About The Daintree
The region referred to as ‘The Daintree Rainforest’ encompasses an area of approximately 1,200 square kilometres, from the Daintree River north to Cooktown and west to the Great Divide, representing the single largest block of tropical rainforest in Australia.
The area protected under World Heritage listing covers an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometres and stretches from Townsville to Cooktown. 75 per cent of which is tropical rainforest, an area equivalent to about the size of Sydney. It is known as the Wet Tropics.
The 9th December 2013 marked 25 years since the listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage. Find out more in this short film Celebrating 25 Years of the listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage.
So what’s so special about the Daintree?
Well, firstly this tropical rainforest ecosystem is one of the most complex on earth. Its plant diversity and structural complexity is unrivalled on the Australian continent and represents the origins of our more familiar ‘Australian’ flora.
Many millions of years ago Australia was warm and humid and rainfall was plentiful. During this time rainforest thrived in places such as the Ayers Rock region. It’s hard to believe this would be possible as anyone who has visited our red centre will tell you not much rain falls there now. However this is a good example of how old our continent is and just how much change has occurred.
As Australia became more arid, there were fewer and fewer places rainforests were able to survive. In the Daintree region, however the climate and topography were ideal, so the area became a last remaining refuge for rainforest. Within this refuge many species were able to live comfortably without reason to change…. their descendants still living today retaining many of their ancestors primitive characteristics, some dating back 110 million years!
One species in particular, the Idiot Fruit, (Idiospermum australiense), commonly known as the Idiot Fruit, is one of the rarest and most primitive of the flowering plants. Its discovery in 1970 was arguably Australia’s most significant botanical find, greatly increasing scientists awareness of just how ancient these forests really are.
From a total of 19 primitive flowering plant families on Earth, 12 families are represented in the Daintree region making the highest concentration of these plants worldwide. These ancient plant families my well hold the secret to a number of unanswered questions regarding the origins of the flowering plants – plants on which the human race depends for food and medicines.
Besides all the scientific interest within this Daintree region there are many natural and often unique features to be explored. The landscape is one of striking diversity including magnificent scenery, mountain ranges, fast flowing streams and waterfalls, deep gorges and dense rainforest.
There is outstanding coastal scenery that combines tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches and fringing reefs just offshore… an extremely rare combination. To the west of Cape Tribulation stands Mt Pieter Botte with its massive granite outcrops. The summit providing expansive vistas of undisturbed forest and to the south the skyline is dominated by the giant granite boulders of Thornton Peak – one of Queensland’s highest mountains.