If you get the chance to travel to Far North Queensland, and I mean far north, you must visit The Daintree Rainforest. It is the oldest living rainforest in the world. It has the most diversified flora and fauna and it covers from the rainforest to the The Great Barrier Reef.

It’s a trek and a half, but totally worth it. It is all good roads and easily accessible with a family-sized car these days. Very different from my first trip up to these parts in the 1980s.

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is nestled amongst the UNESCO World Heritage site that is the Daintree Rainforest. The most ancient rainforest in the world is over 180 million years old and is home to an unbelievably unique ecosystem unlike anywhere else in the world.

The rainforest literally grows up to the pristine sandy beaches. beautiful but dangerous. From October to June, warm water brings in thousands of crystal clear Box Jellyfish, with venom so potent it attacks the cardiovascular system. Many swimmers drown before reaching land.

Then there are the saltwater crocodiles, a fearsome reptile that is totally lethal. Add to this the ticks, the snakes, the feral pigs and the cassowaries. It pays to be on your guard while exploring the beauty of the area.

Thornton Beach

This beautiful beach allows you to practically see the Great Barrier Reef from the car park. It features long sandy beaches dotted with palm trees and beautiful vistas out over the bay. It’s still dangerous to swim at certain times of the year, but it’s a popular spot for walkers and dog owners (keep them on a leash for their own safety).

Cow Bay

Wander along picture-perfect white sand beaches, with the Daintree forest as your backdrop. This almost deserted bay is stunning, nestled amongst the foothills of Mount Alexandra, where the Daintree sweeps down to meet the shore.

Mount Alexandra Lookout

Known as Walu Wugirriga by local indigenous tribes meaning “look about”. Stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape of where the Daintree River meets the ocean, all seen from the lookout atop Mount Alexandra. There are some lovely hikes and small creeks that can be carefully explored.

Mossman Gorge

An hour and a half from Cape Tribulation is Mossman Gorge, which is well worth a stop if you are heading up that way. Although it is stunning and unique, it is also VERY tourist orientated and we found so many people swimming and making noise. There is a visitors centre and cafe, and they have a shuttle bus which saves you the 4km trek to the Gorge.

I just found it too crowded. One of the things I loved about the Daintree was the peace, quiet and solitude. Many places we stopped, we were the only people there. You could feel at peace with yourself and with nature. Truly awe-inspiring in the very sense of the word. But Mossman Gorge, while pretty, was far too many people for my liking. It was hard to find a quiet area to capture the beauty of this region, without all the people.

How to get there

We flew to Cairns for a family holiday and drove from there to Cape Tribulation by car. It took nearly three hours to drive so we left very early in the morning to make the most of our day.

You need to cross the Daintree River and there is a cable ferry to carry cars across. It runs from 5 a.m. to midnight daily, and costs about AUD$39 return.

The roads are sealed and in good condition. Everything is fairly well signed marked and there is often gravel car parks, rest stops and roadside parking in many areas. We mostly found we saw very few people, granted we were traveling in winter. Winter is a bit of a misnomer here as it is still warm at approximately 28-30°C, but it is considered the dry season.

While it is hot and the water VERY tempting, it is often far too dangerous to swim in any of these locations, although some people do. On previous trips, I have swam in some freshwater creeks, which was lovely, all with an armed guard and rifle! Exhilarating in the extreme … not this trip.

Me and my Sony at Cape Tribulation. Photo by Roy Powell.

What lenses to take?

Often when travelling weight is a big consideration. I took two Sony a7R III bodies, with the Tamron 28-200mm and the travel duo partner the 17-28mm wide-angle. I had one on each camera and swapped back and forth as required.

If I had to pick one lens, I would have to say I’d go with the 28-200mm. It was far more versatile, and the performance and build were great. It is small and compact, as well as lightweight.