Vibrant town of Kuranda and Barron Falls
The next day we were planning to go to Kuranda and Barron Falls via Black Mountain Road.
It has already been our second week in Port Douglas. We love this town so much that we just could not leave. The town’s amazing atmosphere, surrounding mountains, Four Mile Beach, well-supplied shops and the mix of good food and dear perfumes made us feel so at home that we had to stay and enjoy more.
Three famous 4WD tracks around Port Douglas
There are a few great 4WD tracks around Port Douglas and this post would not be complete if I don’t mention them in detail.
Creb Track starts from Daintree Village and goes towards Wujal Wujal through a dense Daintree rainforest. It ends in Wujal Wujal which is home to Bloomfield Falls.
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The track is very challenging and not accessible during wet weather. There are rough sections and sharp ascends and descends. During unexpected rain, it is very slippery when going down and there were many cars sliding down like on ice. It can be hazardous and you can damage your car.
When taking the Creb Track always check if there is no rain forecasted (even in the dry season). When wet the track might not be passable and you get stuck.
Creb Track was already closed as the wet season started a few weeks ago bringing quite a lot of rain. We had to put Creb Track on our bucket list.
Bloomfield Track goes from Cape Tribulation to Cooktown and it is a relatively easy track to undertake in a dry season. The only challenges are the two steep climbs over the ranges.
The goes via Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community where you can stop for a night and see Bloomfield Falls.
Then, on the way, you pass The Lion’s Den Hotel located in Helensvale. This is a historic pub where you can enjoy live music, have a drink and grab a meal.
In the final stretch, Bloomfield Track joins Mulligan Highway not far from Cooktown already.
How difficult is Bloomfield Track?
Black Mountain Road
The last one on the list is Black Mountain Road. We did not know much about this road but it looked like we could actually take it and so we did today. Our plan was to use this interesting and picturesque track as a shortcut to Kuranda, our destination for the day.
The day before we also confirmed that we no longer need to apply for a permit to drive through the Black Mountain Road (it was required in the past), so we were free to go.
Black Mountain Road starts off the highway near Julatten, goes through Macalister Range National Park and finishes in Kuranda. The dirt track meanders through the dense rainforest and goes parallel to Captain Cook Highway.
We always try to explore the untouched areas where not many people go. In the past, this old trail was used by the Aboriginal people and later first pioneers, before the road was built by the coast.
As we started driving, Black Mountain Road happened to be a well-maintained, narrow track with some steep and rocky sections. We were counting to have some lookouts on the way but all 45 km we were going through the rainforest only passing small bridges over creeks. Every now and then a liana or a low-hanging branch touched the car.
Obviously, we liked it as the road is not popular and we did not see any cars on the way.
We looked for cassowaries, but they can hide quickly when hearing a car, so we were out of luck. We also passed Black Mountain itself, but unfortunately, we were not able to see its peak. Only the car navigator indicated that we were close to it. Definitely, there was no walk to get to the peak.
We passed many picturesque, very mysterious streams and rivers. It was just magical and beyond belief that people live here. It was indicated by the mailboxes that appeared from time to time by the road, but it was impossible to spot houses among the dense vegetation.
The road led us all the way to Kuranda and we got there without any problems.
Kuranda scenic town
Kuranda is a very picturesquely situated town and has a specific atmosphere of a place with a soul and it can be really busy any time of the year. We walked around the shops but Nell was mostly delighted with Kuranda Candy Kitchen.
This is wherein the skilful hands of confectioners, Christmas candies and lollipops in the shape of Christmas trees appeared in front of our eyes.
There are many Kuranda attractions that cannot be seen in one day: Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda Scenic Railway, Skyrail, Barron Falls and Koala Gardens, Birdworld Kuranda and Rainforest Nature Park.
Today, as we had limited time, we decided to visit Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Barron Falls on the way back to Port Douglas.
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is a pavilion with incredibly beautiful butterflies. They fly in all directions and they have amazing shapes and colours.
Nell absolutely wanted them to sit in her arms, but she waved her hands in all directions, and I think only the kamikaze butterfly would do the trick. It was really good to know the origins of the butterflies and learn about them.
New crocodile hat
Marius decided to buy a new hat from a local crocodile. No wonder why – the crocodile looked very handsome with the hat!
Barron Falls – amazing in wet season
After spending a few hours in Kuranda we drove to Barron Falls which, we heard, looked spectacular after a big rain. Unfortunately, even though we had quite a lot of rain it was not enough for the falls to burst with water. It only looked picturesque with a slowly trickling stream.
In the distance, we saw a green Skyrail cable gondola that blended so well with the background that we had to look closely to see it. We actually did a Skyrail a few years ago, but Nell was very young then.
The best way to enjoy the trip is to take a Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns in the morning and take a Skyrail cable gondola from Kuranda on the way back. This way you can enjoy magnificent Cairns views from the above rainforest canopy.
There are two lookouts at Barron Falls with a short walk between them: Wrights Lookout and Barron Falls Lookout. The views were really spectacular as we were so high.
On the way back to Port Douglas
After visiting Barron Falls, soon, we were on our way back to Captain Cook Highway, which in my opinion is one of the most picturesque drives along the ocean in Australia.
Captain Cook Highway goes from Cairns to Port Douglas. The road is only 68 km and goes mostly along the shoreline where you can see the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other side.
The views were beautiful and the sea was right next to our wheels. The locals, who knew this route from the inside out, were going very fast around the corners. We drove much more calmly, because the road was very windy, but also because we did not own a racing car.
Goodbye Port Douglas
The next day we had to say goodbye to Port Douglas. We spent two weeks here, mostly relaxing but also undertaking different challenges. If we stayed even longer, we would have to be ‘scraped off the floor’, because we relaxed so much.
In the morning we went for a farewell walk and visited the Sunday market for the last time.
Coconut Opening Mastery
We tried delicious and refreshing coconut water and then we ate coconut with local sweet bananas. It was great! Yum, I guess I’ll become a fan of fresh coconuts.
Coconut water is great to drink if you know how to open the damn thing. At the market, we watched a man with a machete opening coconuts for people. I can tell you, he was really skilled as he was swinging the machete quickly and without hesitation. We wouldn’t be trying to open it with a machete. Fortunately, we don’t own a machete to open the coconut.
Another, easier way, to open a coconut is to do it with a drill (which we did not have either).
Mango Trees in Port Douglas
On the way back, our young girl, Nell, found a beautiful mango ready to eat on the sidewalk. You must know that mango trees in Port Douglas grow everywhere! We took the mango and it will be for dessert tomorrow.
The next day, we could not pack on time. It took us a long time to get ready for the road. It was all because we settled in our Port Douglas for too long.
We left only before noon. It was good we became friends with the caravan park owners and they didn’t make any problems that it took us so long to pack.
On the other side…
Taking advantage of our moment of inattention, Nell quietly reached a blood-red marker pen and made herself a manicure and pedicure in one go. She looked as if she had torn to shreds some innocent sheep.
Anyway, our next stop was a luxurious Big4 Cairns Coconut Resort.
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4WD Equipment Checklist
GPS Navigator or compass
Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction
Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD
Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places
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