Cairns does not only boast with one of the most beautiful reefs in the world, but it is also home to some of the most amazing rainforests, providing visitors with a particularly tropical experience. Just as impressive as the Great Barrier reef is — which is the main attraction that draws people to visit Queensland, Australia — the ancient rainforests found in Cairns have been enticing many travellers, too.
Want to know something fun and interesting? The rainforest surrounding Cairns are some of the oldest rainforests and have remained unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs! Pretty amazing, eh? That also means that most of the rare plants and animals have been around for millions of years now!
So once you’ve had enough enjoying the reefs, beaches and historical places around the region, take out your hiking gears and lace up your boots to explore what lies in the land. In this piece, we have listed some of the must-do rainforests walks near Cairns that should be in your bucket list:
1. Mossman Gorge
Situated in the southern part of the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge is just 80 kilometres north of the regional town of Cairns. If you’re planning to visit Cairns, do not miss the chance to get a feel of the Aboriginal culture through a rainforest walk with the help of an indigenous guide.
Mossman Gorge is a 2-kilometre drive away from the Town of Mossman. If you’re thinking of visiting this amazing place, self-drive is the best option to reach the area. But if you want your trip to be more challenging, add a little tinge of adventure by commuting to Mossman Gorge. Bus shuttle services are available from the Mossman Gorge Centre to the heart of the Gorge. From there, you can start your walk at your own pace while enjoying the grandiose walking trails around the national park.
Embark on a 45-minute easy 2.4-kilometre walk on the Rainforest Circuit Track where you can find solace with the surrounding lush tropical rainforest and majestically framed mountains. The track starts on the far side of the Rex Creek bridge.
If you are short on time but still want to shed some sweat while enjoying the majestic beauty of Mossman Gorge, give Baral Marrjanga a try and you’d surely won’t regret it. From the shuttle bus stop, a path will take you to the rainforest with the scenic views of mountain ranges beyond. The trail will only take you 5-10 minutes to finish as the route was made easier for everybody and perfect for strollers, wheelchairs and the vision-impaired.
2. Fitzroy Island
Located in one of the most beautiful places in the country, Fitzroy Island is just 45 minutes away from Cairns via a boat ride. Fitzroy Island is not only famous for its white sand beach but has grown in popularity because of the breathtaking trails up on its sleeve.
Composed of around 97 per cent lush rainforest, the island is just a perfect getaway for travellers yearning to be one with nature. With its dense rainforest and diverse landscapes from granite outcrops to open woodlands, mangroves and coral beaches, Fitzroy Island just has everything in a bundle.
If you’re up for only a short walk, take the Secret Garden route or the 1.2 km Nudey Beach. But if you’re an adrenaline junkie and looking for a heart-pounding adventure, challenge yourself up by taking the 3.6-kilometre Summit track or the 3.6-kilometre Lighthouse trail. If you decided to take the Lighthouse trail, a wonderful surprise awaits you at the end with the amazing view of the oceans which form part of the Great Barrier Reef!
Fitzroy Island is very attractive for those on tight finances, especially families and backpackers. The island’s exclusive resort, Fitzroy Island Resort, provides a wide array of accommodation selections – from camping by the beach to a Four Bedroom Penthouse. Stay for more than one day at Fitzroy Island to do as many exciting activities as you can!
3. Curtain Fig National Park
Just an hour and 15-minute drive from Cairns, Curtain Fig National Park is another piece of heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. The main attraction in the national park is the incredible curtain fig tree because of its unique and immeasurable aerial roots, which drop 15 metres to the forest ground – forming a “curtain.”
Curtain Fig National Park features an elevated boardwalk which surrounds the curtain fig, protecting the roots without blocking the views from all angles. The park has a small protected area too where you can find the endangered type of forests, such as a mabi forest. Come back at night to spot some of the most elusive Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and other nocturnal species.
4. Barron Gorge National Park
Barron Gorge National Park is a spectacular protected area in the Cairns Region, Queensland. Filled with rugged rainforest-clad mountains, stunning waterfalls and remarkable wildlife viewings, Barron Gorge has flamboyant trails originally developed by the Dyabugai Aboriginal People who inhabited the area years ago. The national park covers the coastal lowlands at Lake Placid and elevated regions of the Atherton Tableland, making it one of the most popular walking trails in the Cairns Region.
If you’re planning to visit Barron Gorge National Park, take its famous 7.8-kilometre trail which is the Douglas Track. The whole trail will take up between four to six hours to finish but it’s definitely worth it as you’d be mesmerized by the beauty of the dense rainforest, some old mango tree and giant eucalyptus. After hours of walking, a quick dip at the Barron Falls will definitely cool you down. The falls is extraordinarily wonderful during the wet season when floodwaters come in.
If you’re only in the area for a short period of time and still want to appreciate the beauty of the national park, worry no more as Barron Gorge offers easy yet exciting walking tracks suitable for tourists of all age groups. The trail may be completed for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your pace.
Whether you’re into a more experienced long-distance trekking or into a peaceful rainforest walk, Barron Gorge National Park will definitely give you an amazing experience as you will be hiking along a stimulating terrain, find yourself mesmerised by the towering canopy of trees.