Monday, August 25, 2014

The Amazing Daintree Discovery Centre

Christina outside the Daintree Discovery Centre
 As a young boy living at Tennant Creek in Central Australia, I was an habitual and invariable fossil collector. Most of the fossils I found were those of trilobites, one of the earliest creatures that had lived in the oceans 600 million years ago. It always enthralled me to know that at age 11 I was holding the fossilised image of something that had lived so much longer ago than I could imagine. And there were thousands of them spread from one end of the outback to the other, many fragmented, others whole.

Christina on the aerial walk
When I visited the Daintree Discovery Centre, I was astonished to know that the rain forest is estimated at 110 million years old, 40 million years older than the Amazon. Trees I touched and photographed had ancestors that evolved all that long ago - before we animals arrived - and lived inordinately long lives before dying, degrading and eventually returning to Mother Earth as is the destiny of all living things.

The Daintree Discovery Centre is a privately owned business that consists of a coffee, food and souvenirs shop with a ticket-selling desk included. It's just a short distance from parking near the main road.  After you buy your entrance ticket, you walk onto an above ground footway (the Daintree  Aerial Walk) that leads to a large interpretive centre and a huge Canopy Tower with several platforms on which you can sit and soak your senses in the peace, tranquillity and greenness of the forest

Tickets, even without a senior's concession are reasonably priced and come with a nicely produced A5 booklet with extensive information about the forest, it's trees, plants and vines, animal life including birds and the elusive cassowary. It has a special section with photos and explanatory text about those fruits, roots etc that the first Australians used before Caucasian, Asian and other African settlers arrived.

The ticket cost includes use of an audio device to listen to descriptions of the different aspects of the forest as you wander around. Each point of interest is numbered and you simply press the number on the audio device and hold it near your ear for the description. The devices have six or seven different language options.

Just the forest
There were far more tourists than birds and hardly any other animal life at all excluding two small skink lizards that scurried across the pathway in front us. Many of the forest inhabitants are, of course, nocturnal and hide during the day, but the absence of birds was disappointing . The most obvious creatures we spotted were butterflies while we were at the top of the tower in the canopy where they can find sunlight. They flitted about but didn't sit long enough to identify their type or to get a decent photo of them.

The Daintree Discovery Centre is only 20-30 km from the Pinnacle Village Caravan Park, Wonga Beach where we stayed. The drive through rain forest is very pleasant and one needs to take a short ferry ride across the Daintree River that costs $13 AUD each way. We returned late afternoon. I don't know about you, but I can only take in so much awe inspiring beauty in a day, so I was pleased to return to the Pinnacles to shower, have dinner and take it easy for the rest of the evening.

The Daintree Discovery Centre, Aerial Walk and Canopy Tower should have a place on everyone's Bucket List. I've added it to mine and ticked it off.


No comments: