Cairns (and the Tropical Far North Queensland region) is one of Australia’s ultimate tropical destinations, thanks not only to its proximity to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, but also due to its breathtaking tropical rainforest vegetation.
Did you know that the oldest living rainforests on planet Earth are those in the area surrounding Cairns? Pretty incredible, huh! The infamous Daintree Rainforest and surrounds are home to the largest range of unique and rare animal and plant species found anywhere on Earth. In fact, some of these species have existed for several million years.
A trip to Cairns and surrounds just isn’t complete without exploring some of these magnificent ancient rainforests. In this article, we introduce to you four of the very best rainforest walks in the Cairns area.
Mossman Gorge is located just over an hour north (by road) from Cairns, 2km from the nearby township of Mossman (not far from the popular seaside town of Port Douglas). Mossman Gorge is a feast for the senses – think crystal-clear river, meandering its way through enormous granite boulders, surrounded by the dense and incredibly lush tropical rainforest of Daintree National Park (World Heritage Listed).
Entry into the Gorge is via shuttle bus from the Mossman Gorge visitor centre. Following drop-off, you can walk and admire the exquisite tropical rainforest vegetation along the brief distance to the river itself. Several walking tracks are available to explore, including the Rainforest Circuit Track.
Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek Bridge, 2.4km return, 45 minutes duration)
Beginning on the far side of Rex Creek Bridge, this 2.4km return, gentle rainforest walking track shall see you admiring stunning views of Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi) from the lookout, before making your way deeper into the spectacular rainforest via the circuit track.
Image Credit: portdouglastravel.com
Fitzroy Island is an idyllic tropical island paradise located nearby to the coast of Cairns and is accessible via a 45-minute Fast Cat ride from the Cairns Marina. Fitzroy Island is 97% national park, with numerous walking and hiking tracks that make their way through stunning rainforest (as well as coastal woodland) vegetation. There are options available to suit all ages and fitness levels.
Upon your visit to Fitzroy Island (whether for a day trip or a longer stay at Fitzroy Island Resort), you might like to consider exploring one or more of the following tracks:
Nudey Beach Track (1km return, 45 minutes duration)
The Nudey Beach Track is the perfect option if you are seeking a leisurely walk through the rainforest (and coastal woodlands), before arriving at the breathtakingly beautiful white coral beach, Nudey Beach (awarded number one spot in Australia’s Top 101 Beaches Awards for 2018). From the shore of the beach, you can elect to snorkel straight out onto the Great Barrier Reef. Amazing!
Secret Garden Track (1km return, 45 minutes duration)
Fitzroy Island’s Secret Garden Track leads you to the western side of the island’s jetty, enabling you to take in the magic of the island’s lush tropical rainforest, as well as giant granite boulders.
Summit Track (2.6km return, 3 hours duration)
The Summit Track is the perfect option for those who are adventurous (and suitably fit). This track, which takes three hours total, shall first see you making your way up the Boulder Trail (beginning behind the jetty). Then, follow the track as it winds through incredible rainforest vegetation and coastal woodlands, as you scale upwards towards the summit, from which you can enjoy spectacular views of both Fitzroy Island and the beautiful Coral Sea.
Barron Gorge National Park
The amazing network of historic trails that make up Barron Gorge National Park (which spans from Lake Placid’s coastal lowlands, all the way to elevated Kuranda and surrounds in the Atherton Tablelands) were originally created by the Djabugai People, whom used the tracks while hunting and gathering in their traditional tribal lands. These trails were later used by European settlers to open up and connect the hinterland with the coast.
Barron Gorge National Park is home to the popular Douglas Track (approximately four to six hours in duration), among other shorter walks, starting from 30 minutes long.
The Douglas Track (7.8km one way, 4 to 6 hours duration)
The historic trail that is the Douglas Track connects the coastal plains near Cairns with the Atherton Tablelands. Despite being a long walk, it is considered easy to moderate, and is suitable for fit walkers who wish to explore the dense rainforest of this amazing walking track.
Mount Bartle Frere
Exploring the rainforest of the Bellenden Ker Range (World Heritage Listed) is made possible by taking on the challenge of climbing the summit of Queensland’s highest mountain, Mount Bartle Frere.
This walking track takes approximately six to eight hours (return) and is accessible from two locations: via the Atherton Tablelands in the west, or Josephine Falls near the coast. The track has two main sections: in and above the rainforest (above being in the boulder field).
This track is best attempted during the cooler, drier months of the year, as it is very steep and unformed, and can be slippery and dangerous in wet weather, despite being well marked.
Image Credit: trailhiking.com.au