Have you watched the film by Stephen Spielberg called Avatar? I know, I know. It’s quite obscure and almost nobody watched it in the theatres. After all, it only grossed US$2.029 billion worldwide, so I’ll understand if you haven’t had the chance to watch it (lol). Joking aside, the real-life inspiration for the lush canopy and emerald vines of Pandora was taken from Australia! Particularly, in the World-Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest.
The Daintree Rainforest is believed to be among the oldest continually surviving rainforests in the world. You will also encounter the Daintree River, Cape Tribulation, and challenging 4WD tracks. There are also other features like beaches, waterfalls, and the Great Barrier Reef which you can witness while visiting the park.
What 4WD tracks can I take on Daintree Rainforest? Read more to find out!
How Do I Get to Daintree Rainforest?
The road to Daintree is long and will require you to take a ferry. You can take another route that won’t involve riding one but the trip will be longer. So, this is the fastest route from Cairns to Daintree:
- Head northwest by taking Esplanade and onto Aplin St.
- Keep left and head to Florence St.
- At the roundabout, stay on Florence St by staying on your lane.
- After 150 metres, there will be another roundabout where you should take the 3rd exit that leads to Lake St.
- After 2.2 kilometres, you will encounter another roundabout. Stay on your lane and continue taking Lake St.
- Turn left on Rutherford St after 400 metres.
- From Rutherford St, turn right onto National Route 1.
- Follow National Route 1 and Captain Cook Hwy until you reach Foxton Avenue in Mossman.
- Continue driving on Foxton Ave for 600 metres.
- From Foxton, continue onto Mossman Daintree Rd.
- Continue on the same road and onto Cedars St.
- Continue onto Mossman Daintree Rd.
- After 22.9 kilometres, turn right onto Cape Tribulation Rd.
- From here, take the Daintree Ferry that lands on Kimberley.
- Continue driving on Cape Tribulation Rd for 19.1 km until you reach Daintree Rainforest.
Why Should I Head to Daintree Rainforest?
There are a lot of activities that you can do in the area. At the entrance of the park, you can educate yourself about the origins of the rainforest at the Daintree Discovery Centre. After learning everything about it, you will have a deeper appreciation of the efforts of the people behind the curtain who are maintaining the health of the park. From here, you can also head to several aerial walkways and viewing platforms where you can explore all levels of the rainforest closely. Aside from that, you can also do the following:
- Daintree River Cruise: There are several cruise operators that offer tours of varying lengths. The cruise will let you observe wild animals like saltwater crocodiles at close range and in their natural habitat.
- Mossman Gorge: This is located within the park itself where you can swim at the freshwater swimming pools. While swimming you will also see the magnificent views of the Mossman Gorge. You can also take the riverside walking track like the Dreamtime Walk where an Aboriginal guide will share their culture with you.
- Silky Oaks Lodge: This eco-lodge is a treehouse perched above the forest floor where you will have a view of the Daintree River right from your room. The lodge also offers other activities like helicopter tours, hot air ballooning, and relaxation through the on-site spa.
- Canopy Zipline: There are some guided tours that will let you explore the rainforest from the canopy. The zipline will also let you have a bird’s eye view of numerous streams and the famous Great Barrier Reef.
- Daintree Village: This area has stores that offer local arts and crafts like pottery, textiles, souvenirs, produce, and a lot of tropical clothing. You can also learn about Aboriginal artefacts and art by visiting the Janbal Gallery.
- Cape Tribulation: From this point, you will have great views of both the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. You will also have a chance to explore the beautiful beaches and walking tracks that cut through the rainforest. There is also a slim chance that you can see the endangered cassowary.
These attractions make Daintree a very tempting destination to visit. However, we know that you’re only here for one thing alone – off-road driving. Luckily, there are two famous 4WD tracks that cut through this ancient rainforest, CREB Track, and Bloomfield Track.
CREB Track cuts through lush rainforest and the road is composed of red clay. The track also has very steep ascents and descents that can only be tackled by 4WD vehicles with decent ground clearance. In addition, the track is nearly impossible to complete even after a light rain. As a result, you will need to drive on this coastal rainforest carefully especially when going downhill (it can get very slippery). Even with the right gear like mud tyres, most people will find this drive very challenging.
