Did you know that the rainforests surrounding Cairns are the oldest living rainforests on the planet? In fact, they remain largely unchanged since the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
As a result, Cairns offers access to some of the most breathtaking rainforest walks in the world. So if you fancy a walk in the lush, tropical rainforests of Queensland, take a look at our picks for the three best locations to start, and the walks you’ll find there.
Barron Gorge National Park
Walk the trails originally developed by the Kjabugai People when they hunted and gathered their food in their traditional tribal lands. The Gorge extends from the coastal lowlands at Lake Placid to the elevated regions of the Atherton Tableland, and is traversable through a fascinating network of historic trails. You’ll find options that range from 30 minutes to 6 hours, so there really is something for everyone. One of the longest, The Douglas Track, is 7.8 kms one way (4-6 hours) and takes you through coastal plains and dense rainforest.
This tropical island sits just off the coast of Cairns and is covered in lush rainforest (in fact, the island is 97% National Park). You’ll find hiking tracks for experienced walkers as well as short, easy walks suitable for those of all fitness levels. There are also easy walks appropriate for families with children in tow.
Walks to look out for include the Nudey Beach Track which is a leisurely 1km return trip that takes around 45 minutes. It takes you through tropical ranforest and coastal woodlands before you arrive at the pristine white sands of the beach itself. And it’s not just any beach: Nudey Beach was voted No. 2 in the Australia’s Best Beaches Awards for 2017. The Summit Track is also a fantastic walk for fit walkers who are looking for something a little longer and more intensive. It is a 2.6km return walk and is approximately 3 hours in duration, passing over some very steep terrain along the way. To access the track, start by heading up the Boulder Train form behind the jetty – you’ll find the Summit Track takes you through tropical rainforest and coastal woodlands before opening out to stunning views of the island and surrounding ocean.
These are just two examples, but the spectacular scenery and the range of walks available are the reason why Fitzroy Island is one of the best destinations in Queensland. As well as beautiful walks, you’ll find swimming, snorkelling and kayaking opportunities and plenty of family activities. There’s a wide range of Cairns accommodation options too, to suit all budgets.
Mossman Gorge is within the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. A crystal-blue river flows through the gorge, surrounded by huge granite boulders and dense tropical rainforest. The Mossman Gorge Centre is a 2km drive from the town of Mossman, just north of Port Douglas; a shuttle bus can be taken from there to the Gorge carpark where you can set off on any number of walks.
The highlight here is the Rainforest Circuit Track, where you can head off from Rex Creek Bridge and walk the comfortable 2.4km return circuit in around 45 minutes. At the beginning you’ll find the small lookout that provides cascading views of the surrounding forests and of Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi). From there, you can take your time meandering through the forest as the track winds its way through this breathtaking scenery.
If you’re planning a trip to Cairns, it can be difficult to decide what to do with your time there. After all, there are so many wonderful things to choose. These three areas though, and the spectacular scenery they offer, make for a wonderful way to explore the amazing ancient rainforests surrounding Cairns. Enjoy!