The Daintree Rainforest north of Cairns is one of the most diverse and beautiful examples of Mother Nature in the world. It is home to the largest range of plants and animals on earth, and all are found within the largest chunk of rainforest in Australia – an area spanning approximately 1200 square kilometres.
This World Heritage Listed area contains the highest number of plant and animal species that are rare, or threatened with extinction, anywhere in the world.The Daintree Rainforest contains 30% of the frog, marsupial and reptile species in Australia, and 65% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species. 20% of bird species in the country can be found in this area. And it all lives in an area that takes up 0.2% of the landmass of Australia.
The Daintree Rainforest’s addition to the world Heritage List in 1988 in recognition of its universal natural values highlighted the rainforest as being:
- An outstanding example of the major stages in the earth’s evolutionary history
- An outstanding example of significant ongoing ecological and biological processes
- An example of superlative natural phenomena, and Containing important and significant habitats for conservation of biological diversity.
The Daintree Rainforest is over one hundred and thirty-five million years old. It’s the oldest in the world. Approximately 430 species of birds live among the trees, including 13 species that are found nowhere else in the world.
There are hiking trails, scenic lookouts, camping sites, picnic tables and swimming holes to be explored in the Daintree. In addition, visitors to the area can stay in eco-friendly accommodation and eat at cafés and restaurants that specialise in local delicacies.
At up to five feet in height, the giant flightless Cassowary forages over large areas of the Daintree rainforest in search of sufficient fallen fruit to survive.
Many rainforest trees have made good use of this mobility to aid widespread dispersal of their seeds, by specially adapting to provide Cassowary food – with large fruit and seeds that the Cassowary eats and deposits over vast areas.
This relationship makes the Cassowary a ‘keystone’ species of the Australian rainforest, with an impact on ecological processes much greater than its low population density would indicate.