The Wet Tropics is 80 million years older than the Amazon and covers a massive 9,000 square kilometres, including 30 national parks, and stretches from Cooktown to Townsville.
It is a massive living natural wonder, and it is also a spectacular ecosystem serving home to many plants and animals, some of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world. There are plenty of ways to explore the forest, whether it be swimming, hiking or a guided tour.
Walks and hikes
One of the best ways to explore the beautiful greenery of North Queensland is by lacing up those boots and going for a walk.
Kulki Walk, Cape Tribulation (easy, 10 minutes) – This walk takes you from the Kulki car park through the rainforest, onto a boardwalk to the beautiful Myall Beach.
The Arrow Tracks, Cairns (moderate, 1-5 hours) – The yellow, red, blue and green arrow tracks wind through Mount
Whitfield, behind Cairns’ botanic gardens. There are stunning views along the way, some of the Cairns Airport where you can spot planes taking off and landing.
Mount Hypipamee National Park Crater Track, Tablelands (easy, 30 minutes) – This track leads to a viewing platform with incredible views looking into a volcanic pipe.
Djyinda Walk, Wallaman Falls (moderate, 2 hours) – Starting from the spectacular lookout of Australia’s highest sheer drop waterfall, Wallaman Falls, make your way down the mountain to the base of the falls. It’s a stunning sight to behold.
Forts Walk, Magnetic Island (moderate, 2 hours) – Take a hike up to a historic WWII fort with stunning views of the ocean and mainland at the end. It’s also an amazing location to spot koalas in the wild.
Dugong-Sawmill track, Whitsunday Island (easy, 1 hour) – Stroll through the rainforest and a fairyland of mosses, lichens and fungi on this walk from Dugong Beach to Sawmill Beach.
Coral Beach track, Conway National Park (moderate, 1.5 hours) – Take a walk to the fantastic Coral Beach, enjoying glorious views across the Whitsunday Passage.
Bluewater Trail, Mackay (easy, walking time varies) – This trail will show you some of the best parts of Mackay, including the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, Bluewater Lagoon and Iluka Park playground. Stop off wherever you wish and enjoy all the city has to offer.
Other spectacular ways to see the forest
Curtain Fig Tree, Yungaburra – Around 500 years ago, a small mammal or bird dropped the seed of a fig tree in the crown of a tree – and thanks to them, we now have the spectacular Curtain Fig Tree, measuring a gigantic 39m in circumference. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a fantasy movie (and if you really love it, you can visit its buddy the Cathedral Fig Tree nearby in Danbulla).
Lookouts – There are numerous lookouts around the region that’ll give you stunning views over the rainforest, sometimes without even needing to leave your vehicle. Check out the Mount Alexandra Lookout in Cape Tribulation, Henry Ross Lookout on the way to Kuranda, Hinchinbrook Island Lookout near Ingham, Castle Hill Lookout in Townsville, Lion’s Lookout in Airlie Beach and Lamberts Lookout in Mackay.
Look out for stinging trees. The heart-shaped leaves are covered in needle-like hairs causing intense and longlasting pain.
Don’t go bushwalking alone. Many trails lead into areas with no mobile reception. It is a smart idea to take somebody with you, and take extra care not to let children out of your sight when hiking as a family.
Be wary of wildlife. Forests are often frequented by snakes, cassowaries, dingoes and more. If you do happen to run into one, keep your distance, don’t aggravate them and quietly move the opposite way. Talk to children on how to treat wildlife respectfully.
Wear appropriate clothing, especially if you are going on a longer walk or hike. Wear comfortable, protective footwear, dress in cool but sun-safe clothes, wear a hat and always carry plenty of drinking water.