This highway may be short but it’s scenic! VERY scenic. So scenic in fact that it generally makes the list of top 100 scenic coastal drives around the world. For sheer spectacular we think some sections of it rival the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. For this reason it’s very popular with visitors to Australia.
The Captain Cook Highway AKA Great Barrier Reef Drive is 75 kms (47 miles) long. It starts in Cairns before winding its way north along the rugged North Queensland coast. This is a sealed road and is in good condition. However it can be subject to landslides so be sure to check before starting your drive. And be prepared for some of the most stunning scenery anywhere! On one side you have spectacular rainforest clad mountains. On the other, glorious Pacific Ocean vistas, although this section of it is called the Coral Sea. There are many pristine beaches along the way. Or you can call in at one of the lookouts for a 360-degree view of the coast and rainforests. The highway officially finishes at Mossman.
At Mossman the sealed road continues for a short distance as Foxton Avenue. This brings you to the Mossman River and the start of the Mossman-Daintree Road. Cape Tribulation Road meets up with this road. And launches you on a journey you’ll experience nowhere else on earth. A sealed road, Cape Tribulation Road runs through and alongside the 150 million year old Daintree Rainforest. You‘ll not see a rainforest this old anywhere else on the planet!
As you approach Cape Tribulation the road winds along the Daintree Coast. Savour this experience. It is 100% unique. This is where 2 World Heritage Listed areas converge and it is the ONLY place in the world this happens! The world’s oldest living rainforest meeting the world’s largest heritage listed area. Namely the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef National Park.
From Cape Tribulation north to Cooktown it’s 4WD time! The first section is the Cape Tribulation-Bloomfield Road. This is a 33 km stretch of track through the Daintree Rainforest to Bloomfield. It’s also known as the Bloomfield Track and is a hot favourite with 4WD’ers. When the road was built it was designed for least impact on the rainforest. Thus it goes straight down, straight over and straight up. There are no switchbacks, loops or bridges to make it easier! You also need to remember that you’re in crocodile country! But those risks are well worth the trouble for the sheer exhilarating experience of travelling this road. If you want to continue north to Cooktown, it’s another 70 odd kilometres of unsealed but passable road.