In this nature reserve the rainforest meets the coral reef
4 travellers have this on their Bucket List
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Daintree National Park is a unique rainforest on the east coast of Australia. This nature reserve is a special place to hike in the country's unique jungle. Which runs to the sea. Where you have a great chance of meeting one of the many special types of wildlife. Or several, as I also had during my tour.
Daintree is located in the northern part of Australia. It is an immense rainforest, which, like the entire fauna and flora of Australia, is unique. It is one of the oldest rainforests in the world and borders the famous Great Barrier Reef.
Australia has great diversity. Which once again becomes clear at Daintree National Park in Queensland. This is a real rainforest. This is a place with unique trees, plants and animals. These are the best attractions of Daintree National Park. As well as the best excursions for your trip to this nature reserve.
Because many animals need water every day, there is always a lot going on around rivers. A boat trip on the lifeline of the park is therefore a must. You'll get to see lots of animals, including saltwater crocodiles and, with some luck, the rare freshwater crocodiles. It's also the home of many water birds, including various types of herons.
More information: www.daintreerivertours.com.au
t’s known as a natural spectacle, and rightly so, when hundreds of spectacled flying foxes, also known as fruit bats, leave their roosting place at nightfall and fly out to hunt for food. One of the best places to see this is Windy Reach Lookout, just outside the Daintree township. They tend to need a drink after their day of sleeping in the trees, so they’ll drop in for a drink. The best time of year to see the flying foxes is in spring and early summer.
Jindalba Boardwalk is a wooden path through the Daintree rainforest. It has been specially built to get a good view of the jungle. The path is not long, only 650 meters. Nevertheless, you can see a lot of wildlife, especially early in the morning. You can find Jindalba Boardwalk in the Cape Tribulation part of Daintree National Park. It is located about 150 km north of Cairns.
Walk around the forest at night with a guide to find all that’s alive and awake…or asleep. There are many birds that sleep under big leaves, sheltered from the rain. You can listen to the orchestra of tree frogs that fills the night sky around water holes, hear the splashing of creeks, and many other sounds that you might not be able to identify. You can go on a night safari in many places, so ask at information centres in the area.
Mossman Gorge is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, the original inhabitants of the area. It’s a rugged area, where a crystal-clear river makes it way to the ocean through the rocks and the rainforest. You can go on a Dreamtime walk with a Kuku Yalanji guide, who will show you the medicinal qualities of the flora in the area, share their deep connection to the land and invite you to attend a smoking ceremony.
More information: www.yalanji.com.au
Take a bird’s eye view of the area by seeing it from above in a helicopter. There will be a stop for a nature walk, for example to see saltwater crocodiles.
More information: www.daintreerainforest.com/capetribulation/
The Daintree Rainforest Environmental Center has a lot of information about the flora, fauna and the original inhabitants. But it also has a Canopy Tower, where you can look over the forest from 23 meters high, so you can walk through the treetops. For an experienced eye, it is possible to see how a completely different world plays out at these heights. It is a place full of life.
More information: discoverthedaintree.com
The stunning Noah Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Daintree National Park. It has a campground, so you can spend the night close to the beach. Put up your tent or your camper and walk on the beach at nightfall. or very early in the morning. Chances are you might spot a few animals. Noah Beach is located on Cape Tribulation Road.
One of the ways to discover the rainforest is by horse. Those with a bit of experience can ride through the creeks and explore the more secluded parts of the area. You can also ride along one of the most beautiful sections: where the reef meets the rainforest.
It might be a bit of a strange combination, a sturdy 4×4 Toyota LandCruiser that is also your accommodation for the night. It’s total freedom: you can go wherever you like and then sleep wherever you like. You can camp pretty much anywhere you want in Australia, though you need a permit in national parks. It’s an amazing experience. You can hire these cars in Cairns.
You can camp right on the beachfront at the township of Wonga Beach where there are two campsites. This is a great location to spot two endemic (that means they only live in one specific area) bird species: the double-eyed fig parrot, and Gould’s bronze cuckoo.
This hike is for those who are comfortable going for a long walk every now and then, and requires sturdy footwear. But it’s known as one of the best in the area.
Expect wonderful views over both the rainforest and the sea, and of course the famous vistas where you can see both of those. And if you’re lucky, you might have some close encounters with the local wildlife!
Besides the many creatures that live around the waterways, the Daintree Rivers is full of fish as well. Some of the bigger ones are barramundi, mangrove jack and trevally.
Those who like to roll up their sleeves can indulge themselves at the Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station. Every year, volunteers can help with household chores as well as help with research into the animals or plants in the rainforest.
More information: www.austrop.org.au
The rainforest of Daintree is literally crowded with animals. And, above all, they are animals that you cannot see anywhere else in the world. So take your time for this place.
The park's symbol is the southern cassowary, a large and incalculable flightless bird. This animal can grow to almost 2 meters. The cassowary is also found in a few places in New Guinea. It is one of the three types of cassowaries in the world. The orange-necked cassowary only lives in New Guinea, while the dwarf cassowary is also found on the nearby island of New Britain.
The animal in Daintree National Park was almost extinct, but is now making its comeback through all kinds of protective measures. The animal is very important to the ecology; he alone eats more than seventy seeds of plants, so that they are displaced through the forest.
Most special is the helmet on the head of the animal. This consists of bone, making it the only bird with a helmet. It is mainly used to get through the dense vegetation and probably also as a kind of microphone for communication. In Daintree this bird is regularly seen along the road, especially in the late afternoon.
