Robin Esrock’s Top 5 Port Douglas Bucket List
1. Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk
The heritage-protected Daintree Forest is the world’s oldest jungle, predating the Amazon and home to dozens of plants and creatures you won’t find anywhere else. It also has a cultural legacy of indigenous people who knew the forest for the trees, from healing medicine plants to those that sting and poison. Operating out of the Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre and supporting the local Kuku Yalanji indigenous community, Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks takes you along private tracks to learn stories about the region’s fascinating people, flora and fauna.
2. Helicopter Ride to the Batt Reef
There are so many ways to approach to the 2300 kilometre-long natural marvel that is the Great Barrier Reef. Day trips by sailboat or speedboat, snorkelling or scuba diving, reef pontoons…but to grasp just how huge and spectacular the reef is, I suggest going up. GBR Helicopters offer a variety of heli-tours, ranging from ten minutes to an hour. From Port Douglas, head to the skies for a bucket list flight to the Batt Reef, where I spotted dugong, hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and coral gardens in the crystal clear, shallow waters of the world’s largest living structure.
3. Wildlife Habitat
Around the corner from the Oaks Oasis is Wildlife Habitat, a zoo and sanctuary for native bird and animal life. With special programs that include Breakfast with the Birds, night time walks and Lunch with the Lorikeets, the facility is one of only two worldwide with rare Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos, and offers plenty of opportunities to interact with roos, wallabies, koala and crocodiles. With sections for woodland, wetland, rainforest and savannah, don’t miss the pelicans, cassowaries and one very large croc.
4. Road Trip to Cape Tribulation
When you cross the Daintree River by ferry, you’ll quickly feel like you’re driving millions of years into the past. A narrow road meanders through dense jungle, with ancient ferns, cycads and trees creating magnificent tree tunnels. Head towards Cape Tribulation, where Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours will take you high into the trees for seven thrilling ziplines through the Jurassic-like foliage. The human hamster wheel that raises you to the first platform is definitely something to experience. A road to Cape Trib makes for a great day trip, just watch out for the cassowaries!
5. Rainforestation Nature Park
With a focus on indigenous culture and experiencing the beautiful wetlands of Kuranda, Rainforestation is a popular excursion for visitors to Cairns and Port Douglas. We kicked off with a local Pamagirri guide demonstrating and teaching us how to throw a boomerang, followed by spear throwing and an incredible didgeridoo performance. The Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience showcased various dances and aspects of local culture, before we hopped aboard a restored WWII amphibious Army Duck for a fascinating and educational ride into the dense rainforest. Cap it off with the station’s wildlife park, which includes Tasmanian Devils, koaka, roos, wombats, and two of the biggest saltwater crocodiles you’ll ever see.
Renowned travel writer, TV host and bestselling author Robin Esrock is the author of the upcoming books - The Great Australian Bucket List, and Esrocking Australia with the Kids. Follow him @robinesrock, @Ausbucketlist or www.esrockingkids.comBack