Review: Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD explore the majesty of a World Heritage-listed landscape

The vast Queensland Wet Tropics stretch all the way from Townsville up to Cooktown, encompassing rugged mountains and lush rainforest. The Daintree is arguably the best known piece of this natural wonder, and you'll experience the very best of the Daintree region on this 4WD tour. Review: Vanessa O’Hanlon

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD. Image: Vanessa O’Hanlon

5 stars

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD with Billy Tea Safaris

These Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD to the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track offer a personalised, eco-accredited experience in custom-built 4WD vehicles. Guides have extensive knowledge of the flora, fauna and history of the region, along with Indigenous culture and heritage. Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

The greatest reef on earth sits on the cusp with a rainforest over one hundred million years old; the only place on earth where two World Heritage-listed sites sit side by side.

I could hire a car and weave my own way into the unknown, but I figure it’s best to discover this rugged jewel with a company that has a real understanding of the landscape. I’m joining Advanced Eco-Accredited Billy Tea Safaris on their Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation and 4WD Bloomfield Track Day Tour. As the title suggests, these Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD involve a long day but are worth every minute.

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD: Daintree Rainforest. Image: Bigstock

Right on 7am, tour guide Matthew arrives at my Cairns hotel. From the moment I board the custom-built high clearance 4WD vehicle, designed to seat a maximum of sixteen people, I am laughing. Matthew’s dry sense of humour and vocabulary to rival Crocodile Dundee is one of the many highlights of this tour.

As we wind our way long the azure coastal waters, heading north past Port Douglas towards the first stop on these Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD, Matthew reminds us of the dangers of swimming in this part of Australia and the very real risk of crocodile attack.

On that cheery note we board the MV Matilda for a cruise down the crocodile-infested Daintree River, and it doesn’t take long to find “Lizzy” – a 3.5 metre female crocodile!

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD. Image: Vanessa O’Hanlon

Her scaly body is in full view as she basks on the warm, muddy riverbank, guarding her young swimming nearby. Females are very protective of their young until they are around two to three months old. With one eye fixed on us and glaringly sharp teeth, I’m thankful for the protection of the boat.

On the other side of the river we meet up with Matthew again and drive on to the Alexandra Range Lookout (or Walu-Wugirriga meaning ‘lookabout’) for a photo opportunity.

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD. Image: Vanessa O’Hanlon

Walking into the Daintree Rainforest is like being transported into Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree; there’s a sense of magic. The Jindalba Boardwalk meanders around and across a small creek. Filtered light beams through the towering canopy of palms and ferns, radiating off a spider web half the size of me.

Lunch is at Lync-Haven, where an animal refuge houses cockatoos, reptiles and very cute wallabies that eat carrots out of my hand. Balancing the cuteness with something a little more fearful I work up the nerve to pat a python’s slippery leather skin.

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD: Walk the Jindalba Boardwalk. Image: Vanessa O’Hanlon

Meanwhile multi-skilled Matthew cooks up a true Aussie barbeque – steak, salads and a traditional snag.

Next on our itinerary is a bumping, steep ride along the iconic 4WD Bloomfield Track. Built in the early 1980s, the Bloomfield Track became the focus of one of Australia’s most controversial environmental protests. Today it is one of only two connections to Cooktown.

About 6 kilometres down the track is the Emmagen Creek crossing. Its 20 degree temperature is a deterrent to crocodiles who prefer warmer water, so there’s no time like the present for a plunge and I dive into the refreshing crystal clear water.

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD. Image: Vanessa O’Hanlon

Matthew is already preparing the next treat, a tasting platter of exotic tropical fruits and traditional damper. With swivelling hips and contorting lips, he transforms into Elvis as he swings the billy around and around, brewing a traditional bush cuppa. Taking mine to the edge of river I savour a quiet moment and the beauty of the Australian bush.

But the day is not over. We’re soon on a beautiful secluded beach where mountains meet the coast. A brief history lesson takes us back to 1770 when Captain Cook’s ship became stuck on a reef here, hence the name ‘Cape Tribulation’.

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD

Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD: Cape Tribulation. Image: Bigstock

I could stay here for a week but it’s time to move on to a sweet hidden secret – the Daintree Ice Cream Company – and ice cream made from local produce.

Back on the Daintree Ferry and driving down the coast towards Cairns I reflect on what a wonderful journey it’s been. I probably would never have ventured this far north if it wasn’t for these amazing Daintree tours from Cairns by 4WD.

This humbling tapestry of nature, where reef meets rainforest, has given me a broader appreciation of just how special this part of Australia is.

Vanessa travelled as a guest of Billy Tea Safaris.

Additional images: Bigstock


Vanessa O'Hanlon

About the writer

Vanessa O’Hanlon is an Australian television news presenter with the Nine Network and an avid traveller. Her travels began with a flight to Egypt, a visit to the pyramids and a camel ride and instantly she knew there was no turning back. Since then Vanessa’s backpack has seen a thing or two, from discovering relatively untouched Bhutan to bracing the cold winds on the peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro. Her travel tales span nearly 50 countries. Combining a love of writing, photography and exploring the unknown, Vanessa is pleased to share her adventures with The Big Bus tour and travel guide readers.

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