Australia East Coast Road Trip: Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation

Australia East Coast Road Trip: Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation

Written by Heather

Topics: Life in Oz

After bidding farewell to Willie and Judy in Cooktown, Brooke and I hopped in our Traveller’s Autobarn station wagon and headed south to Port Douglas.

Camping at the Big4 caravan park just outside of Port Douglas
Our car & tent from Travellers Autobarn

From Port Douglas, a handful of tour companies offer day trips including sights around Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge, and Cape Tribulation. We contemplated booking the tour but then realized we could self-drive and make our own experience.

So we did! Brooke has already documented it very well, and instead of writing a nearly identical post, you should read hers and continue on here to see my day through photos :-)

It all began at the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary. After several days of eating fruit and nuts for breakfast, I was itching for a real meal, and a buffet breakfast was just the ticket. Best pineapple juice. Ever. But it wouldn’t be breakfast at a wildlife sanctuary without sharing it with a variety of birds!

Stealing Brooke’s cinnamon roll
Breakfast with the bird (@ Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas)

Shadow of a bird on the tent covering the dining area
On the tent covering the breakfast area

After an all-you-can-eat buffet, you can spend as much or as little time as you wish wandering through the park, learning about Aussie flora and fauna. Buy a cheap bag of feed and get close to the animals!

Rainforest Habitat

Working on his tan
Relaxing at Rainforest Habitat

Not sure what this is, but I loved it
Rainforest Habitat

If you’re keen and want to spend more money, you can also have your photo taken holding a koala, snake, or croc!

From there we hit the road forMossman Gorge. I expected a short walk followed by amazing views of a massive gorge. Instead, we walked on trails for an hour and saw lots of trees. Gotta love having preconceptions of what a place will look like and finding something quite different :-)

Mossman Gorge

Brooke and a very big tree
Mossman Gorge

Following Mossman we continued to head north through the Daintree National Park to Cape Tribulation. There’s no doubt that the road from the Daintree River to the Cape Tribulation beach proved the most challenging route to this point. With constant twist and turns, blind curves, and narrow lanes, it put our skills to the test!

But the views at Cape Trib beach were worth it :-)

Cape Trib beach

Cape Tribulation beach

Cape Tribulation beach

Cape Tribulation beach

To reward ourselves for that tough drive, we concluded the self-drive tour on a sweet note with a treat from the Daintree Ice Cream Company. We each paid $5 to taste the four flavors you see in the photo below — the pineapple was my favorite!

Daintree Ice Cream Company

Upon returning to Port Douglas, we found that all of the restaurants were booked for the night! If you decide to head that way, making a reservation (especially on the water front) the evening before or morning of is a must. My Aussie sister Toni highly recommended On the Inlet, and Salsa Bar & Grill touted itself as a place where the locals go. Since we couldn’t get into either, we snagged an outdoor seat at 2 Fish.

All in all, we spent less than the tour company would have charged us and with the exception of a Daintree River Cruise to spot crocs, we accomplished everything we set out to do! Save yourself some money and self drive through tropical north Queensland :-)

10 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Lauren says:

    Looks like such a great trip–great pics and post!

  2. James Cole says:

    I loved Port Douglas and Cooktown more than any other places I visited in Australia. I wish I’d gotten up to Cape Trib but I spent way to much time feeding the critters at the Rainforest Habitat.
    My favourite eating spots were the Rattle n Hum grill and Mango Jam. I think I forgot to tell you about the chocolate and banana pizzas they do. Oops…
    More posting and photo goodness Heather. I like the pic of your name in the sand :)

  3. Andi says:

    Oh wow, what a trip!!!!! Aren’t roos the best?

  4. Mom says:

    Looks like such fun to feed the animals. Also, loved the ‘colorful’ guests eating breakfast with you and Brooke.

  5. Toni says:

    Such a pity that you didn’t get to go to “On the Inlet” but looks as though you had a wonderful time. Feel a bit special getting a mention “aussie sister”!!

  6. Laura says:

    Heather, This looks like a blast! I must admit- I was distracted by your last photo. I’m such a sucker for ice cream :)

  7. Jade says:

    Looks awesome! I would have loved to have rented a car and done it ourselves… so glad you guys made it up to Cape Trib. and the Ice Cream!!! I loved Wattleseed the best!

  8. Nicole says:

    Good thing it was an all-you-can-eat buffet, otherwise you might have gone hungry with all those birds pecking at your food – LOL! ;)

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