Dramatic! Exhilarating! Invigorating!
The wet season is an exciting time of year to explore the tropics of north Queensland.
Think: Thundering waterfalls, raging rivers, refreshing torrential downpours that end as quickly as they begin, and veils of mist rising drifting about the green canopy.
The Wet Tropics, in particular, should be on your ‘Wet’ bucket list. With an annual rainfall of around two metres, this area is named for good reason!
Much of this stunningly beautiful and richly diverse World Heritage area is tropical rainforest, and some of north Queensland’s most iconic national parks are found here.
But where do you start? Here’s our top 3 iconic rainforest national parks in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area—‘must dos’ when you visit during the ‘Wet’!
But first, a message about staying safe!
A word about water in the Wet
Mossman River, Daintree National Park | Julie Swartz © Queensland Government
During the wet season, waterways in our parks and forests become potentially dangerous. All that rain has to go somewhere! Numerous creeks and streams collect runoff from large catchment areas, and, very rapidly, swollen raging torrents can replace once-placid trickles. This can happen without warning, even days after heavy rain upstream.
So, appealing as it might seem to cool off in a waterhole or creek, you should heed all danger and warning signs on site. Stay safe, keep out of the water, and take a dip in your swimming pool or a patrolled beach with a stinger net instead!
And remember, if it’s flooded, forget it! This applies to accessing parks and forests as well as roads!
Witness the power of nature
Barron Falls, Barron Gorge National Park | © Tourism and Events Queensland
At Barron Gorge National Park , in Djabugay country, explore the Din Din Barron Falls lookout track. Grab your brolly and non-slip shoes—you’ll be safely elevated above the forest floor on this walk but not sheltered from the rain—and wind your way through the rainforest canopy.
Pause to watch the seasonal creek gushing below and the mist wisping between liana-draped tree trunks above.
Feel the anticipation build as the roar of the falls grows louder. At the lookouts (you have a choice of two viewpoints), gaze in awe at the stupendous power of water thundering over the falls, 250m into the steeply-incised valley below.
If you’re lucky enough to witness the falls in ‘full roar’, you’ll feel the spray on your face and the rising mist will float back and forth across your vision of the falls. Even when not at full flow, the falls are an awe-inspiring vision—try to imagine the power of water that has carved this deeply-incised gorge over the eons.
After heavy rain, when the falls are ‘pumping’ make sure you have dry wipes to clear your camera lens and glasses! Carry a waterproof bag, as everything will be damp by the time you’ve gazed your fill!
Want more? Venture onto one of the park’s long-distance walking tracks to truly immerse yourself in upland rainforest and discover unexpected viewing points over the coastal lowlands.
Go walking in the rain(forest)
Mossman Gorge, Daintree National Park | Julie Swartz © Queensland Government
Think ‘rainforest’ and ‘green’ comes to mind but until you visit during the Wet, you haven’t really discovered ‘green’!
In the Wet, you’ll experience tropical rainforests in their true colours—every shade of green you can imagine, from chartreuse to seafoam and everything in between! At Mossman Gorge, Daintree National Park , in Kuku Yalanji country, set out on the Baral Marrjanga track through lush tropical lowland rainforest.
Don’t worry about mud—your feet are high and dry (relatively) on an elevated boardwalk. Wear a rain jacket if you like but the air is warm and damp—under the shelter of the umbrella-like canopy, you’ll hardly notice the rain (unless it pours!).
Take your time—watch raindrops dripping slowly from leaf tips in the soft dappled light, look for colourful fungi on the forest floor and glimpse flashes of vibrant blue Ulysses butterflies against the green backdrop.
At the viewing points, gaze at the Mossman River tumbling and gushing over water-sculpted granite rocks on its way to the sea. Don’t be tempted to jump in though—during and after rain, this river can become treacherous!
Want more? Cross the Daintree River by ferry and explore the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree. Discover more rainforest tracks and boardwalks, which you can fit easily into a one-day trip. And explore the palm-fringed beaches that are even more beautiful under moody purple skies.
Go chasing waterfalls
Nandroya Falls, Wooroonooran National Park | Steven Nowakowski © Queensland Government
A stunning result of all this rain is, of course, waterfalls. Lots of them! Waterfalls dot the Atherton Tableland and coastal range in the far north. With so many to choose from, we’ve selected a handful you can enjoy in a day trip a couple of hours’ drive south of Cairns.
At Palmerston of Wooroonooran National Park, in Ma:Mu country, several short walks through spectacularly-lush rainforest growing on rich volcanic soils brings you to not one but four lovely waterfalls hidden deep in the forest.
If there’s been heavy rain, you may want to pack rain jackets and waterproof boots (and possibly leech protection) for these walks. But they are so worth it!
On the Nandroya Falls circuit track, feel the rainforest envelop you in cool dampness and notice how the foliage filters the light. Marvel at a fig tree stabilised by an enormous buttress root. Admire the pretty 10m high Silver Falls along the way, then at Nandroya Falls, watch Douglas Creek plummet 50m in a single stream over a basalt ledge, and cascade over a second rocky ledge into a deep pool. Very picturesque!
Next, explore the Tchupala Falls track, enjoying the cool dampness under the canopy and the ‘drip, drip, dripping’ sounds of the rainforest after rain. At Tchupala Falls, watch Henrietta Creek tumble over a basalt barricade, surrounded by ferns, mosses and other moisture-loving plants in this permanently damp spot! Then take the nearby track to Wallicher Falls, where white veils of water stream over rocky ledges into a pool below. Stand a moment to soak up the almost overwhelming lushness of your surrounds!
Want more? Set aside a couple of hours to visit the exciting Mamu Tropical Skywalk, famed for its sweeping views of the spectacular North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad mountains. Experience the rainforest from the forest floor to high above the canopy, on elevated walkways and a 37m high tower. Lovely at any time, in the rainy season, the lush Mamu rainforest comes into its own!
Want to know more?
Wallicher Falls, Wooroonooran National Park | Paul Curtis © Queensland Government
Learn more about these iconic national parks:
- Mossman Gorge, Daintree National Park
- Barron Gorge National Park
- Palmerston, Wooroonooran National Park
And, as always, remember to check Park Alerts before you set out to get the latest information on access, conditions and closures for the park you intend to visit.
Remember, if its flooded, forget it (that applies to parks and forests as well as to roads!)