View across the Daintree national park in Queensland near Cape Tribulation.
This refers to several different places. There is the town of Daintree, the River Daintree, and the Daintree Forest National Park. This National Park includes several national parks in the Daintree region which in turn form the Queensland Wet Tropics Rainforest World Heritage area. The Daintree Park is 100 kms north of Cairns and one part is known as the Cape Tribulation National Park and the other Mossman Gorge National Park. To enter the Cape Tribulation part of the Daintree National Park you have to cross the ferry at the Daintree River. We will only be cruising along the Daintree River and doing a short forest walk near the Daintree village. The Park got UNESCO Word Heritage status in 1983. It received this status because of the diversity of animals and plants in the park and because it is the last extensive lowlands wet tropical forest left in Australia. Most of our other rain forests are in the mountain ranges.
The Daintree forest is thought to be over 100 million years old. It is in a high rainfall zone of Australia and this presented great problems to early settlers. Malaria and other tropical diseases were great killers here before the 1960s and better medical treatments. Since its declaration the QLD and federal governments have been buying back private land to add to the park. Parts of the park receive about 4,000 mm of rain a year- eight times the annual rainfall of Adelaide! The park is also subject to cyclones but it has been lucky and escaped major damage. The worst cyclones to hit the park occurred in 1920 and 1934.
Animals and Plants.
The Daintree contains about 30% of Australia’s frog, reptile and marsupial species, 65% of our bat and butterfly species and over 430 species of bird. Although we are unlikely to see any, the Park is home to Tree Kangaroos, many possums, dingoes, various small marsupials, and flying foxes and other bats. The jungle associated with a lowland rain forest is a perfect habitat for many birds including the elusive Cassowary, kookaburras, kingfishers, cockatoos, pigeons of various kinds, and scrubfowl. The rarities which are seldom seen include some Bowerbirds and even one species of bird of paradise (the Riflebird). The riverside and coastal areas are home to many seabirds. The common reptile to be seen is the salt water crocodile known for their aggression and size. If you see a flash of blue against a green leaf in the rain forest it could be the famed Ulysses Butterfly. This is just one many species of butterfly in the Daintree. The one animal you might not want to see but might see is the introduced Cane Toad. It was introduced to kill off the sugar cane beetles in 1935. It came from South America. It failed to do that job but it spread rapidly as it had no natural predators. It feasts on native snakes, frogs and small animals. It has now extended across to the Northern Territory and south into NSW and cane toads number some 200 million. If ingested by other animals it poisons them. All attempts to control their breeding and spread have so far failed. They are a major environmental disaster for Australia.
The rain forest jungle provides a growing area for mighty trees which block out the sun at ground level, twisting vines and creepers and small plants and ferns near the ground. On our walk in the rain forest you will be most aware of the ground hugging species rather than the tall canopy species. But on their trunks you will see buttress roots, lichens, fungi and moss. The rotting vegetation on the forest floor encourages more moss, native orchids and some small flowering plants. But be careful as some are stinging plants and others hide rainforest leaches! At eye level you will see various palms such as the Fan Palm, the Black Palm, Coconut Palm (although this is not native) and Rattan Palms. Below them you will see the beautiful ferns- Tree Ferns, King Ferns, Ribbon Ferns, Creek Ferns and others. As this is Australia you will also see cycads with their stiff fern like fronds. Cycads bear cones like conifers and are amongst the oldest plants on earth. The Daintree has the greatest diversity of cycads anywhere in the world. These cycads and some of the big trees like the Hoop and Bunya Pine and Kauri are all living counterparts of the Jurassic-age fossils of elsewhere like Riversleigh in western QLD. You will also find banksias, macadamias, eucalypts and some of our more usual vegetation.
Tagged: , tree ferns , ferns , Daintree , ocean , coast , beach , rain forest , tropical forest , tropical