It wouldn’t be a lie to say that Cairns is full to the brim with natural wonders. From the soft sands of the glorious beaches, to the depths of the beautiful reefs you wouldn’t be blamed to think it stops there. But Cairns is blessed even further with stunning rainforests surrounding the area, enticing travellers and locals with amazing tropical experiences.
Whilst the Great Barrier Reef and treasured beaches are a huge drawcard, bringing in thousands of people, just as beautiful are the ancient rainforests that have survived for countless years.
When you venture to Queensland you have to make sure that you visit at least one of these ancient untouched rainforests. Buy why stop at one, let us show you four of the best rainforest walks to explore so you know where you’re going to go on your next journey.
Barron Gorge National Park
If you want to cover towering mountains, mesmerizing waterfalls and unique wildlife, Barron Gorge National Park is for you. Covering coastal lowlands to elevated regions, all of this is at your fingertips when you’re in Cairns – only a short 25-minute drive away. And from there you can really choose your own adventure. If time is on your side, take the 7.8km Douglas Track, where you’ll see the stunning beauty of the densely populated rainforest. Taking between 4-6 hours to complete, the Douglas Track is well worth the journey.
The Barron Falls is a spectacular sight in this protected Cairns region. During the wet season you will be sprinkled by the mist cloud that is formed from thundering cascade of the falls, during the dry season, the falls may appear to be a trickle, but it sure is mighty.
If you don’t have quite enough time (or stamina) to take the Douglas Track, there are plenty of options that will suit any age group.
Who wouldn’t want to go to a place with incredible white sand beaches, spectacular rainforests, and adventure as far as the eye can see? Fitzroy Island really has everything for the intrepid adventurer. Only 45 minutes from Cairns, you can access this part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by boat. Once there you will be met by one of the most diverse landscapes you could experience – coral beaches, alongside dense rainforests, and granite outcrops.
Walk through the astounding trails, where you can choose one of the shorter trails, such as the Secret Garden Walk which is around one kilometre, or the Nudey Beach Walk, slightly longer at 1.2 kilometres – you’ll be able to swim and snorkel when you reach your destination.
If you’re up for something where a little more endurance is required, take on the 3.6-kilometre Summit track, where you will climb through various woodlands to reach the 269m island summit. Or take the 3.6-kilometre Lighthouse track, where at the end you will be greeted with wide views of the oceans that form some of the Great Barrier Reef. If you visit in winter, you might even see the migrating humpback whales!
The best part is you don’t have to rush your adventure at Fitzroy Island. You can stay overnight (or longer) and enjoy all the sights at your own pace.
A great place for you to take your next adventure is about 80km north of Cairns – Mossman Gorge. You’ve definitely heard the name Daintree, and Mossman Gorge is one of the more accessible areas of the heritage listed Daintree National Park.
You can soak up the history and significant Indigenous culture of the Gorge at the Mossman Gorge Centre, before catching a bus to the Mossman Gorge carpark. From here, you can start the walk to the beautiful Gorge, where on the way you will hear the Mossman river as it makes it way through the floor of the rainforest, washing over rocks and boulders. It’s a short 10-minute walk along boardwalks to reach Mossman Gorge.
While you’re in the area, if you are a daredevil, take the trek across the Rex Suspension bridge – it gently sways while you make your way across – if you’re brave enough, watch the water cascade below, you might be able to spot turtles and fish in the stunningly clear water. The bridge is also part of a rainforest circuit, so if you have the time, take the 2.4km journey to enjoy the walking trail, you can go at your pace, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a cassowary – keep your distance though!
Curtain Fig National Park
The story goes, that years and years ago, long before our time, a bird or animal of some sort dropped a seed high in the canopy of a tree, and from there the strangler fig grew vertical roots that continued to become stronger, thicker and interwoven. As time passed, the roots of the strangler fig destroyed the host tree, where it fell against another tree where the strangler fig took over this one, enabling a huge curtain-like appearance of the fig roots to develop. Amazingly the trees that hosted the fig have rotted away, and we’ve been left with a gigantic freestanding fig tree. Now heritage listed, this tree is thought to be at least 500 years old, with a circumference of 39 metres and 50 metres high.
To see this unique tree in all its glory, you can drive for about an hour and 15 minutes to reach the curtain fig national park. Once there, you can make your way around on an elevated boardwalk where you can see the curtain fig tree amongst so many other spectacular plants and animals.
You can also visit at night where you can keep an eye out for nocturnal animals, like the Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo – this type of kangaroo can only be seen in the Atherton Tablelands forests.
Each of these walks are so close to Cairns why stop at one - make a week of it and see them all!