WELCOME to the beautiful place “where rainforest meets reef” – the Daintree, north of Cairns.
The ancient rainforests of this incredible region, located between the Daintree and Bloomfield Rivers, form part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It was proclaimed in 1988 after meeting all four selection criteria, and is one of only a handful of locations worldwide to do so.
The Daintree features outstanding examples of major stages in the earth's evolutionary history, significant ongoing ecological and biological processes, exceptional natural beauty and significant habitats for the conservation of biodiversity, especially of rare and threatened species. It contains a number of unique plants and animals such as the Bennett’s tree kangaroo, as well as a great concentration of more widespread species of flora and fauna. 30% of Australia’s mammal species, 62% of our butterflies, 60% of the bats, 30% of the frogs and 23% of the reptile species are found here.
The Daintree offers the 4WDer an exciting introduction to a Cape York trek. You can opt to take the challenging CREB Track (Cairns Regional Electricity Board); a rough 60km trail that traverses the jungle-cloaked Thornton Range, dominated by Queensland’s third highest mountain, the massive 1375m Thornton Peak. An alternative is the coastal route, the Bloomfield Track linking Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield. Both routes feature beautiful rainforest, giant, cloud-capped mountains, spectacular views, challenging 4WDing, delightful waterfalls, bird watching, bushwalking and a great wilderness atmosphere.
The Bloomfield Track, a truly spectacular coastal route, commences at Cape Tribulation, where you’ll enter lush rainforest and enjoy glimpses over a rugged, pristine coastline. This is one of the few places on earth where tropical jungle runs right down to an azure sea brimming with coral reefs, and also where two World Heritage Areas meet. Here it’s the Wet Tropics WHA and Great Barrier Reef WHA and you’ll soon appreciate why this area has received such acclaim – it is simply spectacular!
Along the way, short walking tracks lead out onto a couple of stunning, palm-fringed beaches and there are several delightful rainforest streams to be forded to add to the driving challenge. The Bloomfield Track is very steep in places, but the worst of these pinches have been sealed to make the going much safer in wet weather.
The CREB Track starts with an easy crossing of the Daintree River about 20km west of Daintree Village and traverses some very steep, demanding (and in wet weather, impossible) tracks through superb tropical rainforest. Visitors enjoy fantastic views and numerous creek crossings with some hair-raising climbs and descents. With prior permission from the land’s traditional owners the Gugu Yalanji, its also possible to visit the awesome Roaring Meg Falls.
The Bloomfield and CREB Tracks meet at Wujal Wujal on the Bloomfield River. Nearby, the towering Bloomfield Falls are well worth a short walk but don’t be tempted to take a dip – there are saltwater crocs in the waterhole below the falls.
From Wujal Wujal you can continue the journey north to historic Cooktown or return to Cape Tribulation or Daintree Village by the opposite route. My personal preference is to head north on the Bloomfield Track, returning south via the CREB Track.
The best time to visit the Daintree is usually between May and October, dependant on the wet season. Check with the RACQ office in Cairns (07 4033 6433 or 1300 130 595) for up-to-date road conditions before setting out. Do not attempt these tracks if it has rained recently or if it threatens to; the tracks quickly become impassable when wet! Contact QPWS Cairns (07 4052 3096) for general enquiries, bookings and camping permits or QPWS Cape Tribulation (07 4098 0052) for more specific local info.Places to stay near the tracks include Bloomfield Cabins & Camping (07 4060 8207) which is 8km north of Wujal Wujal
While you’re in the area I recommend you take a ‘croc spotting’ cruise on the Daintree River. There are quite a few operators from which to choose – Daintree River Cruises (07 4098 6115), Daintree Rainforest River Trains (07 4090 7676), Far North River Safaris (07 4098 6120), Specialised River Tours (07 4098 6233) and Electric Boat Cruises (1800 686 103).
A great way to experience The Great Barrier Reef without the crowds, as well as gain a different perspective on this amazing region, is on a cruise out to Endeavour and Pickersgill Reefs and East Hope Island aboard the 8.5m Kevlacat MV Indilee (07 4060 8182). The fare includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea, fishing tackle, bait and snorkelling gear. The trip departs from the boat ramp on the Bloomfield river (5km north of Wujal Wujal).
1) The beautiful bay on the northern side of Cape Tribulation where the rainforest of the Daintree meets the Great Barrier Reef.
2) A motorcyclist crosses one of the many creeks along the CREB Track.
3) The CREB Track traverses the towering Thornton Range and should not be attempted in wet weather.
4) The view north from the CREB Track over a rugged wilderness coast.
5) The view south from the palm-fringed beach at the mouth of Emmagen Creek takes in the jungle-clad Cape Tribulation headland.Reads: 1105