Mossman Gorge in the Daintree National Park is part of the traditional lands of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. A dense rainforest that carpets the Main Coast Range, Windsor and Carbine Tablelands that soar above the endless sugarcane fields of Far North Queensland.
The mountain table tops are often shrouded in heavy white blankets of rain cloud at this time of the year with the rainforest tumbling down to meet the reef on the sinuous palm-fringed coast that stretches up past Port Douglas, Mossman, Wonga Beach and up to the (Crocodile-infested) Daintree River and beyond to Cape Tribulation.
Over millennia, inaccessible steep-sided jungle valleys have been carved by the Mossman River whose rushing crystal-clear streams pause in deep green cool ponds then cascade on over impossibly smooth granite boulders.
Most visitors to the gorge are here for the swimming holes where the water is refreshingly cold – super inviting on hot steamy days – but treacherous if you don’t pay attention and heed the warnings, which are posted everywhere. The large smooth boulders create fast-running currents and rips that can whisk you downstream like an express freight train, tumbling you over submerged rocks and taking you far down stream. We saw this happen to one chap in front of his distressed family – and before he knew anything, he was floundering in swirling deep water and in danger of being carried away. Thankfully someone managed to grab hold of him and drag him to safety, much to his embarrassment.
I decided to take the Rainforest circuit track across the very bouncy suspension bridge and into dense jungle of Strangler Figs, Red Tulip Oaks, Candlenuts and many species of epiphytic plants such Orchids, Bromeliads, Aroids, Lichens, Mosses and Ferns. It’s a magical place in the dappled steamy sunlight and intense bright greenery and enormously fascinating for me with my ongoing Horticultural studies – any wonder then that I lost complete sense of time and place to eventually realise, after over an hour of wandering, that I was sporting flip flops and had no water on me.
It takes an Englishman of course to be out in the midday sun.