The spectacular Daintree region begins with the Wet Tropics rainforest of Mossman Gorge in the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park, an hour's drive north of Cairns, reaches north through farmlands and beautiful valleys towards Daintree Village then across the Daintree River to the ancient rainforests of the Cape Tribulation section of Daintree National Park.
One of the few places in the world where the rainforest meets the reef.
The region is bounded to the west by the stunning rainforested hills of the MacDonnell Range - to the east the coast is fringed by pristine uninhabited beaches on the edge of the Coral Sea, home of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.
The Daintree Rainforest is exceptional in many ways. It is one of the oldest continuous living tropical rainforests in the world - over a hundred million years old.
It contains one of the most complete and diverse living records of the major stages in the evolution of land plants, particularly in the origin, evolution and dispersal of flowering plants. It is also provides a glimpse in the history of marsupials and songbirds, containing species older than human life itself.
Added to the World Heritage List in 1988, this forest is home to the largest range of plant and animal species that are rare, or threatened, anywhere in the world and abounds with biodiversity: 30% of all frog, marsupial and reptile species in Australia live here, alongside 65% of bats and butterflies species. Approximately 430 species of birds live in the Daintree Rainforest, including 13 species not found anywhere else in the world.
The World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef is the world's most extensive coral reef system, extending over 2000 km in a broken maze of around 2900 individual reefs, of which 760 are fringing reefs skirting the mainland or around islands.
UNESCO-listed in 1981 as an outstanding example representing major stages of earth's revolutionary history, the Great Barrier Reef supports the most diverse ecosystem known to man. This unique ecosystem has evolved over millions of years.
It provides habitat for many diverse forms of marine line such as an estimated 1500 species of fish, 360 species of hard, reef-building corals, 4000 mollusc species, 1500 species of sponges as well as anemones, marine worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, dugong, turtles and sea urchins.
The Great Barrier Reef is also a breeding-ground, of world significance, for several turtle species and for humpback whales which migrate from Antarctica to give birth in these warmer waters.
While facing challenges, contrary to media reports the Reef is still very much alive as you can see from this recent image. If you would like to become involved here's a great resource - http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-work/our-programs-and-projects/eye-on-the-reef
The Daintree is in the centre of the region bounded by the Mossman River in the south and the Bloomfield River 60 km (40 miles) to the north. Through it's heart flows the magnificent Daintree River and, a little further north, Coopers Creek.
The Daintree River is home to an amazing diversity of life-forms with more than 150 fish species, over 100 crustaceans and the prehistoric-looking Saltwater Crocodile. 30 of Australia's total of 38 mangrove species are found along the Daintree River, ie. more than half the world's total of 72 species are represented in this single estuary - perhaps the most species-rich mangrove estuary in the world.
Coopers Creek winds through the rainforest about half-way between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. Both systems offer a diversity of cruises with expert guides helping you spot crocodiles, countless species of birds and a variety of wildlife.
The Daintree River offers amazing opportunities for photographers and is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Boats offer both estuarine and offshore coastal charters.
All the beaches on the Daintree Coast offer the visitor that “deserted beach” experience. Here, “where the rainforest meets the reef”, a backdrop of tropical vegetation, majestic coastal trees and swaying palms line the beaches.
Here your “footprints in the sand” are often the only ones and it is possible to walk just a few hundred metres from the access point, claim a piece of sand, and sit for hours without seeing another single person.
The Coral Sea’s ocean currents deposit daily treasure troves of flotsam and jetsam on the high tide watermark and at low tide. Interspersed between the sandy stretches of beach, the fringing reefs become exposed providing refuge for myriad sea creatures.
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