Daintree N.P., AUS 2012
Becky (my wife) and I went on vacation to Cairns, Australia in November of 2012. Our main goal, was to visit relatives and witness the 2012 Total Solar Eclipse. While there, we had the opportunity to explore the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, centered on the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. It is an area of rugged mountains and mangrove forests, filled with deep gorges, fast-flowing rivers, and numerous waterfalls.
Powered by it’s headquarters in the Main Coast Range, the Mossman river has created a gorge in it’s 20 km flow to the sea. Located at the southern end of Daintree National Park, the Moosman gorge features a cool mountain stream, fringed by primeval rainforest and strewn with giant granite boulders along its banks.
Most of the gorge is inaccessible except to experienced bushwalkers, but a 3 km track that allows visitors into the rainforest.
Pictured below, here, the Ficus tree, crowd each other and dense canopies of the rainforest, blocking most of the light.
Ferns and orchids live among the highest trees to seek out the sunlight.
The combination of fringing coral reefs and rainforest coastline at Cape Tribulation is unique in Australia, and the area where the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park meet is the only place on earth where two World Heritage areas exist side by side.
The Wet Tropics contain many examples of ongoing ecological processes and biological evolution, including exceptionally high levels of species diversity and uniqueness, reflecting long-isolated ancient habitats.
The Wet Tropics contain one of the most complete and diverse living records of the major stages in the evolution of land plants, as well as one of the most important living records of the history of marsupials and songbirds.
Pictured below, the Wet Tropics site also reflects eight of the major stages in the Earth’s evolutionary history including the ages of pteridophytes, conifers and cycads; angiosperms or flowering plants; the final break-up of Gondwanaland, the mixing of the wildlife and habitats on the Australian and Asian continental plates; and the impact of the many Pleistocene glacial periods on tropical rainforest.
Where the rainforest meets the reef is also the site where Captain Cook ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770, (pictured below).
Captain James Cook first sighted this stretch of coastline and named it Cape Tribulation, “because here began all our troubles.”
Pictured above, Pteropus (suborder Yinpterochiroptera) is a genus of megabats which are among the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as fruit bats or flying foxes, among other colloquial names. Flying foxes eat fruit and other plant matter, and occasionally consume insects as well. They locate resources with their keen sense of smell. Most, but not all, are nocturnal. They navigate with keen eyesight, as they cannot echolocate. They have long life spans and low reproductive outputs, with females of most species producing only one offspring per year. Their slow life history makes their populations vulnerable to threats such as overhunting, culling, and natural disasters. They are ecologically beneficial by assisting in the regeneration of forests via seed dispersal. They benefit ecosystems and human interests by pollinating plants.
The Bat House is a Wet Tropics-authorised interpretive environmental center on Cape Tribulation Road at the front of the station. It provides information about the flora and fauna of the Cape Tribulation area, including the iconic spectacled flying fox.