The Daintree Rainforest is thought to be more than 135 million years old, and as such is the oldest intact rainforest in the world. Located within the rainforest is The Daintree Discovery Centre. This is a world-class interpretive facility that allows visitors easy access to this unique rainforest wilderness via boardwalk tours, a 23 metre high Canopy Tower, Aerial Walkway, Bush Tucker Trail, Cassowary Circuit, giant Strangler Fig and Display Centre. Established in 1989 the Centre is widely recognised as a leader in the field of eco-tourism and provides an excellent introduction to the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest.
The Discovery Centre was constructed after extensive consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the local Council, the CSIRO, and various educational and rainforest research centres, including local and overseas museums. No trees were removed in the construction of the centre, which was built on two freehold parcels of lowland rainforest bordering the National Park, just outside the area designated for World Heritage.
Don enjoyed lying on his back and looking up at the giant strangler fig (Ficus aurea), which is thought to be between 500-600 years old. Strangler figs are amongst the world’s most spectacular and curious plants. Each one starts off as a tiny fig seed that germinates high up in the canopy of a tree. It sends down an intricate web of roots, which gradually wind round the trunk of the host tree. Strangler figs are epiphytes – plants that survive without roots in the ground and trap all the nutrients and moisture they need as it falls from the forest above. They are not parasitic but they do eventually kill the host tree.
The walkway slices a corridor through the rainforest maintaining close proximity to the trees. No trees were removed during the construction of the walkway and there was minimal disturbance to wildlife.
Don also loved the 23 metre (76′) high Canopy Tower, which has 5 large viewing platforms with interpretive information and seating at each level. The tower was specially designed to withstand cyclones, and like the Aerial Walkway, it was built without any mechanical devices. Much of what happens in a tropical rainforest occurs high up in the canopy, and the tower gives access to the very top where you can see the different tree structures and canopy layering.
Don saw some wonderful sights, including a particularly good red-flowering mistletoe, lots of climbers that have climbed all the way up from the bottom, and a black bean tree (Castanospermum australe). Most people know black beans as indoor plants, but the timber is also used and there is hope that the seeds will be useful in the treatment of cancer. Don also spotted a Southern Cassowary, which comes through at around 4.30 each afternoon, and is oblivious to the visitors high above on the Canopy Tower.
Daintree Discovery Centre
Tulip Oak Road (cnr Cape Tribulation Road)
Cow Bay 4873
Phone: (07) 4998 9171
Fax: (07) 4098 9171
The centre is open every day from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm (except Christmas Day)
Children 5-16, $7.50
Children 0-4, Free
Audio Guide Hire, $5
45 page Interpretive Guide Book, $9.95 (included with Adult and Concession entry fee)