MOSSMAN, 14km past Port Douglas, is a quiet town which has hardly changed since the 1950s; rail lines between the canefields and mill still run along the main street. Ten minutes inland, Mossman Gorge looks like all rainforest rivers should; the boulder-strewn flow is good for messing around in on a quiet day, but attracts streams of tour buses and car break-ins in peak season. There are also plenty of walking trails taking in the gorge and rainforest, lasting from a few minutes to a couple of hours. Kuku Yalanji, the local Aboriginal community, also conduct tours of the gorge explaining its history and local plant usage (Mon– Sat 9am, 11am, 1pm & 3pm; $32; bookings on Tel:07/4098 2595, Web: www.yalanji.com.au ). If you want to stay somewhere plush in the area, book in at the exclusive Silky Oaks Lodge (Tel:1300 134 044, Web: www.silkyoakslodge.com.au ; Price: $251), 12km from town through the canefields; there's not much rainforest here, but you get very well looked after.
Continuing north, the road splits left to Daintree township or right for the Daintree Ferry to Cape Tribulation. Backtracking southeast, you leave the highway and climb to Mount Molloy and either Mareeba or the Peninsula Developmental Road – the easier, inland route to Cooktown.