WELCOME TO THE DAINTREE RAIN FOREST!
The Great Barrier Reef Drive takes you from the city to the jungle, and when you drive off the ferry on the north side is where you hit this jungle. Keep your speed down and keep a sharp eye out for cassowaries, these big birds can very unexpectedly step out on the road and being black they are not that easy to see. Note that the locals here just want to get home with the shopping so they go a bit faster than sightseeing tourists so it is recommended you pull over to give them the chance to overtake.
Wind your windows down and let the rain forest air fill your car, and explore the many stops we have listed on this page, or anywhere else you feel like stopping. It is 36 km. to the final destination of Cape Tribulation which takes about 40 minutes in driving time, longer of course when you enjoy all the great stops along the way.
Please have a look at how much there is to see and do here, and you'll see why you need to stay a few days here.
And don't just take our word for it that this is the best place, if it is on David Attenborough's favourite list then it must be good!
Places in the Daintree rain forest
The Daintree Rainforest
The World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest is a fascinating environment, it is the oldest surviving rainforest in the world, more than a 100 million years older than the more famous Amazon, and more accessible too, only two hours from Cairns International Airport. Here you can experience jungle unchanged since dinosaurs roamed the earth, and several of them are still here; the crocodile and the cassowary. National Park boardwalks, a hiking trail up Mount Sorrow and guided walks with local guides allow you to explore this very special environment.
To The Daintree River Ferry
About 25 km. north of Mossman you will see ths sign on the highway and that is where you turn right fr the Daintree.
You can go straight ahead and do a detour to see Daintree Village which has some crocodile spotting tours, food and accommodation options, but the famous oldest rain forest in the world is on the other side of the Daintree river behind the ferry. In the Daintree Timber museum you can see old b/w photos of the giant red cedar trees that once stood here
After you turned off the highway you will soon come across a group of croc tour booking offices on your left, just before the ferry. There are also public toilets here and a small information centre introducing you to the Daintree rain forest that is waiting for you on the other side of the river.
Croc ruises from one to two hours are available here, note that low tides and cool weather are the best times to spot crocodiles.
The Daintree River Ferry
The Daintree River ferry runs non stop from 5 AM till midnight every day and the current price is $23.- one way or $39 for the return trip, bring cash as EFTPOS is not always available.
At the Daintree River you are leaving the modern Australia behind and enter a different world. On the other side you enter dense rain forest with awesome animals and pristine beaches, and the people that live here survive without the basic services of electricity and water like in a third world country.
The first turn to the right after the ferry will take you to Cape Kimberley, a beautiful wild remote beach stretching south to the mouth of the Daintree river and looking out over the water to uninhabited Snapper Island.
There is a camping area here and one holiday home to rent, but not much else.
Alexandra Range Lookout
After Cape Kimberley you go up the Alexandra Range, make sure to stop at the lookout for an awesome view over Snapper Island, the mouth of the Daintree river and all the way back to Port Douglas, or even Double Island on a very clear day. Tree kangaroos have been spotted here so don't only look out to sea, have a look around in the trees behind you too.
Discovery Centre and Jindalba Boardwalk
After Cape Kimberley you go up the Alexandra Range, make sure to stop at the lookout for an awesome view all the way back to Port Douglas. As you come down from the range your first road on the right leads to the Daintree Discovery Centre and past there to the Jindalba Boardwalk.
The largest settlement in the Daintree is Cow Bay, it is very spread out, don't expect a main street with shops.
Here you will find the Cow Bay Hotel, Floravilla with home made icecream, and Cow Bay Beach down the end of the road. There is a variety of accommodation with B&Bs and holiday homes and some small resorts.
Just after Cow Bay you'll cross Hutchinson's Creek (nice place to swim) and then you'll see on your left the Daintree Icecream Company which makes icecream out of their locally grown exotic fruits. Most people have never heard of soursop, mangosteen or jackfruit so your taste buds will be in for a surprise!
Daintree Tea Plantation
Just after Cow Bay you'll cross Hutchinson's Creek (nice place to swim) and then you'll see on your right the Daintree Icecream Company which makes icecream out of exotic fruits and next the Daintree Tea Company which grows the famous tea, make sure you buy some as a useful souvenir.
At the Fanpalm Cafe there is a privately owned boardwalk through the amazing fanpalm forest. The swampy ground here is too wet for most other trees so the fanpalms are the dominant species here. There is also a good chance of seeing cassowaries here.
