A travel guide to visiting Mossman Gorge and walking its amazing rainforest circuit tracks in the Daintree, Far North Queensland.
Looking for a quick half-day Daintree Hike? The Mossman Gorge, located in the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland, Australia, is a stunning natural wonder that offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of the rainforest.
Complete with swimming holes, freshwater creeks, and enormous ancient rainforest trees, the Mossman Gorge offers visitors a slice of the wonder that is the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
I’ve hiked and written guides to over 35 hiking trails in Cairns and FNQ and visited Mossman Gorge several times while living up in Far North Queensland. In this blog post, I’ll give you an up-to-date guide on what to expect on this amazing walk based on my personal experience.
- Booking Mossman Gorge Day Trip from Cairns
- How to Get to Mossman Gorge Independently
- Mossman Gorge Walking Tracks – The Rainforest Circuit
- Exploring the Most Ancient Rainforest in the World at Mossman Gorge
- Swimming at Mossman Gorge
- Are there Crocodiles at Mossman Gorge?
- More Photos from The Mossman Gorge Walk and Daintree National Park
- Best Time to Visit the Mossman Gorge
- FAQ About Visiting Mossman Gorge
- Planning a Trip to Cairns
- More Daintree & Far North Queensland Travel Inspiration
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Booking Mossman Gorge Day Trip from Cairns
Since Mossman Gorge is located near the township of Mossman, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes (around 80 km) from Cairns, you'll either need to drive here yourself or book one of the many popular Daintree day trips that visit the gorge.
I can vouch for this popular Daintree day trip from Cairns as being the most convenient and bang-for-buck way to get to Mossman Gorge from Cairns.
This includes transport and a guided walk through the Mossman Gorge, as well as a trip over the Daintree River to experience the unmissable Cape Tribulation (where the rainforest meets the reef).
How to Get to Mossman Gorge Independently
If you're not up for a tour, to get to the Mossman Gorge, you'll need your own car. From Cairns City, it takes just over an hour, following the scenic Captain Cook Highway north to the Daintree. This drive makes up a large section of one of the most scenic drives in North Queensland.
If you're based in Port Douglas, then it's a closer 25-minute drive.
Once you get to the visitor center, you'll need to park your car in the large car park. The road leading to the Mossman Gorge walk is blocked off for private residents only. Here, there is a small aboriginal community who have asked for the road to be closed to the public.
Car Rentals in Far North Queensland
Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out!
I've missed out on cars before & recommend booking well in advance. I always use DiscoverCars as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.
Should I Take the Mossman Gorge Shuttle Bus?
Once you get to the visitor center, you'll notice that there are signs everywhere encouraging tourists to take the Mossman Gorge Shuttle Bus to the walking area. The cost is $14.00 per person and it departs every 15 minutes.
My take from the experience is that taking the Mossman Gorge Shuttle Bus isn't compulsory. It's only a short 2-kilometre walk, passing the outside of the indigenous community.
Although the center tries to convince people to take the bus under the guise of "respect for the indigenous community" I noticed that they didn't employ indigenous bus drivers. Furthermore, the local residents were friendly, waving and welcoming us as we walked past. This left me suspicious of whether the center's intentions were really just to monopolize this section of the National Park.
If you want to support Indigenous communities, then the center does run Indigenous Dreamtime Walks along the Mossman Gorge Walk. These are very informative and a great way to learn more about the indigenous Eastern Yalanji people (Bama) Clan and Kuku-Yalanji people.
Up for more of a challenge near Mossman? Try the Devils Thumb Hike (Manjal Jimalji)
Mossman Gorge Walking Tracks - The Rainforest Circuit
After a short walk, you'll reach the start of the Mossman Gorge Walk track. The first section is a raised boardwalk with several diversions to lookouts and creek access points.
However, the best section of the track is the full Rainforest Circuit. It's not a long walk, being only about 45 minutes, but it's an excellent way to experience the oldest living rainforest in the world.
Keep reading below for highlights of the Mossman Gorge walk and the Daintree rainforest circuit.
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Exploring the Most Ancient Rainforest in the World at Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is very well protected under the Daintree National Park in the World Heritage Wet Tropics Area. If you want a real taste of the Daintree National Park, then taking the Mossman Gorge hike around the rainforest circuit is an excellent option. This is one of the most convenient and accessible rainforest hikes near Cairns.
