The Daintree Rainforest is an incredibly beautiful bit of nature in the northeast coast of Queensland, Australia. It is a World Heritage area, and for good reason. The diverse landscape is filled with stunning bays, forests, waterfalls, rivers and wildlife. Daintree Rainforest is also home to the largest number of rare and threatened flora and fauna in the world. And it is the oldest rainforest in the world: over 135 million years old. The rainforest and surrounding area that makes up the Daintree National Park are definitely must visit locations, and an easy day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas.
Wildlife abounds in the rainforest: gigantic spiders, pythons, crocodiles, etc. But my favorite, that Dad and I were lucky enough to see during our second stop, is the cassowary. It’s a huge bird with brilliant colors on its prehistoric-looking head. The birds grow to be quite tall, usually reaching heights between 5 feet and 6 and half feet. We were in good fortune during our visit, because a cassowary happened to be foraging in the trees just near the car park when we arrived. It didn’t stay long, though. It looked at us for a few moments and then slowly made its way deeper into the forest.
Daintree Rainforest Highlights
Our first stop was the Alexandra Range Lookout. The lookout has some incredible views of the rainforest and the Daintree River, looking out at where the forest and river meet the ocean at the coast. It really is stunning and is a great way to get an overview of what the Daintree Rainforest has to offer. And you get a panoramic view of the coastline from Cairns to Port Douglas across the ocean.
Then we went on to Jindalba. The area has two walking tracks. The shorter one has a boardwalk and is a 700 meter circuit. The circuit is easy, but it does have some steep parts and several steps. The larger track is a 2.7km loop and goes over steep and rough terrain. It is a proper hike and meant for adventurous walkers. Jindalba is a good place to stop early on in your day, because there are several information boards at the entrance of the walk, which gives information about spots to visit in the area and some history of the Daintree Rainforest.
Dad and I decided we’d like a quick break, so we stopped in at Dori’s Bar, Cafe and Restaurant, which is part of the Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat. We tried Daintree Tea, which is made in the area. It was a good cup of tea, and it was nice to relax after the drive and walk through the rainforest. The restaurant has a variety of beautiful birds and some wallabies nearby, so it was also a nice treat to see some more fauna.
Next we continued north and headed to the Marrdja Boardwalk. Marrdja is an easy 1km boardwalk loop through rainforest and mangroves. There are signs throughout the walk that trace the evolution of plants in the Daintree area. The path also has viewing platforms, some which overlook Noah Creek.
My favorite part of the Marrdja area are the strangler fig trees. They are trees that grow around other trees, making incredible woven patterns. Sometimes the original tree dies and rots away, leaving a hollow center and turning the strangler fig into a columnar tree. It’s beautiful and like nothing I’ve seen before.
We then headed to the Dubuji Boardwalk. The boardwalk is an easy 1.2km loop that goes through rainforest, freshwater swamps and mangroves. It also has access to Myall Beach, though when Dad and I visited, part of the loop was closed off for reconstruction.
Our final stop in the Daintree Rainforest was Cape Tribulation. The area is traditionally known as Kulki. There is an 800 meter (return) boardwalk that goes to the Cape Tribulation lookout. The view of the beach and coastal ranges is quite beautiful, and it’s a great look at where the two World Heritage areas—the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef—meet. Or you can take a longer path, about 1 km, to the lookout that goes along Myall Beach.
Choosing What to See
There are many touristy options in the Daintree Rainforest as well. You can go on river cruises, scenic flights or four-wheel drive adventures among other activities. And there is a rich tie to the aboriginal heritage of the area, with many tours offered to explore the cultural history of the villages and the rainforest. What you’d like to do while visiting the Daintree Rainforest depends on what activities you enjoy and what you want to experience in the area.
I loved just admiring the views from the lookouts and walking through the different boardwalks and beaches. I enjoyed immersing myself in the nature of the Daintree Rainforest and soaking up the beauty of the area. We only had a day at the national park, including driving from Cairns and back to Port Douglas, so we really only scratched the surface of the Daintree Rainforest. But it was well worth visiting even if just for a day trip, and you can still see a wide array of flora by visiting the different boardwalks and Cape Tribulation.
There are many tour options to get in and around the area, but I recommend hiring a car to drive the area yourself. You’ll get to see what you want and stay in each place as long as you’d like. But note that there is a $25 roundtrip ferry crossing for cars. It is the only way to get across the river. Otherwise, to get into the Daintree Rainforest area, you have to go up and around to enter from the north, which has many unpaved sections and requires four-wheel drive. Entering via the ferry, however, means you’ll have access to paved roads all the way up to Cape Tribulation in the northern part of the national park.
There is a fuel service station located not long after the ferry crossing, but I recommend driving with a full tank from Cairns or Port Douglas. You’ll have plenty of petrol to make the roundtrip adventure and explore within the national park.
Jindalba has toilets and picnic shelters. Dubuji also has toilets.
What’s your favorite part of exploring nature?