At the start, the track is relatively easy to drive on and is composed of a winding gravel road. While driving, you will witness the dense forest on both sides and pass by waterfalls along the way. The track also leads to McDowall Range where the thrilling part of it starts. The challenging part will continue up to the end of the McDowall Range and onto the Daintree River. From here, you will pass through a challenging river crossing and reach the unique Daintree Village.
If you are a beginner and want to dip your toes in this track, you should look for other tracks to explore. The track is very slippery, has unpredictable slopes, and is made of clay which all makes the track unsuitable for beginners. Even when the track is dry, experienced off-road enthusiasts will still struggle to complete this drive. The stakes will get higher after rain pours as the track can be very dangerous to drive on. As a result, your vehicle will inevitably get bogged down the numerous mud holes. The recovery of vehicles can also get quite expensive especially when the track is closed (more details about this will be discussed later).
CREB Track passes through Daintree Rainforest which is a World Heritage-listed site. Due to this distinction and its unique ecosystem, you should respect the rules and regulations of the park. You should also prevent yourself from littering and stay on the track.
You can find more information about CREB track 4WD review about it here: https://www.offroadaussie.com/4-wheel-driving-trips/creb-track-4wd-guide-review/
This track has got to be the most popular 4WD tracks in the country because of its accessibility and the stunning views of the Daintree Rainforest. The track follows along the coast from the fabled Cape Tribulation and will lead to the town of Wujul Wujul. You can also take this track if you want to head to The Tip which will only take a day trip to reach.
The beautiful track also hides a dark past. In the 1980s, many people opposed the decision of authorities to cut through a large part of the Daintree Rainforest. Luckily, both sides compromised and met halfway. The track was built without switchbacks so that fewer trees were cut down and it resulted in the track having steep sections that can measure up to 30o. Presently, these steep sections, particularly on the Cowie and Donovan Ranges, have been paved and this makes the drive easier. Thus, it is ideal even for beginners. However, if you want to tackle a more challenging track, you can head west to take on CREB Track.
Depending on the weather and other factors, the first section of the Bloomfield Track can be a bit bumpy due to numerous washouts. You will also pass by river crossing which can be impassable after heavy rain (check for information about the river crossings before you start driving). These will give wat to rocky patches before the steep ascents kick in. The steep inclines will also enable you to witness breathtaking views of the rainforest atop the Cowie Range before descending onto more dirt tracks and a couple more river crossings.
Due to the relatively laid-back nature of the track, you can drive AWD rental cars or even caravans on it. While the track may not be the most challenging compared to CREB Track, track conditions will still play a major factor while tackling it. So, don’t try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and head back if you feel uncomfortable.
If you want more information about Bloomfield Track, here is our comprehensive review on it: https://www.offroadaussie.com/4-wheel-driving-trips/the-bloomfield-track-4wd-guide-review/
What Sites Should I Visit?
As you are in a World Heritage site in the Wet Tropics, you will pass by woodland and waterfalls along the way. There are a number of beautiful waterfalls found in Bloomfield and Roaring Meg. However, you will have to follow some rules and park guidelines, particularly in Roaring Meg. The Aboriginal people does not allow visitors to climb to the top of the waterfalls as it is a sacred site for them.
You can also pay a visit to the lookout located 35 km into CREB Track. This lookout will let you see spectacular views of Thornton Range. If you’re done traversing the track, you can also hop on to one of the many river cruises that depart from Daintree.
After completing the heavily vegetated rainforest track of Bloomfield, you will reach the town of Wujul Wujul. You can either explore the town or take a detour the take a dip at the nearby waterfalls. In addition, you can also drop off at the town’s Art and Culture Centre where the numerous works of Aboriginal artists are featured. They are centred mainly on the culture and traditions of the Kuku Yalanji that live in the town. If you’re famished after all that exploring, you can drive an hour north to the beautiful Lion’s Den Hotel where you can have a bite or drink an afternoon beer.
Where Can I Stay in Daintree Rainforest?
