Marking the southern border of Daintree National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mossman Gorge is one of the most popular places to experience the world’s oldest rain forest. Dating back more than 130 million years, the dense forest and scenic river gorge harbor a rich biodiversity and provide a stunning backdrop for hikers and swimmers.
Guided or self-guided hikes set out from the Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre, and the marked trails offer a series of walks ranging from 10 to 45 minutes. Highlights include the elevated boardwalks of Baral Marrjanga, the Rex Creek suspension bridge, and the chance to swim at natural swimming holes along the Mossman River.
Most tours to the Mossman Gorge run from Cairns or Port Douglas, and a full-day tour typically includes other activities such as a cruise along the Daintree River or a visit to Cape Tribulation. A popular choice is a Dreamtime walk led by an indigenous guide, which offers fascinating insight into the region’s cultural heritage and Kuku Yalanji people.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Temperatures can reach over 86°F (30°C) in the summer months, so be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as well as insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and your swimsuit.
- The Mossman Gorge is a UNESCO conservation area, so stick to the boardwalks and follow the rules to avoid disturbing the natural environment.
- The Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre has restrooms, a shop, a café-restaurant, car parking, and shuttle buses.
- Fast currents and flash floods are common along the Mossman Gorge, and swimming is recommended only for strong swimmers under the supervision of a guide.
- The Mossman Gorge Centre and the Baral Marrjanga rain forest boardwalk are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Mossman Gorge is located in the southern stretch of Daintree National Park, 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) west of Port Douglas. The closest town is Mossman, 3 miles (5 kilometers) away. Daily coach transfers run between Port Douglas and the Mossman Gorge Centre, from which shuttle buses run into the park.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit the Mossman Gorge is during the dry season (April to October), when the weather is cooler and less humid, but it’s best to make an early start to avoid the crowds. Visiting in the wet season (November to March) can be even more interesting for wildlife lovers, with plants and flowers in full bloom. However, swimming in the river is most dangerous at this time of year.
Wildlife-Spotting in the Mossman Gorge
The Mossman Gorge and the surrounding Daintree Rainforest are home to over a third of Australia’s mammals, more than 430 bird species, and many rare and endemic species, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Sought-after sightings include ringtail possums, tree kangaroos, Boyd Forest Dragon, and spotted-tail quolls, as well as platypus, echidna, and swamp wallaby. Bird sightings might include brush cuckoo, cassowary, dusky honeyeater, and common noddy. The plant life is equally impressive, with strangler figs, fan palms, and maple silkwood, as well as rare species such as white hazelwood shrub and backscratcher ginger.