You walk between tall columns of giant gray trees, dappled with innumerable shades of green. You taste the oxygen-rich air, heavy with moisture. It imbues you with an inexplicable euphoria. You wander on as though in a dream. Strange fragrances waft among the compost odor of decaying vegetation. All around, vegetation of incredible lushness spills upon, over and under itself. Vines and lianas cavort, twist and tumble in every direction.
A spot of color might be a flower… then it moves and turns out to be a butterfly. The cicadas’ tinny whine pervades the forest, but the sound stops respectfully as you walk close. The insects’ instinct for life is strong—they don’t know who you are.
An alien cooing spreads through the forest. Luckily, the naturalist-guide is an expert on the local wildlife, so he identifies the strange sound as a bird called the Screaming Piha—the names of animals are as weird as the sounds. Late in the evening, the rainforest comes alive with sound, a true cacophony of birds and ducks, insects making the loudest racket.
We did a tour that took us high above the rain forrest via a Skyrail to the small town of Kuranda, where we toured this little village for a few hours before heading back via an old railway. The famous Kuranda Scenic Railway was built over 120 years ago and winds its way through the tropical mountain ranges between Cairns and Kuranda. And of course we upgraded to Gold Class which included finger foods and most of all free wine and beer during the 1 1/2 hour train ride.
The Daintree is internationally recognised as being one of the most ecologically fascinating natural areas in the world, as one of few remaining truly pristine tropical rainforest places on the planet. Despite their relatively small size, the rainforests are home to an amazing diversity of life and provide a living record of the ecological and evolutionary processes which have shaped Australia’s plants and animals for over 415 million years.
The yellow leaf in the pictures is a pre-oak, dating back to the dinosaurs in the Gondwanan rainforest. The Gondwanan is when South America, Africa, India, Australia, NZ, and Antarctica were all one continent, before the plates began to break apart. Yep, 340 million years ago, this plant began and through refinement and natural selection it becomes the mighty oak. The plant in the picture is the original species and is only found in Australia, and only at a certain altitude. The guide said that plant right in front of us was about 200 years old, but the soil is so rich and the water so abundant it continues to grow.
Someone, dumped a couple of roosters up in the rainforest, now the guide feeds them so they followed us around the whole time we were having our lecture. It was too funny.