The only campground on CREB Track is located in the very scenic Roaring Meg. The campsite is also located near a waterhole where you can take a dip and a walking track for those who want to explore the rainforest up close. However, you will need to secure a permit before you can stay at the camp.
You can also stay on the Cape Tribulation campsite for the night. The camp is located within minutes of the Bloomfield Track and is nestled between the verdant forest and the blue waters near the Great Barrier Reef. The site is only a short boat ride from here.
Can My 4WD Vehicle Handle Tracks at Daintree?
On CREB Track only vehicles with low-range gearing, high ground clearance, and appropriate gear like mud tyres can pass through this track without taking on damage. This is the case even when the weather is great. If your 4WD vehicle is heavily laden or you’re towing a heavy trailer, then look for other tracks to explore like Bloomfield.
Bloomfield is a much more forgiving track for beginners and those who are driving AWD vehicles. As mentioned earlier, is much easier to drive on compared to CREB Track so you won’t have to be worried.
How Can I Prepare for A Trip to Daintree Rainforest?
Before your trip to Daintree, you should make sure that your vehicle works properly. You should check if your tyres have good grip, lessen the load of your vehicle, and check your engine. We also recommend that you don’t tow a trailer especially if you plan on driving to CREB Track. In addition, recovery gear should also be brought to make recovery easier. You should also check the weather report to check if rain is coming as both tracks can be very slippery. CREB Track can even be impassable for many people after a light rain.
You should also ensure that you have the right amount of fuel while on the trip. You can refuel at Cooktown if you are in the north or Wonga Beach and Mossman if you happen to be in the south. There is also a fuelling station available on Bloomfield Track on weekends; however, you will need to check for its operating hours. You won’t have a problem if you run out of food and water at the gas station near Wonga Beach which has a convenience store that has everything you’ll need for the rest of the trip.
Are There Rules That I Need to Know at CREB Track?
These are the dos and don’ts while visiting the rainforest:
- Help in the protection of the forest by walking only on designated tracks (preferably on elevated boardwalks and established walking trails).
- Drive carefully and give way or watch out for wildlife especially at night.
- Be responsible and take your rubbish home including fruit scraps. These contain seeds that may germinate in the rainforest introducing a potentially invasive species to the fragile forest.
- Watch out for potentially dangerous Stinging Plants and Wait-a-While tendrils.
- Check yourself (especially on exposed skin) for ticks and leeches if you have been exploring through the forest.
- Touch or eat plants that are new to you as many of them are poisonous.
- Take your dogs and other pets into the national park.
- Remove any plant or animal from their natural habitat or from the national park.
- Give food to native wildlife.
- Sit on decomposing wood as you can contract small mites (scrub itch).
There are also specific rules that you need to follow on CREB Track. As the track has some sections that cut through private land, travellers are asked to stay on the main track and leave the gates as they found them In addition, the Douglas Shire Council closes CREB for certain months of the year and they place warnings on the track that informs them of the status of the track. They will also be warned that when they still continue to drive through the track even while it is closed, they will have to pay for their own rescue. The local council also discourages visitors from towing as it can be very dangerous. However, if you have to visit the track on very dry days, you will make it through the track unscathed.
Are Crocodiles Present in The Daintree Rainforest?
Yes. There are two types of crocodiles in Australia, the Saltwater and Freshwater species, and just the “salties” occupy the Daintree River. The Daintree River has a populace of around 70 grown-up crocodiles, the biggest being the guys at around 5 meters.
What Dangerous Plants Are Found on Daintree Rainforest?
The Daintree Rainforest is likewise home to some perilous plants. Stinging Plant: Normally found along tracks and clearings It has fine toxic hairs on its heart-formed leaves that enter the skin and cause extreme aggravation. Just as being harming the earth you may get sap on your skin.
Where Can I Swim at The Daintree Rainforest?
The swimming opening at Emmagen Creek is a famous traveller walk, regularly visited by visit gatherings. There are not many other safe spots to swim in the Daintree marshes. Walk upstream along with the spring for around 400 meters through the marsh rainforest until you arrive at the more profound pools.