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Daintree Rainforest: land of the green dinosaurs

January 25, 2019

It is a part of Australia so intensely green. So luscious and full of vibrant life. Plants that would normally grow knee high in the suburbs, tower over you in a tall canopy. Grasshoppers longer than your hand. And rain, lots and lots of rain in the misty mountains. It is the Daintree Rainforest.



When James and I decided to travel here, we had no idea what we would find would blow us away as much as it did. Never in our lives had we seen a rainforest so thick and abundant. We had heard the Daintree Rainforest referred to as “green dinosaurs” by natural historian David Attenborough, and he was right.


What we learnt

Spending over five days here across two visits, we learnt so many interesting facts about the Daintree Rainforest. Australia is lucky enough to be home to this spectacular place, the oldest living rainforest in the world. How’s that for a drawcard?! It is also the only place where two World Heritage sites meet. The other being the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the plant species here are even millions of years older than the dinosaurs. It is seriously mind blowing! The rainforest also spans across 1200 square kilometres.


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Driving to Cape Tribulation

Once we arrived, after a short ferry ride across the river, we drove straight to Cape Tribulation. There is one windy road which takes you through the lowland rainforest. It’s really beautiful and gives you a taste of what is to come.

Tip: Once you arrive, drive straight past Mount Alexandra Lookout. This is where everyone heads straight after they get off the ferry. We drove past here and had the road mostly to ourselves. You can visit the lookout on your way back or early on another morning and have it all to yourselves like we did.

During the drive we noticed how, like clockwork, the rain would start and stop as you drove through the hills. If you were back in a hill, you were back in the rain. We loved this aspect of the Daintree as it really gives you that rainforest feel.

Reaching Cape Tribulation was amazing. This was the furthest point we decided to drive to for the first leg of our trip. It was also the furthest we had ever been! Cape Tribulation was a breath of fresh air. The sun came out for us here, and we wandered on the beach and to the mangroves.


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The beaches are empty!

After visiting Cape Tribulation, we spent much of our time exploring the beaches. One thing we couldn’t believe was that most of these beaches were empty! We visited Coconut Beach the most. This one was our favourite. It had a long stretch of sand, complete with palm trees all the way up the beach. It really is crazy seeing a rainforest so close to the sand.

Another favourite of ours was Thornton Beach. It was such a great experience arriving at these beaches just before the sun came up to watch it rise over the horizon. The clouds also made for some pretty epic aerial photos.


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All of the streets have names around nature

I absolutely loved all of the names of the roads in the Daintree Rainforest and think they definitely deserve a mention. There was Pandanus and Mangrove, Silky Oak and Silver Ash. There was also Bloodwood and Milky Pine. You’ll also find a Mahogany Street where you can buy organic vanilla beans. Plus Ironbark, Candlenut, Black Bean and Maple.


Cassowary spotting

We had been on the lookout with hopes of spotting a cassowary ever since we passed Mission Beach, about 260 kilometres south of the Daintree Rainforest. Finally, we spotted one walking across the road in the Daintree! They are so much bigger than either of us had imagined. We managed to get a quick iPhone snap before it disappeared into the bushes.

On our second return to the Daintree, we were lucky enough to see a male cassowary with three babies! The babies were almost a tall as the adult and they were very clumsy, with one falling over as it was running across the road. It was pretty cute to see but we were definitely happy we were in the car both times when we saw them.


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Rainforest walks

One of the coolest rainforest walks here is the Marrdja Boardwalk. The plants you see here are incredible. There was a cluster of these awesome giant fan palms which we took shelter under when the rain decided to hammer down. Surprisingly, they gave us shelter until the rain eased and we could run back to the car so we didn’t get drenched. About 20 minutes later the rain stopped and we continued back into the boardwalk.

Another awesome sight was a hollowed out strangler fig which leant over on an angle. Usually these strangler figs are literally strangling a tree, so to see it hollow was incredible.


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Freshwater creeks

The Daintree Rainforest is home to many freshwater creeks. The first creek we visited was Emmagen Creek. It was a little difficult to find, but definitely worth it after seeing how beautiful it was. There is also a rope here to swing into the water for an added bit of fun. Hutchinson Creek near Alexandra Bay State School is also worth a visit.

With very few places safe to swim in the Daintree, these creeks were the perfect way to cool off.


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The Crocodiles

The crocodiles here are not to be messed with and it’s a topic that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a tourist coming back from a swim at the beach. With onlookers in shock as she walked out of the water, we noticed someone point the sign out to her. From the look of her face, she didn’t even take notice of the sign before her swim.

While we saw none during our time here, we spoke to enough of the locals to hear some pretty bad horror stories. The locals here won’t even dip a toe in the water after the increasing amount they have seen. It’s safe to say we didn’t swim here!


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All images courtesy of Aeroaus


A bucket list adventure

This land of green dinosaurs is definitely a bucket list adventure and one we are so glad to have ticked off - twice!! We are already dreaming of another return in the future, where we will hopefully complete the seriously incredible trek to the Devils Thumb in the Mossman Gorge.


Where to stay on the way

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Check out our parks in Queensland, browse stories from our community of travelling contributors, and start planning your next epic Australian road trip or camping adventure!!