Daintree is also home to one of the strangest animals on the planet: the platypus. This animal can only be found in Australia. This mammal is considered living proof of evolution, because it also has the characteristics of birds and reptiles as well. But its remarkable beak is soft, not hard like those of birds. And it lays eggs.
The platypus is a semiaquatic animal that feeds on worms and underwater creatures such as freshwater shrimps and yabbies, and occasionally fish. They are remarkably agile in the water, using their webbed feet to move around. The best time to spot them is early in the morning or around dusk, because they are nocturnal. They can be found in creeks, dams, rivers and lakes.
There are also different kinds of possums and gliders in the Daintree. The most interesting ones are the sugar gliders, which have loose skin between its front and hind legs. When they leap from tree to tree, they stretch out all their legs and this skin catches the air, so that they appear to glide.
Another special animal in this area is the tree kangaroo. There are twelve different kinds in total, most of them live in New Guinea. In this area you can find Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo, and the Bennett’s tree kangaroo. They grow to be around 60 to 80 centimetres tall, not counting their tails.
They spend most of their time up in the trees, and only spend a small amount of time on the ground. That’s interesting, because all other kangaroo species long ago spent all their time up in trees and slowly evolved to be ground dwellers. You’ve got to be really lucky to see one as a tourists, and if you spot one, it’s likely to be a Bennett’s tree kangaroo.
It’s quite easy to spot freshwater crocodiles in the various rivers. The males grow up to 3,5 meters, and the females grow no larger than 2,5 meters. One of the best place to spot them is along the Daintree river.
Its large, more dangerous brother is the saltwater crocodile. It’s the largest reptile in the world. Their size is already terrifying (up to 7 meters), but their reputation is even more scary, they are known to be deadly and have killed numerous humans.
They are not unique to Australia, you can also find them in the east of India, the south of China, and the Philippines, and most islands in between. Despite their name, they live near the mouths of rivers and even in rivers themselves, which is evident by their presence along the Daintree river, the best spot to see these reptiles. There is a tip to telling the two kinds of crocodiles apart: are their teeth all the same size? That’s a freshwater crocodile. Are their teeth irregular in size with an angled jawline? That’s his dangerous brother.
Other animals you may encounter on your walks (or even see from the car): red-legged pademelon, spotted-tail quoll, musky rat-kangaroo, long-tailed pygmy possum, tropical bettong, spectacled flying fox and several kinds of tree frogs.
The area is, besides the cassowaries, home to many birds, there are more than 430 kinds in the Daintree. One of those is the Victoria riflebird, one of four birds of paradise native to Australia. People come from far and wide to admire the male birds’ intriguing dances of courtship. When a male dances he makes a unique noise, which is where they got their name. It’s a spectacle to behold.
Another special bird in this area is the golden bowerbird. Male golden bowerbirds build tall and intricate structures to attract a mate. Besides these birds you can find many other special birds in this area, many are endemic, which means they can only be found is certain small areas. Each little pocket has its own small list of unique birds.
The Daintree rainforest has the largest number of trees and plants in Australia. Of the nineteen primitive plant varieties, twelve can be found in Daintree.
One of those is the green dinosaur, or idiot fruit, a special ancient tree that grows and flowers differently to other more modern species of plants and trees.
It is estimated to be around 120 million years old, and hasn’t changed much since then, which means it was around when dinosaurs walked the earth. Its fruit is very heavy and poisonous to many animals, but it’s believed that the dinosaurs were able to stomach them and dispersed its seeds. Now the seeds are only dispersed by gravity and thus are only found in very small areas, where the soil is wet and the seeds can sink and sprout.
You can find yellow and spur mahogany in Daintree, as well as the blue marble tree, also known as the blue quandong. There are many other species of trees that Australians from other states have never even heard of.
One of the more common plants is the fan palm, which has an interestingly shaped leaf that adds a unique character to this rain forests. Another is the Hope’s cycad, which looks like a cross between a palm tree and a fern. It’s the largest of the cycads and its fruits are highly toxic to humans.
Experts can’t agree on which rainforest is the oldest living rainforest in the world. The Daintree claims to be the oldest, it is at least 135 million years old. But the Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia also claims to be the oldest with around 130 million years under its belt…But, scientists say, it’s impossible to tell exactly how old a rainforest is, so it will remain an estimation.
The age of these areas like these is important, because they’ve remained untouched all that time by things such as ice ages, as well as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. So in these places it’s much easier to trace evolution, and you will find flora and fauna that’s older than human civilisation.
This evolution shows clear signs that Australia was once attached to Asia’s mainland. Part of the ancient Pangaea
continent, which was a supercontinent containing most current continents around 200 to 250 million years ago. It is assumed that Australia was attached to New Guinea, considering many animal species are present in both countries.
In the eighties there was a battle between conservationists and timber companies regarding this area. Eventually the government recognised the area’s importance, and applied for the area to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987, which happened the following year. Strange detail: several roads were laid in the area for logging, which now serve as tourist routes.
This part of Australia is the wettest of the entire continent. The driest time is between May and September. It’s less humid then as well, and the temperature is around 25-27 degrees celsius and cooler nights.
The other months are wetter, and it the summer (December to March) it is quite warm, around 30-32 degrees celsius.
There are many poisonous animals in Australia, including the deadliest snakes in the world. And there are also toxic plants and trees that can really ruin your holiday. Educate yourself on what to look out for, and how to avoid encounters with the unpleasant kinds of flora and fauna, and make sure you know where to go or who to contact in case of emergency.
The entrance of Daintree National Park is about 110 kilometers north of Cairns by road. You can also fly from Cairns, but that’s a lot pricier, but the views are worth the costs, so make sure you get a window seat.