Backpacking up North to Paradise
Brisbane Backpackers Hostel
Somewhere to Stay
is always recommending
where a backpacker should go
and what a visitor should see.
But a trip up north is something special that you cant find anywhere else in the world. Don’t leave Queensland without seeing the wild wilderness and beauty of North Queensland.
A TASTE OF PARADISE
North Queensland a true taste of paradise for any backpacker willing to take the time.
The scenic drive between Cairns and Cape Tribulation isn’t a marathon at around 250-300km return, but it is one of the best in Australia and a travel destination icon.
This drive will take you through the Daintree region of what tourism marketers like to call Tropical North Queensland.
It can be done in a day, but deserves two or three at a minimum if you want to make the most of its superb ocean views and beaches and the Daintree National Park.
John Wright takes a trip on one of Queensland’s most exciting roads.
CAPTAIN COOK HIGHWAY
The Captain Cook Highway out of Cairns is distraction enough in its early stages, with most of the city’s superb beachside suburbs well worth a trip off the highway for a coffee.
On the other side of the highway, heading north, the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park is a world class cultural attraction that demands a visit if you can find the time.
There are surprisingly few, easily accessible coastal drives in Queensland that hug the beach and offer superb ocean views.
One of them is the stretch of road, on this drive, between Buchan’s Point at Ellis Beach and the turn-off for Port Douglas, just south of Mossman.
This winding ocean road is an absolute delight, with great vistas and lookouts along the way, but there are accident blackspots, so extra driving care is called for.
Port Douglas, a one-street community with a pie shop before the late entrepreneur Christopher Skase put it on the map with his Sheraton Mirage Resort in the mid-1980s, is a wonderful, leafy and thoroughly charming little place these days.
It has an array of impressive restaurants and smart accommodation houses that have attracted numerous celebrities over the years, among them the former US president Bill Clinton.
A great lunch or a coffee in trendy Macrossan St will enhance your journey and set you up for the trip north.
In Mossman, consider driving the short distance to Mossman Gorge, where there is a beautiful and popular swimming hole, and check out the Aboriginal rainforest tourist attraction, Kuku Yalangi Dreamtime.
DAINTREE RIVER FERRY
The Daintree River ferry turnoff is a few kilometres north of Mossman on the Daintree Village road.
If you want to go straight on to Cape Tribulation, turn right; if you have time for a diversion, the 12km trip into Daintree Village is well worth the trouble. This tiny, riverside community with a dramatic mountain backdrop has a lovely feel to it, and the locals are very friendly.
The Daintree River ferry can be busy, and there may be queues at peak times (10am-noon, 3pm-5pm), so it is best to time your crossing both ways to avoid them. The ferry operates from 6am to midnight.
Once across the river, you are in the Daintree proper and you should take time to appreciate it. A good tip is to pull over and let local traffic pass you as soon as you get off the ferry.
The road traverses some lovely lowlands rainforest country, and you will enter two sections of national park which offer plenty of chances to stop and admire the country and the wildlife.
Among the other things you should look out for, apart from cassowary warning signs and brutal speed bumps, are: the Alexandra Range lookout, Walu Wugittiga; the Jindalba visitor area, noted for its cassowarys; the Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre; Cow Bay Beach; the Daintree Entomological Museum; Noahs Beach and Noahs Range; Coconut Beach (pictured); and Cape Tribulation Beach.
The possibilities for rainforest walking, wildlife spotting, river and reef touring may seem endless and, if you haven’t booked accommodation, you may regret it.
INFO: Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree,www.pddt.com.au