Through the by now familiar cane fields to the unremarkable settlement of Mossman.
The Mossman Gorge visitors’ centre is open and spacious. It is run by local indigenous people and has a quiet, well ordered and efficient air about it.
There are Dream Time guided tours available based on the local culture and mythology.
We opt for the shuttle bus and the free, unguided walks along the tracks. There are short ones and long ones. The bus ride of a few kilometres immediately takes you into what we used to call jungles in the days when the Empire and Commonwealth featured large in the curriculum.
The rainforest is a quiet, lush, sombre green. We walk on solidly constructed wooden walkways past the bathing point on the river where a number of people are already cooling off. The Mossman is a sizeable river. At this point it flows over huge boulders and creates a number of natural plunge pools.
We choose the longer walk. The tracks are well tended and have many information points describing the local flora and fauna, it’s uses and the local mythology attached to it. The woodland we walk through gives every indication of being pristine, apart from the tourist track of course. There is a wide variety of trees and undergrowth. Many have huge buttress roots. We are reacquainted with the charmingly and appropriately named strangler fig which has preyed on and killed a number of trees to further its own ends. From time to time there are glimpses of the towering, cloud smeared, wooded slopes of the surrounding hills. This is a rugged area. There are little byways which take you to leafy pools and streams and particularly impressive trees. There is an exquisite little forest dragon keeping a wary eye on us from behind a rock.
Walking at a sedate pace it doesn’t feel too hot in the shaded wood until you stop whereupon you are enveloped in a dense blanket of air and find yourself dripping sweat within seconds.
We return to the pool and this time take a plunge ourselves. Or at least I do. Alison does a rather uncharacteristic maiden-aunt-on-the-beach act by wading in with her shoes off and her ‘kiss- me-quick’ hat on until he water is up to her ankles. The water is delightfully cold and there is plenty of sand on the bottom.
Back to the centre on our return ticket. ‘Two returns to the rainforest, please’ isn’t a request that I’ve often made to a bus driver, but there you go. We write a suitably complimentary comment in the visitors’ book. We drop in on the gallery which displays original works on rainforest themes, mainly prints, by local artists. The work is attractive, often elegant and presented in a very stylish way. The prices are comparable to works in other professional galleries. We’re not in the market for anything more bulky or expensive than T-shirts at the moment so are just looking.
Verdict: an excellent and potentially very cheap day out in these touristy parts. The whole presentation and conduct of the place is commendable.
Night. And a hot one. No change there then. We take a brief walk around Port Douglas. Interesting to visit but not a place where we’d choose to live.