Cairns to Cape Tribulation Bike Tour

December 17, 2021

At Electric Bikes Brisbane, we regularly feature the adventures of our community members to inspire and to give like-minded bike tourers ideas for their next ride. In this eBike Rides and Tours article, Mark shares the highlights of his 8-day, 400km adventure from Cairns to Cape Tribulation. 

Stats and Equipment

Bike: Focus Aventura, Ortlieb panniers and front bag, small centre bag for rear and elastic webbing

Distance Travelled: Approximately 400kms, including side trips

Terrain: Mostly flat with three significant climbs. Bikepath/ lane alongside Highway becoming narrow, gravel north of Port Douglas

Suggested Fitness Level: A reasonable level of fitness is suggested. While generally not too challenging, some parts can feel long. 

    Itinerary

    Day 1, Cairns to Port Douglas (73kms)

    • Coffee Stop: 15km Smithfield Shopping Centre
    • Phone Reception is Sporadic

    I stopped at Smithfield Shopping Centre for some minor shopping, but the café outside had good coffee and a lovely French patisserie feel.

    The first climb is Rex Lookout, and the lookout is worth the photo. After Rex, the road begins what is known as the “Ocean Road”.

    It’s a pretty ride with numerous vistas for photos. After that, the road turns undulating. Along the way, you’ll come across the first of the “Croc Tours”. 

    I arrived in Port Douglas by about 2 pm. After booking in, I was able to store the bike for the rest of the day and walked everywhere. The town centre has bars and restaurants aplenty, so one does not lack entertainment.

    Day 2, Port Douglas

    Port Douglas had enough to keep me interested for an additional day. I walked the trail around the national park, and it was worth the effort. The beach is quite lovely, but be wary of the stingers.

     

     

     

    Day 3, Port Douglas to Cow Bay (50km)

    The first stop was Mossman, a mere 20 km up the road. There is a rather charming local market on Saturdays that you can explore. The other activity in town is the Mossman Gorge, and it’s not any better than somewhere like Springbrook in the Hinterland.

     * Note – Mossman is your last stop to purchase food at a supermarket.

     

    After stopping slightly short of Daintree Ferry for coffee, I proceeded to the Daintree Croc tour for a bit of nature adventure. 200 metres from the ferry are two companies offering up close and personal croc observations. The tours cost $30.

    The ferry costs a mere $3.00 return on a bike, a lot less that for cars. The ferry goes back and forth all day long and no reservation was necessary. 

    After descending the ferry, you have nice jungle riding for about 10 km on a flat road but turns to something more demanding.

    The Alexandra hill climb is a decent ascent, and if the day is hot and humid, you can be guaranteed a good sweat up.

    Cooling down is easy on the downward side as it’s pretty extended. An ice cream factory is near the end of the downward slope and worth a refreshing stop. At this point, I then deviated to my accommodation, where I stayed two nights. Alternatively you could push on to Daintree village as the day wasn’t particularly long.

    I stayed in Cow Bay, which was simple and charming with its glam tents. It rained relatively hard the nights I stayed, and having that rain on the roof made it easy to sleep. There’s a community area for books, table tennis etc. Good food too!

    Day 4 (20kms)

    This was a day for some R&R. I walked down to the beach and up to the rainforest centre and explored around a bit on my bike. 

    Day 5, Cape Tribulation

    I took a short ride around 25kms with stops at Daintree Tea factory and the odd swim in clear water behind a coffee stop. I had intended to stay two nights at Cape Trib Safari Lodge, with the 2nd day being a trip out to the outer reef for some snorkelling and reef experience.

    Unfortunately we had persistent train so it wasn't worth it as no visibility so I did a couple of local walks and, for curiosity, I rode about 26kms up the road further to where the bitumen ends, and the gravel begins.

    At that point, my next stop was planned to be Cooktown, some 100 km away, however the heavy rains meant risk of flooding. So I decided to hightail it out of there early the next morning back to Port Douglas before the roads became impassable.

    Day 6, Back to Port Douglas (70kms)

    Early start to retrace my route back to Port Douglas. Heavy rain and headwinds for most of the return journey. Another chance to go back to some favourite haunts from on the way up and I finished the day with a good laugh at the Cane Toad races in the evening.

    Day 7, Bound for Cairns (70kms)

    As I was now one day ahead of schedule, I headed for Cairns. The ride was over roads I’d been on before. Near Cairns, it’s easy to detour to the resort areas. I took a detour to Palm Cove, and it reminded me of Hasting Street in Noosa. Back in Cairns, I stayed once again in Mad Monkey and booked a ferry ride over to Fitzroy Island the next day. Cairns’ nightlife is easy to find, and food is varied.

    Day 8

    At 9 o’clock, the ferry leaves and takes 45 minutes to Fitzroy Island. The other option is Green Island.

    On Fitzroy Island, one can do several walks. Once achieving the top of the island, the view is brilliant. There is one pub/food outlet and a resort. The ferry returns to Cairns at 4 from Fitzroy, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the island.

    To recover from the day, I recommend Hemmingway’s Brewery if you like your beers. It’s a short haul from the terminal to the brewery, and they have several brews worthy of investigation.

    This was my last day in the FNQ and the next day I was back on the train to head home to Brisbane. 

    Want to Experience Touring for Yourself?

    Electric Bikes Brisbane has an extensive collection of Adventure and Touring bikes which can offer you the freedom and flexibility to explore on and off-road. Whether you need something for touring, long-distance commuting, the wider profiles and sportier geometry, along with comfort features and capacity for luggage, might be the models for you.

    We’d like to give a huge thanks to Mark for sharing his adventure with us. We hope it has inspired budding enthusiasts and given seasoned riders more ideas for their next tour.

    If you are new to touring don't forget to check out our guide on Long-Distance Bike Riding Tips for Beginners