Mossman Gorge & Daintree Rainforest, Australia

I needed some strong tea this morning after only 3 1/2 hours of sleep. Mom got up to go to the bathroom at 12:30 a.m., and I never went back to sleep.

How do you spend your vacation time awake in the middle of the night? I took a shower, wrote five TripAdvisor reviews, responded to emails from family, and wrote in my journal. I was all caught up! If only there were that many hours in every day.

Today’s Planned Schedule
  • 7:30 a.m. down for the buffet breakfast, included
  • 8:30 a.m. depart on the bus to Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest
  • 9:50 a.m. arrive at the Mossman Gorge Center
  • 10:15 a.m. hiking with our Aboriginal guides into the Rainforest
  • Noon tea and biscuits in the Mayi Cafe
  • 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. exploring the town of Port Douglas, lunch on your own
  • 3:30 p.m. back to the hotel – Free time the rest of the night, dinner on your own
The Trek to the Rainforest

We had breakfast downstairs in the hotel and got on the bus at 8:30 a.m. This was our route up to Daintree National Park.

We took Captain Cook Highway 50 miles north to Mossman’s Gorge Center arriving an hour and fifteen minutes later.

Mossman Gorge. This 200 mile area is the wettest section of Australia. 9:54 a.m.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is in an area called the Wet Tropics. It has its own set of unique plants and animals. Here, we hiked with our Aboriginal guides who told us about the area and their culture.

Preparing to Enter the Rainforest

We waited here for our Aboriginal guides. These were walking sticks they had available to use along the trail. 10:18 a.m.

A Kuku Yalanji tribe elder started a smoking fire with paper bark. He instructed us to walk around the smoke to cleanse our spirit before we entered the forest. Those of us who wanted one grabbed a walking stick.

Boyd's forest dragon lizard. This lizard is only found in the Wet Tropics region of northern Queensland - here. Where we are. 10:38 a.m.

This Boyd’s Forest Dragon lizard was perched on the tree about eye’s height. It’s common to see them. This one was pretty with its shades of green, pink, blue and yellow.

We were told to wear sturdy footwear, waterproof if possible. Does our guide with the pink umbrella look like she's wearing sturdy footwear? 10:43 a.m.

When it rains, the trail is slippery. Our guide with the pink umbrella was there to help those who might need a hand on the rocks.

Rex Creek that runs into the Mossman River in the Daintree Rainforest National Park. Taken with my phone. 11:16 a.m.

We hiked down to Rex Creek. This creek lead down to the Mossman River. If you go on your own, there are many trails to choose.

Aboriginal Culture

Aboriginal tribe members are sent out into the forest on a vision quest. They receive tattoos. These tattoos are like a degree of accomplishment or a rank in the tribe. Notice Rodney's hand for an example of what a tattoo might look like. 11:20 a.m.

Our guide said a member of the tribe is sent into the forest on a vision quest. They receive tattoos that represent degrees of accomplishment. The tattoos give them a rank in the tribe.

This green stick smelled like rootbeer. 11:16 a.m.

We learned about how the Aboriginal people use various trees and plants as medicine, food or in hunting. We learned which plants to avoid. This particular green stick smelled like root beer.

What to Wear

We dressed for the rainforest. It’s hot, humid and there are bugs. The humidity can be 80% at times.

Tip: We had on long sleeves and pants to avoid the bugs, hiking boots for sure footing. We carried our umbrellas and rain ponchos.

Although we expected it to rain, we prepared for it to rain, it never really rained on us while we were on the hike. I was thankful for that so  the trails didn't become slippery for Mom. 11:35 a.m.

It never rained while we were there. Was it Divine Mercy? In fact, the sun came out by the end of our hike.

Mayi Cafe

Mom enjoying tea and biscuits in the Mayi Cafe in the Daintree Rainforest. 12:10 a.m.

They took us to the Mayi Cafe where we had tea and biscuits, an included part of our adventure. It was plenty for us. We didn’t need much more for lunch.

Port Douglas

When we stopped in Port Douglas for an hour, we looked around the city.

We drove to the town of Port Douglas. There were a lot of pretty shops. This one sold items of Aboriginal culture: didgeridoos, boomerangs, and artwork. 1:15 p.m.

There were plenty of cute things to buy, if you wanted to drop some ching. This store specialized in Aboriginal culture items: didgeridoos, boomerangs, and artwork.

Walking along the streets of Port Douglas. 1:23 p.m.

We wandered aimlessly in this neat and tidy, upscale town.

We finally found our way to the beach. The wind was blowing so hard it blew our pants up like balloons!

Port Douglas, a town with lots of pretty shops and restaurants. This one had fresh flowers out on the table. 1:43 p.m.

There was outdoor seating and fresh flowers on the tables at this place. We were looking for just a little something to hold us over until dinner.

A gluten free lemon tart split 3 ways. If we ate this inside the restaurant, they'd give us a free scoop of ice cream. We obliged. We needed to eat fast though! We had to be back on the bus at 2:15 p.m.    2:03 p.m.

Finally, something that satisfied us all. This lemon tart at Under Wraps was split 3 ways. If we ate it inside, they’d give us a free scoop of ice cream.

We finished it just in time to get on the bus at 2:15 p.m.