A very impressive large collection of insects and butterflies, not just from the Daintree rainforest, but from all around the world. Insects and bugs are not everyone's favourite but this museum manages to impress even those that normally cringe at the sight of insects. Definitely worth stopping at.
A beautiful beach and popular coffee or lunchtime stop along the way, this is the only beach in the Daintree with a cafe.
Enjoy a coffee, burger or other lunch with an awesome view over beautiful Thornton Beach and the little island Struck Rock just offshore. Across the street are some bungalows.
South Noah Beach
After you leave Thornton Beach you go over a bit of a hill and just after that you will see the sea through the trees and a spot to pull off the road, park here for South Noah Beach, a beach that goes for miles with no development here.
Do not attempt to cross the creek at the end to get to North Noah Beach, remember you are in crocodile country.
The Famous Sign
Graffiti usually gets cleaned up by the council but this bit of steet art has been here for a long time. It depicts a before and after shot of a cassowary being hit by a car. Every day hundereds of people photograph this sign, and you can buy postcards, stickers, singlets, T-shirts, caps and stubby coolers with this famous cassowary sign on it
The next attraction along the way is the Marrdja Boardwalk where you can see some beautiful scenery, both rain forest and mangroves are well represented here. The walk is a few kilometres long and being estuary with mangroves the mosquitoes and sandflies can be a bit fierce sometimes, bring some repellent with you for this adventure.
North Noah Beach
This is where the National Park Campground is located, you can camp here if you have pre-booked online, or if you just want to see the beach you can park by the road and walk through the camping. This big wide beach stretches for miles and is great for walking.
After Noah Beach you drive over the Noah's Range and when you see the sea through the trees and find a spot to park pull over and see Coconut Beach. As the name suggest there are lots of coconut trees here and you will often have this beach all to yourself.
A 1200 metre long boardwalk in the centre of Cape Tribulation, the walk does a loop, one end is in the car park and the other end is next to Myall Beach. There is ample car parking available here, public toilets and access to beautiful Myall Beach.
Myall Beach is the most central beach in Cape Tribulation, and right next to some of the main resorts, so here you will find more people on the beach than in other areas. You can access the beach with a short boardwalk, or take the 1200 metre long loop around Dubuji Boardwalk.
If you walk to the south end of the beach you wlll reach Myall Creek, do not cross this to get to Coconut Beach as there are crocodiles in this creek.
If you walk to the north end of this beach you can wade through Mason Creek at low tide and either climb the cape for an awesome view, or find the walking trail that takes you through the forest up to Cape Tribulation Beach.
This rainforest settlement is the end of the Great Barrier Reef Drive and a great spot to settle down for a couple of days, relax and explore all the attractions of this little town; the ancient rain forest, the pristine beaches, the walking trails, the local tours like jungle surfing and snorkel tours to the reef, you can relax with a massage in the rain forest, or spot some of the amazing animals like the cassowary. Although a very small town, there is a choice of accommodation in the rain forest, cafes, shops, bars, restaurants to keep you comfortable for a few days while you explore this area.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE?
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!
This drive takes you along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but make sure you hop on a boat from Port Douglas or Cape Tribulation too so you can immerse yourself in this amazing world of wild coloured coral and tropical fish.
THE DAINTREE RAIN FOREST!
While you can see some rain forest in various places along the drive you definitely have to cross the Daintree river to see the real ancient Daintree rain forest, do some of the National Park board walks, swim in the pristine creeks, or book a guided tour in Cape Tribulation to learn more about it.
You can see cassowaries in zoos around the world but meeting a cassowary in the wild is an experience not to be forgotten. This ancient flightless bird has been walking the planet ever since all continents were still joined together as one and dinosaurs roamed the earth. The cassowary is listed as endangered but has been making a good comeback, and there is a fair chance you will see one in the Daintree if you spend a few days there.
LOTS OF BEACHES!
If you love the beach then you will love the Great Barrier Reef Drive, there are dozens of stunning beaches to explore along the way, just in the Daintree there's ten of them already, and even in the busy season there is a good chance you will find one all to yourself.
LOTS OF OTHER STUFF!
What ever you can imagine, you will find it along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Exotic fruit wines, hang gliding, home made icecream, crocodiles, rainforest sculpture trail, tea, insect museum, cassowaries crossing the road, massage, jungle surfing, Aboriginal culture tours, helicopter rides, More info added soon on the multitude of attractions and sights to see.