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Evoking pristine beauty and adventure, exotic and even dangerous wildlife, and the mystery of the tropics, the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest rainforest and only place where two natural World Heritage sites meet and the ‘rainforest meets the reef’.
Sitting between the mountains and the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest encompasses around 1,200 sq km from the Daintree River north to Cooktown, and west to the Great Dividing Range, the Daintree Rainforest emerges from the coast like a vision from the age of dinosaurs.
Australia’s Wet Tropics Rainforest (of which the Daintree is a part) is the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world and the largest rainforest in Australia. Estimated to be 180 million years old,
Drawing modern-day explorers with its mystique and history, the Daintree region is a place of natural wonder combining beautiful beaches, rivers mangroves and creeks, magnificent rainforest, and astonishing wildlife to make the Daintree on of the most authentic and sought-after eco-adventure destinations in the world. The Daintree River is home to more than 150 fish species, over 100 crustaceans and a large majority of the world’s mangrove species are found here.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, which includes the Daintree Rainforest, from clean air and freshwater, to climate regulation, pollination, and protection against extreme weather events. Humanity depends on flowering plants for food and medicine, and ancient rainforests such as the Daintree may yet hold the secret to the origins of species.
The Wet Topics bioregion is an evolutionary hotspot containing an extremely rich variety of Australian animals and plants, many of which are endemic, rare, or threatened such as the cassowary, an ancient flightless bird endemic to the region and considered a keystone species vital to the health of other species of plants and animals.
The wildlife here is abundant with some of the most unusual examples of bats, birds and butterflies found in the Daintree National Park. The rainforest is home to a staggering 50% of the country’s bird species, 30% of marsupials, 41% of freshwater fish, and 60% of the world’s butterflies.
The vegetation of the area is the most diverse in Australia, both floristically and structurally. With more than six meters of rain every summer ‘wet season’, the flora of the Daintree encompasses lush plants, trees, bushes, ferns, vines, creepers and often referred to as jungle. The Wet Tropics region contains 16 of the 28 ancient lineages of primitive flowering plants, more than anywhere else in the world.
The Daintree River was discovered in 1873 by British expeditioner, George Dalrymple, during an expedition to the Daintree Coast. He named the waterway after former Queensland Government geologist, Richard Daintree, then Queensland’s Agent-General in London.
The Daintree region was originally home to the Kuku Yalanji tribe who lived in small kinships of 8-12 people along the banks of creeks and rivers.
This unique culture is approximately 9,000 years old and was an uninterrupted way of life until 1873 when European settlers, attracted by the discovery of gold and the potential for tin and mineral mining, as well as the opportunity to harvest red cedar, arrived in the area causing many violent conflicts with the Indigenous people.
The hunter-gatherer lifestyle of Kuku Yalanji was highly dependent upon rainforest vegetation. Many of these plants and fruits have toxic properties, but the Kuku Yalanji people were skilled at preparing them to ensure they are safe for consumption.
Australia is home to the world’s oldest living culture and the Daintree is rich with opportunities to learn about our aboriginal culture from Traditional Owners themselves. The Kuku Yalanji people offer cultural and educational interaction and interpretation; visitors can witness the art of Aboriginal storytelling through art and guided walks on country, and participate in conversations with Traditional Owners who share stories from their past and explain cultural differences.
Coral Expeditions takes guests to explore the Daintree River in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest.
As you approach the Daintree from the Coral Sea on a clear day you can see some spectacular geological formations including Mount Sorrow, Mount Peter Bot, and Thornton’s Landslide.
On a river cruise become immersed in the rainforest and learn about the diverse Wet Tropics ecosystem which contains the largest habitat of flora and fauna in the world. With an expert guide, look out for the region’s unique wildlife such as saltwater crocodiles and the prolific birdlife that inhabits the forest and mangrove-lined riverbanks.
> Explore the Daintree on our Outerknown Adventures of the Great Barrier Reef cruise