Daniel had studied the Daintree Rainforest in his first school year here in Australia. I distinctly remember him telling me all about it. That was two years ago and he has all but forgotten most of what he learnt but he remembers that after those lessons he wanted to visit the place.
The rainforest is named after Richard Daintree, an Australian geologist and photographer. The Daintree region is in the northeast coast of Queensland, north of Mossman (which is itself about 75 km north of Cairns). It covers an area of around 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq miles), which makes it about half the size of Luxembourg. Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia. The tropical forest runs along the coastline north of the Daintree River and grows right down to the edge of the sea.
This area is home to salt water crocodiles. These scary creatures live along the coast and spend plenty of time in the Daintree River where we took a kind of croc-spotting cruise. Of course the river and its banks are home to many other animals but everyone was mainly interested in the “salty” (as the salt water crocodile is often called) – the largest member of the crocodile family. We were not disappointed.
These trips do not throw food out for the crocodiles so they never approach the boats as they have become accustomed to doing in other parts of the country (namely Northern Territory). That means that we don’t get to see them jumping out of the water like some circus act. As exciting as that can be I do think the Daintree park way is a more natural approach.
Into the ‘Jungle’?
Is a rainforest jungle? Or is a jungle just one type of rainforest? I really don’t know and although I did try to find out I could not find any really conclusive answers. I use the terms interchangeably (rightly or wrongly).
The rainforest itself is similar to others we have visited but definitely seemed a lot more dense. The vegetation is incredible. There could be an animal only a few metres away and you would never see it. As luck would have it, we never saw much in the way of animals…
Basket ferns grow on tree trunks and form their own little environment for other plants to sprout as well as a place for animals like birds, snakes, frogs and insects to live. They thrive at all levels, but when you look up you will always see them struggling for light near the top of the forest canopy.
The one creature I really wanted us to see was the cassowary. A large flightless bird unique to this part of the world. Not only Australia but this specific part of Australia. Sadly we never got to see one. So, as the saying goes, we need to try again. So here’s looking forward to another trip to the north Queensland ‘jungle’.
The rainforest spills down the mountainside to meet the Pacific ocean. One of the places where this rainforest meets beach experience can be witnessed is at Cape Tribulation.
Cape Tribulation was named by Lieutenant James Cook on 10 June 1770 after his ship hit a reef north east of the cape. Later the ship ran aground, on what is now named Endeavour Reef (after Cook’s ship). The ship was badly damaged, but Cook and his crew famously managed to refloat it the following day. Cook named Cape Tribulation because, as he wrote, “here begun all our troubles“.
At one end of the beach there is a great example of a mangrove forest. The word ‘mangrove’ does not actually refer to one specific plant or tree but is a generic term for any plant that can survive in saline waters.