Jewels of the Daintree & Far North Queensland waiting to be uncovered and explored


Words by Michael Warren


THE Daintree. No description of its endless beauty, nor pontifications about its uniqueness, will ever do it complete justice.

There really is no place like it – to fully immerse yourself in the world’s oldest tropical lowland rainforest system – which stems back 180 million years, is an experience like no other.

It’s sights, sounds, and smells – they never leave you, no matter how many times you visit.

Whether it’s the 430 bird species that call it home, the more then 10,000 insect varieties that jostle to survive under its canopy, or the apex predators that swim in its waters – Australia’s own Jurassic Park, is beyond unique.

Frequently hailed by Sir David Attenborough “as the most extraordinary place on earth”, the Daintree is truly the real deal.

“It has an amazing rainforest, which is quite unlike any other rainforest in the world,” the long-time adventurer has previously said.

Within its beauty and every inch of its 463 square miles lays a myriad of adventures and activities just waiting to be experienced.

To say first-hand that you’ve explored the Daintree and its surrounds – it doesn’t get any better than that.

In the coming months as the green season approaches, the Daintree will get its fill; the creeks will swell, the waterfalls will flow, and the rainforest will get a much-needed drink. While here in Far North Queensland we are heading into the wetter part of the year, it doesn’t mean you still can get out, explore and experience the mighty Daintree for yourself.

Local writer, proficient hiker and lover of the great outdoors, Michael Warren, provides some inspiration and options to enjoy your own adventures in the Daintree this green season.

Mt Sorrow

Experience Level - Medium

If you’re like me and love to hike, then a wander up to the summit of Mt Sorrow is the perfect option for you.

On a clear sunny day, the view from Mt Sorrow’s summit is, without exaggeration, spectacular.

A return hike to the 760-metre summit generally takes people on average around five to seven hours, depending on fitness levels.

Mobile phone coverage is unreliable (and part of the attraction), but the trail is well marked by pink tape and winds its way through untouched and exquisite rainforest.

When you finally get to the top and you look down towards the reef and surrounding rainforest – it’s really something else and a very special experience.

Keep in mind we are now in the wet season; if you choose to hike this trail it’s going to be humid, sticky and the trail will be slippery if it’s been raining so ensure you have the necessary experience, ample water (four litres recommended) and proper hiking equipment to deal with the conditions.

Emmagen Beach

Experience Level – Easy

Emmagen Beach is one those picture postcard locations you can hardly believe exists. Tucked away on a tranquil trail close to Emmagen Creek is a small pathway that leads to complete utopia.

A short ten minutes’ drive north of Cape Tribulation, this easy walk is perfect for the whole family.  This short and flat 200m trail leads you gently under the rainforest canopy, then suddenly opens up to a gigantic, people-less beach – so freeing.

Just before the big fig tree prior to Emmagen Creek, park your car on the left-hand side in the makeshift parking bay.

Walk across the road to hit the short trail to Emmagen Beach. It’s best enjoyed early morning to avoid the extreme heat of the day.  Take a breakfast picnic, enjoy the soft sands, coastal breeze and unspoilt coastline. Remember, this is crocodile and stinger territory, so do not enter the beach waters at any point.  Just save your swim for your return journey. Cross the road, pop your picnic in the car and follow the trail in the opposite direction for 10 minutes and you will discover a popular swimming spot with crystal clear waters ensuring a safe and refreshing dip.   Do not forget your camera 

Waterfall Magic

On that note, it wouldn’t be Far North Queensland and Douglas Shire living without mentioning a few perfect local waterfalls to keep cool in this green season.

Niau Falls and aka secret tip!

Experience Level – Easy

Niau Falls or Anniversary Falls, as they’re termed, are on private property and situated close to Daintree Village.

But don’t despair – yes, you have permission to visit. Head into the Daintree general store, and for a small fee get directions on your way to these rarely visited falls.  An easy walk to the falls, this trail is for everyone.  Park at the trailhead.  It is close to the falls and only a short 15 to 20 minute drive from the village.

Before you leave though, why not take a stroll around the Daintree Village or plan a lunch there before you head to the falls for the afternoon – the village is quirky, the locals friendly and the pace is perfectly matched for holidays.

Homerule Falls

Experience Level:  Medium / Suitable for trail fit families

Still have water fall fever?  Then I’d definitely recommend you take this perfect wet season adventure with a day trip to the majestic Homerule Falls.  A three-hour drive from Port Douglas, if you have the time make it an overnight trip and stay over at Home Rule Rainforest Lodge, which offers accommodation and camping in shady parklands beside Wallaby Creek.  Considered heading further north?  Cooktown is only 40 minutes up the road and well worth the visit too.

And back to the falls!  These falls don’t get spoken about often, but they are breathtaking and in my opinion among the best in the Far North Queensland.

From the lodge, “Walk along the eastern edge of the dam, turn left and follow the dam wall to the hydro-electric generator shed, where a sign on the ground at the edge of the forest points the way to the falls. The distinct track follows a water pipeline to the falls. It is a gradual climb to an impressive three-tiered waterfall that plunges into a deep pool between gorge walls of vertical slate.”

A moderate 2.6 kilometre return walk will take about 40 minutes each way but do yourself a favour and allow more time as you will want to spend some time at the falls. 

Water and snorkel delights

David Attenborough talks about the reef that accompanies the Daintree.

What better way to experience the wonderous waters that overlook the Daintree then by heading out to the beautiful Mackay Reef in Cape Tribulation.

Arriving in rapid time, Ocean Safari departs from Cape Tribulation Beach and you’ll be able to spend quality snorkel time at both Mackay and Undine Reefs, where you’ll likely interact with turtles and other marine life.

Staying in Port Douglas? No need to miss out as well-known eco-tourism operator, Sailaway Reef & Island Tours, offer daily trips out to the spectacular Mackay Coral Cay aboard their luxury sailing catamaran.

A day on the reef along the waters of Cape Tribulation in the shadows of the Daintree National Park is a memorable and complete bucket list experience.

Mason’s swimming hole

An article about the marvels of the Daintree wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most renowned family in the area and their famous swimming hole.

Situated along the sole road to Cape Tribulation, Mason’s Store is an iconic location to get a bite to eat and take in your rainforest surroundings.

However, what you must do and what you can’t leave off your Daintree wish list is a swim in the rainforest swimming hole behind their shop.

Drop a donation into the tin and take the short walk to the swimming hole. No, there are no crocs, so you can swim safely until your heart is content.

One of the places that is really, really extraordinary is the north of Queensland in Australia, it's full of great things. One tends to think that the Amazon is the great place for jungles, but the North Queensland jungle is absolutely fantastic." Sir David Attenborough

So… what are you waiting for?