The ‘wet tropics’ of northern coastal Queensland is a biodiversity and cultural hotspot, defined by the unique presence of both the world’s oldest rainforest and the planet’s largest barrier reef. To visit this north eastern edge of Australia is to see a very different side of the country.
From the natural wonders of the Daintree Rainforest to the compelling cultural traditions of the Kuku Yalanji people, there is so much to see and do here. Here are three great ways to experience the rainforest and its stories.
The Kuku Yalanji experience:The brainchild of Juan Walker, a Kuku Yalanji man, Walkabout Cultural Adventures is immersive travel at its best, and a great way to get to know the truly ancient ways of the Kuku Yalanji, one of the main Aboriginal people of the Daintree area. The main areas of interest around the ancient Daintree Rainforest are the Mossman river that flows through it and the Mossman gorge that it creates. Walker and his team will take you through parts of the forest, pointing out various medicinal plants (and stones!), tell you Kuku Yalanji stories of creation myths, local animals and plants, as well as an oral history of his people.
Because the Kuku Yalanji experience of this habitat includes the Coral Sea and the fringing mangroves, the tours also take in important coastal sites around Mossman, including Cape Tribulation, Cooya Beach and Newell Beach. From how to eat fire ants, to the various uses of a mangrove, to learning to throw a spear, going walkabout with Walkabout Cultural Adventures is an absolute pleasure. You can book full day (A$1,470, or around ₹77,910, for six people) or half day (A$1,140 for six people) tours. Walkaboutadventures.com.au.
Floating down the river:A really fun way to experience the Daintree and Mossman is to hook up with Back Country Bliss Adventures. This group of funsters, who call this the best job in the world, will take you snorkelling and floating down the Mossman River, through the dense rainforest. Whether wading through the undergrowth as the guides tell you stories about the trees and their functions, or floating down the many rapids of the lower Mossman, it’s an experience like no other. The feeling of floating on your back as the rainforest canopy drifts by overhead is just magical. Apart from this, you can also go for day-long forest walks with them. From A$139 per adult for the two-hour river drift snorkelling package. Backcountrybliss.com.au.
The luxury rainforest experience:If you would like to make your stay in the Daintree area truly memorable, check out the Silky Oaks Lodge, a luxury eco lodge tucked away in the rainforest. One of Australia’s oldest and most famous resorts, Silky Oaks Lodge is an architectural feat, seamlessly slotting into the surrounding forest. With 40 luxurious tree houses spread around the property, it makes for a tranquil retreat. You can have your pick of spa treatments, enjoy delicious gourmet meals, check out the forest walking trails or go swim in the local billabong. Or you could just while away the time on a hammock or soak in a bathtub and listen to the sounds of the rainforest. The resort offers several packages, including the Signature Silky package that includes a four-night stay, an A$250 lodge credit and other standard inclusions. From A$1,170 per night. Silkyoakslodge.com.au.