Port Douglas To Mossman Gorge

Home » Port Douglas To Mossman Gorge

Content may contain affiliate links.

Sharing is caring!

The Mossman Gorge is a famous tourist attraction adjacent to the town of Mossman Australia, about a 15 – 20 minute drive from Port Douglas. The easiest way to visit Mossman Gorge is to self-drive there, park at the Visitor Centre, and explore on foot. You can walk on the rainforest boardwalks and walking tracks without a guide and see the famous swimming holes. If you don’t have a vehicle there are shuttle buses that can take you to the entrance of The Gorge or you can visit as part of a rainforest tour.

A full-day tour will include the Daintree Rainforest north of the river, a half-day tour may take you to Mossman Gorge plus a croc-spotting cruise. A tour gives you the advantage of having a guide, you will learn and understand more about the rainforest. The Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people own the Mossman Gorge. The Mossman Gorge Centre is an Indigenous ecotourism facility and one of Australia’s most authentic Aboriginal experiences. You may opt to take a Kuku Yalangi Dreamtime guided tour at the Mossman Gorge, booking details and links to book are below.

The first bus leaves the Visitor Centre at 8 am, and its open 7 days per week, year round. The last bus departs at 5.30 pm. Buses run every 15 minutes. In high season the opening hours may be longer, shorter in the wet season. The Centre is not open on Christmas Day.

The Visitor’s Centre has a small restaurant and a gift shop with a lot of traditional Aboriginal Art. The Centre is free to enter (parking is free too) but the shuttle from the Visitor Centre to the start of the Gorge walking trails has a small fee. ($17.50 Au adults in peak season, $7.25 child, family $36.25)

Book The Mossman Gorge Shuttle Bus

You can book the shuttle to Mossman Gorge here, online, on Viator. (there is no public bus service and Viator are very reliable, we find.)

You could try to take a taxi or Uber, but there’s not much Uber coverage in Port Douglas.

Mossman Gorge Tours

Alternatively book a full-day Daintree Tour (10 hours). Some of the Daintree is still closed because of the landslides so tours are slightly modified. These full day tours includes Mossman Gorge, a Daintree River Cruise and The Daintree (Cape Tribulation), or a shorter half-day tour. This half day tour (it’s the one we recommend) includes a boat trip on the Daintree River to spot crocodiles, birds, and other wildlife. It’s a 4-hour 45-minute trip with pick up in Port Douglas. Check it out here. We think this is the best option.

Dreamtime walks with the Kuku Yalanji start at $95 Au, these are held at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm and last about 90 minutes. (book here)

Suppose you’d like to experience an Aboriginal “Welcome to Country” at the Gorge. In that case, there is a new tour which includes this ceremony, a guided rainforest walk, a wildlife cruise, a tropical fruit farm visit, plus, a local barramuni farm lunch. Check that one out here. This is an 8 hour tour.

It’s a special place, if you’re visiting Far North Queensland you should go.

Portdouglasaustralia.com.au acknowledges the traditional custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them, their culture and to the Elders past, present and future.

The Mossman Gorge is north of both Cairns and Port Douglas, south of Daintree Village and the main part of the Daintree Rainforest. Mossman is not a tourist town other than for visitors going to the Mossman Gorge. The Saturday morning Mossman Markets could be worth your time, too. The Gorge is an incredibly beautiful rainforest spot, for walking, learning, enjoying, and sometimes swimming. Mossman Gorge is considered to be a part of the Daintree Rainforest and The Daintree National Park.

More Information on Visiting Mossman Gorge, including safety, crocodiles, admission and walks, below.

In December and January 2024, Mossman Gorge was closed by Cyclone Jasper. Mossman Gorge is now open, we have visited, it’s all fine other than some damage to walking tracks.

A lot has changed at the Mossman Gorge over the 20 years we’ve lived nearby. This post covers Mossman Gorge, and getting there from Port Douglas.

Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge – Driving

If you have a car, the best way to get from Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge is to drive. There is a free car park at the Mossman Gorge Visitor’s Centre. It’s about a 10-20 minute drive. If you want to visit Mossman Gorge without a car, you can book a shuttle bus or a tour. There is a map below, with directions. Mossman is approximately 20 km northwest of Port Douglas.

Unless you have your own vehicle, by far the easiest way to visit Mossman Gorge from Port Douglas, is to book a tour as there is no convenient public transport in the region. A half day tour is a cheaper option than combining Mossman Gorge with a Daintree and Cape Tribulation tour, which is a full-day trip. Check out these two options, with the best price guarantee, at our 2 text links above.

You can see the town of Mossman on the map below, the route from Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge is marked, in driving to Mossman Gorge you will pass through Mossman town and turn of to the left and keep driving until you reach the Mossman Gorge Centre. There is no through road for visitors.

Mossman is 76 km (approx) northeast of Cairns, the drive should take you just over an hour. Again, public transport is limited. Taxis and shuttles are mostly very expensive.

There is no train to Mossman from Cairns and the closest international airport is in Cairns.

Driving north from Mossman, you’ll arrive at the Daintree Ferry after 28mins, 30km. You’ll then be in the Daintree Rainforest proper, although Daintree National Park does extend south of the river at Mossman Gorge.

Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre

Driving towards the Mossman Gorge, from Mossman itself, you’ll arrive at a large modern building and car park. This is the Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre.

It is preferred that visitors to the gorge park here and take the regular shuttle buses up to the rainforest, swimming holes, and walkways. The bus costs about $12 for a return adult ticket.

If you are local the bus is free. There is no actual admission fee for the Mossman Gorge, you just pay for the bus. You will need to show proof of your address, such as your driving license to qualify for the local free admission.

Visitors can, in theory, walk to the Mossman Gorge swimming holes, this would be free. However, this is Aboriginal land and the elders would prefer visitors not to do this.

The road from the Visitors Centre to the gorge entrance passes through their settlement.

At the Visitors Centre you’ll find a really good souvenir shop. This is a great place to pick up Aboriginal art-inspired items, and a small restaurant.

The car park has a charging place for electric vehicles.

Bus tickets are available inside the Visitors Centre and you can book and pay for a Dreamtime Tour here too.

The whole operation is very slick and modern these days to old-timers like us who remember the gorge before there were even walkways.

Best Time To Visit Mossman Gorge?

The winter is the best time to visit the Mossman Gorge to avoid torrential rain, mosquitos and tropical jungle heat. The river will be lower and less dangerous if you choose to swim, but it will be icy cold. Crocodiles don’t like cold water.

High season in Port Douglas is typically June and July, the winter months. Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge will be at their busiest.

In summer it can be very hot and before the rains start is the best time for swimming. The water will be warmer and you’ll need a refreshing dip. But of course, you can visit the Mossman Gorge at any time of year, if it is open.

Check for any closures on our site (we’re local and we keep it updated), or on the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre website, here.

Can You Swim at Mossman Gorge?

Every time we’ve visited Mossman Gorge, people have been swimming. Dozens of people were swimming the last time we visited.

That said, there is a sign that seems to be permanently set to “Danger, No Swimming”.

These waters can be dangerous in the wet season, there was a fairly recent fatality, and if the water is flowing fast there is a strong current. There are warning signs about this and about slipping on boulders.

There were no warning signs about crocodiles that we saw. As far as I know, a crocodile has never been seen in the water at the Mossman Gorge.

Most popular local swimming holes are popular because they’re croc-free. We hope. There was a croc found at Shannonvale fairly recently.

The water at the Mossman Gorge is usually crystal-clear and full of fish. Bring your snorkel and mask if you have one.

We’ve swum here dozens of times, even with babies and small children without any mishaps. But we have seen snakes on the path and there could be stinging tree about if you go off the paths. So don’t.

The no-swimming signs at Mossman Gorge are fairly new and I don’t know if this rule is enforced. It’s certainly very dangerous to swim here when the river is in flood.

About the author
Alyson Long

Leave a comment