t have time, there is still something for everyone.
Located just outside the town of Mossman, the Gorge is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of the Daintree Rainforest, and is a must-see for travelers. This area of untouched forests and crystal clear creeks is teeming with amazing wildlife and stunning nature.
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