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What It’s Like To Snorkel Your Way Through Queensland’s 135-Million-Year-Old Rainforest

Forget yoga for your daily dose of zen. All you need is a snorkel, mask, floatation device and a river running through some of Australia’s most lush rainforest.

Let’s face it; most people head to the tropics of Far North Queensland to snorkel on the famous Great Barrier Reef. If you want to do something different, something yet to be splashed across the reels of tik tok and feeds of Instagram, you will take that snorkel gear and head into the rainforest.

Yes, the rainforest. I discovered a place where you can snorkel under the canopy of Queensland’s tropical rainforest on the Mosman River.

The morning started with a pick up in Port Douglas by Jason from Back Country Bliss Adventures. Jason’s local insights and stories about the region filled the half-hour drive to our launching pad. From here, it was a quick change into a wet suit, which seemed strange in the heat of the tropics, but I was assured it was needed in the crisp river water.

Into the undergrowth

With my snorkel and mask in hand and a large inflatable floatation bed tucked under my arm, and I follow Jason as we descend into the depths of the rainforest. We were just moments from our entrance when the temperature drops rapidly, and I am now thankful for the wetsuit. The chill was soon overcome by sheer awe.

The rainforest in Mossman Gorge is a 56,000 hectare area within the World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park. It is ancient, as in 135 million years in the making ancient. Its spellbinding beauty of tree-clad mountains rise sharply from the Mossman River’s riverbanks and set the scene at the spectacular entrance to Daintree National Park.

The sound of the river running began to dull out the rainforest hum, and I knew we must be close. While on the walk, Jason explains the story of the traditional owners of the land, the Kuku Yalanji people. As I gazed around me, I became mesmerised by the enormity of history that lay in my surroundings. Walking the path that meanders through the lower rainforest canopy and down to the river, I felt somewhat light-footed, as if gliding through a dream. Nature’s energy pulsed through the air. 

Image: Back Country Bliss Adventures

Dive beneath the surface

Upon reaching the river’s edge, it was time for a quick instructional brief with Jason before launching into cool, crystal-clear waters. You drift with the current, so there is no need for flippers. Just drop in and float. For those who are a bit uneasy in the water, the floatation beds allows you to lie-low your way down the river and view from the surface.

I plunged my head beneath the surface and was surprised at just how clear the visibility was. I could have been swimming in a fish tank. Fish darted around the river stones, and I quickly picked my victim and began stalking. As I followed this fish, he took me toward the river bank and half-submerged tree. The tree’s roots looked like an old woman’s hand, long wrinkled fingers extending out as if the tips were feeling the water rush over them.

I can see why my fish friend liked it here, sheltered in the calmer water; it seemed a popular meeting place for all his fishy friends. As if bored with his fish party by the tree, my fish friend darted off into the depths in the middle of the river. I decided to leave him to his solitude and continued floating down the river.   

I soon became lost in this unusual underwater world. The sound of moving water was a foreign noise to the typical crackling of fish eating coral noise you get when snorkelling a coral reef in the ocean. Here, it was peaceful and welcoming. I remembered Jason saying that you can spot turtles, eels and even platypus if you are lucky, so the hunt was back on.

I desperately wanted to be lucky and spot a platypus. Heck, I would have even been wrapped with a turtle or two. But alas, I ended up with eels. Yes, two giant, slithery and slimy eels. I floated over them and soon regretted my decision as they began to rise to the surface. I had to manoeuvre my body away from them quickly to avoid contact. I am all for an incredible wildlife encounter, but eels were not high up on that list.

Cathedral of zen

The eel encounter left my heart pumping, and nerves rattled, so I opted to climb on top of my floatation bed and chill for a bit. The chill was short-lived as some tiny rapids were fast approaching. I thought to myself that this tour has all the ups and downs of a suspenseful movie. Calm, excited, thrilled, terrified and amazed all rolled into one. Gripping my floating bed, I rode down the rapids and even let out a little “whoo hoo” squeal of delight.

The water smoothed out, and the gushing turbulence subsided. I laid back on my floating bed and looked up at the rainforest canopy. It had opened up as if a grand cathedral had been built from the trees. This enhanced the sounds of the rainforest, and it rang out like an orchestral symphony of birds calling, wind chiming through the leaves, crickets chirping, and water flowing and bubbling. This pure magic on the ears was matched only by the gliding sensation of travelling down the river.

A euphoric state of zen encompassed my body, and I mentally and physically drifted off. It was the best stress-relieving meditation by nature I have ever experienced.

Feature Image: Back Country Bliss Adventures