Along the track, there are several signs informing you of ancient aboriginal traditions in regard to using the rainforest for survival. There is also plenty of information about the Daintree National Park and the names and features of its flora and fauna.
Amazing Daintree Rainforest Fig Trees
One of the coolest parts of the Mossman Gorge walk are the huge rainforest fig trees. There is one in particular towards the end of the circuit that is absolutely huge! I'm not sure exactly how big it is, but you can judge for yourself from the pictures below.
Swimming at Mossman Gorge
In the hot summer months, there is also the opportunity to take a swim at Mossman Gorge at many creeks along the track. There are several creek entry points where you can swim in the refreshingly cool freshwater streams.
The first Mossman Gorge swimming location is found towards the start of the walk, just off to the right of the first diversion from the boardwalk.
There is also another section for swimming towards the end of the rainforest circuit loop.
Are there Crocodiles at Mossman Gorge?
One of the most asked questions regarding the Mossman Gorge is: "Are there any crocodiles?" Generally speaking, the Mossman Gorge has no dangerous estuarine (saltwater) crocodiles.
More Photos from The Mossman Gorge Walk and Daintree National Park
Looking for more Daintree travel inspiration? Check out some more photos that I snapped along the track.
Best Time to Visit the Mossman Gorge
The best time to visit the Mossman Gorge is during the dry season, which runs from May to September in Far North Queensland. During this time, the weather is great for hiking and walking, with daytime temps ranging from 18°C to 28°C (64°F to 82°F).
That said visiting freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls in Cairns during the wet season can also be a great time since they offer a great place to cool off. The Mossman Gorge has a few places you can swim, you'll just want to watch the water levels and closures during big downpours.
FAQ About Visiting Mossman Gorge
If you're staying in Cairns, hop on a shuttle or grab a rental car. It's about an 80-kilometer drive north and takes roughly an hour and a half along sections of the scenic Great Barrier Reef Drive.
Yes, there are a few good swimming spots along the creek at Mossman Gorge, including the "Mossman Gorge Swimming Hole" which is a great spot along the main walk.
While not really a hidden gem, the "Manjal Dimbi" rock is worth mentioning. This is also known as the "mountain holding back." and is the mountain backdrop behind the gorge. Indigenous tales tell stories that this rock represents Kubirri, who holds back the evil spirit, Wurrumbu, who is now confined to the bluff above Mossman River.
Planning a Trip to Cairns
Still in the planning stages of your trip to Cairns and the Tropical North? Here's a quick list of essential travel resources that I use to plan and book all my travels around the world independently.
Flights: Find & compare flight deals to Cairns International Airport using Skyscanner. Use the "search by month" feature to discover the cheapest day to fly.
Hostels: When it comes to scoring epic deals on hostels and cheap stays your secret weapon is Hostelworld. If you're traveling to Cairns to meet people, use the “See Who's Going” function.
Travel Insurance: HeyMondo is my top recommendation for travel insurance for Cairns and the Wet Tropics. They've got your back with comprehensive coverage, from unexpected flight hiccups to those "oops" moments. Click the link to get 5% OFF your policy.
Internet & Connectivity: Stay connected as soon as you land in Queensland with Airalo's eSIMS. Aussie sims will work. But if you're coming from overseas, I'd download their app and grab an eSIM before you set foot on Australian soil.
Car Rental: Don't overpay for a rental at the airport. Compare rental car prices across all dealerships in Cairns and Port Douglas. Use DiscoverCars to choose the perfect ride for your journey, whether it's a compact car or an SUV for off-road adventures.
Transportation: Public transport is limited to the natural attractions around Cairns and its best to use tour companies or rent a car. However, if you're arriving at the airport, or need a transfer between Cairns and Port Douglas, use the popular Cairns & Port Douglas shuttle.
To learn more about independent travel to anywhere else in the world, read my ultimate step-by-step guide on how to plan a trip.
More Daintree & Far North Queensland Travel Inspiration
I hope you've enjoyed this quick guide to visiting Mossman Gorge in the Daintree. Read on below for more inspiring travel guides from Cairns and the Tropical North.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.