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The Daintree Rainforest is a unique, ancient and fascinating part of the planet. Here's a quick overview of just a few of the things that make this remarkable part of Australia truly special.
It's the world's oldest rainforest. The Daintree is an estimated 180 million years old. This is tens of millions of years older than the Amazon rainforest. In many ways, taking a tour of this part of the world is about as close as you will ever get to hopping inside a time machine. There are ancient plant lineages here that date back to the period of the Gondwana supercontinent, and are found nowhere else.
It's a world heritage area. Most of the Daintree Rainforest is contained within the Wet Tropics region of Queensland. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has recognised the unique value of this part of the world by proclaiming it a world heritage area. Their reasons for doing this include the area's exceptional natural beauty, the diverse living record of ancient flora contained here (and nowhere else), the incredible diversity of plants and animals contained here, including many rare species, and the fact that this area of tropical rainforest remains rather untouched compared to many lowland tropical rainforests around the world.
It's right next to another world heritage area. The Daintree Rainforest is right next to the Great Barrier Reef. This is the only spot in the world where two world heritage sites meet.
Incredible animal diversity. The Daintree Rainforest is home for a great many weird and wonderful creatures. There's the world largest tree frog, the metallic blue Ulysses Butterfly, the Bennett's Tree Kangaroo and the impressively massive, rare and so important Cassowary bird also lives here.
It's huge. At around 1,200 square kilometres, the Daintree is the largest contiguous area of rainforest in Australia. The entire Wet Tropics world heritage area as a whole is a massive 12,000 square kilometres.
It gets so much rain. The Australian continent is widely known as a land of sun, outback desert and sands. With around 2013 mm of rain every year, the Daintree Rainforest, however, is a very rainy exception to this parched rule.
It's under threat. Though the Daintree Rainforest remains fairly untouched as compared to other lowland tropical rainforest areas around the world, there are unfortunately several serious threats to this irreplaceable part of the world. Climate change of just a 1 degree change in average temperature could see many important species lose huge parts of their habitat here, and this would in turn impact the rest of the rainforest ecosystem. Extinction also threatens the area - a vast number of plant species in this rainforest are either entirely or mostly reliant on just one endangered bird, the cassowary, for the distribution of their seeds. Incredible trees and other plants that rely on the bird for their reproduction, will, if numbers distinct, in turn impact other animals that need these plants for their habitat.
With such an array of threats facing the Daintree Rainforest, it's important to make the effort to see it while you still can!
Massive tropical trees. The stunning array of spectacular plants includes some terrifically tall trees. Some are endemic to north Queensland and threatened by habitat loss. The Daintree Rainforest is home to a couple of these trees that stand over 40 metres.
Primitive flowering plants. You'd find some of the most ancient examples of early flowering plants only here. These are incredibly valuable to our understanding of how flowering plants first developed. Some of the oldest forms of flowering plant that is found only in the Daintree Rainforest probably dates from 120 million years ago.
Stunning scenery. Only 2 hours’ drive from Cairns, it's rare that such a largely untouched wilderness can be so conveniently located by the comforts and amenities of civilisation. Seeing this part of the planet up close and personal is definitely a must do.
Sir David Attenborough is the most respected nature documentarian in the world. See why he thinks our Jungle and region is the best in the world: "The Northern Queensland Jungle is absolutely fantastic[...] Wonderful birds and extraordinary animals that you would never have thought of that do amazing things[...] Better than the Amazon."
CLICK HERE to view Sir Davids interview on the Best Jungle to visit on Earth.
British singer and songwriter Ed Sheran spottet on the Daintree River:
Cassowary at play at our lunch location: