The taste of tropical rainforest you get from Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Mt Whitfield area will only whet your appetite for more and the glories of heritage-listed national parks offer days of walking, hiking and climbing pleasure.


daintree national park

There are a huge number of national parks in the Cairns region. The most well-known would be the Daintree National Park north of Port Douglas.


This world-heritage listed region saw huge media interest in 1983 when the then Douglas Shire Council tried to push a road through the rainforest from Tribulation to Bloomfield.


Images of protesters chaining themselves to trees and throwing themselves in front of bulldozers travelled around the world and brought more attention to the area than ever before.


Eventually after the road was finally through, a concerted campaign began to list the area on the World Heritage register and to ensure further development wouldn’t continue. After years of legal battles, the region claimed its place on the World Heritage list on December 9, 1988.


Although the road continues, it is very difficult to use during the wet season and many sections really need 4WD to pass.


Many tour operators operate sustainable and eco-friendly enterprises and are able to take visitors right into the rainforest. Tours to the area include day trips or week long treks around the region.


Shop around for the deal that best suits your interests. Visitors can combine a number of activities like horse-riding, diving and trekking and can even indulge themselves in luxury at the award-winning Daintree Eco-Lodge and Spa.


>> Go to our Rainforest section for more information on Daintree


cairns national parks

The Daintree may be one of the best-known and most popular national parks in the region but there are at least another 24 parks that are easily accessed if visitors are looking for something a little more exclusive.


Some of the more easily accessible include Barron Gorge, at Kuranda, north of Cairns via the Kuranda Range and Mossman Gorge, north of Port Douglas and Mossman.


The Barron Gorge has a fantastic viewing platform of the Barron Falls during the rainy season and a complex boardwalk the meanders through the rainforest and down the side of the river.


A number of tours include visits to Barron Gorge as part of their Kuranda sections.


Likewise Mossman Gorge has a number of great tours available including a walk around the area with the indigenous inhabitants who explain the dreaming of the area and the various uses for flora and fauna.


South of Cairns, the Tully Gorge is part of the Tully River area, popular for white-water rafting and local weekend picnics. All rafting on the Tully River goes through this area and seeing the rainforest from the water is a unique experience.


Image supplied by Tourism Queensland, Australia


atherton tableland national parks

Visitors can also choose from a number of self-drive tours especially on the Atherton Tableland where the clearly sign-posted attractions like Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham and the Crater Lakes National Parks are easily found.


Likewise the cooling waters of Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls and the Mungali Falls are also easily found by following the self-drive maps provided.


Visitors who are more interested in camping out and roughing can head to more isolated areas like Wooroonooran National Park south of Cairns on the Palmerston Highway, Lakefield National Park via the Laura Highway, Emerald Creek Falls in the Dinden State Forest south-west of Mareeba, Atherton Tableland or a number of other national parks and forests.


tips for visiting national parks

When in rainforest areas near rivers and ocean beware of crocodiles; the areas where they are found are clearly marked.


Most walking and trekking tours have restrictions regarding children and people with mobility issues. Check with the operator in advance.


When visiting a national park or forest, check to make sure you don’t need a permit for camping or visiting.


The most popular areas generally have a designated camping ground that will include toilets, water, barbecues etc but there will be areas where camping is not allowed.


Ensure you are fit and healthy before going off hiking. You should also ensure that someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return. Take a global roaming mobile phone with you. Every year people become lost while hiking in national parks and forests.


When walking or hiking make sure you take a hat, sunscreen, water, snacks and toilet paper. A mobile phone or radio is also useful.

Cairns national parks Directory

Barron Gorge National Park
Barron Falls lookout

Black Mountain National Park
25klm south of Cooktown

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park
110klm north of Cairns, beyond Daintree River

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
215lkm west of Cairns

Curtain Fig National Park
Outskirts of Yungaburra

Danbulla National Park & State Forest
North-east of Atherton on Atherton Tablelands

Davies Creek National Park
East of Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands

Emerald Creek Falls, Dinden State Forest
South-west Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands

Goldsborough Valley, Wooroonooran National Park
South of Cairns, Goldsborough Valley

Hallorans Hill, Conservation Park
East of Atherton

Josephine Falls, Wooroonooran National Park
South of Carins, Mirriwinni

Lake Barrine, Crater Lakes National Park
East of Atherton, Atherton Tablelands
Lake Barrine

Lake Eacham, Crater Lakes National Park
East of Atherton
Lake Eacham

Lakefield National Park
North of Cairns via Laura

Malanda Falls Conservation Park
Outskirts of Malanda, Atherton Tablelands

Millstream Falls National Park
South-west of Ravenshoe, Atherton Tablelands

Misty Mountains
South of Cairns via Tully & Innisfail

Mossman Gorge Daintree National Park
North of Cairns via Mossman
Mossman Gorge

Palmerston, Wooroonooran National Park
South of Cairns, via Palmerston Highway

Russell River National Park
South of Cairns via Bramston Beach
Bramston Beach