With its spectacular scenery of gorges, rivers, mountain ranges, rainforests, and beaches, plus its diverse ecosystem, it’s no surprise Sir David Attenborough once declared Tropical North Queenslands Daintree rainforest as “the most extraordinary place on earth”.
The Daintree rainforest is the oldest continually surviving rainforest in the world, this ancient landscape holds a living record of the evolutionary processes that have taken place over the past 415 million years, shaping the flora and fauna of Australia today. The country’s isolation from other land masses for millions of years has also greatly influenced the distinct wildlife that currently inhabits this land, including many rare and unusual species.
Some are endemic to the Tropical North Queensalnd area, meaning this is the only place on earth where they can be found.
- The southern cassowary is one such bird, a prehistoric, flightless species that can cause serious damage with its large, dagger-shaped claw.
- The Bennett’s tree kangaroo, a descendant of ground-dwelling kangaroos, is also unique to the Wet Tropics, specifically a small area north of the Daintree River.
- The concentration of endemic reptiles, greater than any other area of Australia, includes the green turtle, the frilled lizard, and Boyd’s forest dragon – thought to have evolved in Australia around 20 million years ago.
- Then there are the 54 species of frogs and the creepy crawlies, of which there are estimated to be a staggering 40,000 species.
Best places to see native Australian animals of the rainforests
Here are just a few ways you could catch a glimpse of some of these unique native Australian animals:
- Explore the rainforest on one of the many Daintree rainforest day tours. The experienced and informative rainforest guides have a sharp eye, able to spot shy inhabitants that a visitor would easily walk past.
- Stop by the Daintree Discovery Centre, 10km north from the Daintree River crossing, it’s a centre devoted to educating visitors of all ages about the history, culture, plants, and wildlife of the ancient surrounds.
- Visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda to get up close and personal with its 2,000 butterflies.
- Join a night tour in the Daintree rainforest to see the nocturnal animals foraging on the forest floor
- Book an Aboriginal guided tour to learn about this ancient culture and their history of guardianship over this land