By Daintree Marketing Cooperative
The journey from the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation is one of the most scenic drives in the world, passing through World Heritage Rainforest and the Daintree National Park.
• In 1770 Captain Cook was sailing the Endeavour up the east coast, and making a chart of the coastline. He struck a reef about 40 kilometres north east of Cape Tribulation, now called the Endeavour Reef, and he named the point he had charted earlier in the day “Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles.”
• The Great Barrier Reef is the closest to Australia at Cape Tribulation. Captain Cook ran aground here, hence the name Cape Tribulation.
• The road to Cape Tribulation follows the Aboriginal walking trails. There were once 200-300 Kuku Yalanji people living in the region, who had an abundant food supply from the rainforest and the reef.
• The varied habitats of the Daintree region makes it a birdwatchers' paradise with over 200 species of birds present, 11 of which are endemic to Queensland's Wet Tropics.
• Home to the blockade of 1983-4. For many years the Councils of Cooktown and Douglas Shire (as well as many residents in between) had been chafing against the fact that there was no coastal road connection between Daintree and Bloomfield (and thus to Cooktown). Several
attempts to push a road through were made, in the 60s and 70s, the last ending as a walking track (which it was hoped would be a major tourist draw card to the area). That was not to be; funded by BiCentennial grant money, the Douglas Shire (pushed by the pro-development Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen) started pushing the road through in 1983.
• The Cow Bay rainforest has been classified as An Outstanding Cassowary Habitat Zone by scientific researchers Crome and Moore in 1993. In the lowland and swamps of western Cow Bay the population density of cassowaries is as high as in the best habitats in Mission Beach. This means that you have a good chance of sighting a cassowary while on the Daintree Coast.
• The Daintree Coast community is the largest renewable energy community in Australia. There is no gridconnected electrical power and more than 300 households depend on renewable energy systems.
This activated the first of the famous Tribulation Blockades, which brought the world's attention to this unique area 'where the rainforest meets the reef', and moves were soon started to have the entire Wet Tropics declared as a World Heritage Area. Despite a determined effort, the road went through in 1984, but ironically heavy rains at the opening, meant that the dignitaries had to be airlifted out of bogged vehicles.
• The rainforest in the Daintree is believed to be the oldest rainforest in the world having been continuously covered by rainforest for more than 135 million years. During the Ice Age, when the climate was cooler and drier than it is today, the Australian rainforests retreated and survived in small moist pockets which have existed continuously for over 100 million years. The Daintree is one such refuge, where the rainforest is believed to be more than 135 million years old – one of the most ancient and primitive in the world. Many species in this rainforest originated when Australia was part of Gondwana, more than 120 million years ago.
• The resultant road, "The Bloomfield Track" has required enormous investment to stabilise it, and the impact of its construction on the coastal fringing coral reef is still being assessed. It is however, considered a top 4WD drive experience.
• Moves for World Heritage Listing were ferociously opposed by the then Queensland Government, but were overridden by the Commonwealth Government and the Wet Tropics area was declared World Heritage in 1990.
• Daintree Village started as a settlement created in the 1870s by timber-cutters and is now an unspoilt oasis in the midst of some of the loveliest and most varied scenery in the far north of Queensland. Today low-impact tourism and sustainable cattle and tropical fruit-farming in the beautiful valleys beyond the Village form the lifeblood of this laid-back little township.
• The Daintree River was only discovered by Europeans in 1873 when Scottish geologist and explorer George Elphinstone Dalrymple named the river and the first settlement, Daintree Village, after Queensland's Agent-General in London, Richard Daintree. Before the road to Mossman was completed in 1933, Daintree Village was an inland port with the only access being by river. The Village gave its name to the famous World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park which stretches between Mossman Gorge in the south and the Bloomfield River in the north.
• The lower Daintree River estuary is home to an amazing diversity of life-forms both marine and terrestrial, with more than 150 fish species and over 100 crustaceans. The lower estuary is an important fuel-stop for visiting migratory waders and is home to numerous resident birds including up to eight kingfisher types. There are 30 mangrove species in this single estuary making it perhaps the most species-rich mangrove estuary in the world. The estuary certainly has more species than anywhere else in Australia which has 38 in total. Australian mangroves are recognised as the wildest and best preserved in the world, with more than half the world’s 72 species represented.
• There are two species of crocodiles in Australia, the Saltwater and Freshwater species, and only the "salties" inhabit the Daintree River. Its scientific name is Crocodylus Porosus and its habitat ranges throughout the Indo Pacific regions. Crocodile-watching tours are conducted in the conservation zone of the river, which means feeding of crocodiles is not allowed