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The Daintree Discovery Centre showcases one of Earth’s most precious, living treasures.
The Daintree is one of the few places in the world where the rainforest meets the reef. It is an incredible ecosystem so be sure to visit the Daintree Discovery Centre and see some of Earth’s oldest living treasures.
The Daintree Rainforest is one of the most interesting places I have visited. In my early 20’s we spent many weekends camping under the stars at Thornton’s Beach in an era when camping by the beach was possible. I have amazing memories of taking long walks through the rainforest, and nights filled with aromas of freshly caught fish sizzling on the campfire.
It was a time when most of the Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest was largely untouched. Surprisingly on my long overdue return, it still had that natural untouched feel to it.
Read next: Daintree Escape – 4 days with Mother Nature.
The Daintree Rainforest
One of the most fascinating and diverse eco-systems on Earth, the Daintree covers an area of 1200 square kilometres. It is the largest tropical rainforest in Australia and also one of the most complex tropical ecosystems on Earth.
The Daintree has continued to evolve for around 180 million years, surviving though the ice ages and cataclysmic events that wiped out the dinosaurs and other life forms. During the changing conditions this region became a refuge for ancient and unique plants and animals. Many of these still exist today having survived with very little change.
The Daintree Rainforest is considered a complete record of the evolution of plant life.
The Plant life
There are many ancient plants found in the Daintree Rainforest which is home to many unique species, including ancient ferns and cyads, large fruiting trees and beautiful flowering orchids.
Particularly important to the ecology, the mangrove forests fringing the creeks and rivers in the Daintree region boast the highest species diversity of this habitat type, across Australia.
As a fish nursery, the mangrove systems offer vital protection for many species of young fish and crustaceans that migrate into the Great Barrier Reef in their maturity.
The Wet Tropics of North-East Queensland contain the greatest diversity of plants and animals found anywhere in Australia. More importantly, over 70 animals and 700 plant species that are found in the Daintree Rainforest are endemic to North East Queensland.
The Daintree Rainforest is home to:
- 28% of Australia’s Frogs
- 65% of Native Ferns
- 40% of Australia’s Bird Species
- 34% of Australia’s Mammals
- 65% of Australia’s Bat and Butterfly species
The Daintree Rainforest is home to some of the most iconic Australian wildlife, including the endangered Southern Cassowary, Saltwater Crocodiles, Ulysses Butterflies, Tree Kangaroos, White-Lipped Tree Frogs, Boyd’s Forest Dragons and many more.
The Daintree Discovery Centre
A world leader in education and sustainable tourism this multi-award winning, eco-accredited centre offers visitors to chance to explore one of the few unspoilt pockets of lowland rainforests left in the world.
Built above ground, the aerial walkway and canopy tower provides easy access to every level of the rainforest while at the same time, minimising impact on the ecosystem.
Entry fees support the ongoing development of the Centre and help fund important conservation projects which contribute to many re-vegetation initiatives.
Interpretive displays demonstrate best practice in eco-sustainability, water conservation, waste management, energy efficiency, recycling and eco-friendly design.
The day of our visit to the Discovery Centre was raining steadily. Not that it made any difference to us, we were happy to venture out with a rain poncho and umbrella.
The rainforest was loving it!
Be sure to pick up your audio guide as you pass through the entrance. There are 4 different tours, (in 8 different languages) and up to 4 hours of audio. The audio guides provide key information on trees, plants and the animals living in the rainforest and are a ‘must’ when taking this tour.
The elevated boardwalks lead you through the lush unspoilt rainforest to see, smell and experience the rainforest and at the same time, protect the rainforest from human intervention.
The 11 m high aerial walkway took us right into the mid-level of the rainforest providing a great outlook for viewing. Wild Cassowaries wander through the rainforest regularly so we were hopeful of spotting one from above. Listed by Australian Geographic as one of the top 10 skywalks in Australia, the walkway is pram and wheelchair friendly.
The Canopy Tower was the first of it’s kind in Australia and provides the most spectacular views into the surrounding rainforest, from the forest floor to the upper canopy. At 23 metres high, it has 5 large viewing platforms so you can catch your breath and view the rainforest as you go higher.
Check out the interpretive displays about climate change, Gondwana, dangerous Australians and cyclones. There is also a visual presentation on the life and conservation of the endangered Cassowary.
Bush Tucker Trail
The Kuku Yalanji people thrived for thousands of years in the Daintree Rainforest with rich sources of food to hunt and gather. Learn about the traditional uses of many of the local rainforest fruits that helped survival in tough conditions.
This upper boardwalk runs through a natural Cassowary Corridor where many of the Cassowary’s favourite fruits grow. Follow the audio story of how the Cassowary survives in this ancient environment.
Get up close and personal with various reptile exhibits throughout the Centre. You will see some beautiful reptiles such as Boyd’s Forest Dragons, Green Tree Python, Palmerston Jungle Pythons, Jullatten Jungle Pythons, Carpet Pythons and Spotted Pythons.
The Jurassic Forest
One layer of the walking trails takes you through the Centre’s Jurassic Forest. A recreated forest experience of when giant carnivorous dinosaurs and megafauna roamed the ancient rainforests of Australia.
The Coffee Shop
No tour is complete without stopping in at the Coffee Shop! Enjoy a cuppa and a Bush Tucker Tasting Plate as you wind up your day in the Daintree Rainforest.
A recent visit to the Daintree Discovery Centre inspired me to share this experience. Why not Pin this for later.
If you really want to be impressed, the Daintree Discovery Centre is the place to visit. It was an extraordinary experience. As an Aussie, I’m very proud that we’ve been so proactive in preserving this remarkable ecosystem.
How to get there
Day tours to Cape Tribulation by 4WD or coach depart from Cairns and Port Douglas or, hire a car and drive yourself.
Daintree, the town is approximately 1.5 hours north of Cairns. To get the most out of your visit, stay in one of the villages on the rainforest’s doorstep such as Daintree, Port Douglas, Mossman or Cape Tribulation. We stayed at the Daintree Ecolodge, however there are many local lodges, hotels and B&Bs nearby.