When I was planning our Queensland road trip, I'd looked up things to do all the way from Brisbane up to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. I did consider that we wouldn't make it all the way to Cape Tribulation as that's still quite a drive north of Port Douglas and indeed, we didn't.
As we'd been driving for three weeks, we decided to make Port Douglas our base for the end of our trip but we did manage to visit Mossman Gorge, located in the southern part of the Daintree National Park.
GetYourGuide has a range of tours that take you to Mossman Gorge and surrounding sights. They often offer free cancelation up to 24 hours beforehand, which is a nice extra!
- Things to do in Mossman Gorge
- What to bring to Mossman Gorge
- How to get to Mossman Gorge
- Mossman Gorge accommodation
- Things to do near Mossman Gorge
- Don't forget travel insurance
Things to do in Mossman Gorge
There are a few things to do in Mossman Gorge, Australia and the Mossman Gorge Information Centre serves as a gateway to them.
Have a look around the Mossman Gorge Centre
Regardless of how you get to Mossman Gorge, you'll either park your car or be dropped off at the Mossman Gorge Center. The Center includes a cafe, a gift shop, toilets, showers, and a small exhibition space where you can see art by indigenous artists. They also organize team buildings and business events here.
This is the starting point for all Mossman Gorge activities as it's where you can buy tickets for the shuttle bus that takes you to the gorge and the start of all the tracks.
As you can see on the Mossman Gorge map below, the Mossman Gorge shuttle bus rides along Mossman Gorge Road. While it's not forbidden to walk the road all the way to the start of the tracks, it's not recommended unless you really have a very limited budget and still want to visit.
There are two main reasons for this:
- the shuttle bus fees help maintain the gorge
- that part of Mossman Gorge road is about 2 km long and there's not really anything to see
Another reason is that there's no footpath along Mossman Road Gorge and so when walking, you'd be sharing the road with the shuttle bus. While we didn't see any other cars on that road, we only saw one couple doing the walk and were glad we'd taken the shuttle as it saved us a lot of time.
Adults pay 11.80 AUD for a ticket for the shuttle bus at the time of writing. The ticket is valid for as many return trips as you like on the day of purchase. A shuttle bus departs from the center every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 5.30 p.m daily.
There is no separate Mossman Gorge entrance fee. You only pay for the shuttle.
Do the Mossman Gorge walk
When you check the website, it looks like there are several Mossman Gorge walks and there are but they actually kind of all blend into one another. You can grab a map of all these Mossman Gorge self-guided walks at the visitor center. It's the one I shared a photo of above.
The Baral Marrjanga is an easy 270-meter walk from where the shuttle bus drops you off over an elevated, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk to the Mossman Gorge Lookout from where you can see the Mossman River and some mountains in the distance. We were surprised by how many people only walked this tiny bit and not the rest of the tracks.
The Lower River Track starts at the shuttle drop-off point as well. It follows the Mossman Gorge River for 300 meters until it joins the Baral Marrjanga track to reach the lookout point.
When we were there, this track was closed for maintenance although we couldn't really see what was wrong with it. It seemed to be a not-too-narrow and pretty easy-to-walk dirt track that just went up and down a bit.
After you've reached that first lookout point I mentioned, you can walk further to the Rex Creek suspension bridge. There are signs pointing you there from the lookout so you can't miss it.
The bridge isn't too long nor that high up (and that's coming from someone with a fear of heights) and leads to the last walk you can do at the gorge, the Rainforest Circuit Track.
The Rainforest Circuit Track is also the longest walk at Mossman Gorge but it's still pretty short, measuring only 2.4 km in total. Like it says, it takes you through the Mossman Gorge rainforest as well as to the Mossman Gorge swimming hole, which I'll tell you more about below.
It was an easy walk for someone in good health but you should be aware that you're walking a dirt track with roots and rocks sticking out. It also goes up and down a bit but never a lot and never really steeply. If you mind your step, you'll be alright.
Go swimming at Mossman Gorge
There are several places along the tracks where you could access the Mossman River but when we were there, there was really only one spot where people seemed to enter the water. It was a quieter peace of the river, like a little natural pool.
So can you swim at Mossman Gorge?
While it isn't forbidden to swim at Mossman Gorge, it can be dangerous and if you do so, it's at your own risk. There are no lifeguards and it's important to know that the river's conditions can change quite rapidly.
Even when the water seems calm near the shore, it can be surprisingly cold and deep with stronger currents the more you venture in so be safe, especially if it has recently rained. People have died and gotten injured here.
Take one of the Mossman Gorge aboriginal tours
If you want to learn more about the area, consider going on one of the Mossman Gorge tours led by the local indigenous people. The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks are guided tours along quiet, easy-to-walk tracks that show you special fauna and flora as well as culturally important sites.
They include a traditional smoking ceremony, exclusive access to Kuku Yalanji land, a soap & ochre paint making demonstration, and much more. Read all about these tours here.
What to bring to Mossman Gorge
Assuming you'll do the full walk and might also want to take a dip, it's best to wear proper hiking shoes and bring a towel. You can wear your bikini, bathing suit, or swim shorts underneath your clothes as there isn't a place to change once you get to the water.
Anti-slip water shoes are a good idea too. Just bring them in your daypack.
Don't forget to put on sunscreen and possibly insect repellent beforehand and make sure to bring sunglasses. The rainforest usually shelters you from the sun but not entirely and when the light pops true, it can be bright to the eyes and damaging to the skin.
