The oldest continually surviving tropical Rainforest in the world: Daintree

The Daintree rainforest is said to have been the inspiration for the movie Avatar. Walking among its ancient trees that reach high into the sky and navigating in the dense undergrowth, I can see why it could be the inspiration for many mysterious and wonderful things. Not only is it visually pleasing it sounds like Jurassic Park took a soundtrack from here. 

I constantly hear new sounds. I stop and look around searching for the singer of the new tune. Camouflage is mastered here and many times I do not find the source. I must sit and wait for the bird to come to me. These trails are like paths to the past. 

I sit as the rain filters through the canopy soaking my clothes cooling me down. I quietly observe waiting for movement to reveal some new strange creature. The cacophony of cries from every species calling out creates an otherworldly feel like I have stepped back in time. 

Water flows in paths through the under story. The liquid is so pure that every detail of the stream bed below is clearly visible. 

Shades of green crowd together thick and seemingly impenetrable. Vines twist and reach out so entwined that it is hard to discern where one plant ends and the next begins. Orchids grow in the crevices of trees sprouting out with their delicate adornments. 

Large buttress of a tree in the Daintree rain-forest

Traps on the trail

I look back to see Trin playing with a wait-a-while vine. He is currently trying to untangle his umbrella from the barbs. 

The wait-a-while vine has thick stalks with large thorns that spiral around its shaft as it grows upward. From that shaft hang long slender vines that dangle over trails. Protruding from these slender vines are hundreds of sharp yellow hooks ready to grab anything wandering by. It has been known to stop bush-trackers in their path and they must wait while they disentangle numerous hooked spines from clothing and skin. 

The wait-a-while bush seems to like to grow along disturbed ground like footpaths. They may be a nuisance at times, but they’re nothing to worry about compared to the stinging tree. 

The stinging tree also seems to like footpaths where more sunlight can filter through. This plant is covered with tiny hairs. When touched the hair breaks off and injects a potent neurotoxin that is extremely painful. The painful sensations last hours to days and sometimes for months when the area is touched or the temperature changes. 

Warning signs on every trail show pictures of the stinging tree and urge hikers to beware. 

Lookout in the Daintree looking over the top of the canopy.
Looking over the top of the dense canopy of the Daintree rainforest.

Ancient forest

The Daintree rainforest is part of the wet tropics in northern Queensland, Australia. The wet tropics are the oldest continually surviving tropical rain-forest in the world.

Continents have moved, earthquakes have toppled mountains. The world around us constantly changes, but this place holds on and the giant ancient fern still grows tall within its canopy.

Destructive cyclones come and go, but the Daintree recovers. Small saplings in the under story await their time. When the canopy above is broken they race to the top in a competition for sunlight quickly filling in the gap.

Not only is the Daintree part of the oldest forest in the world, but it also sits on the shores of the largest living organism in the world, the Great Barrier Reef. Two world heritage sites next to each other meet at the shore.

Road signs for cassowaries and speed bumps modified by a tourist
Drive carefully. There are cassowaries and speed bumps on the road… and funny tourists.
Cassowary
The endangered Cassowary. Research shows Ryparosa kurrangii seeds (a fruit tree) that pass through the gut passage of cassowaries have a 92% chance of germination. Seeds that don’t only have a 4% chance.

The most dangerous bird in the world

As we walk we keep our eye out for the cassowary, the world’s most dangerous bird.

The cassowary sports a large horn-like crest on its head. This crown may look deadly but many believe it is used for releasing heat and keeping them cool. The cassowary’s actual weapon is the danger-like talons on its large feet. When defending their young or if they are frightened they deliver a kick capable of inflicting fatal injuries even to humans. 

Warning signs adorn every trailhead with instructions on what to do if you see a cassowary – don’t run, slowly back up, try to put a tree or another object between you and the bird. They can be aggressive and the males are very protective of their young.

While looking for a cassowary on the trail we hear the grunts of a feral pig instead, so we keep our eye out for him as well. Angry feral pigs can also cause great injury.

The elusive cassowary did not make an appearance on the trail, thankfully neither did the pig. It wasn’t until we left the park that our first cassowary sighting occurred. He crossed the road in front of our bus, Lil’ Beaut. We stopped and watched, barely able to contain our excitement, as the huge bird confidently walked across the road and disappeared into the forest on the other side. xx

Yellow blooms growing directly from a tree trunk
Blooms growing directly from the tree trunk allow small animals easier access to their nectar. They in turn help the trees pollinate.

Soak in Beauty

In the morning at the first dawn of light, I make a cup of coffee and walk over to a pavilion nearby to enjoy the breeze, landscape, and chatter of the animals.

A stone hits the metal roof above me followed closely by what sounds like large hailstones. I come out to investigate and find an incoming flock of birds dropping shells from seeds they are eating. With the sound of deafening chatter, the tree beside me bursts into life. Every branch bounces as the flock or maybe multiple flocks of birds descend on the tree each chattering away loudly. I watch as they dart in and out of nests that hang from the branches. 

This brief outburst of domestic activity enthralls me. A few minutes later as if on cue, every bird takes flight, their wings pounding the air. They leave in a massive black cloud. 

Today and throughout this week, maybe the blue door of opportunity is to sit quietly with a cuppa and soak in whatever beauty is around you. This is a week filled with anxiety as many worry about the election results and reactions to it. I can not control anyone else. I only control how I react and how I treat others. Let your kindness be part of the display of beauty that heals.

Trin stands on the beach of the Daintree rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef
A peaceful morning at Cape Tribulation in the Daintree. Find your blue door.

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10 thoughts on “The oldest continually surviving tropical Rainforest in the world: Daintree”

  1. I’ll add something else to that last comment. I live in Melbourne and my travel sights have been firmly fixed overseas all my life. My next trip will be to Antarctica, either from NZ or South America, depending on how the virus goes. I’ve been up as far as Cairns, down as far as Tassie and across as far as Adelaide.
    I’m saving this trip of yours to use for domestic travel. Your words and pictures have awakened an interest for me to explore the other side of the continent. I wasn’t all that interested before. You’re compiling a fabulous resource for the rest of us!
    I’m retiring in 8 weeks and our borders don’t look like opening any time soon. Might be an opportunity to see some sights a little closer to home. 🙂

    Reply
    • Congratulations 🎉🍾 8 weeks! Very exciting. I hear that WA is now opening their borders.

      Antarctica is truly amazing and will be a great trip, but I have also completely fallen in love with Australia too. ❤️

      Reply
  2. WOW!!! This has been the most intriguing place yet. Thanks for articulating it so well. I could envision myself traveling with you through the rainforest

    Reply
  3. Isn’t this the most brilliant place.

    Luckily we never encountered the wait-a-while vine or stinging tree.

    And i remember seeing my first Casawary was also long after i had given up ever seeing one.

    Looking forward to returning here again soon!

    Also Looking forward to your next installment.

    Shaun

    Reply

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