In the words of JR Tolkien "Not all those who wander are lost". My passion and loves are my family, travel and writing. I'm fortunate to be able to combine all three for an extraordinary life adventure....
Published November 5th 2017
'We can stand in awed silence in rainforests, feel their mystical antiquity and be humbled in the knowledge that their lovely green world predates the arrival of the humans on this planet by about 50 million years' Mary White - Palaeobotanist.
The rarest place on earth: the rainforest meets the reef
The Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland holds the most amazing title of the world's oldest continuous living tropical rainforest. It is our ancient historical living record of plant species that are over a hundred million years old. It is rich in a variety of animal, bird and plant species - some of which are not found anywhere else in the world.
In 1988 after years of logging and deforestation, the Daintree Rainforest was declared a World Heritage Protected site thanks to the ongoing and persistent efforts of concerned communities and organisations who cared for its survival and its ongoing continued existence.
The Daintree Discovery Centre, established in 1989, is continuing the conservation and preservation efforts to ensure that one of our most precious ecosystems is around for a long time to come. The Daintree Discovery Centre is located in the heart of the Daintree rainforest, an easy 2-hour drive north of Cairns along a scenic coastal route. It is a further 10 kms north of the Daintree Ferry crossing.
The Centre, since 2016, has been owned by the Aboriginal Development Benefits Trust and the Foundation has worked hard to combine responsible tourism with a strong environmental and educational focus to demonstrate that we can both enjoy and discover this beautiful piece of paradise while at the same time ensuring its protection.
Lush green vegetation in the heart of the Discovery Centre
There are many ways to experience the Daintree Rainforest, however, the Discovery Centre provides the opportunity to explore and learn about the different aspects of the rainforest from the forest floor to the canopy high above. There are various platforms that take you through this ancient wonderland which aim to contain and reduce the impact on the overall fragile ecosystem.
Instead of wandering aimlessly through the vegetation-rich flora, oblivious to the unique natural and rare inhabitants which exist in this special area, there are multitudes of educational resources to help you understand and appreciate this rich biodiversity.
It is a living library and museum of a unique world - yours to learn and discover at your own pace. It is a social educational experience and journey for the whole family.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly and knowledgeable staff at the centre's reception. Paul, one of the qualified guides, took the time to explain to my children the different areas of the discovery centre including the exciting 'Jurassic forest'.
There are 5 different self-guided tours which are available for you to explore the rainforest area. This includes the Bush Tucker Trail and the Cassowary Circuit. As it is a self-guided tour, you can start and stop whenever and wherever you like. There is no need to follow a 'group' or even your family! The tours are well marked, signposted and follow an easy route e.g. you can't get lost!
There are audio guides provided which are available in a range of different languages and there is a special children's audio channel which is kid-friendly in both its language and content.
The audio guides are simple and easy to use - child's play really. My two young children aged 6 and 8, had no problems using the audio guides.
As well as the audio guides, we were provided with our very own interpretive guidebook (to keep forever) and to use as a reference while we wandered leisurely through the rainforest. It contained a map as well as simple but descriptive information on the various birds, reptiles, and plant species living in the area.
Along the trail, there are numbers to help you locate the corresponding information which can be found in either the audio guides or the information book. Both of these resources will help you to identify and learn more about the various flora and fauna throughout your journey of discovery. There is also an indigenous interpretation available through the audio guide which you can listen to as you move through the various tours.
We began our tour along the aerial walkway - a spectacular 11m high walkway which allows safe and easy access to the mid-level rainforest. We discovered various ferns, climbing plants, vines and other varieties of plants and trees endemic (found only) in this region.
We then explored the Canopy Tower - taking us 23m high along five platforms from the forest floor to the uppermost reaches of the canopy, including a special butterfly zone. Ask staff for information on best times to spot certain wildlife in the area.
The Cassowary Circuit, provided us with the opportunity to spot a juvenile cassowary close up. My children were delighted to observe this rare and endangered animal for a while without disturbing its intense foraging activity looking for its favourite fruit; the Cassowary Satinash.
There is also the chance to spot some of the 430 species of birds which call the Daintree Rainforest their home.
The Interpretive Centre provides informative and interactive displays on various interesting topics such as cyclones, climate change, endangered species such as the cassowaries, and other fascinating creatures.
There is both a reptile and native fish display room where you can learn more about the Archer fish and other aquatic freshwater life and native reptile species such as the Boyd's Forest Dragon and a variety of pythons.
We left the scariest to last - our discovery of the 'lively' dinosaur exhibit which includes moving dinosaur and megafauna replicas, leaving us to wonder what life would've been like if these enormous fauna were still alive today.
To find out more about how the indigenous Australians and Kuku Yalanji people survived and thrived for thousands of years in this rich environment, follow the bush tucker trail to discover the various uses of the local rainforest fruits and plants.
We finished our day at the Discovery Centre cafe, overlooking the natural surrounds of McLean's creek enjoying the fresh air and open 'windows'. We decided to try the Bush Tucker tasting plate which included a selection of gourmet foods including Davidson's plum jam, a refreshing Lily Pily drink, bush tomato chutney and lemon myrtle sauce on yummy vanilla ice cream. It is definitely worth a try!
Whether you are spending two days or two weeks in the region it is a great first stop. It provides useful information and the opportunity to explore the rainforest in an easy and accessible way. Apply this knowledge to enhance your rainforest experience as you venture on other nature walks or travel through the National Parks in this region. You may surprise yourself and be the family's next David Attenborough!
identify and learn more about the wonderful plant and animal species of the rain forest
As you wander throughout the Rainforest Discovery Centre you will not only appreciate the educational emphasis and efforts to promote and enhance everyone's ability to learn more about our diverse habitat but also the various projects on the go and its strong conservation focus.
Currently, the Daintree Discovery Centre, together with key organisations and partners, such as the James Cook University and the Rainforest Rescue Centre, is leading the way in research and projects on Climate Change, Carbon Reduction, and other environmental sustainability initiatives.
Why? Multi award winning, eco-accredited Daintree Discovery Centre offers visitors the chance to learn about, appreciate and explore one of the few unspoilt pockets of lowland rainforests left in the world
When:The Discovery Centre is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.