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Daintree National Park Infomation


Daintree National Park is valued because of its exceptional biodiversity. It  protects a very diverse range of regional ecosystems and animals, many of which are of international conservation significance.


The park also provides a location for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people to exercise their cultural rights. Daintree National Park supports the entire distribution of some species and is a stronghold for many others.


The Greater Daintree Rainforest has existed continuously for more than 110 million years, making it possibly the oldest existing rainforest. The park’s well researched ecology and vegetation link the area to the distant past. The area holds special significance for many Australians and visitors from overseas who are captivated by the spiritual and emotional atmosphere.

Tradional Owners-Kuku Yalanji

The entire Daintree/Cape Tribulation/Bloomfield region is a small part of the Kuku Yalanji tribal area. As a whole, this extends from Mossman in the south to Annan River in the north and as far west as Laura and

Palmer River. The Kuku Yalanji people are a single tribal group as distinct from the neighboring Kuku/Yimidhirr to the north and Jabugay/Yirrigandji to the south.


Many prominent features of the region have a complex mythological component. These may be either animal-like, human-like or an element of the universe. As a result, story places or cultural sites represent past

activities or current residence beneath the surface and have a very high cultural significance, so are often considered dangerous to approach or take resources from, except in prescribed ways or by the right person.


The islands, beaches, creek mouths, backing dunes and lowland rainforest of the Daintree area also provided a major focus for camping and other places of use for the Kuku Yalanji. Combined with the fringing reef and sea, a diverse range of resources were available to the Yalanji

people on a systematic, seasonal and cultural basis.


Characteristic cultural features of the Daintree region include a complex network of Aboriginal walking tracks. These were based around two major tracks, one along the coast and one further inland which were joined by an intricate network of associated tracks which connected all destinations, places of cultural importance and resource use. Many of these were later developed into the roads and tracks used today.



A Handbook for Tour Guides Daintree River to Cape Tribulation

Wet Tropics Management Authority

Vegetation of the Daintree
The Wet Tropics and particularly the Daintree area contains one of the most complete and diverse living records of the major stages in the evolution of land plants, from the very first land plants to higher plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms), as well as one of the most important living records of the history of marsupials and songbirds.
The Wet Tropics and particularly the Daintree contains a unique record of a mixing of two continental floras and faunas. Following the collision of the Australian and Asian continental plates about 15 million years ago, two evolutionary streams of flora and fauna mixed. They streams had been largely separated for at least 80 million years and some were of common origin.
Wet Tropics rainforests are surviving fragments of the primordial Gondwana forests and are among the oldest rainforests on Earth. The earliest known terrestrial plant forms were from the Silurian period more than 400 million years ago.
The origin of seed plants over 320 million years ago was one of the most significant events in the evolution of terrestrial vegetation - an adaptive breakthrough that allowed colonisation of habitats that were inhospitable to spore-producing plants. The cone-bearing cycads and southern conifers (gymnosperms) are the most ancient of living seed plants, little changed from ancestors that flourished in the Jurassic period between 136 and 195 million years ago.
The emergence of the flowering plants (angiosperms) some 200 million years after the first appearance of the gymnosperms marked the beginning of one of the most fundamental changes in biological diversity on this planet. By the late Cretaceous period, gymnosperms had largely been replaced by angiosperms. Catastrophic events around the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary (70 million years ago) led to major biological extinctions, with the loss of an estimated 75 percent of all living species.
This mass extinction was most pronounced in the northern hemisphere. However, East Gondwana (Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea) in the southern hemisphere was relatively unaffected and, consequently, the highest concentrations of Cretaceous angiosperm families survived in that region, many of which were still present on the Australian landmass when it finally broke away from Antarctica. Today, the highest concentration of primitive, archaic and relict taxa relating back to the origins of flowering plants survive in the Wet Tropics.

The Wet Tropics contains 16 of the 28 primitive angiosperm lineages. One of these 16 primitive dicot plant families is only found here in the Wet Tropics (Austrobaileyaceae).


 Source Wet Tropics Web Site



Four hundred million years ago the Daintree Coast consisted of metamorphic rocks (formed when heat or pressure caused pre-existing sedimentary rock from the Hodgkinson Basin to recrystallise, but without melting)


What is now the Daintree Coast was beneath the sea -the coastline was then part of Gondwana and it was 100km west of here, around where Chillagoe is today.


Chillagoe caves, famous for their limestone formations,reveal coral fossils of an ancient coral reef.The granite boulders perched on top of Thornton Peak are of a different origin.They are igneous rocks (which

were once molten and usually contain crystals whichgrew as the molten material cooled).


These boulders had their origins 2km below the surface. Granites are

formed by heat and pressure and, just as hot air rises,so does hot rock.This huge mass (called a pluton after Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld) rose on a convection current and eventually cooled before

reaching the surface.


The surrounding metamorphics, by now out of the sea, slowly eroded away leaving the spectacular spine of ranges we see today.



A Handbook for Tour Guides Daintree River to Cape Tribulation

Wet Tropics Management Authority

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