by Haylee Slater
Located 20km north of Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge is the only place on earth where two World Heritage listed sites rest side by side.
Nestled at the southern end of the Daintree Rainforest, only 77kms north of Cairns, the dense forest meets the Great Barrier Reef. Home to over 30,000 species of flora and fauna and with firm roots in the heritage and culture of the Kuku Yalangi people, Mossman Gorge contains the oldest, continuously surviving rainforest on earth.
Our own visit begins with a small white bus and a very friendly guide responsible for driving us to the walking trail.
Immediately, the rainforest grows thicker and gradually blocks out more of the sun, the air is warm and damp but gets cooler the further we drive. As we disembark, signs warn us of the dangers of cassowaries and instruct us not the feed any of the native wildlife.
The trail is very well built, erected to stand tall amongst the canopy. The path is smooth enough for wheelchair access, at least until the first lookout reaching over a series of white water ledges. It is not a long walk to the cold flowing waterhole where we are able to swim. Too cold even for crocodiles it is a perfect place for visitors to cool off. Icy water flows over granite boulders and the sun shines through a gap in the canopy illuminating the river floor.
The sandy bottom leaves little camouflage for things that bite, putting me at ease as I wade in. The crashing falls above pulverise and aerate the water until it feels like velvet. Fish swim un-phased by us, making it possible to swim alongside them. Large rounded boulders offer a place to rest after a hard swim across the driving current.
For the most part the water is calm and deep with plenty of room to duck dive to the bottom, in other places the current is so strong you are able to ride it through the canyon with little control over where you end up. Young children splash in the shallows and professional photographers line up their tripods looking for the perfect angle to capture the view.
With something on offer for all visitors Mossman Gorge should be the first stop for any visitor to the tropical North.