A Helpful Guide to the Mossman Gorge Walk
The Mossman Gorge Walk is a fantastic opportunity for those that want to spend a couple hours exploring the Daintree Rainforest. Whether it be just heading to the gorge or going deeper into the rainforest, a visit to Mossman is a must when visiting the area. This guide will go over how to take part of the Mossman Gorge Walk and what to expect along the way.
1) What is the Daintree Rainforest
At over 180 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is known to be the oldest rainforest in the world (even older than the Amazon!). It makes up 1,200 square kilometers in the northeastern part of Queensland.
You will find everything and anything in the rainforest – from dense jungles and mountain ranges to flowing rivers and waterfalls, the Daintree is packed with it all. You are also sure to find an abundance of wildlife throughout. There are thousands of different species all around, from birds to reptiles to insects. Spending a couple days exploring the rainforest at places like the Mossman Gorge, is a great add on to any Australia itinerary.
While the Mossman Gorge is towards the southern end of the Daintree and is more inland, as you make your way up further into the rainforest, you will have the chance to see where the rainforest meets the water. Having two natural wonders like the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef right next to each other is a pretty rare site to experience.
Now that you have a bit of background on the Daintree in general, lets get into the Mossman Gorge itself.
2) How to Get to Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is one of the more accessible places to visit in the Daintree Rainforest. It is a 70 minute drive from Cairns and just a 20 minute ride if staying in Port Douglas. There are a couple main ways to go about a visit to the Mossman Gorge – self drive and tours (you can also take the bus from Port Douglas).
If coming from Cairns or Port Douglas, you should have no issues getting your way to the Mossman Gorge with your own car. You can easily rent a car in either and spend time visiting other parts of the Daintree as well before returning back.
Quick note about going deeper into the rainforest – there is no cell service in much of the Daintree (you should be just fine to Mossman though). I recommend downloading offline maps on your phone to get you around so you will have correct directions around the area.
Your other option here is to join in on a group or private tour from either of the two cities. Usually these tours will also make a few other stops into the Daintree so you can really get a good sense of what the area is all about. Some other highlights of a Daintree tour may include a Daintree River Cruise, Alexandra Lookout and Cape Tribulation.
What is great about a tour, is you will have knowledgable guides with you along the way giving you interesting information about the rainforest and pointing out the different wildlife that may be difficult to find on your own.
Also good to note is the bus from the Port Douglas that departs twice a day and returns twice a day from Mossman Gorge:
Depart Port Douglas from BTS Port Douglas Office (49 Macrossan St) 9:00AM and 12:00PM
Depart Mossman Gorge Centre 12:45PM and 2:45PM
3) Mossman Gorge Shuttle
Once you arrive at the Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre you will be able to park your car in the lot and make your way to the entrance. Here you will find a café and gift shop as well as where you will buy your tickets.
The Mossman Gorge Walk does not start right at the visitor centre. In order to get to the walk, you first must take the Mossman Gorge Shuttle from the visitor centre to the beginning of the walk.
The shuttle runs every 15 minutes between the hours of 8:00AM and 5:30PM. You cannot walk the road from the visitor centre to the Mossman Gorge due to safety reasons.
4) Ticket Prices & Opening Hours
Tickets are pretty reasonably priced to visitor Mossman Gorge. Below are the prices for a daily ticket:
Adult: $11.80 AUD
Child: $5.90 AUD
0-4 Years: Free
Family Pass (2 Adults / 2 Children): $27.50 AUD
Note: you can use the shuttle bus as many times as you would like as part of the daily ticket
The earliest you can make your way on the Mossman Gorge Walk is 8AM, and you must depart from the walk around 6:00PM to catch the last shuttles back to the visitor center.
If you are taking your own car or taking a private tour, my best advice here is to head to the Mossman Gorge Walk as early as possible in the day. By beating the majority of the crowds, it can be a much more peaceful and enjoyable walk, instead of feeling all cramped on the narrow pathways.
When I visited I took the 8:15AM shuttle and just had a handful of people with me on the trail (and no one on the longer trail – more on that later). When I was returning around 10:30AM, the line to get on the shuttle at the visitor centre was at least 50 people long.
5) Mossman Gorge Walk
Once you get off the shuttle bus, you will arrive at the starting point of the Mossman Gorge Walk. The walk is actually made up of a few different sections and you can pick and choose which type of route you would like to take.
Right off the bat, you will have a decision to make – head on the 400M long River Circuit Track towards the right or head straight on the 540M Mossman Gorge Boardwalk. Don’t worry though on making a decision – you can always head out on one of the two and then return on the other as the River Circuit Track meets up with the boardwalk at one point.
Note: during my time taking part of the Mossman Gorge Walk, the River Circuit Track was closed for renovation. I would recommend taking part of it though (in one of the two directions) as you do get some great viewpoints of the flowing Mossman River.
