The town where I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s is nestled at the foot of the mountains among bright green fields of sugar cane. It lies 78km north of Cairns along the scenic Cook Highway.
I lived in town with my large family, went to the local state schools, attended Church and Sunday School, Brownies and Girl Guides, and grew up with an appreciation of the beauty of the place I called my hometown. I still have family in the district, so there is always an excuse to return. I now live about 1½ hours’ drive from Mossman.
There is a lot of history in this town with many buildings and industries established in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. Mossman was also associated with Port Douglas, a nearby thriving town.
Places of Interest:
If coming from Cairns, you will experience the beauty of the Captain Cook Highway which travels along the coast for quite a bit of the way. There are many places along the way to stop for photos, especially the Rex Lookout. Always take care as this is one very busy road.
Travelling down from the Tablelands on the Rex Range, this is the view from the lookout.
Mt Demi: To me this mountain signifies that I have returned home. This iconic mountain can be viewed from so many parts of the district. The rock you can see is called the Good Shepherd, and on a clear day, there is no mistake in seeing that image.
Mossman Gorge – probably one of Mossman’s main drawcards, the Gorge is just five minutes’ drive west of Mossman. This World Heritage listed site is definitely worth a visit. See my blog post on the Mossman Gorge here.
Mossman Sugar Mill: One of Mossman’s key industries is sugar cane. The mill crushes cane during the season (June to October) to make raw sugar.
As you travel around during this time you may see harvesters at work and a cane train heading towards the mill.
One of the best vantage points to see the cane trains is when they pass through one of the main streets in town. It is important to take care at the many train crossings throughout the district.
As cane fires are mainly a thing of the past, you may be lucky enough to catch one on sunset. As a child living in the area, these regular occurrences were spectacular sights.
One of my earliest memories of the mill was in 1971 when a computer was installed (it was housed in its own entire building) and one of the first of its kind in the world. My father worked at the mill.
Mossman Hospital: Built in 1930, the Spanish Mission style buildings are set in lush gardens against a mountain backdrop. Consistently painted white, it is well maintained and definitely worth a drive by to take a photo or two. This is where I had my very first job after finishing school and before college. I worked every holidays while I was studying.
St David’s Anglican Church: Constructed in 1912, the church is set behind an avenue of fern-covered raintrees.
Each Saturday popular local markets are held here. My family has been associated with this church since I was about 7. Never tire of visiting this place. Such a beautiful little church.
Mossman Shire Hall and Douglas Shire Council Chambers: Another iconic building in the town, not so much for its architecture, but as a centre for the community. Everything from weddings, balls, school speech nights, graduation ceremonies, fashion shows and local charity events were held here.
Exchange Hotel: this was once the most upmarket hotel in town. Standing proudly on the corner of Mill and Front Streets, it was a good place to stand and watch the passing trains. Other hotels in the town were Queens, Royal, Mossman and Post Office. Some of these burnt down while others have closed.
Opposite this hotel was “the Triangle”, a small park where Anzac Dawn Services were once held. The RSL and memorials are now located near the Hospital on the way to the Gorge. Stop by to pay your respects if you have time.
This colourful home is also in the vicinity. As long as I can remember, it has been painted this way. In fact I used to play with a friend who lived there. It seems that the house is still in the same family and is well kept.
Nearby waterholes: As the Mossman had no Town Pool when I was growing up, the kids learnt to swim in the local waterholes around the district, including the Mossman Gorge.
Foxton – Just outside town is a shallow, clear part of the Mossman River where you can have a swim or just sit on the sandy banks for a picnic.
Loved the bright public toilets they have there.
Shannonvale Causeway – a beautiful spot set in lush surroundings, this is one very popular swimming spot, especially after school on a hot day.
Newell Beach – a small beachside community just north of Mossman.
Another colourful toilet block.
There are nearby estuaries where fishing is supposed to be good but be on the lookout for crocodiles at all times. Even if you are not staying here, it is worth a quick drive along the esplanade or perhaps stop at the beach.
Daintree – This small village has much history and is the stepping off point for tours of the Daintree River where crocodiles are most definitely a sight to see.
Cape Tribulation: Cross the Daintree River on the vehicle barge and head up to Cape Tribulation. This is where the rainforest meets the sea.
I have only been to Cow Bay recently but there is so much to see in the area right up to Bloomfield.
Port Douglas: Just 15 minutes drive from Mossman, this is also a major drawcard for visitors to the district. So many iconic buildings, beautiful beaches, lots of shopping, restaurants and cafes, and of course the Great Barrier Reef. I will showcase Port Douglas in a separate post.
Whether you choose to stay in Mossman or Port Douglas, or even drive up from Cairns for the day, there is just so much in this district to enjoy.
If you enjoyed this blogpost, see also: Mossman Gorge – An amazing World Heritage Site