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Deep Dive of the Daintree

Whether or not you’ve been to Tropical North Queensland before, chances are that you’ve heard of one of the many amazing natural attractions of the region – the Daintree Rainforest.

The Daintree is a highly celebrated natural attraction that is known not only for its beauty but also, the extreme biodiversity of the region.

According to David Attenborough, the Daintree also happens to be the most extraordinary place on Earth, and with such high accolades, it’s easy to see why people say it is a place that cannot be missed when you’re in the tropics.

So, if you’re planning a trip to North Queensland and you want to explore one of the most well-known rainforests in the world, we’ve put together some information about the rainforest, what you can expect to see, as well as the different ways you can discover the Daintree.

All About the Daintree

The Daintree Rainforest is believed to be the oldest rainforest in the world – dating back around 180 million years – making it approximately 10 million years older than the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.

Located between Cairns and Cooktown, the Rainforest covers 1200 square kilometres, and is actually part of the Wet Tropics rainforest, which covers an area of approximately 8,944 square kilometres.

The Wet Tropics, including the Daintree is actually a World Heritage Listed Site, and with the reefs and coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef not too far from the Coastline the rainforest reaches – this is the only place in the world where there are two World Heritage Listed Sites side-by-side.

The biodiversity and long history of the Wet Tropics, including the Daintree, is why it has been World Heritage Listed. Many plant species originated in this part of the world and the rainforest essentially contains records of the evolution and life stages of many of the Earth’s plant species.

The rainforest is also home to a variety of animals and wildlife species, including birds, mammals, and insects, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

But, the diversity of the region extends beyond the inhabitants of the Daintree, besides the flora and fauna, the diversity of the landscape itself is phenomenal. Throughout your ventures you can find not only luscious tropical plants and trees, but also mountain ranges, streams, rivers, gorges, and waterfalls. You even get the rare combination of the white sandy beaches of the coastline and the giant tropical trees.

Facts About the Daintree Rainforest

  • The Daintree is home to so many different species, including 663 species of animals, 230 butterfly species, and around 12,000 different species of insects.
  • Lots of rare animals call the Daintree home, including the white lipped tree frog, which is Australia’s largest tree frog; the Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo which can only be found in the tropical rainforests of the region; and the Southern Cassowary, which is a large flightless bird that has descended from the dinosaurs.
  • Not only are there lots of different kinds of animals, insects, and plant species, but there is also an abundance of these plants and animals that call the Daintree home – for example, 40% of all of the birds, 28% of all of the frogs and 65% of all of the ferns in Australia are in the Daintree.
  • The Daintree is thought to have been the inspiration for the James Cameron movie “Avatar.” James Cameron visited the Daintree as part of his movie-making process.
  • The Daintree Rainforest was named after Richard Daintree who was a geologist and photographer. It was named by Richard Daintree’s friend, George Elphinstone Dalrymple.
  • The Kuku Yalangi people are the traditional owners of the Daintree Rainforest, having lived in this area for more than 50,000 years.
  • 12 of the total 19 primitive plant families are represented in the Daintree rainforest, which is the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world.
  • Some of the biggest trees can be found in the rainforest, like the Bull kauri, which can reach heights of 44 metres and have a diameter of 2.7m.
  • The Daintree is big. While we’ve mentioned that it’s 1200 square kilometres, to help you visualise, it actually covers more land than the city of Sydney.
  • You can find glow in the dark plants in the Daintree Rainforest. Some of these include moss and fungus. There are also glow worms too.

How to explore the Daintree

If you’re planning to visit TNQ and you want to explore the Daintree, you might feel a little overwhelmed given the size of the rainforest. However, don’t let that put you off, it just means that there are so many different ways to do so.

Here are some of the best things you can do at the Daintree:

1. Visit Mossman Gorge

If you’re a little short on time you can take a day trip to the Mossman Gorge. Mossman Gorge gives you a chance to try a few different activities, see the diversity of the rainforest and the landscape too.

Mossman Gorge is often referred to as the gateway to the Daintree, and from the visitor centre you can enter into the National Park and explore at your own leisure.

There are boardwalk walkways, walking trails, swimming holes and the beautiful clear waters cascading over the granite boulders. You’re safe from crocs in these waters, however, it’s a good idea to check swimming conditions at the Mossman Gorge Centre.

One of the most rewarding and highly recommended things you can do when you visit Mossman Gorge is to take a guided Dreamtime Walk. You will learn about the history of the area, the story of the Indigenous people of the area, and even get to experience a traditional cleansing smoking ceremony. Your walk will be led by a local Indigenous person in an intimate group setting.

2. Daintree Discovery Centre

The Daintree Discovery Centre is a great introduction to the area, with a load of activities and experiences to be had, all with a bit of an educational twist.

You can explore the Daintree via elevated boardwalks, guided tours, and self-guided audio tours. The centre also has some unique features, like a 10m high aerial walkway, a 23m high Daintree Canopy Tower, and reptile and fish displays.

If you’re particularly short on time but still want to be able to see the rainforest, this centre could be a great option for you.

3. Take a Rainforest Walk

To make it possible to discover the Daintree without having to go too far off the beaten track, the National Park has had elevated boardwalks installed throughout. The boardwalks make it significantly easier to make your way through the different areas of the rainforest – with trails of varying lengths, so whether you’ve only got 30 minutes, or you have all day, you can still go exploring.

Some of the boardwalk walking trails include:

  • Jinabala Boardwalk – there are two circuits, with a 650m boardwalk or a 3km circuit available.
  • Marjdda Boardwalk – a 1.2km walk near Cape Tribulation, which is the area of the Daintree that reaches the Coral Sea.
  • Dubuji Boardwalk – a 1.8km walk that takes you through some of the amazing trees of the rainforest, like the strangler fig trees.

Here are other walking and hiking trails near Palm Cove that you might enjoy!

Also, there are lots of other activities and experiences to be had, including swimming in the many freshwater swimming holes, marvelling at the tumbling waterfalls, and various guided tours throughout the region, including 4WD tours, hiking tours and river cruises.

When to visit the Daintree

One of the best things about visiting Tropical North Queensland is that it is a sight to see at any time of year.

Rather than the traditional four seasons you might be used to in other areas, in TNQ there are essentially two seasons, the dry season and the wet season.

The dry season is usually April to October, coinciding with Winter in Australia. This is when the temperatures cool, though it is still warm and pleasant (average temperatures can be between 17 – 26 degrees Celsius). There is significantly less humidity, and with the majority of the rest of Australia experiencing colder winters, it can be a popular time for visitors in this area. The rainforest is fantastic to explore and with less humidity, it makes it more comfortable to do so.

The wet season, which we actually call rejuvenation season here at the Reef House, runs from November through to March and is when the rainfall and temperatures in the area tend to be at their peak. The average temperatures usually fall between 21 – 32 degrees Celsius, this combined with the increased rainfall does make it more humid than other times of year, which can take some getting used to. But don’t let the rain and humidity put you off, because the rainfall usually occurs in the late afternoon or overnight, and that rain feeds the rainforest, draws out the wildlife and gets the rivers flowing and the waterfalls cascading.

Where to stay if you want to explore the Daintree

If you’re planning to visit Tropical North Queensland and you’re trying to decide where to stay, we invite you to join us at the Reef House. Our beachfront adults only hotel is located in Palm Cove, a treasured gem of the region. The relaxed atmosphere of our village and the close proximity to both Cairns and Port Douglas make it the perfect destination.

Our tropical escape specialists can also help you plan the Daintree adventure of your dreams too.

Discover the Daintree Rainforest from the Reef House in Palm Cove.