Explore Mossman Gorge Walks & Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes

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Last Updated on December 14, 2021 by Travels with Kids

If you are visiting the Daintree Rainforest, then put the Mossman Gorge walks and Mossman Gorge swimming holes on your “must do” list.  They were amongst my favourite things to do in the Port Douglas area because of their beautiful connection to the ancient rainforest and natural area.

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Explore Mossman Gorge Walks
The author visiting the gorgeous Mossman Gorge with her baby!

Why Visit Mossman Gorge, QLD?

Explore Mossman Gorge Walks

Mossman Gorge is 56,000 hectares of stunning rainforest located within the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park.  The dense, tropical rainforest is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, who have occupied these territories for some4 0,000 years.  The traditional territory of the Kuku Yalanji extends from Mossman all the way north to Cooktown, and west to Palmer River.  They have respected and protected the rainforest for generations, considering it sacred.

Today, the Kuku Yalanji have opened their arms to welcome visitors to experience this natural beauty. Mossman Gorge is a prime area for nature walks, swimming holes, and a host of flora and fauna. It is truly one of the most stunning places in the world!

An Exciting Day Trip to Mossman Gorge

How to Get to Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Cairns, while the distance from Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge is just 20 minutes.  For this reason, a visit to the Mossman Gorge centre can be combined with a Port Douglas day trip should you be staying in Cairns.

We visited Mossman Gorge while staying in Port Douglas.  It was a fantastic way to experience the Daintree Rainforest without needing to travel many hours north to the Daintree River or Cape Tribulation.

The Mossman Gorge Centre

Mossman Gorge Centre

The Mossman Gorge Centre is your gateway into Mossman Gorge.  An Indigenous ecotourism development, the Centre offers a great introduction to the world’s oldest rainforest before you head into it.  We loved that the Mossman Gorge Centre is Indigenous-managed.  It began as the company Dreamtime Walks, formed over 30 years ago, which operated guided tours by the Kuku Yalanji people.  The idea for Mossman Centre came in a dream.  It has since won several Indigenous tourism awards.

The Centre is quite impressive, and includes toilets, showers and even a large function centre.  Inside the Centre is the innovative Mayi Café which features local produce and meals that highlight indigenous bush ingredients.  At the Mayi Café you can get everything from snacks, drinks and coffee right through to delicious bush-inspired meals.

For those interested in art, the art gallery is worth a visit.  It showcases the highest-quality, authentic work of local Kuku Yalanji artists and artisans.  It is a great souvenir shop that offers some really unique items, including many beautiful indigenous-designed items.  We were definitely inspired to make some purchases!

An Exciting Day Trip to Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge Shuttle Service

In order to stop a proliferation of roads through the Daintree Rainforest, there is a low-emission shuttle bus service which transports visitors safely into the heart of Mossman Gorge, a feature we love.  There is a small fee (see prices below) and visitors can park their car in one of the many spots available at the Centre.

While some suggest that you CAN walk from the Centre into the Gorge, we do not recommend it.  The Kuku Yalanji respectfully request that visitors use the shuttle service provided.  To ignore that request we think is sad and disrespectful.  We did, in fact, see people walking up the road while we were there.  Moreover, there is no footpath and the road is narrow, making the walk somewhat dangerous.

How much does it cost to visit the Mossman Gorge?

How Much does it Cost to Visit the Mossman Gorge?

There is no fee to enter the Mossman Gorge, and the self-guided Mossman Gorge walks are free.  There is, however, a cost to take the shuttle bus from the Centre into the Gorge.  The shuttle departs when full or every 15 minutes, and operates daily between 8am and 5:30pm.

These are the rates:

  • Adult: $12.65
  • Child, 5-15 years:                  $6.40
  • Infant, 0-4 years: Free
  • Family Pass (2 adults + 2 children): $30.90

These tickets are good for the whole day, and allows you multiple trips between the Centre and the Gorge.

What are the different Mossman Gorge Walks?

Mossman Gorge Walks

Once you enter the gorge, the fun begins.  There are four short walks at Mossman Gorge, but not to fear – those with compromised mobility can still easily experience the majesty of this ancient rainforest.  We took the Rainforest Circuit Track which was a fun 3 km circuit and quite easy for the kids who were aged 9 and 6 at the time.  It was also quite acceptable for my mother who was a fit and healthy 75.

Many people go for the Baral Marrjanga Walk.  This is an easy walk along a boardwalk path beneath the rainforest canopy.  The first part of the walk is flat and is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.  It takes about ten minutes and leads you to the first Mossman Gorge swimming hole.

After this, the path continues uphill until you cross the picturesque Rex Creek suspension bridge.  80m beyond the bridge is the Manjal Dimbi lookout.  This is where the path splits, with one section leading down the Rainforest Circuit.  There are other swimming holes along the rest of the path which, if you’re lucky, you may get to enjoy all to yourself!

Daintree Rainforest walks are an amazing experience, but it goes without saying that you should never pick any flora from the rainforest.  Always stay on the paths and leave the vegetation undisturbed.  Not only is this important for conservation purposes, but there are also some nasty plants to watch out for, like stinging trees.  Don’t learn the hard way.

