Why is it called Cape Tribulation?

Why is it called Cape Tribulation?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/16/2019

Reading time: 4 mins

Cape Tribulation is one of Australia’s most famous northerly regions.

Located three hours north of Cairns, this tropical paradise gets its name from British explorer Captain James Cook who was the first European to discover the area. While sailing through what is now the Great Barrier Reef, Captain Cook’s ship the Endeavour crashed into coral, damaging the ship severely. Cook explained in his writings that he named the area Cape Tribulation as this is where all their troubles began.

Its name

The first humans to inhabit the area were the Kuku Yalanji tribe, the local Aboriginal community. These people co-existed with the land, living in the rainforest area for thousands of years before the European invasion.

Captain James Cook was the first European to sight the area but faced multiple issues due to its rough terrain. His ship, named Endeavour, struck the coral along the Great Barrier Reef, causing severe damage. The crew trekked to Cooktown to make repairs, halting their travels brutally. Captain Cook named the area ‘Cape Tribulation,’ as this area “began all our troubles.” They also suggest that Captain Cook named Mt Sorrow, as he and the crew climbed the mountain in a way to discover a path around the reef.

Later down the track, the potential for gold attracted the Europeans to the area. This began mining and resulted in violent attacks on the local Indigenous community. It wasn’t until 1988 when it was listed as a World Heritage site.

The History of Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is located in the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree. A remote tropical paradise teeming with beauty, unique wildlife and pristine beaches, Cape Tribulation is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most spectacular attractions. The Kuku Yalanji People were the first inhabitants of the region, where they lived off the land for over 30,000 years before European settlement. The climate, landscape and several other factors proved difficult to establish colonies around Cape Tribulation and it was not until the 1960s where a rough track was created for access from Cairns to Cape Tribulation. Only in 2002 was a sealed road built that enabled regular cars to make the journey to Cape Tribulation.

Things to See at Cape Tribulation

  • Cape Tribulation Lookout

    To see the picturesque scenery, the national park has installed a 400-metre cement boardwalk within the landscape. Named the Kulki Boardwalk, visitors can stroll through the rainforest easily, eventually arriving at the area’s stunning lookout. Make sure to bring your camera as this site is well worth capturing.

  • Explore Daintree Rainforest

    Cape Tribulation is the town that is nestled amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Daintree Rainforest. The most ancient rainforest in the world is over 180 million years old and is home to an unbelievably unique eco system unlike anywhere else in the world. Head out to the Daintree on a guided tour and spend the day exploring the ancient rainforests, swimming in pristine creeks, lazing on tropical beaches and learning about the cultural significance of the native Australians who once roamed the lands of the Daintree Rainforest.

  • Ride a horse along Cape Tribulation Beach

    One of Cape Tribulation’s most well-known activities is to ride a horse along the pristine beaches of the Cape. You will spend 2 hours cantering the golden sands of Myall Beach and exploring through the Daintree. All abilities are welcome as you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide. This experience is one not to be missed and an absolute memory of a lifetime.

  • Mount Sorrow

    Trek the jungle and complete the 3-hour return hike up the famous Mt. Sorrow in the Daintree Rainforest. The 680-metre-high views allow for some of the best views of the Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef you can see. You will discover unique flora and fauna on your hike, but keep an eye out for those infamous Aussie creatures such as snakes and spiders that may give you a fright.

Related article: Which is the Best Cape Tribulation & Daintree Rainforest Tour?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.