Julie Nock

The Coral Sea from the forest canopy

If you’d like to experience some safe-ish, wild girl adventure, head to the Daintree! I have visited a number of the world’s jungles and this is still my favourite. Before you do, make sure you let someone know how long you'll plan to be in there when going alone. 

Verdant jungle bounded by high mountain ranges and pristine turquoise sea. The Great Barrier Reef lies just 10 metres from the shore and on a king tide rises right out of the water. The Daintree is a unique environment and the oldest rainforest in the world.

Lack of truly large predators (though there are deadly spiders, snakes, wild pigs, giant ants, paper wasps, giant crocodiles in the coastal creeks and some pretty fierce plants like the stinging tree and lawyer cane) makes this the easiest jungle to explore alone. Follow any creek and you’ll soon find yourself in a wild, primordial forest. The Daintree hides its riches. You won’t find any route maps to take you in but if you are prepared to explore you’ll find crystal pools, towering trees, wild orchids, stunning butterflies, colourful birds, natural water slides, jagged rock faces, monster boulders and real adventure at every turn.

Take an overnight pack and enjoy bathing by the light of twinkling fireflies in a cool forest pool as the jungle comes alive all around you. Listen out for the call of the mother in law bird, catch a glimpse of the majestic cassowary (don’t approach – especially if it has young) and laugh at the antics of the striped possums leaping through the umbrella palms.

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At dusk, the sky turns momentarily black as tens of thousands of fruit bats take flight – awe inspiring!

If jungle trekking sounds a little daunting head for the coast where you’ll find an underwater wonder land of colourful coral, fish and invertebrates. Crystal clear, shallow waters make this the ideal place to snorkel and free dive. You’ll see turtles, dolphin and shark (not too many huge ones!) in abundance. If you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of the shy dugong in the sea grass or hear the sound of whale song as you slip beneath the surface.

Take care of the corals. Don’t stand on or touch them as they take a long time to grow and some can sting you. Just enjoy looking at their diverse beauty. If you’re there in November /December you might catch the coral spawn. For one night of the year when the moon is right, every coral sends forth its eggs. Dive underwater and experience ‘pink rain’ falling upside down as the eggs float to the surface – one of the most incredible, natural spectacles I have ever witnessed!

* Check price, dates and availability: Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Trib Tour

Julie Nock

Remote beaches of the Daintree – you can easily get one all to yourself!

Keep an eye out for crocs if you’re alone in the water, though they generally don’t enter the sea in daylight hours unless it’s mating season (Dec – Mar). If you want to explore the outer reefs (Mackay Reef is spectacular) there are a couple of dive boat operators in the area.

Before it was made into a national park in the 1980’s, people lived and farmed the coastal strip of the Daintree. There are remnants of its agricultural history that have been made into attractions like the tropical fruit farm and the tea plantation. National Parks have installed some canopy trails so you can walk safely through the jungle if you don’t fancy going it alone and a commercial operator has strung zip wires through a small portion so you can ‘jungle surf’ the canopy too.

Most of the coastal road is permissible with a 2 wheel drive vehicle (you’ll need 4 wheel drive above Emmagen) or you can catch a mini bus from Cairns/Port Douglas to take you in as far as Cape Tribulation. There are a number of places to stay from camp sites to high end house rentals and you’ll find a few mini marts and eateries along the coastal road. The Daintree is a really easy place to travel solo and I’m sure you’ll love it!

* Check price, dates and availability: Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Trib Tour

Julie Nock

About The Author: Julie Nock

I began travelling alone aged 18 and think it’s the only way to go. I live in the UK so I started with Europe and then launched myself into the wider world. I love oceans and forests and have visited a lot of remote places. People are generally very welcoming when they see a woman travelling solo – I think it’s a mixture of novelty factor (you just don’t see too many solo women) and longing (most people would love to travel alone but are frightened to do so).

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your wits about you – danger can lurk anywhere and bad things can happen to anyone, not just solo women – but if you keep an upbeat attitude and research well before you go you should be able to travel safely to most places. Admittedly, I have had some scary moments but when I weigh them against all the amazing things I’ve seen and the wonderful people I’ve met, those moments pale into insignificance.

My favourite places (so far) are: Australia, Texas, Japan, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Andaman Islands, French Guiana, Greece and Brazil.

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A diary page drawing of a Comb Jellyfish – with beautiful bands on each ‘edge' that undulate neon rainbow colours.

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