Interesting Fungi at Mossman Gorge Australia

Guided Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks

One of the great things about Mossman Gorge are the wide range of Indigenous-led tours you can take.  These guided walks through the rainforest are a great way to learn about the dreamtime legends from the traditional owners of the land.  Plus, you learn more about their culture and traditional knowledge, including an introduction to medicinal rainforest herbs and plants.

A Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk is a fascinating cultural experience.  Around 90 minutes long, they start with a traditional smoking ceremony followed by a gentle stroll through lush rainforest.  Along the way, your indigenous guide will point out plants used for traditional bush tucker, medicines, soaps or even ochre paint.  You’ll also visit some culturally significant sites, including traditional bark shelters.  Cap your tour off at the end with a traditional bush tea and damper!

All in all, it’s a wonderful way to experience the Daintree while appreciating the special relationship between the rainforest and the Kuku Yalanji people.

Note:  You will need to purchase a ticket to do a Dreamtime Walk, but if you do, you do not need to also buy a shuttle ticket as one is included in the price of the tour.  Also, the minimum age for this tour is 8.

Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes

Mossman Gorge Swimming

In addition to walks, Mossman Gorge is a popular swimming spot thanks to its crystalline rock pools set against a gorgeous tropical backdrop.  Shallow pools are scattered throughout the rainforest, lined with giant, smooth boulders.  Take note, though: the water is cold!  It can feel refreshing on a hot day, but definitely be prepared for that.

Another word of caution: swimming at Mossman Gorge is at your own risk.  There are no lifeguards and plenty of risks, including undercurrents that can drag you under and submerged objects that you might not see.

The gorge is full of posted safety information so make sure you heed them.  There have been incidents of injuries and death at the Mossman Gorge swimming holes, so if you see a sign that says not to venture in, don’t.

What to Pack for a Day Trip to Mossman Gorge

 

 

  • Solid shoes with a good grip.  You don’t need a proper hiking boot, but you should choose something suitable for hiking on a slippery/slimy trail.  My children wore Teva Sandals, but be especially careful when moving around the wet areas or when clambering on rocks.  Th
  • Practical clothing.  The rainforest can be humid, and there are also mosquitos.  Wear long sleeves to protect you from insect bites.
  • Insect repellent!

  • Sunscreen.  As you are most likely also visiting the Great Barrier Reef during this holiday, we’d hope that you packed a marine-friendly or eco-friendly option!
  • Hat and sunglasses.  Even though the forest is quite shaded most of the time, it’s always a good idea to have a hat.
  • Snacks.  There are no bins so make sure you are meticulous and carry out all your rubbish.

  • Drinking water for the hike.  We suggest 2 litres per person.  The humid rainforest makes you sweat a lot, so you should keep hydrated!  We really like our Hydro Flask water bottles.
  • Bathers and a towel, if you plan to swim.  There are no changing facilities so keep that in mind.  There are showers at Mossman Gorge Centre once you return though.

 

When is the best time to visit Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest?

What Season is Best to Visit Mossman Gorge?

The wet season begins in late November and runs through March.  The entire tropical area around Cairns and Port Douglas is very humid and wet at this time.  This means that swimming in the Mossman Gorge is likely dangerous and is not advised.

The dry season starts in April.  Expect sunny, nearly cloud-free days – an ideal climate for experiencing the many fun things you can do in Port Douglas.  It’s also a great time for nature-lovers, with rivers still rushing after the wet season rains and the rainforest full of new growth.

We visited Mossman Gorge at the beginning of June, which according to all reports should have been the perfect time for a visit.  There had been some unseasonably wet weather the week before, though, and lots of rain.  This created flooding around the Mossman Gorge and we did not go swimming in the swimming hole as it was dangerous.

Foot bridge over Mossman River, Mossman Gorge Australia

How Long do you Need at Mossman Gorge?

We spent about half a day at Mossman Gorge and enjoyed a leisurely pace.  However, if you are short of time you could visit in about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on what time you arrived and how quickly you were able to catch the shuttle bus.  The actual trip on the bus takes approximately 10 minutes.

You could complete the Baral Marrjanga Walk to the Mossman River lookout and the first swimming hole in just 10 minutes, and have experienced something of the forest.  Obviously if you want to swim, you would need to allow longer

According to online information a self-guided walk of the 2.4km Rainforest Circuit Track is supposed to take about 45 minutes to an hour complete at a leisurely pace.  It took us a lot – LOT longer.  Along the way are amazing forests, tangled tree roots, mountains, streams and secret swimming holes.  Of course, we were walking with a multi-generational travel group consisting of a 75-year-old and children as well.  However, I can’t imagine not spending time to stop and admire the beautiful fungi, listen to birdsong or soak in the rainforest.

The Mossman Gorge Walks & Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes: Fun for the Whole Family!

The Mossman Gorge Walks & Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes: Fun for the Whole Family!

We loved visiting the Mossman Gorge and would definitely do it again, especially since we weren’t able to enjoy the Mossman Gorge swimming holes this time around.  If you find yourself on a Cairns Family Holiday, be sure to make time for the Mossman Gorge Walks!  You won’t regret it.

 

 

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Explore Mossman Gorge Walks & Mossman Gorge Swimming Holes

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Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.