If you’re thinking of visiting Cairns, Port Douglas or Tropical North Queensland then a trip to the Daintree is an absolute must. The renowned naturalist and world traveller Sir David Attenborough has described it as one of his favourite places in the world.
“One of the places that is really, really extraordinary is the north of Queensland, in Australia,’’ he said.
“It’s full of great things.”
One of the best places to see these great things is at one of the Daintree’s number one attractions – The Daintree Discovery Centre. Located just 10km north of the ferry crossing this has to be your first stop when visiting the region and will give you all the knowledge and info you need to make the most of your time in the world’s oldest rainforest.
You’ve probably heard the old saying ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’ – this would easily describe an uneducated visit up north. If you simply drove through the Daintree on your trip you’d admire the simple, towering magnificence of the ancient forest tumbling down to the ocean (where the rainforest meets the reef), but you would easily miss many of the incredible features of the region that are hidden right under our noses.
A completely new admiration for the region emerges when you find out facts like the Daintree is over 150 million years old. To put this into perspective – the Amazon rainforest is a spring chicken at just 7 million years old, and the neighbouring Kuranda range is just 70,000 years old. These are just some of the forest, flora and fauna facts you’ll learn during your visit to the centre. You’ll also walk away with an awesome 68 page rainforest guide book which has sections on each level of the centre plus info on the region, national parks and walks in the area, kids fun and games and a comprehensive wildlife identification guide. Everything you need to get the most out of your trip to the Daintree.
The Award winning Daintree Discovery Centre is an eco-accredited tourist attraction built within the rainforest to have as little impact on the surroundings as possible. There are raised walkways and platforms that lead you around the centre and between information points, and make it possible to see each level of the rainforest in it’s most natural state. There are 5 self guided walks through the centre – taking you from the forest floor all the way up to the canopy 23metres above the ground. You will see ancient flora and fauna, learn about traditional bush tucker, see local wildlife (including frequent Cassowary sightings) and learn about the history and wonder of the Daintree region.
On arrival at the centre we were given personal audio devices (including special ones for the kids) which made it easy to get the most of all the info available. The centre has been designed for families to enjoy – the walkways are all accessible for prams or little legs, there is lots for the kids to hold and touch and lots of wildlife to see. The interpretative centre has heaps of interactive displays to keep old and young amused for ages – and the layout of the centre means that you can take everything at your own pace and explore in your own time.
So where does the Demon Duck of Doom come into this I hear you ask? Learning the age of the Daintree Rainforest makes it no surprise to find out that many prehistoric creatures also roamed this area – including dinosaurs and megafauna. The Jurassic Forest area of the centre brings you face to face with life size animated sauropods, theropods, ankylosaurs and ornithopods. You’ll learn how they lived, what they ate and the reasons why they don’t inhabit the rainforest to this day. My favourite was the Diprotodon – a giant cuddly looking marsupial, and hubby took a liking to the ‘Australovenator’. At first the creatures are so lifelike the boys were a bit unsure – but they soon warmed up and started roaring right back at them!
For some highlights of our day check out our video below
The Daintree Discovery Centre is open 7 days a week from 8.30am – 5pm. It’s located 10km north of the ferry crossing and the whole region up to Cape Tribulation is easily accessible on sealed roads. The cost of entry includes a complimentary 7 day pass (valid for 12 months if you are a Cairns local), all the self guided walks and experiences, audio guides for all the family and the 68 page guide to the Daintree.
There is also a cafe on site where you can enjoy a hot drink or a cold ice cream, or try some of the bush tucker you learned about during the tour.
Click here to walk with the dinosaurs, meet the cassowaries and climb to the top of the rainforest!
And if you need somewhere to stay in Cape Tribulation then check out PK’s Jungle Village – they have amazing family rooms, cabins and camping. There is a bar and restaurant as well as self catering facilities and direct beach access. Best of all for those with fur babies – pets are welcome! Check out the short video we made of our stay below.