Daintree National Park

Daintree national park is great.

It is in the Wet Tropics and does not have the 'real' Cape York rainforest like Iron Range, but the Wet Tropics rainforests are actually lusher than the ones on the actual peninsula.

They are also obviously easier accessible with sealed road in all the way.

And they are consequently much more visited, which also means they have much more tourist facilities.

Things you can do include some great rainforest walks - all kinds from boardwalks to steep mountain climbs, swimming in rainforest waterholes and four wheel driving. 

daintree mossman gorge

Mossman Gorge Section
As you drive north from Cairns and past Port Douglas, the national park starts at Mossman. This is the southern section of the park, the so-called Mossman Gorge section, which is actually larger than the northern section but seems smaller because only a small part of it - the Mossman Gorge itself - is accessible.

cape tribulation

Cape Tribulation Section
The northern section of Daintree National Park - the Cape Tribulation section - starts at Daintree River in the south and ends at Kulki - the actual headland of Cape Tribulation, just north of the Cape Tribulation Village. The whole area is quite commercialised but still lovely. 

daintree plants

Daintree Plants
There is a huge amount of different plants, with 400 species of trees only. Some typical Daintree plants include fan palms, lianes and vines (wait a while vine), ferns (including tree ferns) and cycads, stinging trees, strangler figs, orchids, and some primitive plants from the ancient Gondwana continent.

tree kangaroo

Daintree Animals
There are also a lot of species of animals (even if many are nocturnal and not easy to see). 

Some typical ones are tree kangaroos, striped possums, ringtail possums, spotted tailed quolls, dingoes, spectacled flying foxes, tube nosed bats, white tailed rats and green tree frogs.

cassowary bird

Daintree Birds
There are also a lot of species of birds. 

Some of the typical ones are cassowaries, bush turkeys, orange footed scrubfowls, sunbirds, double eyed fig parrots, metallic starlings, imperial pigeons, wompoo fruit doves, laughing kookaburras and many species of kingfishers.

daintree walks

Daintree National Park Activities
The things you can do include wildlife and bird watching, camping, walking the beaches or walking up Mount Sorrow, there are walks to lookouts and boardwalks through rainforest and mangrove habitat.

There are rainforest waterholes to swim in, even four wheel drives.

daintree tours

Tours in Daintree National Park
There are also different tours, such as rainforest walks, wildlife and bird watching, four wheel driving, horse riding, fishing and boating. 

One of the best things to do is to take a crocodile tour on Daintree River - where you have good chances to see the deadly saltwater crocodiles.

Daintree Rainforest

Daintree rainforest is quite special.

It is the largest remaining tropical lowland rainforest in Australia.

It is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. 

And it is old.

The rainforest around Cape Tribulation is the oldest rainforest in the world.

Daintree National Park, which is a great place to discover those rainforests, has two sections - the southern Mossman Gorge and the northern Cape Tribulation section.

mossman gorge rainforest walk

The Mossman Gorge section is larger, but only a small area is accessible.
I remember the gorge from the time you could come here and have the whole place for yourself.

daintree rainforest walk

Not anymore, but the beautiful walk is still here. There are some massive buttress roots and really old giant trees, and some great swimming in the gorge.

daintree rainforest

The northern section -
Cape Tribulation - starts north of Daintree River.

daintree rainforest drive

In the southern end of it you will cross a mountain range and the road winds through some beautiful dense rainforest.
A good place to stop and learn about it is Daintree Discovery Centre.

daintree jindalba

In the northern end of the Cape Tribulation section, the landscape becomes flatter and you drive through some more open country with farms, accommodation, as well as some rainforest.

cape tribulation rainforest

Daintree Animals

So what are the typical Daintree animals?

The funny thing is on a brief visit there seem to be none!

You can walk all the boardwalks in Cape Tribulation and do the walk in Mossman Gorge, and by now you would have expected to see an animal but nope.

And that despite the fact that the Wet Tropics rainforests are the richest on animal species in Australia.

Yes, that's how it is up here - in the middle of the day it's too hot for most birds and animals - your chances are better early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or even night time.

