The Daintree rainforest is the world's oldest. Located near Cairns, the rainforest is World Heritage-listed and one of its most visited places is the Mossman Gorge, 80 kilometres north of Cairns.
The gorge is 56,500 hectares of the rugged, inaccessible slopes of the Main Coast Range and Carbine Tableland adjoining Mt Windsor and Mt Wilson. The mountains trap moisture which blows in from the ocean, ensuring frequent rainfall to maintain the forest and feed the Mossman and Daintree Rivers.
Rainforest covers the steep mountainsides around the gorge, from the river to the rugged eastern slopes of the Main Coast Range. Lowlands are covered in tall, dense rainforest while mountain tops have a stunted, windswept appearance.
The area is home to lots of wildlife. Boyd's rainforest dragon is a large, colourful lizard, there are tree-kangaroos, musky rat-kangaroos, beautifully coloured butterflies, amethystine pythons measuring up to eight metres, the endangered spotted-tailed quoll, beautiful birds and in the rivers, fish and turtles.
Plants include strangler figs and 13 of the world's 19 primitive flowering plant families, as well as ancient pines, cycads, ferns and mosses.
The area is the traditional home of the Kuku Yalanii Aboriginal people and the site of many Aboriginal legends.
Claire and Bill Crew, who run De Luxe Safaris, recently had the pleasure of hosting Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter films. The Crews took Daniel and his parents on two one-day tours from Port Douglas. It was an enjoyable experience for both parties, so much so that Daniel talked about it in an interview he gave Getaway in London.
Q: "What was your best travel experience in Australia?"
A: "Well I went up to Port Douglas for a few days and we went into the rainforest and we got taken around by a guy called Bill who was like the coolest man in the world … and he told me to mention his company's name but now I can't remember them! But it was just the coolest. We had a really brilliant time and he took us right into the rainforest and to, what's the name of the big gorge that's up there? Mossman! Mossman Gorge. I went up there, so I did all that. That was really fun doing all those things."
Bill and Claire Crew had no idea who their famous client was, so they certainly didn't create a special tour to impress the Radcliffe family. They like to cover a lot of territory and as our crew discovered, they drove 100 kilometres, bought bananas, had a swim, walked through rainforest and spotted a five-metre crocodile all before lunch!
There are plenty of tours to choose from. Deluxe Safari One begins with a short stroll in the Mossman Gorge, on to the Daintree River, then crossing by vehicular ferry to the Cape Tribulation section of the Daintree National Park. You journey over the Alexandra Range and soak in views of the Coral Sea and river delta coastline.
The tour heads on to Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef, and takes a short walk up the Kulki Track. A morning tea break lets you enjoy the beach, rainforest and inshore coral reef views.
Jindalba is one of the most rewarding tracks through the rainforest you will see flowering plants you may never have seen before.
Lunch at Belly Hinton's Gallery (one of the foremost botanical illustrators of our time) is a treat. Then you go over the range for the Daintree River Cruise, where scenery reflects the Jurassic period, with estuarine crocodiles, birds and animals sharing the inter-tidal habitat.
Ulysses Getaways have a wonderful choice of private retreats overlooking the ocean and luxurious beachfront villas at various locations. The owners have great knowledge of the area and realise the importance of detail, large and small. Car hire, massage, diving, fishing, baby needs are some of the many things they can assist with.
The Radcliffe family stayed in the Pinnacle. The magnificent property has a north-easterly outlook, the most sought after in the area. There is a pool and spa in landscaped grounds while the beach, marina, shops and restaurants are a stroll away.
Large, carved timber entrance doors open to a large, airy interior accentuated by magnificent timber and tropical cane ceilings. The master bedroom has a large ensuite and two walls of glass which open to tropical palms, a private sandstone deck and the ocean vista beyond. The second bedroom can have a king bed or two king singles, with walk-in robe, en-suite and private balcony. Digital satellite TV and DVD is also provided.
A dedicated TV room has a giant, wall-mounted plasma screen TV, with satellite and DVD. A Bose stereo system sets the mood in the large living area. The kitchen has all new stainless steel, high quality appliances. The gourmet kitchen, dining and living areas all enjoy the gorgeous Coral Sea and mountain views.
Downstairs is a cushion-filled Mediterranean-style lounge and wet-bar, private swimming pool and outdoor dining, all in the same stunning setting. A third bathroom with shower and bath is also located here.
The Radcliffes are food buffs and enjoyed having a teppanyaki meal cooked for them at the Pinnacle. David Shaw cooked in Japan for eight years and puts on a great show while creating delicious meals. Guests are always amazed at the agility and nimble chopping teppanyaki chefs master and of course, in Queensland fresh seafood and flambéed tropical fruits are a specialty.