South Pacific Specialists

Australia and The Wet Tropics

The Wet Tropics is a triumph of natural wonder, beauty and diversity.

From the Daintree rainforest to the Tablelands, the Wet Tropics delivers an entrancing, intriguing and engaging destination for experience seekers. Here, two World Heritage masterpieces meet: the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef, offering a spectacular array of plants and animals, gorges, walks, waterfalls, mountains, beaches and marine environments. Within this landscape reside the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforests on earth and many rare and threatened species found nowhere else in the world.

A living exhibition, the Wet Tropics tells the story of how plants and animals have evolved over time. Awarded World Heritage status in 1988, it is a major evolutionary centre for the world’s rainforest flora and fauna, offering a living record of the ecological and evolutionary processes that have shaped Australia’s wildlife over the past 415 million years.

The rainforests of the Wet Tropics, in particular Daintree’s Cooper Creek are home to half of Australia’s bird species, one third of the continent’s mammals and over 3,000 plant species. It is also a crucial habitat for rare and threatened species including the intriguing and flightless southern cassowary and elusive tree kangaroos. Mahogany gliders, frogs, flying foxes, possums, bats and an amazing concentration of endemic birds are among the other distinctive species here with intriguing stories of creation and survival, extinction and rediscovery.

There are also 18 Rainforest Aboriginal tribal groups who have ongoing traditional connections to the World Heritage Area dating back 60,000 years, making them the oldest rainforest culture in the world.

The Wet Tropics can be divided into four distinct areas: north, south, the central coast and the Tablelands.

The north encompasses the area from Port Douglas to Cooktown and offers a range of experiences including scenic coastal drives, rare rainforests and the remote Cape York Peninsula. North of Mossman is the Daintree coast, where the rainforest meets the reef. Further north, the landscape becomes rugged with high mountain wilderness areas, coastal rainforest and mangrove areas. The historic settlement of Cooktown lies at the northern boundary.

The central coast area – often called the Cassowary Coast – stretches from Cairns southward to Cardwell. Queensland’s two highest peaks, Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker are found here.

The cool highland region of the Tablelands west of Cairns and Innisfail is symbolised by its rich volcanic soils, mounds and craters, waterfalls and rainforest giants such as the twin kauri pines and the infamous strangler figs.

The southern Wet Tropics area is made up mostly of the rugged Paluma and Seaview ranges which loom above the coastal plain. The forests here are quite different to those in the north, with magnificent stands of tall eucalypt forest and dry tropical open woodlands. The southern region is locally known as the ‘dry tropics’ however the Paluma range regularly receives in excess of 3 metres of rain.

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is managed by the Wet Tropics Management Authority in accordance with Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect, conserve, present and transmit the unique values of the area for future generations.

Things to see and do
→ Witness the picturesque Millaa Millaa and Josephine Falls on the Waterfall Circuit in summer.
→ Tour with an Aboriginal guide for an insight into the Indigenous history, culture and spirituality of the Wet Tropics.
→ Explore the walking trails, waterfalls and swimming holes of spectacular Mossman Gorge.
→ Take a cruise on the Daintree River, which teems with birdlife and crocodiles.
→ Drive the Great Tropical Drive, one of the world’s most scenic ocean drives.
→ Follow the 13 self-drive Discovery Trails to fully immerse in the landscape.
→ Watch the migratory waders and other waterbirds at the Mareeba Wetlands.
→ Spend some time exploring the unique environment of Magnetic Island off Townsville.
→ Visit the Tyto Wetlands, home to over 200 species of birds and native Australian wildlife.
→ Wonder at Wallaman Falls, Australia’s highest single drop waterfall in Girringun National Park.
→ Trek the famous Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island or the walking tracks of the Misty Mountains.
→ Go white-water rafting on the Tully River.
→ Experienced hikers can climb to Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest peak (1,622m).
→ See the endangered cassowaries at Djiru National Park.
→ Experience the rainforest from all levels on a Rainforest Canopy Walkway.

Courtesy of Tourism Australia

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