In Far North Queensland, it’s not always safe to venture into nature. But at Mossman Gorge National Park, families can relax and enjoy the sounds of the bush. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
This is the real Australia. It’s not about the high-end boutiques catering to tourists on the Gold Coast, or the casino floors at Melbourne’s Crown.
It is, and should always be, about our surrounds – the most wonderful natural environments and landscapes on the planet. We have stunning beaches, the red centre, rocky alpines and rainforest – beautiful, lush rainforest.
At Mossman Gorge National Park, visitors are able to step away from the hustle and bustle of crowded urban streets and into the quieter side of life. A chance to see how local Indigenous people lived for thousands of years before roadways were laid and concrete began reaching the clouds.
Accessible via Mossman Gorge Centre, an Aboriginal-run eco tourism development at the forefront of highlighting the rich history and talents of indigenous Australians, the gorge is a sacred space shared by all who walk underneath the dense fern-filled canopy.
Walking tracks are signposted, but even then the greatest explorers could get lost – some pathways have changed routes and the abundant leaves littered across the ground make it difficult to see. But it’s not the kind of place you can worry about getting lost in, and for those unsure about ducking between the mammoth trees on their own, Dreamtime guided tours are also available, with exclusive access to a sacred ceremony site and a traditional smoking ceremony.
Despite the humidity being relatively low, on hotter days it’s wonderful to take a dip in one of the numerous waterways that carve up the gorge. As you enter the walking trail area from the Centre shuttle bus, visitors can take a dip in Mossman River. But for something a little more tranquil, wandering alongside Rex Creek will have you coming across a superb picnic spot and crocodile-free swimming hole.
To access the walking trails, visitors simply park at the centre and purchase an $8.50 shuttle bus return ticket – and if you’re caught having to wait for the next bus (they depart every 15 minutes), have a quick stroll through the centre’s gallery or gift shop. There’s a huge range of souvenirs produced by local Indigenous people that will leave you feeling inspired for the cultural journey ahead.