Cape Tribulation, on the Coral Sea off far-north Queensland, Australia, is about 120 km north of Cairns, and is home to the Cape Tribulation Research Station. Cape Tribulation is located in the Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This area contains a diversity of habitats, from mangrove forests, littoral rainforest – the Station is located at less than a kilometer from the coast – to relict sclerophyll woodlands on the dryer slopes.
Backing the area is the coastal range, which varies in altitude from 700-1,348 meters. This range has a major impact on local weather and is the cause of exceedingly high precipitation in the region (4 meters per annum on average). The climate is seasonally wet with a monsoon-influenced wet season from January to May and a dry season from June to January.
Flora and fauna in the Daintree Region
Unique flora and fauna exist in this part of the world including crocodiles, cassowaries, fruit bats and tree kangaroos. Many of these animals and some of the plants are threatened or endemic. Primary threats to this area are invasive species, particularly the introduction weeds, which have spread across wide areas. Unfortunately, in addition to the stunning scenery and unique wildlife, the area is known for significant loss of habitat for fauna, especially due to land clearing for ‘development’.
The rainforest in the Daintree Region is 135 million year old, making it arguably the oldest and most primitive rainforest in the world. This area is often described as a tropical paradise ‘where the rainforest meets the reef’. Many of the species still here originated 120 million years ago when Australia was still part of the ancient landmass of Gondwana. The surrounding rainforest contains:
(Source: Wet Tropics Region NRM Plan, Statement of Planning Intent - Rainforest CRC 2002)
Despite this amazing diversity, this rainforest only represents 0.1% of Australian land. It is thus vital that we conserve this extremely small and vulnerable - but infinitely unique – environment.