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Monday, May 27, 2024

Tourist drive reopens

THE iconic Great Barrier Reef Drive opened over the weekend, providing a coastal route to Port Douglas and the Daintree, the daily ferry service from Cairns and the scenic inland route via Mareeba and Mount Molloy.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the reopening was a significant milestone in the recovery for tourism operators north of Palm Cove and would help to increase the number of visitors in the region.

“Many tourism staff travel north for work, so the opening of the Great Barrier Reef Drive on the Captain Cook Highway also reconnects businesses in Port Douglas with their staff,” he said.

“Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre has reopened, giving visitors access to the southern section of Daintree National Park to see one of the world’s oldest rainforests on a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk with a Kuku Yalanji guide.

“Daintree village is a popular touring option with lunch available at the Daintree Village Hotel while wildlife cruises on the Daintree River are operated by Solar Whisper and Croc Express.”

Kuku Yalanji Elder Uncle Roy Gibson whose dream led to the creation of the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre said the recent flooding had covered the Mosman River’s rocky bed in sand reminding him of his childhood days growing up in the Gorge.

“When I was about seven years old every time we had a big rain and flood, the river always had sand in it,” he said.

“As the years go by the floods change the Gorge all the time and take away a lot of sand. It really came back with this big flood now, like it did 60 years ago.

“I heard a lot of rocks moving at night like thunder which makes your heart beat more and it feels like the flood is right next to your bed because I sleep beside the Gorge. I could hear rumbling, boom, bang. I heard that a long time ago and I think, wow, I’ll never forget this. It’s unbelievable. The rocks have been moved.

Mr Gibson recalled the stories he was told as child about the serpent that comes along the river.

“Up in the mountain when it gets darker, that is the time the serpent comes out and that’s when the old people said don’t got to the river now, he is going to come along and take you,” he said.

“That story tells us not to go down there because there is going to be a flash flood.”

Tour buses have been bringing visitors into Daintree village where they are tucking into burgers and fish and chips at the Daintree Village Hotel, a lifeline for new owners Che and Trent Mulley who took over the lease of the restaurant on the day Cyclone Jasper hit.

“We managed to open immediately after the severe flooding to give the locals somewhere to go and then the self-drive tourists started to trickle through,” Che Mulley said.

“Within a week the tour buses arrived and we have been getting more than 100 tour bus passengers from the Cairns Adventure Group and Billy Tea Safaris a day for lunch.”

There are three single lane closures on the Great Barrier Reef Drive with the drive from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas estimated to take 1.5 hours.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Youth arrested over dangerous driving and KAP calls for better croc management.

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