Daintree Mammals

Marsupials include possums and gliders (striped possum, Daintree river ringtail, green ringtail, long tailed pygmy possum, to name a few); some interesting kangaroos (tree kangaroo and musky rat kangaroo); other macropods (red legged pademelon, swamp wallaby, agile wallaby); and long nosed and brown bandicoots.


Non-marsupial mammals (to make it simple) include echidna and platypus, dingo, flying foxes (spectacled, black and little red), bats (tube nosed bat, blossom bat), and native rodents (white tailed rat).

Daintree Birds

The most famous Daintree bird is the Southern Cassowary. It is not very easy to come across but it is not impossible - over the years I have seen a few crossing the roads while driving through Daintree rainforests.

cassowary bird

Other typical Daintree birds include bush turkeys, orange footed scrub fowls, helmeted friarbirds, sulphur crested cockatoos, black butcherbirds, bush stone curlews, metallic starlings, lotusbirds, wompoo doves, imperial pigeons, double eyed fig parrots, sunbirds, victoria's riflebirds, and different kingfishers, including both of the two species of kookaburras - laughing kookaburra (which is also found in the southern parts of Australia) and blue winged kookaburra (which is only found in northern Australia).

blue winged kookaburra

Daintree Reptiles

The most famous Daintree reptiles are the deadly saltwater crocodiles. But there are also many different lizards, dragons and geckoes including boyd's forest dragon, eastern water dragon, and leaf tailed geckoes. And there are many different snakes including carpet python, and amethystine python - Australia's largest snake.

carpet python

Daintree Frogs

Frogs include white lipped tree frog, northern barred frog, and litter frog, to name a few. The most typical amphibians are many different species of green tree frogs. But the introduced cane toad is also found here.

green tree frog

Daintree Insects

Insects are so many but I could mention green tree ants, leaf and stick insects, praying mantis, some lagre cockroaches, rhino beetles, and lots of beautiful butterflies, including two very large ones - Ulysses butterfly, and Cairns birdwing.

ulysses butterfly

Crocodile Tour on Daintree River

Daintree River is a great place to take a crocodile tour.

At least that is my experience.

It's the only time I have taken a tour, and there were no problems to see a big fat five metre croc from close by.

The operators know where to go and they will stop for a long while and let you have a good look.

There are many different tours available.

Prices, trip lengths and vessels can vary - all the tours are listed in full detail in the Destination Guide.

Crocodile Tours from Cairns and Port Douglas

If you are in Cairns and looking at how to get up to Daintree to see wild crocodiles, you may want to check out the following opportunities.

I think they are great because they also take you to see other places on the way ;-)

P. S. Before I took my crocodile tour, I thought it would be that "crocodile jumping tour" where a piece of meat is hung off the boat, making crocs to jump out of the water and trying to catch it.

But I learned that they don't do it in Daintree because it is a national park. You can see the jumping croc action at Hartleys Crocodile Adventures near Wangetti between Cairns and Port Douglas.

Daintree Rainforest Facts

On this page you have some Daintree rainforest facts.

* It is the world's oldest rainforest - about 120 million years old and a remnant of the ancient Gondwana continent.

* The area was originally inhabited by Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people.

* It was named after Richard Daintree - an English geologist who spent 18 years in Australia in the 1800s.

* It belongs the Wet Tropics rainforests, which have been World Heritage listed since 1981.

* 1981 is also the year when Daintree became a national park.

* The area covers about 1200 square kilometres - that is only about 0.1% of Australia's land surface.

* It has about 12,000 insect species.

* It has 65% of all butterfly species in Australia.

* It has 30% of all marsupial species in Australia.

* It has 18% of all bird species in Australia.

* It has 23 endemic frog species.

* It has 18 endemic reptile species.

* It has 13 endemic bird species.

* It has nine endemic reptile species.

* The rare black dingo lives in Daintree rainforest.

* Some of the oldest Daintree plants are ferns and cycads.

* Strangler fig is a tree that grows on other trees, finally killing the host tree by the time its hanging roots touch ground so it can support itself.

* There are two different species of stinging trees in Daintree rainforest.

* Up to 10 tonnes of litter per hectare can fall on its fall every year.

* Its main river - Daintree - is 140km long.

* Daintree has been lucky with tropical cyclones, but some bigger ones did happen in 1920 and 1934.

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