Mossman Gorge - Crystal-Clear Waters Fringed by Ancient Rainforest

Mossman Gorge is one of the hidden gems of Tropical Far North Queensland, Australia - a breathtakingly beautiful crystal-clear river in the southern Daintree rainforest marked by huge granite boulders and lined by lush tropical rainforest.

As part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge is home to the oldest continually surviving rainforest anywhere on earth – largely unchanged for more than 135 million years.

Mossman Gorge is known by locals as one of the best freshwater swimming locations in the region, with crystal-clear water surrounded by the oldest rainforest on earth, with nice shady areas to relax or have a picnic. Whether you just want to cool-off in a stunning natural setting, see the lush tropical rainforest or experience the special cultural history of local Aboriginal people, Mossman Gorge is a must-do for any visitor to Tropical Far North Queensland. Visitors to Mossman Gorge may explore the area without going on a tour however we strongly recommend you pay for the shuttle service from the Mossman Gorge centre into the heart of Mossman Gorge, as the road is dangerous to walk. Additionally you will be supporting the local Aboriginal people who run the centre and are invaluable in helping to conserve this extremely important natural wilderness.

This special area has been a place of significant cultural importance to the Kuku Yalanji people for thousands of years, who now invite others to come and experience the wonder of the gorge. For visitors to Australia, Mossman Gorge presents a unique opportunity to feel both the strong spiritual connection of the area and the wonder of a rainforest that has thrived for millions of years.

 

Mossman Gorge Centre - Mossman River

Dreamtime Walk - Mossman Gorge Centre

The Mossman Gorge Centre is an Aboriginal eco-tourism development designed to better serve visitors to the Mossman Gorge area, providing guests with a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia and a real in depth insight in to the secrets of the rainforests and the lives of the protectors of this sacred land.

The centre is home to an art gallery where you can buy real authentic artworks created by local Aboriginal artists, a retail shop, Café and restaurant. There are also restrooms and shower facilities available to get changed into dry clothes after swimming in the river.

Mossman Gorge Centre is open from 8:00am until 6:00pm 7 days per week, except Christmas Day. Visitors must park at the Mossman Gorge Centre and use the shuttle bus service to access the gorge itself. The shuttle bus has a small cost.  

To access the Gorge, visitors must first check-in at the Mossman Gorge Centre which is run by members of the local Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal population, before taking one of the eco-friendly electric shuttle buses in to the heart of the gorge (for a small fee). There are also guided nature walks available where visitors can learn about the flora and fauna of the rainforest, discover native bush foods and gain an appreciation for the significance of Mossman Gorge to the Aboriginal peoples who have resided in this area for thousands of years.

There are ample parking spaces available at the Mossman Gorge Centre and the shuttle bus service runs every 15 minutes from 8:00am until 5:30pm daily.

Please noteThere's no footpath or pedestrian access from the car park to the Gorge. The road leading to the Gorge is narrow and dangerous. You are able to walk from the Centre into the Gorge however it is strongly recommended to please use the shuttle bus service.

As well as the walks and tours offered by the Mossman Gorge Centre, there are several other tour operators who run tours in the Port Douglas and Daintree region who stop at Mossman Gorge or include a Mossman Gorge walk. See the list under the tours tab to see what Mossman Gorge tours are available. 

The Kuku Yalanji or Gugu Yalanji people are the native inhabitants of the rainforest region of Tropical Far North Queensland, from Port Douglas in the south to Cooktown in the north and Chillagoe in the west. They thrived in this region for thousands of years, living in semi-permanent huts and making use of the lush rainforest to find food, medicine and materials for tools and weaponry. The Kuku Yalanji are defined from other groups by a single shared language. Like all Aboriginal nations, they hold a deep connection and respect for their environment, treating the land in human terms and recognising the spirit within different landscape features.

The impact of white settlers in 1877 was devastating and by 1890 the population was largely decimated. From then through until the 1960s the remaining Kuku Yalanji faced ongoing ‘relocation’ by the Australian government. It was not until 2007 when the Federal Court of Australia made a consent determination recognising the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People’s native title rights over 126,900ha of land and waters in Tropical Far North Queensland. This determination was extremely important as it recognised the native title rights of the Kuku Yalanji people under Australian Law for the first time.

