Daintree National Park. National Park in Australia, Oceania

Daintree National Park

National Park in Australia, Oceania

Daintree National Park Photo © Cairns-Australia

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Daintree National Park

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Boyd's forest dragon - Daintree
	National Park
Boyd's forest dragon - Daintree National Park. Photo by Anne Roberts
Daintree National Park is a national park in the far northeast of Queensland, Australia. The dense jungle of the ancient Daintree Rainforest is a part of the protected Australian Wet Tropics environment. The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest virgin rainforest on Earth and one of the world’s oldest surviving ecosystems. It is the closest, still living counterpart to the rainforests that used to cover the prehistoric supercontinent of Gondwana (Wikipedia Article). The immense, natural significance of the area is the reason it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The national park is located about 62 miles north of Cairns and a short distance north of Port Douglas.

Daintree National Park is essentially made up of two sections; Mossman Gorge begins about 50 miles north of Cairns; Cape Tribulation lies 68 miles north of Cairns. Mossman Gorge contains the clear waters of the Mossman River that tumbles over granite rocks. The landscape of Cape Tribulation is completely different and consists of mountains covered with rainforests and wide sandy ocean beaches. In Cape Tribulation, visitors can see where ‘the rainforest meet the reef’. It is a truly spectacular area where the lush green rainforest is separated from the blue ocean by a line of white sand. The Great Barrier Reef lies at its doorstep. It is a truly unique area in the sense that two UNESCO World Heritage Sites touch each other there: the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef.

The national park is home to a dazzling 18,000 plant species. Some of them are 2,500-year-old trees. Tall Fan Palms, Vines, Cycads, and Ferns make up the canopy of the forest, while the ground is covered with colorful flowers and tropical plants. There are plant species that have survived there since the dinosaurs were roaming the planet. Birds and reptiles still live there like they have for years.

 - Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge. Photo by Kyle Taylor

Fauna and Flora

The jungle of Daintree National Park is home to a wide variety of animals. Bird species include numerous Parrots, Scrubfowl, and the famed Cassowary. Cassowaries are large, 2-meter-tall, non-flying birds, like the Emu, that have black feathers and a colorful head. The Cassowary and Flying Fox are considered to be key species in the rainforest’s ecosystem for they eat fruit and disperse the seeds. Brightly colored butterflies, frogs, and Green Tree Ants are easily spotted. Reptile life includes Tortoises, Tree Snakes, Lizards, and the large and dangerous Estuarine Crocodile.

The amount of plant life in the national park is incredibly diverse. There are more than 800 known tree species in the park, several of which are native to the area. Some areas are known to have a thousand individual trees per hectare. The Wet Tropic area in northern Queensland is home to 90 fantastic orchid species, half of which aren't found anywhere else on the planet. Fan Palms are probably the most visually stunning species of palm trees and they can be seen everywhere in the park. In addition, there are fifteen other endemic palm varieties.

Short History

The vegetation and ecosystem of the national park have basically been around for millions and millions of years. The area’s massive importance was recognized in 1981 with the founding of Daintree National Park as a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland. It became a World Heritage Site in 1988.

The name of the national park comes from Richard Daintree, a friend of George Dalrymple who was one of the earliest explorers of the northeast.

Things to Do

Daintree River Crocodile Cruise - Daintree National Park
Daintree River Crocodile Cruise - Daintree National Park. Photo by jdegenhardt
Cairns and Port Douglas are the bases of many tour companies that offer tours to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. A day trip allows visitors to see the rainforest up close on a hike or the spot crocodiles and other wildlife on a Daintree River cruise. A croc-spotting cruise is one of the most popular activities in the national park.

Visitors can also get there by car and explore Daintree National Park, its beaches, and dense forest at their own pace. Maps and/or guides are recommended. Hiking and camping are popular as well, as are guided Aboriginal walks.

How to Get There

There is a paved road from Cairns and Port Douglas as far as Cape Tribulation Beach. People who want to get further north need to have a 4WD. All car rental companies allow people to drive to Cape Tribulation Beach. The drive from Cairns takes about two hours. Public transport is available in the form of buses, which run the Daintree National Park from both Cairns and Port Douglas. Tour companies offer a wide variety of tours as well.

Similar Landmarks

Daintree National Park is unique and there aren't really any similar parks in Australia. There are, however, other tropical and Outback parks in the country. The Great Barrier Reef lies in the ocean right off the beach, while in the Northern Territory there is Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 30, 2015

Pictures of Daintree National Park

Boyd's forest dragon - Daintree National Park
Boyd's forest dragon - Daintree National Park. Photo by Anne Roberts

The Daintree Rainforest - 23-2 - Daintree National Park
The Daintree Rainforest - 23-2 - Daintree National Park. Photo by Kyle Taylor

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