Cairns is one of the best places you can feel at one with nature. It’s the heart of nature adventure in Queensland, with diverse national parks, rainforests and lush wilderness. In fact, the rainforests surrounding Cairns are some of the oldest living rainforests in the whole, and it is even noteworthy that they remain largely unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. That means most of the rare plants and animals found there have been around for millions of years.
Just as breathtaking the Great Barrier reef is—which is one main reason people are drawn to visit Queensland in Australia—the ancient rainforests in Cairns have been attracting tourists as well. So once you’re done exploring the reef and the beaches, it is time to lace up your boots and explore what lies in the land.
Here are some of the must-do rainforest walks near Cairns that should be in your bucket list:
1. Barron Gorge National Park
A 20-minute drive from Cairns, the Barron Gorge National Park has a fascinating network of historic trails originally developed by the Djabugai Aboriginal People who hunted and gathered food in the area years ago. The park covers the coastal lowlands at Lake Placid and the elevated regions of the Atherton Tableland. One of the more popular walk trails is the Douglas Track, which is 7.8 kilometres long and may take between four to six hours, taking you through dense rainforest, with giant eucalyptus trees and old mango trees. One of the best sights to enjoy is the Barron Falls, which is particularly spectacular during the wet season when floodwaters come in.
2. Fitzroy Island
Just 45-minutes away from Cairns via a boat ride, Fitzroy Island has trails for walkers in every fitness level. It is 97 per cent National Park covered in lush rainforests and rugged with diverse landscapes from granite outcrops to open woodlands, mangroves and coral beaches. The 3.6-kilometre Lighthouse trail leads you to the lighthouse where you can enjoy the amazing view of the oceans that form part of the Great Barrier Reef. In winter, you can see migrating humpback whales on the water.
If you’re up for only a short and relaxing walk, take the Secret Garden track or the 1.2-kilometre Nudey Beach. But if you’re up for a more challenging trail, the 3.6-kilometre Summit track is for you. It’s a climb to 269-meter Fitzroy’s summit, which will give you the stunning view of the island, surrounding reef and mainland.
3. Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is a very accessible part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park, just 77-kilometre drive from Cairns. This one is best for easy walks—5 to 10 minutes into the park and you’re already surrounded with fresh-smelling rainforests. If you want to know the history of the area and its significance to the indigenous people, the first stop would be the Mossman Gorge Center.
The 2.4-kilometre Rainforest Circuit track that takes you deeper into the lush forest is one of the popular walks here. At the start of your 45-minute walk taking the Rex Creek suspension bridge, there’s a small lookout where you can view the surrounding forests and Mount Demi. Along the way, you will find bright butterflies, Boyd’s forest dragons, and if you’re lucky, some cassowaries amid wonderful scenery.
These three are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring breathtaking sceneries near Cairns in Queensland. From stunning beaches and landscapes, getting deeper into the rainforests too is something that would complete your nature adventure. Taking a light rainforest walk to more adventurous hike is really a must-do if you’re planning to visit Cairns.