Queensland gets hot, even in winter, so make sure to bring a water bottle. While the walk isn't long, it never hurts to also bring a snack just in case but do make sure you take all your trash back with you. There are no bins alongside the path.
- reusable water bottle
- mosquito repellent lotion
- decent hiking shoes
- water shoes
- a daypack
How to get to Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is located about 77 km north of Cairns and 20 km north of Port Douglas. It lies about 2 km from the town of Mossman. You can get there by driving yourself, taking a taxi, taking the shuttle bus from port Douglas, or with a guided tour.
The easiest way to get to Mossman Gorge by car is to simply enter the Mossman Gorge Centre as your destination in Google Maps. There's a large, free parking lot by the center where you can leave your car. RVs are welcome here too although the RV parking lot is rather small. We had to park ours in a corner parking spot at the regular parking.
If you don't have data, follow the Captain Cook Highway north to Mossman and before reaching the town, turn left onto Johnston road. The Mossman Gorge Centre lies 2 km ahead. There will be signs to the gorge along the way.
By shuttle bus
A transfer from Port Douglas is available twice a day and departs from the BTS Port Douglas office at 49 Macrossan St at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the time of writing. It leaves the Mossman Gorge Visitor Center again at 12.45 p.m. and 2.45 p.m.
For more information, check this website.
Mossman Gorge tours
Full-day small-group Cape Tribulation and Daintree tour
At the start of this full-day Daintree and Cape Tribulation tour, you'll be picked up from your accommodation in Port Douglas in an air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinter, seating only 11 guests in total. Everyone will get to enjoy the views on your way to Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge. You'll visit both places with a knowledgeable guide, have lunch at a hidden rainforest resort, and spot crocodiles and other wildlife on a boat ride on Cooper Creek.
View this tour
Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Tribulation Tour with Cruise & Lunch
This full-day tour includes pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation in Cairns or Port Douglas, lunch, a wildlife cruise on the river, a visit of Mossman Gorge and the exclusive Dreamtime Walk tour by an indigenous guide. You'll also get a guided tour of the Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk and will visit Cape Tribulation.
View this tour
Mossman Gorge accommodation
Hotels near Mossman Gorge
There are no hotels in the park but there's plenty of accommodation in Mossman and Port Douglas. I've listed four recommended accommodations in Mossman below. Check my post about Port Douglas for accommodation recommendations there.
Budget: Demi View Motel
Demi View Motel is only a couple of miles away from Mossman Gorge, and has a wonderful outdoor garden area complete with saltwater pool and verandah area. The motel also has a bar and grill, and the guest rooms are air-conditioned, with a refrigerator, flat-screen TV and desk. WiFi is free in public areas.
B&B: Mossman Gorge Bed and Breakfast
A bit of a hidden gem! This traditional B&B located in the heart of the forest has stunning views across the mountains from the communal terrace area. There’s a saltwater pool for guests’ use, a shared kitchen and living space. Rooms have en-suite bathrooms, free toiletries and WiFi, and the property is just a five-minute drive from Mossman Gorge. A minimum booking of two nights is required here.
Luxury: Silky Oaks Lodge
Positioned on wooden stilts at the riverside in Daintree Rainforest, Silky Oaks Lodge offers a series of stunning, spacious rooms with luxurious spa-bathrooms and balconies with hammocks and views over the river. The lodge has plenty of spa facilities, an open-air restaurant, tennis court and swimming pool.
Apartment: Mossman Motel Holiday Villas
Only a ten-minute drive from Mossman Gorge, this is a collection of gorgeous standalone villas with a pool (and water feature), spa, and garden. The villas have individual dining and seating areas and kitchenettes, and a communal fully-equipped kitchen area is also available. The apartments have lots of space with high ceilings, and free WiFi access.
Mossman Gorge camping
There are no campsites in the Mossman Gorge section of Daintree National Park. The closest commercial campsite is the Mossman Riverside Leisure Park. It gets mixed reviews though so if you're looking to camp, I'd drive a little further to stay at the Pandanus Caravan Park in Port Douglas. This is where we stayed and we loved it.
Things to do near Mossman Gorge
Visit Mossman town
The town of Mossman is tiny and there aren't any real famous Mossman attractions – aside from the gorge – but if you're going to visit the Mossman Gorge anyway, you might as well make a stop here and have a drink at one of the historical pubs or great cafes. They're quite photogenic.
Explore more of the Daintree Rainforest
Visiting Mossman Gorge is not the only thing there is to do at Daintree National Park. Go ziplining, cruise the Daintree River, visit the crafts stores in Daintree Village and head up to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the ocean.
Visit Port Douglas
Boyfriend and I spent several days in Port Douglas at the end of our trip. You can find all the things we did there in an upcoming Port Douglas itinerary.
That's it! I hope this post has given you an idea of what to do in Mossman Gorge and its immediate surroundings.
Don't forget travel insurance
No matter how well you organize your trip, something unexpected can always happen. A reservation can get canceled, you can get sick or you can drop and break that new camera. In all of these cases, good travel insurance has you covered.
I've had ongoing travel insurance ever since I started traveling to make sure I'm covered for every trip I go on but if you travel just a few times a year, you can get insured for each trip separately too.
Don't have travel insurance yet? Check out SafetyWing. They offer super flexible plans that you can even sign up for while you're already on your trip. On top of that, they were the first travel insurance to cover COVID, and when I got COVID, they reimbursed all of my expenses without making a fuss. Their customer support team is great and I can personally recommend them.
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