Review: Mamu Tropical Skywalk day tour from Cairns showcases the best of the rainforest
Get up close and very personal with the North Queensland's Wet Tropics rainforest at the fabulous Mamu Tropical Skywalk. It's an included activity on an amazing day tour from Cairns. Review: Julietta Henderson
Enjoy a day tour from Cairns that showcases many of the highlights of the Queensland Wet Tropics rainforest around Cairns — including fabulous Paronella Park and the sublime Mamu Tropical Skywalk. At Mamu, you’ll make your way up into the canopy of the rainforest and immerse yourself in the incredible beauty of this ancient landscape. Duration: 9 hours (approx.)
While you may need a head for heights to make the most of Mamu Tropical Skywalk, it’s the perfect way to get a literal bird’s-eye view of a World Heritage-listed rainforest.
Anyone who saw Sean Connery swinging through the Amazonian jungle canopy in the movie Medicine Man will appreciate the breathtaking vistas available from a vantage usually reserved for the birds. While this Wet Tropics landscape is every bit as spectacular as its Amazon counterpart, Mamu offers an experience a lot easier to navigate than Connery’s elaborate system of ropes and pulleys.
Ninety minutes’ drive south of Cairns, Mamu is located in the Wooroonooran National Park and takes in one of the region’s most lush rainforest pockets. Over 150 species of birds live in the national park, including the Southern Cassowary. Established to preserve both the cultural and ecological heritage of the region, Mamu enables visitors to explore the rainforest from the forest floor to the canopy. The 2.5 km of well-kept, virtually flat paths and walkways makes this one of the most accessible attractions of its kind.
The project cost $10 million and took 16 months to construct. More than 3.5 metres of rain fell during construction. There are around 156 tonnes of galvanized steel in the walkways and more than 900,000 2-litre milk bottles in the recycled plastic decking.
Named for the traditional owners of the land — the Ma:Mu people — the walk has been gently sculpted, sympathetically following the swathe cut by Cyclone Larry in 2006. Every few metres plaques and photo boards denote the presence of wildlife habitats or identify species of vegetation. At the ticket office the ranger tells us Mamu is brimming with cassowary, forest dragons, birds and butterflies, along with countless species of plants and flowers — so we’re well prepared.
The minute we step onto the gravel path we are cocooned within the velvety embrace of the rainforest. It instantly feels about five degrees cooler and the sounds of the highway are silenced. It’s like stepping into a real-life fairy glade and any minute I expect to see a wood nymph giggling at me from behind a giant mushroom.
While we don’t spot any fairy-tale creatures, we do encounter John and Margie — a pair of fit 60-something Melburnians. This is their third time to Mamu. Armed with advice from John and Margie (‘don’t fear the movement of the cantilever; do climb the tower’) we arrive at the first of four covered rest shelters.
From there we venture out onto the 40-metre cantilevered viewing platform for our first sight of the spectacular rainforest spilling out below. Thanks to Margie, the swaying of the platform — made entirely from galvanised steel and recycled plastic — is less unnerving than if we had not been forewarned.
With some relief we rejoin solid ground before moving on to the 350 metre elevated walkway. With its foundations embedded into the side of a steep mountain, it is a unique experience to be looking down on lush rainforest canopy on one side and up at the soaring trunks of the forest giants on the other.
We reach the observation tower and in view of my poor head for heights, I try to convince myself that the lower viewing deck is quite high enough, but my 77-year-old companion shows me a clean pair of heels, and so I brave the 37-metre ascent. The view from the top is beyond breathtaking and Margie’s advice proves sound once again.
We complete the circuit in around 90 minutes. My only disappointment is that I didn’t see Sean Connery — or even a wood nymph.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Julietta Henderson is a travel and feature writer. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket.