Exploring a Land Before Time in Our Own Backyard

We Are Explorers is teaming up with Rainforest 4 Foundation to raise $25,000, purchase a block of land in the Daintree Rainforest, return it to the Daintree National Park and protect it forever. But what’s the Daintree actually like? And what can you do there? We sent Kate up north to find out. 

Daintree Lowland Rainforest - Photo by Steven Nowakowski

My favourite book when I was a kid was ‘Where the Forest Meets the Sea’ – a picture book about a young boy who’s transported to a primordial tropical rainforest. I was obsessed with this book and its vivid depiction of a wildly diverse and ancient, yet fragile ecosystem (yes I was a nerd, yes I used to sleep with this book under my pillow). Needless to say, when recently given the opportunity to visit the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland, I was pretty excited to make my childhood dreams a reality. 

If you’re travelling from Cairns, the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area is accessible via the Daintree River Ferry. The drive to the ferry is an adventure of its own – Cairns’ outer suburbs peel away and make way for sugar cane country to the left and the sparkling, yet croc-infested, Coral Sea to the right. After passing the sleepy tropical towns of Port Douglas and Mossman, the highway spits you out at the Daintree River Ferry, the gateway to the Lowland Daintree Rainforest.

Daintree Discovery Centre

First stop off the ferry is the Daintree Discovery Centre, where you can view this 180 million year old rainforest at canopy level on an aerial walkway. Spend a leisurely hour walking on a self-guided audio tour and learn about the myriad of weird and wonderful plants and animals who call this forest home. The audio tour is also offered from the perspective of Kuku Yalanji, the traditional custodians of the area.

Support Our Campaign To Protect The Daintree

Cape Tribulation

35km north of the Daintree River Ferry is Cape Tribulation, a quintessential ‘rainforest meets the reef’ slice of paradise. There are nearby freshwater creeks for a dip, but don’t risk getting your toes wet in any of the beaches in this area – this is crocodile country. Keep your eyes peeled for cassowaries, huge prehistoric-looking birds endemic to Far North Queensland. They’re a vulnerable species but are also considered the most dangerous bird on earth. So watch out!

Land Before Time: Exploring the Daintree (QLD), Kate Stevens, rainforest, Cassowary

Southern Cassowary - Photo by Steven Nowakowski

Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail

The entrance to the nearby Mt Sorrow Ridge Trail (a 7km return hike with 680 metres of elevation) can be found just north of the Cape Tribulation headland. This trail is a steep and at times scrambly one, advisable for experienced bushwalkers only. Follow the rainforest-clad ridge of Mount Sorrow to a viewing platform southwards along the Daintree coastline, out towards Snapper Island and beyond. Set off in the morning to make the most of the cooler hours and allow yourself a six-hour return trip for this trail.

Land Before Time: Exploring the Daintree (QLD), Kate Stevens, Mt Sorrow, rainforest, mountains, beach, sky

Mt Sorrow in the Daintree Rainforest | Photo by Steven Nowakowski

Leave No Trace And Respect The Place 

Be sure to take your rubbish with you, keep an eye out for cassowaries and respect the sacred space you’re privileged enough to visit. To visit a rainforest as biologically diverse and ancient as the Daintree, you experience first-hand how truly unique and resilient it is. We must do what we can to protect it – rainforests absorb massive amounts of carbon, which means their survival is essential to our own. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Daintree Rainforest is not fully protected by a national park. In fact, two-thirds of the Lowland Daintree Rainforest was subdivided into 1,100 blocks in the 1980s, leaving the area vulnerable to development and urbanisation. Development wreaks havoc on these pristine ecosystems and wipes out plant and animal habitats. 

Essential Gear

  • A good pair of shoes/boots
  • Water and snacks
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera gear
  • Torch or headlamp (no power at night in this area)

How To Get There

From Cairns, the Daintree is an easy hour drive up the Cook Highway to the Daintree River ferry. The ferry is the gateway to one of the world’s most scenic drives, the journey to Cape Tribulation. The Daintree ferry operates 6.00 am to midnight every day, except Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Support Our Campaign To Protect The Daintree

We Are Explorers is teaming up with Rainforest 4 Foundation to raise $25,000, purchase a block of land in the Daintree Rainforest, return it to the Daintree National Park and protect it forever. But we can’t do it alone. We’re kicking off the campaign on November 14th and we need your help! Get on board.

This article by Kate Stevens was first published on We Are Explorers

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