Heading north from Cairns along the Captain Cook Highway you embark on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, 140km of the most scenic coastline in Australia. Wind your way from Palm Cove to the palm-fringed sands of picturesque Ellis Beach, a tiny seaside hub. Take a moment to admire the beauty of the deserted beaches or continue towards Wangetti Beach, where you will discover an unspoilt coastline stretching as far as the eye can see. As you journey further north, Coral Sea views are replaced with lush green cane fields surrounding the quaint township of Mossman. Stay awhile to uncover Mossman Gorge, rich in Indigenous culture and breathtaking beauty. Learn about the traditional values of the Kuku Yalanji people who call the Daintree Rainforest home as you explore emerald rainforest pools peppered with Granite boulders.The journey continues along vast sugar cane fields before turning right at the Daintree Gateway towards the Daintree Rainforest. Take the cable ferry acrossthe Daintree River and enter the world’s oldest living rainforest. Stop at the Walu Wugirriga Lookout (Alexandra Range Lookout), pausing to admire sweeping views of the mouth of the Daintree River and islands beyond as the Aboriginal name of this place, ‘look about’, suggests.As you wind your way through the ancient surroundings of the Daintree Rainforest, take time to picnic beside hidden cascades, refresh in a crystal-clear swimming hole or recharge with a stroll along a beautiful rainforest boardwalk. The Great Barrier Reef Drive culminates at Cape Tribulation, as you take a short boardwalk from the carpark through rainforest and emerge onto the beach. Here you have arrived at your final destination, standing between the dual World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Just north of Palm Cove you will catch a glimpse of Ellis Beach as you wind along the coastline of the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Admire the beauty of the rainforest-clad mountains as they descend towards deserted beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. It is an area untouched by development and the long, sandy beach stretches approximately 1 km along the Coral Sea. An ideal destination to take a walk or stop for lunch or a coffee at the cafe.
Discover an isolated beach known better to locals than to tourists, capturing views of an unspoilt coastline stretching as far as the eye can see. Wangetti Beach is a perfect place to stop and refresh for a quiet walk along the beach, shared only with a few palm trees and the occasional local.
Only 15 minutes north of Port Douglas you will uncover Mossman Gorge, rich in Indigenous culture and breathtaking beauty. Learn about the traditional values of the Kuku Yalanji people that have called the Daintree Rainforest home as you explore emerald rainforest pools peppered with granite boulders and freshwater swimming holes on a guided rainforest walk. Explore the free self-guided national park walks at your own pace as you adventure through the Gorge:
Take a moment to visit an Indigenous gallery in Mossman, experience traditional hunting at nearby Cooya Beach or explore the country drives around Mossman.
Perched on the southern side of the Daintree River, you will find an unspoilt oasis thriving with ancient vegetation, scenic surroundings and vast array of native wildlife and plant species. The Daintree Village, a peaceful township filled with friendly faces and undeniable charm is a welcome rest point along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Explore the quaint village with stores presented in the style of yesteryear, stopping for a scone and tea. Channel your inner explorer and embark on a crocodile, bird and wildlife spotting cruise before retreating to your luxurious rainforest lodge, exclusive holiday house or cozy safari tent hidden deep in the rainforest.
Mount Alexandra Lookout, or Walu Wugirriga, pronounced wah-lu-oo-gid-ee-gah, means ‘look about’. A stunning highlight of the Great Barrier Reef Drive, the lookout lives up to its name and boasts breathtaking views of the Daintree coast, including the Daintree River, Snapper Island, Lows Isles, Port Douglas and beyond. On a clear day, you can see to Double Island near Palm Cove. The Daintree and surrounding regions are rich in cultural significance and history for the traditional owners of the land, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. While admiring the sensational rainforest-meets-reef view, visitors can catch a glimpse of the brilliant blue of the Ulysses butterfly fluttering through the rainforest, as well as the Pied-Imperial Pigeon flying to and from Low Isles each day. Alexandra Lookout is located 10 minutes north of the Daintree River, with signage to the north and south. There is a carpark and the lookout is wheelchair accessible.
You will find this popular and informative boardwalk just north of Noah Creek. Marrdja is a Kuku Yalanji word meaning ‘rainforest’ or ‘jungle’. For the botanical enthusiast, the Marrdja Boardwalk features plants in every stage of evolution of the last 400 million years – that’s a lot to pack into a short 1.1km loop. Don’t worry, there are information signs are planted along the botanical walk to help you identify which era you are walking through.
Stepping straight on to the beach from the rainforest is a very special experience at Cape Tribulation where the dual World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Daintree Rainforest meet.
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