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From Cairns, head north across the Barron River along the edge of the Coral Sea past unspoiled tropical beaches to Port Douglas, the ideal place to cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and immerse yourself in the laid-back tropical village atmosphere. Travel on north of Port Douglas, towards the sugar town of Mossman and up the Rex Range to Mt.Molloy.
From here you can join the inland route to Lakeland and stop at Helenvale and enjoy a drink at the infamous Lions Den Hotel. Alternatively, drive by 4WD through Black Mountain National Park to Cooktown. The Black Mountain National Park is an imposing mountain range of black granite boulders with an extraordinary combination of flora and a habitat for an unusual range of wildlife. It is also an important meeting place for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. Go on a 4WD Track via Mount Amos Road, to the spectacular Trevethan Falls, where there is a lagoon for swimming, and stunning views from up the rocks. From Cooktown travel along Battlecamp Road (4W), into Lakefield (Rinyirru) National Park. Camp along the Normanby River, great for fishing. Remember all camping must be booked prior to arrival.
Once you arrive in Cooktown visit the Museum and Botanical Gardens, enjoy sunset on Grassy Hill Look Out and throw a line for a spot of fishing on the jetty.
46 kilometres north-west of Cooktown is Hopevale, an aboriginal community with the Hopevale Arts and Cultural Centre which actively involves the entire original community in passing on their cultural history. Approximately 25 minutes drive outside of Hopevale is Elim Beach, a shady beachfront campsite ideal to see the Coloured Sand dune formations.
Travel north through Kalpowar Crossing to Cape Melville through Cape Melville National Park featuring impressive granite boulders of the Melville range and sandy beaches of Bathurst Bay. Drive back through Rinyrru National Park and stop at the beautiful White Lilly and Red Lilly Lagoons, Nifold Plain - bird watchers and photographers paradise before heading to the Hann River Crossing. Head North through Lilly Vale / Running Creek access road to Port Stewart, a small community at the northern end of Princess Charlotte Bay. Stay at Silver Plains Station a historical outstation. Take the Battlecamp Road (if dry and open) into Lakefield National Park, Rinyirru National Park and visit the Old Laura Homestead along the way. Drive into Laura and visit the Quinkan Cultural Centre which showcases all aspects of Quinkan Country including heritage and the natural environment. Visit Split Rock on the way to Lakeland.
Return to Cairns along the Mulligan Highway via Mount Molloy and Mareeba, stopping by the beautiful Mareeba wetlands and travelling down the Kuranda Range.
Tips From The Locals
Have breakfast or coffee at Chill Café Palm Cove or Ellis Beach Café
Visit the Port Douglas Markets every Sunday 8-1pm
Go for a swim at Mossman Gorge
Have a beer at the Lions Den Hotel
Visit the Cooktown Museum
Check out sunset or sunrise on Cooktown’s Grassy Hill Lookout
Book Willie Gordon’s Aboriginal Rock Art Tour out of Cooktown
Have a coffee at Mareeba Coffee Works
Things To Do
Cooktown Reef Charters Fishing Adventure
Willie Gordon Aboriginal Rock Art Tour, Cooktown
Close up Birding Adventures Tour – Cooktown
Great Barrier Reef Day Trip from Cairns or Port Douglas
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Scenic Kuranda Day Tour
Mareeba Wetlands Birders Tour
Wavedancer Sailing Cruise to Reef & Low Isles (out of Port Douglas)
Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk
Barron River Half Day Rafting Trip
Cairns Tropical Zoom, Zip line Tour