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Mossman Gorge

blog-0158826001397682856.jpgTo the north of Cairns is one of the prime rain forest sites on the eastern coast of Australia. There are many other sites but those are further north and there are no roads that can be traveled in all weather conditions with less than four wheel drive vehicles. Mossman Gorge is in Daintree National Park just north of Port Douglas. The gorge itself lies within Aborigine land and the concession at the gorge is run by the Aborigine community.

The eighty kilometer (about 48 miles) drive from Cairns takes us almost two hours because of numerous road repair operations and the subsequent delays. We arrived at noon and checked in at the park visitor center. They run a shuttle to the gorge from the visitor center and the only charge is for the shuttle transportation. We paid for our tickets and were ready to board the next bus but decided wisely that we should eat lunch before exploring the gorge. After lunch we hopped the next shuttle and were taken on a ten minute ride to the beginning of the trail system.

The trail started with an elevated walkway through the rainforest. This is a different rainforest than the one we explored earlier. This is in the tropics and on the coast so it is a wet rainforest. Some things are the same, the strangler fig is still an important tree in the forest here. During our hiking here we saw some amazing trees. The photo with this posting shows me standing on one of the roots with my hand resting on another root of a strangler fig tree. In the background you can see the trunk of the tree which is a tangle of roots going in all directions.

One of the animals that lives here is the cassowary a very large bird standing five feet tall. It has an appendage on the top of the head that is referred to as a casque, it looks like a blade on a Roman warrior helmet. We were looking for this bird the entire time but never saw it. We saw evidence of its presence. There were extensive diggings which were done as the cassowary digs in the ground searching for food. In places these dug up areas covered more than 100 square feet.

We walked the trail up along the stream in the gorge. It was flowing nicely and there were numerous places to view the cascading water. In a few places, groups of people would swim in the stream but in most places there were simply too many rocks and access to the stream itself was limited by the terrain. At one point we saw a large lizard, two feet from nose to tip of tail sunning on one of the large boulders.

We returned to the bus pick-up point about 4:00 p.m. and were taken back to the visitor center. The return trip took about the same time as the trip north. We stopped for fuel before returning to the park and finally pulled in to Cairns Holiday Park well after dark.


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