Road trips up Australia’s extensive east coast are very popular with visitors wanting to take in as much of this sprawling nation in one journey, and while many opt to end their expedition at Cairns, the most northerly city on this coastline, others choose to go that little bit further. Those who do won’t be disappointed, as they are treated to some of the most breathtaking scenery the country has to offer in the form of the Daintree Rainforestand its surrounding areas.
What to do:
Port Douglas is a great spot to base yourself when visiting this part of Australia and there are various day trips offered by local tour companies based in the town. With the Great Barrier Reef located just off the coast, snorkelling or diving in the crystal blue waters that surround the reef are a must do for many visitors. For those who would rather just take in the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the luxury of a boat, cruises to the Low Isles and Outer Barrier Reef are also available. A day out isn’t cheap, with Quicksilver Cruises prices starting from $225 (£133), but regardless of the price, it’s certainly money well spent.
The town is also the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest, almost 500 square miles of unbroken rainforest that is home to a huge variety of tropical species and plants. Driving 27 miles north from Port Douglas along the Mossman-Daintree road, you reach the river ferry. Once here, you and your vehicle can traverse the river on one of the many daily crossings. The Daintree National Park is located nearby and features various boardwalks which offer visitors the opportunity to experience the lush, humid surroundings of the rainforest.
Following the road north to Cape Tribulation, Cow Bay beach is definitely worth a stop off. The white sands of the beach are the only thing separating the rainforest from the sea, and it’s a great place to have a picnic or cool down in the water. Visitors should be cautious though, box jellyfish are prevalent in the area, particularly in the summer months.
Cape Tribulation itself is a tiny settlement of around 100 permanent residents, but welcomes tourists all year round. There are a number of small bed and breakfasts and backpacker hostels in the village, as well as eco lodges based in the rainforest. A couple of nights at the Cape Tribulation Beach House Resort will set you back $180 (£106) for a two person cabin.
One of the area’s most notable residents is the infamous saltwater crocodile, and a trip on one of the many Daintree river cruises is a great way (and safest) to try and spot one of these beasts. Tour guides who offer the trips are often long-time residents of the area and it’s very rare for a tour not to spot at least one ‘saltie’. Prices are reasonable with a one hour cruise costing around $25 (£14.80). If you're thinking of taking a trip to Australia you can buy your Australian Dollars here - www.currencytoday.co.uk/pounds-to-australian-dollars/index_aud.html
Where to stay
Port Douglas is the most populous settlement located near to the Daintree and offers the largest selection of accommodation. For those on a tighter budget, there are plenty of backpacker type hostels, with At the Mango Tree offering a double room for $80 (£47) a night. At the more luxurious end of the budget, the five star Sheraton Mirage is set in tropical gardens and offers guests great access to the Four Mile Beach. A double with a garden view will cost $219 (£129.50) a night.
Where to eat and drink
There is certainly no shortage of places to unwind after a tour with a great selection of restaurants and bars offering both Australian and international cuisine. The Salsa Bar and Grill serves up some fine local dishes including kangaroo fillet and freshly caught barbecued tiger prawns. Dinner for two with wine will cost around $125 (£74). A great way to spend an evening is by heading down to the Iron Bar and experience first-hand the competitive sport of cane toad racing. Held a few nights each week, the event is popular with tourists so be sure to buy your ticket at the bar beforehand.
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