Lush rainforest, water dripping from fern fronds, a gushing river over giant granite boulders and one of the world’s most ancient cultures combine to make a fantastic day out in Mossman Gorge, part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park in north Queensland.
This week, while I’ve been travelling in this region, the weather has been uncharacteristically wet and humid. It’s winter in Australia…but someone forgot to tell the weather gods. This kind of weather is typical of summer, the season that is called “the Wet”.
But that didn’t deter the many tourists who were keen to experience the beauty of Mossman Gorge, with it cool streams, mountains and rainforest, the traditional lands of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.
While you can take the shuttle bus from the Mossman Gorge Centre to the gorge itself and explore at your own pace, one of the best ways to dig deeper into this place and gain an insight into the lives, culture and beliefs of the Aboriginal people of this region is to do a guided walk.
There are many walking tracks in the area, including the popular Gorge Circuit, all of them signposted (or pick up a map at the visitor centre), but taking a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk will enhance the experience.
After a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits, the walk w. follows easy, private tracks through the rainforest visiting special places and culturally significant sites. Ngadiku (Nar-di-gul) means stories and legends from a long time ago in the Kuku Yalanji language, some of which may be shared with you, as you learn about traditional plant use, bush foods sources and the Kuku Yalanji’s special relationship with this environment.
You’ll learn to make ‘bush soap” and how to mix ochre for painting. The 90-minute tour finishes with a cup of tea and damper (an Australian bread baked in an earth oven).
Daintree National Park, which covers 120,000 hectares, is the largest tract of tropical rainforest in Australia and is regarded as one of the most complex ecosystems on earth. Parts of it are more than 135 million years old.
But as this week proved, this is one of the wettest climates in Australia, so make sure you go prepared! Usually, the “Wet” is December to April, with around 80 per cent humidity and temperatures between 27 and 33 degrees Celsius. It was around 28 degrees when I visited this week.
Mossman Gorge is 77km north of Cairns, 20km north of Port Douglas and about 2km from the township of Mossman.
A Glass Half Full visited as a guest of Mossman Gorge Centre.