A Few Interesting Tidbits about Port Douglas
  1. In November 1996 United States President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton chose the town as their only holiday stop on their historic visit to Australia.
  2. On a return visit on 11 September 2001, the then ex-President Clinton was again dining at the Salsa Bar and Grill, a local restaurant, when he was advised of the 11 September attacks. He returned to the United States the following day.
  3. On 4 September 2006, entertainer a.k.a. “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin died at Batt Reef, off Port Douglas, after a stingray barb went through his chest into his heart while Irwin and his crew were filming a documentary called The Ocean’s Deadliest. Irwin was filmed snorkeling directly above the stingray when it lashed him with its tail, embedding its toxic barb. He died almost immediately.
  4. In 2012, Port Douglas was the pole position for a Total Solar Eclipse. This phenomenon took place at 6:38 am on 14 November 2012. The total eclipse was visible from approximately Innisfail in the south to Cedar Bay National Park in the North. Port Douglas was right in its path. Thousands traveled to Port Douglas to see the event.
Then on the Way Home

While driving along Captain Cook's Highway, we stopped at Trinity Bay of the Coral Sea, the Pacific Ocean, to look at the view. The clouds were breaking up. We could see patches of blue sky. 2:43 p.m.

On the way back to Cairns, we stopped to take in the view at Trinity Bay along the Coral Sea, a part of the Pacific Ocean. Look! The blue sky was starting to emerge.

It was raining a little as we got out. It rained on the drive while we were on the bus. Mom's umbrella wouldn't open. We'd have to get her a new one later on that evening. The wallabies were kind of far away. 3:10 p.m.

The driver stopped again when we saw wallabies along the side of the road. The crazy animal lovers, ie… mom and I, scurried off the bus in a light shower and tried to take pictures of them even though they were far away. Mom’s new umbrella wouldn’t stay open. We’d have to get her a new one in the evening.

An Evening of Free Time

Back in Cairns, we took Mom to see the flying foxes. You can see their heads are furry and their bodies are bones draped in rubbery tarps. They are located on Abbott street near the city library up in the trees. 4:41 p.m.

We took Mom out to see the bats! There were so many of them hanging in the trees. They had furry heads and skinny little bones draped with a rubbery cape. Tomorrow we’d see them fly.

The bishop, who lives there presided. He said there were two mysteries to consider today. What happened to the rain and why did Jesus tell the leper not to tell anyone that he was healed. These are part of the Peace Windows in the back of the church. 5:50 p.m.

We went to church at 5pm. The bishop said the Mass. In his homily, he said there were two mysteries to consider today.

  1. What happened to the rain?
  2. Why did Jesus, who healed the leper, tell him not to tell anyone?
Dinner with a View of the Ocean

Now, dinner in Cairns can be expensive. We were looking for a bargain. On the recommendation of two of our travel mates, we ate at Splash Restaurant & Bar. It was also on my pre-vacation planning restaurant list.

Splash had six menu items on their “lunch special” that ran from 11:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., each for $15.90.

We sat outside and had a view of the ocean. It was warm. We watched the people walk by on the Esplanade. 6:26 p.m.

We sat on a table outside on the Esplanade with a view of the ocean. It was a great place to people watch. Two of three of us had some great food.

Mom got the Beef Rice Noodle. It wasn't very good. The noodle were cold, the whole dish was served cold - on purpose. The noodles weren't cooked enough. They were chewy. 6:25 p.m.

Mom got the beef rice noodle dish. The noodles were undercooked and the whole dish was cold, on purpose. It wasn’t very good.

I had the Battered Endeavour Prawns. This, too, was very good. 6:26 p.m.

I got the battered Endeavour prawns. This was really good.

Tom ordered the Sesame Crusted Tuna. The waiter came out to tell him that this was a fresh tuna seared and not fully cooked. He asked if this would be OK. Tom took the risk. The tuna was delicious! 6:25 p.m.

Tom got the sesame crusted tuna. The waiter warned him that this was fresh tuna right from the boat that day. It would be seared and not cooked thoroughly. He decided to go for it. It was delicious!

We each shared a little. We recommend this restaurant, the battered prawns and the tuna dish.

The Esplanade was very pretty as the sun went down. We sat at the restaurant for an hour. 7:10 p.m.

It was so relaxing, we sat there until it got dark. The Esplanade was pretty.

A Short Stop in the Night Market

Cairns Night Market sign at the entrance on Esplanade street. 7:14 p.m.

We are not much for shopping, but Cairns has a Night Market. It’s open from 4:30 until 11 p.m. We went in to look around.

They sold a variety of Aussie souvenirs. Hats and Uggs here. 7:15 p.m.

There were all kinds of souvenirs one might find. These ladies tried on some hats. My mom got a magnet in another store.

Tip: Look for the green triangle with the gold squiggly line in the shape of a kangaroo. This means it’s Australian made.

We found Mom a new umbrella for $4.50 in another store on Abbott Street. That was a pleasant surprise.

The Pacific Cairns Hotel lobby at night.  7:37 p.m.

Then we went back to the hotel. The bed was calling.

Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ


  1. Kathryn A. Erickson says:

    Love the shot of you all with “balloon” pants…ha ha!

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