The Daintree Rainforest And Wet Tropics
Driving the roads throughout the Daintree is an amazing visual experience. It is a region of spectacular scenery, with rugged topography, fast flowing rivers, and numerous creeks and waterfalls. Mountain summits provide vistas of the surrounding rainforest and coastline and many of the roads are overhung by forest canopy with only glimpses of the sky above visible.
This rainforest is believed to be the oldest in the world, having continuously covered the area for more than 135 million years. It provides the sole habitat for numerous rare species of plants and animals, with over 350 plants and 100 animals that occur here considered rare or threatened.
The Daintree Rainforest provides us with an almost complete record of the major stages in the evolution of plant life on earth. Floristically and structurally this rainforest is the most diverse in Australia. Of particular importance is that most of the worlds 19 primitive plants families are found here. The diversity of coastal mangrove forests it encompasses is also of special significance.
The Daintree Rainforest provides important habitat for the Southern Cassowary as well as many other birds, reptiles, animals and insects. It contains a large number of endemic animals found nowhere else in the world that have evolved from a unique mixture of ancient Gondwanan species and more recent arrivals from Asia. Unique species include marsupials such as the rare Bennetts Tree kangaroo.
The rainforest at Cow Bay was classified as ‘An Outstanding Cassowary Habitat Zone’ by scientific researchers Crome and Moore in 1993. In the lowlands and swamps of the rainforest surrounding Cow Bay the population density of cassowaries is particularly high ensuring the watchful and alert visitor a good chance of sighting one of these elusive and magnificent birds.
Some of the rainforest that you drive through in the Daintree is privately owned freehold land. Visitors are often surprised to find residential communities in such a wilderness. The total number of residents in these communities is approximately 500, dispersed between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. There are only a couple of hundred of theses privately owned freehold properties, most of which have limitations on land use and strict building codes and restrictions in place.
There are many different ways that you can explore the rainforest in the Daintree. Some local residents offer guided rainforest walks on their own property with 2 hour, half day and night walks available in a number of locations. Your support of such businesses enables the local community to thrive on ecotourism. Night walks provide a special opportunity to interact with the nocturnal life in the rainforest, and you will be surprised how much you see with a trained guide by spotlight.
“It's such a different experience to the day walk, and it's just awesome to walk right underneath sleeping birds that are so you close you could reach out and touch them!“ Lindy Mills, Melbourne, Victoria
The rainforest canopy contains unique plant and animal life not found closer to the ground. There are several options available to experience this unique part of the forest including climbing a canopy tower, walking an aerial walkway and swinging by harness on a series of zip lines or flying fox cables.
If you would prefer to explore the rainforest independently, there are a number of self guided walk options in the Daintree including: National Park boardwalks with interpretation signage, a 3 kilometre Orange Rope Walk at Crocodylus Village, a rainforest regeneration walk at The Bat House, a walk with the aid of multi-lingual assisted audio-guides at the Daintree Discovery Centre and a walk through low-lying rainforest and mangroves on the Daintree River.
If you would like to visit interactive displays and learn more about the area, there are three interpretive centres located in the Daintree - Daintree Discovery Centre, The Bat House, and an entomological museum.
Masons Tours and Jungle Adventures also offer unique rainforest experiences.