The Daintree and Cape Tribulation
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Published by TOP4 Team
If you can resist the temptation of the glorious beaches along the way, this full day’s drive will take you over the Daintree River to tropical rainforest and coral reef.
The Captain Cook Highway is without doubt one of the world’s finest coastal roads. Rarely overburdened with traffic, it runs inland at first from Cairns, rejoining the shore north of the exclusive resort of Palm Cove. Port Douglas, the coastline’s northernmost resort of any consequence, is home to the Rainforest Habitat, an ambitious re-creation of the tropical rainforest environment.
The Canefields around Mosman feed the town’s sugar mill via miles of narrow-gauge railway. A short diversion leads to the rainforest of the Mossman River Gorge in Daintree National Park, with its graded walking track, rapids and delightful swimming holes. At the turn leading to the ferry over the Daintree River the bitumen comes to a (temporary) end; non-4WD vehicles proceed with caution or not at all in the wet season. The wide river is lined with mangrove swamp and crocodiles.
Beyond the ferry begins the tropical paradise of the Cape Tribulation National Park, some of it, incredibly divided up into lots for sale and development. The unmade road lurches crazily through the forest and across dry river beds, pale dust from vehicles coating the luxuriant vegetation with a thin film. The Heights of Alexandra Lookout gives a superb view over the forest tumbling down to the sea. The best initiation into the complex ecology and sheer beauty of the World Heritage Area is at the Daintree Forest Environmental Centre with its boardwalk leading deep into this mysterious realm.
Even if noxious stingers inhibit swimming, you should at least walk along one of the incomparable beaches of Cape Tribulation, several of which are easily accessible from the road. Beyond the cape itself, the 32 km Bloomfield Track begins; it is only negotiable by 4WD.
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