If you are planning to tour Australia in search of fresh vistas, visiting at least one rainforest will prove almost mandatory. Located along the wetter, cooler stretches of coastline, rainforests in five mainland states remain constantly open to visitors for exploration.
Australia’s extraordinary biodiversity can be credited to their preservative powers. Quirky marsupials, dappled birds and Jurassic foliage all continue to thrive today, undisturbed amongst trees and waterfalls. An invigorated national conservation movement has helped to save this traditional landscape from creeping encroachment, through guiding sustainable tourist development. As a result, stunning treks and trails abound amongst other colourful marvels.
The Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is dominated by Kakadu National Park. Aboriginal habitation there began around 50,000 years ago, and the park has been made navigable through the extensive work of surviving indigenous groups.
Within the park, meandering tidal plains and dense grassland give way to the waterlogged rainforest of the south. This forest contains plunge pools, waterfalls and billabongs that dot the horizon. Notable landmarks include the dramatic Jim Jim falls (over 250 meters high) and an unmissable collection of Aboriginal art stretching 20,000 years. The rainforest is typically traversable by a multitude of boat routes, and hiking.
Kimberley dry rainforest is found within this sparsely populated territory. The spots and stretches of plant life are mostly synchronised to the monsoon season, in order to weather the harsh outback conditions.
The forests house more than 300 uniquely adapted plants, many of which are still poorly understood. Following the course of the Gibb and Mitchell rivers is the best way to see the clusters, often identifiable by their unusual vine growths. Trekking here would suit botanists and biologists, or anyone else interested in the natural world.
Rainforest-rich Queensland contains the oldest specimen in Australia, the Daintree. Relatively close to civilisation, Daintree can be reached within a day from nearby settlements. Containing an enormous proportion of Australia’s endemic flora and fauna, this 135 million year old Jurassic World Heritage site is justifiably world-famous.
It’s equally reputed spring bloom is unrivalled, in both complexity and florid colour. The native Kuku Yalanji accommodate guided tours, for those seeking to learn more about the uses and meanings of natural masterpiece from first-hand Aboriginal experience. At Cape Tribulation, Daintree meets the Great Barrier Reef. Those looking to dive should seriously consider routing their visit through the forest.
Queensland also contains the equally beautiful (if wetter) Kuranda rainforest. The Skyline cable car located within allows visitors to glide over almost 7.5 kilometres of untouched jungle, an experience well worth the 2 1/2 hour round trip.
New South Wales
New South Wales is another area which positively overflows with primeval Gondwana rainforest, contained in over fifty separate national parks. The liberal Byron Bay serves as a common point of entry, allowing you to combine activities such as (seasonal) humpback whale watching with forest trekking. Most of the popular routes will take you to the edge of Mount Warning Wollumbin, a sprawling, slumbering volcano that dominates the skyline of the forest. Many parts of the rainforest are actually drivable, for those seeking a road based adventure.
Victoria contains little rainforest, but patches are present across the Gippsland and along the Great Ocean Road. Melba Gully and Mitchell River are well worth seeing, however, despite their relatively small size. Victoria is recommended for travellers seeking quick but scenic walks on a cross country journey, or anyone visiting the wider Melba area.
As we have seen, these primordial Australian rainforests represent exceptional experiences which cannot be replicated elsewhere. Enthusiasts of the unusual and spectacular or the ecologically-minded should grab some flights to Australia for a holiday they will never forget. Almost every territory can offer unmissable attractions!
About the author:
Larry Hall is a freelance travel writer and nature lover.