“If you pull my hair one more time, I am going to leave you in this visitor centre”
Is what I said to my 6 month old as we were preparing to hike around the beautiful Mossman gorge area. The hiking carrier is great, but unfortunately my hair is within reach of the little monster who rides around in it. Once we get outside he is usually too awed by the natural scenery to remember to torture his mother. (It’s not just me he likes to torture, he also likes to scratch at the scar on the back of Dan’s neck, and if you tell him to stop, he just squeals in delight and continues his antics.)
Mossman Gorge is located just a few kilometres from the small town of Mossman, which is in turn about an hour away from Cairns. (75 km)
The Mossman visitor centre provides a cafe, information, gift shop, and also runs a shuttle bus to an from the gorge. There isn’t any parking at the trail head (there just isn’t the space for it), so you can either park at the visitor centre and walk about 40 minutes to the start of the trail, or you can take the shuttle bus which runs every 10 minutes. The shuttle bus cost us $6 per adult and was definitely worth it. 9 months of pregnancy and 6 months of working in an office afterwards hasn’t left me in peak physical condition!
The trail is extremely well maintained. Most sections of the trail is actually a board walk, so you don’t even need to have proper hiking shoes. And most people only wear flip flops as there is a great little swimming hole along the trail. I didn’t see any warning signs (other than the one for the rocks and the current), and I didn’t see any people dying or screaming so I assume it is crocodile free.
There are several great look outs along the trail, and the whole circuit (with plenty of picture taking breaks) took us just over an hour. (and most of that time was taken up in picture taking.) There is also another rainforest circuit hike you can do which is just under 3 kilometres (about an hour at normal walking speed), but we decided not to do it as it was already fairly late in the day and we hadn’t packed any water or bottles for Jacob with us.
This is a great way to get a taste of the Daintree rainforest, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, without having to venture very far from Cairns. The whole thing could be done as a day trip from Cairns, but we decided to spend the night in Mossman as we were heading further north the next day.
Heading from Cairns to Mossman there are several worthwhile stops. The Cairns northern beaches are incredible, with the best being either Palm Cove or Ellis beach. We stopped at Palm Cove to enjoy the sand between our toes, and to allow to monster to make a couple sand sandwiches. Stinging jelly fish are common in these waters, so I don’t recommend swimming. (But then I don’t usually ever recommend swimming in Australia. Too many things in the water here either want to eat me or poison me!) But if you do go swimming and get stung, there are stinger stations at the beaches with vinegar to put on the stings.
Also worth a stop is Port Douglas. This town is set up to cater to all of your tourism needs. The beach here is also note worthy, and the main strip is chock full of cafe’s, restaurants and tourist shops. There is even nightly Cane Toad races at a local pub. So far I have seen hermit crab races (Fiji) and cockroach races (Brisbane), but unfortunately not yet Cane Toad races. They start at 8 pm with a $5 entry, but unfortunately 8 pm is around little man’s bedtime and that is a schedule I don’t dare mess with.
Sunday morning are the Port Douglas markets. We drove back down from Mossman for the markets before heading north to Cooktown. The markets are mostly craft markets, with only a few food stalls. We ended up getting breakfast in the town instead of at the markets, since we ended up blowing all our cash at the “coffee works” chocolate stall. Money well spent….. 🙂
Even though both Cairns and Port Douglas are both towns set up almost entirely for tourism (it seems), Port Douglas is the much more relaxed of the two. Instead of grotty back packer bars it has bars with outdoor cinemas. Instead of seeing hung over partiers recovering staggering back from who knows where in the morning, you see families enjoying cafe breakfasts, or hippies buying papayas at the market. Maybe I am just old…. but Port Douglas is definitely more my scene!