You can learn more about the Kuku Yalanji people at the Mossman Gorge Centre. There is an Indigenous Art Gallery as well as ‘Dreamtime Walks’ conducted by the local people where you can hear the stories and legends of the Kuku Yalanji, experience a traditional smoking ceremony in a sacred ceremonial site and enjoy bush tea and damper.

To make the most of your day in Mossman Gorge, be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes, light weight clothing that breathes well, sunscreen and a hat, insect repellent and a camera to capture all the amazing things you will see. 

Your Dreamtime walks begin with a traditional Smoking ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. After you have been welcomed and any bad spirits warded off, you will walk at a leisurely pace through the lush tropical rainforest, past traditional huts and humpies, with some rest stops along the way. You will have an experienced local Aboriginal guide who will identify and explain the traditional plants and their uses, bush food sources and tell the enchanting stories of the rainforest and the special relationship the Aboriginal people have with this unique tropical environment. Finish the tour by enjoying traditional damper (a simple bread) and bush tea.

These walks suit outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone interested in Aboriginal culture and traditional uses of native plants. A low level of fitness is required.

The walks last for about 1.5 hours and depart at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 3pm daily.

Please note children must be accompanied by a paying adult.

The Shuttle Bus does not need to be pre-booked however if you plan to experience a ‘Dreamtime Walk’ or one of the half day tours this should be pre-booked in advance to ensure you can attend the tour on the day you plan to visit.

The tours listed under the ‘tour’ tab should also be pre-booked.

The shuttle bus, picnic area, toilets and the rainforest boardwalk Baral Marrjanga, which leads from the shuttle bus stop to the Mossman River lookout, are all wheelchair accessible. For disabled persons Mossman Gorge provides the opportunity to experience the rainforest along the wheelchair-friendly Baral Marrjanga boardwalk and enjoy a view of the beautiful clear waters of the Mossman River.

The art gallery, retail shop and restaurant are also accessible. Check out some of the arts and crafts on display in the gallery, created by local Kuku Yalanji artists. There are a wide range of gifts available including jewellery, cards, small artefacts and clothing, designed by Aboriginal artists. At the café enjoy a taste of the rainforest – the menu features mainly locally sourced produce infused with Indigenous bush ingredients.

Please note there is no disability access on the Dreamtime Walks or half-day tours run by the Centre. 

From Cairns the best way to access Mossman Gorge is to self-drive, with the route from Cairns to Mossman Gorge including the beautiful ‘Great Barrier Reef Drive’ – the section of the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas – which is famous for its stunning coastal views. Mossman Gorge is approximately 77km north of Cairns and the drive takes about an hour and a half.

Directions from Cairns:

  • From Cairns, travel north along Sheridan Street, which then turns in to the Captain Cook Highway as you pass the airport.
  • Continue driving on this road for roughly one hour, past the Northern beaches of Cairns.
  • After you have passed the turn-off to Port Douglas, continue for another 13kms on the Captain Cook Highway before turning left on Johnston Road.
  • Continue on to Mossman Gorge Road until you reach the Mossman Gorge Welcome Centre.

Directions from Port Douglas:

  • From Port Douglas, head out of town on Port Douglas Road and turn right heading north on to the Captain Cook Highway.
  • Travel on the highway for approximately 13kms and then turn left on to Johnston Road.
  • Continue on to Mossman Gorge Road until you reach the Mossman Gorge Welcome Centre.

Why not stay close to Mossman Gorge and enjoy a few days of exploring this magical place? Port Douglas is just 15 minutes away and is home to a range of different accommodation styles to suit anyone and any budget – from luxury award-winning 5-star resorts to boutique private apartments. Click here to see accommodation in Port Douglas.

Glorious views across the beaches of Cape Tribulation Australia

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    Approx. return time: Cairns - 7:00pm and Port Douglas - 6:00pm

Visit Mossman Gorge Centre on this full-day tour that visits the Daintree Rainforest for a river cruise, stops at Alexandra lookout to take in the views and visits the famous Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest goes all the way to the sea.

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    Northern Beaches: 9.5 hours approx

    Port Douglas: 8 hours approx

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    Returns at 4:30pm approx to Port Douglas

Start your day with a wildness cruise on Cooper Creek, one of the most pristine and untouched creek systems in Cape Tribulation. Enjoy a guided rainforest walk and take in the views from Alexandra Lookout. Have a swim and soak up the beauty of the rainforest and creek at Mossman Gorge.

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