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Dense, lowland rainforest and cool streams surrounded by a precipitous mountain range characterise much of what is known as Mossman Gorge, located roughly 25 minutes from Thala Beach Lodge, just outside Port Douglas.
The rugged slopes of the Coastal Ranges and Windsor and Carbine Tablelands trap moisture from the ocean, ensuring continued rainfall that gives life to the Daintree Rainforest and Mossman River.
Such conditions have given birth to the spectacular Mossman Gorge, while inviting inhabitants such as the endemic Boyd’s Forest Dragon. Others attracted to the gorge include the female Cairns birdwing (Australia’s largest butterfly), the florid paradise-kingfisher bird, saw-shelled turtles, and the platypus, which inhabits the gorge’s quieter pools.
The region’s flora is characterised by the low light conditions created by the steep gorge. The resulting rare plants are part of the familial linage of some of the first flowering plants on earth. Here some plants hitchhike towards sunlight, while others, like the Lawyer Vine, use its hooks to climb tree trunks to higher vantage points.
The Mossman Gorge region is the only place in the world where two World Heritage listed sites meet; joining the Daintree Rainforest with the Great Barrier Reef.
The story of the Mossman Gorge, however, also extends to the traditional owners and custodians of the land, the Kuku Yalanji people.
Living in harmony with the gorge environment for over 50,000 years, the Kuku Yalanji people offer visitors a rare insight into the region’s flora and fauna, as well as their traditional practices which have prevailed through generations of subsistence.
The Kuku Yalanji offer guided tours of the gorge, and in order to enhance the visitor experience while supporting local community, the Indigenous Land Corporation and Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community have nearly completed an eco tourism visitor centre at the site.
Set to open in May this year, the centre will host a café, indigenous art gallery, booking area for indigenous guided walks and an eco-friendly bus service to run visitors to and from the gorge itself. Visitors will be able to see the land through the Kuku Yalanji people’s traditional way of life, of which they are so very proud.
Currently, several moderate to easy walks exist within the park, as well as guided dreamtime tours provided by the Kuku Yalanji. Checkout the Mossman Gorge Centre website for more information.