What is so special about this rainforest in Northern Queensland? Well in a very short answer it is said to be the oldest rainforest in the world. They say it is over 135 million years old. Australia was covered with rainforests, but as the conditions became drier, they died off. In Daintree however, the frequent rain and the topography make ideal conditions for the rainforest's survival, which extends all the way down to the sea. It became a World Heritage site in 1988 and this meets the other World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef, just off its coast.
In 1970 a fruit was discovered which is probably one of the rarest and most primitive of flowering plants. It is rather cruelly named the Idiot Fruit, or Ribbonwood, when in my eyes it should have been named, Bright Spark, for surviving through the eons! It was thought to be extinct but found in cattle in 1970 which ate it and died from the toxins in it. Its re-discovery helped confirm the age of the forest and make it into a World Heritage Site.
So taking a hike or several in these surroundings is special, particularly because on one of our walks we had the chance to be guided by an Aborigine of the Kuku Yalanji tribe. We were welcomed by a traditional smoking ceremony where we all had to walk around a smoking fire, that cleanses and keeps away the evil spirits.
We walked through the forest, stopping to listen to how Aborigines use the forest plants to protect them, to guide them and to feed them. Seeing the forest for the resource that it is for all the indigenous people but also for us. He was able to pin point the plants in the rainforest that they use to make houses, antiseptics, soap, paint and as food.Some of the fungi growing in amazing colours
The famous peak which looks like a brow and a nose of a person lying down.
The infamous stinging nettle which can cause severe pain for weeks if you are stung by it.
Rodney Bill Dockrill our guide, showing us the colours from natural pigments which they use as body paint.
Amazingly blue-black fungi
The Mossman Gorge Centre was opened in 2012 and is run and managed by aboriginals living in this area. A Dreamtime Walk through the forest is a real eye opener and adventure for all its visitors. Our guide who seemed fluent in several languages was informative to listen to but also great fun. We could then enjoy a circular walk in the forest a little further on, with a different eyes.
There are many rare species in the forest.The most impressive is the Cassowary Bird. We saw the plums it eats but not the Bird.The Cassowary is the only bird that can swallow them whole and they pass, largely undigested, through its system, helping them to germinate! My favourite moment was seeing the Ulysses butterfly catching the rays of the sun, with its iridescent turquoise wings flash through the bright green canopy.The Cassowary Plums
The Ulysses Butterfly, a symbol of tropical Queensland in a rare moment of settling. I could not trace why this beautiful butterfly was given the name of an ancient Greek hero of the Odyssey.
Back at the centre we devoured fried yams, a bit of a special, on the menu.