A) The Boardwalk
The 540M long boardwalk connects the beginning of the Mossman Gorge Walk to the Mossman River Lookout. Along the way you will pass by a ton of different trees and wildlife as you make your way on the boardwalk. You will just be surrounded by the nature of the Daintree in every which direction
Here is where having a guide is most useful as along the way they will be able to point out the different wildlife that may be hard to detect on your own.
B) Mossman Gorge Swimming
Right before the end of the boardwalk there will be a short track to get right up and close to the Mossman River. If you are up for some Mossman Gorge swimming then here is your chance. While the area is a pretty safe spot for swimming, it is all done at your own risk.
C) Mossman River Lookout
Right after you see the river from down below, head back onto the track and towards the very end of the boardwalk to the Mossman River Lookout. Here you will get some great views of the Mossman River from above with the surrounding rainforest all around.
Many people end their time on the trail here, either making their way back the same way they came on the boardwalk or heading on the River Circuit Track. I, however highly recommend continuing along on the trail passing by Rex Creek Suspension Bridge and onto the longer Rainforest Circuit Track.
D) Rainforest Circuit Track
At 2.4KM / 1.5 Miles, the Rainforest Circuit Track is a fantastic add on to your Mossman Gorge Walk. I would leave about 1-1.5 hours to complete this section if not rushing through. So if you have the time to spare, instead of just turning back at the end of the boardwalk, continue along on this longer track.
What I loved most about this section of the Mossman Gorge walk is that it felt much calmer and quieter vs the busier boardwalk section. Since it is a bit longer of a trail and it is a loop, it wont feel as crowded as the rest of the walk.
Do be aware that this section will not be boardwalk. It will mostly be a dirt path with trees vines and some stairs sprawled throughout. While I would still consider the track easy, it is not as flat or maintained vs the boardwalk.
The first main point of reference will be the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge. The suspension bridge will makes its way over Rex Creek as you get some great views of the water down below.
Once on the other side of the bridge you will reach a viewpoint of Mount Demi (Manjal Dimbi) out in the distance.
As you make your way around the loop there will be plenty of unique looking trees and roots all along the route. Some of these trees are so large and complex, it is hard to even understand how something grows like that.
Along the way you may see some opportunities to get a bit closer to the creek as the water flows above the large rocks down in the river.
You should also see a short track to Wurrmbu Creek, where maybe you will see some local birds or other wildlife.
Continue the loop, where you will eventually meet back up with where you started it and head back over the suspension bridge towards the shuttle parking lot.
If you took the boardwalk at the beginning, you can opt to take the River Circuit Track back. Once at the shuttle point, wait for the next bus back to the visitor centre, ending a successful Mossman Gorge Walk.
6) Other Daintree Attractions
Once all done with your time at Mossman Gorge, you can either head back to Port Douglas or Cairns, or you can continue deeper into the Daintree to some other attractions. If you do head deeper into the Daintree, the remainder of the main sites lay on the other side of the Daintree River. You will need to wait for the quick car ferry that goes back and forth from 5AM to Midnight.
1) Daintree Discovery Centre – Learn more about the Daintree with plenty of helpful information along a few different rainforest walks. This Daintree Discovery Centre Overview will help get you on your way.
2) Daintree Walks – Jindalba, Marjdda, Dubuji – Similar to the Mossman Gorge walk, there are three additional walks that you can take part of throughout the Daintree and get a bit closer to the wildlife of the area. Learn more in the Dubuji Boardwalk Guide.
3) Mason Café and Emmagen Creek Swimming Holes – Since you cannot really swim in the water off the coast (due to stingers and fresh water crocodiles), make your way to a couple swimming holes, where you can cool off in the water.
4) Daintree Beaches – Cow Bay, Myall Beach, Thorton Beach – Looking for some beach time? Well, there are plenty of beaches all along the coast.
5) Cape Tribulation – The most famous of beaches in the Daintree is Cape Tribulation. It is a great spot to relax and enjoy some beach time, and you can head up to the Kulki Lookout to get some views in from above.
6) Mt Sorrow – The toughest hike in the area is the one up to Mt Sorrow. A 4-6 round trip hike takes you to one of the highest points in the area overlooking much of the rainforest and the coast. » Learn more about the trail in the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail Guide
7) Daintree River Cruise – Head out on the water and take a boat down the Daintree River. You are sure to see plenty of crocs and other wildlife throughout your time on the river.
7) Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
If you are taking the day trip in from Cairns or Port Douglas, here are some accommodation recommendations for each.
5. Oaks Resort
8) Where to Stay in the Daintree
If you decide to head into the Daintree and stay for a night or two, below are some potential highly rated options to choose from.
Looking for a budget option, check out Safari Lodge
That wraps up a helpful guide to the Mossman Gorge Walk and how to go about your day in the area. I hope it has helped out a bit with what to expect at the Mossman Gorge! Feel free to take a look at the other Australia itineraries and guides up on the site and feel free to ask any questions below.