The story around how Cape Tribulation got its name is quite fascinating. Clearly, the countryside north of Cairns is nothing but idyllic, so why such depressing nomenclature?
Back in June 1770, as Captain Cook was sailing north along the east coast of Australia, he ran aground on coral that was part of the Great Barrier Reef. The ship stuck fast to what is now known as Endeavour Reef and the damage took a great amount of time and effort to repair. Cook is rumoured to have said that the north point was named Cape Tribulation because ‘here begun all our troubles’.
Clearly, his mood did not improve over the coming weeks, as he went on to christen nearby Misery Bay and Mount Sorrow.
VISIT CAPE TRIBULATION WITH CONTIKI…
…AND HAVE NO REGRETS
One of the most fun ways to visit Cape Tribulation is as part of a Contiki tour. The ISLAND AND RAINFOREST tour is a brilliant trip including sailing in the Whitsundays. It can also be combined with the BEACHES AND REEFS trip, which runs all the way up from Sydney. If you’re looking for awesome people to share the experience with, this is an incredibly fun and hassle free alternative to independent travel.
THE ADVENTURE COMPANY
If you can only visit Cape Tribulation on a day or overnight trip from Cairns, The Adventure Company is a great choice.
At AU$109, the Starter PAK is designed for budget-conscious travellers, while the Deluxe PAK includes lunch and wildlife park entry for AU$159.
The first part of the tour is a scenic drive along the Cook Highway from Cairns to Port Douglas.
In Port Douglas, those with a Delux PAK ticket have the chance to explore Rainforest Habitat – a wildlife sanctuary with a strong focus on conservation and education – while the Starter PAK guests have one hour to wander around Port Douglas and grab any snacks they might want for the journey.
It’s well worth the five-minute stroll from the main street to the beach, where the quaint church of St Mary’s by the Sea sits surrounded by palm trees. It’s a popular wedding venue and, judging by the surrounding landscape, it’s easy to see why.
Located in the southern part of the Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.
A number of indigenous people work at the visitor centre, and your guide will teach you a few words of their language so that you can greet them on arrival. This new eco-tourism development provides Aboriginal experiences and displays art work from the local Kuku Yalanji people as well as leading indigenous artists from across far north Queensland.
If you visit during the months of December to April, make sure you take waterproofs, but expect humidity and temperatures of up to 33ºC. It might feel a little uncomfortable, but this is the best time to see the gorge – when the plants hold blossom and the water flows with more force.
DAINTREE RIVER FERRY
The River Ferry is the only way to cross the Daintree River. It operates on a cable system and can carry up to 16 vehicles at any one time.
Later, the tour returns to this river for the beginning of a wildlife safari, but for the timebeing, your bus will continue north through dense rainforest to Cape Tribulation.
Cape Tribulation is a small settlement 110 km north of Cairns. Located within the Daintree Rainforest, its population is only a few hundred and it tends to attract backpackers and hippies in equal numbers.
The Daintree Rainforest is a World Heritage site and contains some of the world’s oldest plant species as well as endangered animals such as the Bennett’s tree kangaroo and the cassowary.
Keep an eye out for the modified road signs, especially the one where a picture of a road bump has been altered to show what a cassowary would look like if you hit it with your car!
A hot lunch is provided, or available for purchase (depending on the type of ticket you have), at a resort behind Cape Tribulation Beach. Afterwards, you’ll have time to explore the area and take a paddle in the ocean.
There’s no doubt that the star attraction is a cruise along the Daintree River.
Guided by a skipper with a wealth of ecological knowledge, your journey begins on the open river, where you’re likely to spot saltwater crocodiles and, if you’re lucky, their young. Afterwards, you’ll navigate through mangrove forest and look out for kingfishers, frog, pythons, tree snakes, butterflies and insects.
Compared with the surrounding rainforest, the mangrove ecosystem receives very little recognition, but research has shown that mangroves absorb five times more carbon from the atmosphere than dry country forest and that it is absorbed 50 times faster. They also provide food for many animal species and nutrients for other plants.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Region is home to 26% of Australia’s frogs, 17% of its reptiles, 58% of its butterflies, 30% of its marsupial species and 48% of its birds. The flora and fauna date back 250 million years, making Daintree the oldest surviving rainforest on the planet. In fact, it contains roughly 30 species of plant that don’t grow anywhere else in the world.
Interestingly, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – two of the world’s most important and treasured natural world heritage sites – rely on each other for their own survival, making it all the more important that efforts are made to protect them both.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained on the Cape Tribulation day tour, but you might decide to extend it to two nights so that you can enjoy spending more quality time in Cape Tribulation. If you do this, there are a number of tours you can sign up for, including ‘jungle surfing’ (a fancy term for zip lining through the rainforest) and horse riding!
I was a guest of The Adventure Company. Any opinions expressed in this post are a genuine reflection of how I felt about my experience. For more information on the tour, visit their Facebook page.