We finally arrived in Cairns on Sunday afternoon and found a hostel. Early the next morning we drove north out of the town for a day exploring the rainforest. We stopped first at Palm Cove which was beautiful and very exclusive. We walked out on the jetty but kept well away from the water thanks to a crocodile warning sign - as if the jellyfish aren't enough of a deterant!
The road up the coast was like the Great Ocean Road, very winding and close to the beaches. We crossed the Daintree River by old-fashioned ferry, and then drove as far as the sealed road could take us, to Cape Tribulation. This is where Captain Cook ran aground while trying to avoid the Great Barrier Reef and is part of the World Heritage Area called the Wet Tropics or Daintree National Park. This is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet (the other being the Reef) and it was stunning. It is totally unspoilt, which was great as it must have looked almost as it did when Cook saw it over two centuries ago! Sadly it is also croc-infested!
We drove back through more amazing scenery, stopping at lookouts and idyllic beaches. We had lunch overlooking the sea (at a safe distance!) and finally visited Cow Bay which was beautiful.
After crossing the river back to civilisation we stopped at Mossman Gorge where we did a fantastic rainforest walk. We saw several giant Strangler Fig trees which grow on other trees slowing suffocating them by feeding off of their moisture - nice! The gorge itself wasn't as good as Finch Hatton Gorge as their were no waterfalls but it was beautiful in a different way.
On the way back to Cairns we stopped at Port Douglas which was really nice. We drove first to a lookout over Four Mile Beach which is another spectacular postcard-style beach. Then we continued into the town itself which had a fair bit of life about it for such a small place. It was a shame we didn't get to stay there - but it was a bit exclusively priced!
We arrived back in Cairns just after sunset so the drive back along the coast was even better than it was in the morning.