Mossman Gorge: A Magical Experience
Located in the southern part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland, Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.
Mossman Gorge was the highlight of our entire trip. It was serene, blissful, a bit, dare I say it, magical.
Getting to Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is around 80km north of Cairns and 5km from the nearest town of Mossman. It’s also about a 20 min drive from Port Douglas. It is easily reachable by car or as part of an organised tour.
There is a large car park at the Mossman Gorge Centre, which is the end of the road for commuting to the Gorge.
From the Mossman Gorge Centre, take the shuttle bus to the heart of the Gorge. No cars are permitted to drive past the Mossman Gorge Centre bar the official shuttle bus. You can walk, however it is a narrow road with no sidewalk and is also quite a long walk especially for kids.
The shuttle bus service departs departs every 15 minutes, between 8am and 5.30pm daily.
Mossman Gorge Centre
Start your Mossman Gorge experience at the Mossman Gorge Centre. As well as being the place to buy shuttle bus tickets, the centre also houses an Indigenous art gallery, gift shop, cafe and restrooms.
The staff at the Mossman Gorge Centre can help you organise your Gorge experience, including planning your route as well as booking you onto a Dreamtime Walk.
Visiting Mossman Gorge is a golden opportunity to experience the lives, culture and beliefs of the Australian Ingenious community, especially regarding their connection to the natural world.
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk tour is an extremely popular way to learn about Kuku Yalanii culture. Guided by the local Indigenous people, the tour takes visitors along private tracks to visit culturally significant places. Ngadiku (Nar-di-gul) means stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language.
The Dreamtime Gorge Walk welcomes visitors with a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. The walk then takes place, with the Indigenous guide demonstrating traditional plant use, bush food sources and sharing stories of the rainforest. The tour ends with a traditional bush tea and damper.
Dreamtime Gorge Walk Features (from the Mossman Gorge website):
Traditional smoking ceremony
Stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions
Experienced Indigenous guides
Intimate group tour (approx 15 guests)
Exclusive access to Kuku Yalanji land
Visit a sacred ceremony site
Soap & ochre paint making demonstration
Bush tea and damper
Free access to the Mossman Gorge shuttle bus
Duration: approx 1.5 hours
Departs: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 3pm daily
Level/Grade of the walk: Easy – however please note the track is on uneven terrain, slippery when wet and has some inclination
Wheelchair accessibility: No
Mossman Gorge Walks
We decided to take our own adventures through the Gorge, along one of the shorter walking trails and spending most of our time at the main water hole. The tracks we selected were the Baral Marrjanga, which starts at the shuttle bus stop, and the Rex Creek bridge, which joins it. The walks combined took about 20 minutes. The information below on the different walks is from the Mossman Gorge website.
Baral Marrjanga—270 m (5–10 mins) Grade: easy
Baral Marrjanga leads through the rainforest from the shuttle bus stop to a lookout with views of the Mossman River and the mountain ranges beyond. The track includes two sections of elevated boardwalk which pass through the lower rainforest canopy. The track is suitable for wheelchairs, strollers and the vision-impaired.
Lower river track—300 m (5–10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
This track starts at the shuttle bus stop and winds along the Mossman River before joining Baral Marrjanga. Several small lookouts along the track provide views of the river. Although most of the lower river track is easy walking, the steps can be slippery. Please take care and use the handrails provided.
Rex Creek bridge—460 m (10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
To reach the Rex Creek suspension bridge, follow Baral Marrjanga to the lookout and take the short, sign-posted track to the left.
Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek bridge)—2.4 km return (45 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
This track begins on the far side of Rex Creek bridge. On the left, 80m from the bridge a small lookout provides views of Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi). A little way past the lookout the track divides to form a circuit that meanders through the rainforest.
Swimming in Mossman Gorge
The highlight of our visit was swimming in Mossman Gorge. It was too cold for me but I loved sitting on the giant rocks and watching the bright blue ulysses butterflies flittered over head and the fish swimming in the clear water. I spotted catfish and other unidentified species from my perch.
Swimming in the Gorge is not recommended as the water conditions can make it a dangerous experience. Mossman Gorge is unsupervised and unmonitored. If help is needed, it is a long way away – with no mobile phone coverage in the Gorge to call for assistance. Note that people have been injured and died swimming in the Gorge and take every precaution if you choose to swim.
If you’re planning on swimming at Mossman Gorge, be prepared. Wear swimmers under your clothes and bring a towel. The water can be icy cold, too.
The shuttle bus, picnic area, toilets and the rainforest boardwalk Baral Marrjanga, which leads from the shuttle bus stop to the Mossman River lookout, are all wheelchair accessible.
What to pack
Light weight cotton clothing
A comfortable pair of walking shoes
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!