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Discovering the world’s oldest rainforest

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Discovering the world’s oldest rainforest

story by: House of Travel

Many of us could be forgiven for thinking that we  would have to travel to South America to discover the  ancient forests of the world but factoid - the Amazon  is estimated to be around 55 million years old,  whereas the Daintree in Tropical North Queensland is  estimated to be around 135 million. 

It is the world’s last remaining example of warm, moist rainforest from the time of the  Gondwanaland supercontinent, and the perfect place for any adventure-seeking family  to escape the next NZ winter. The Daintree is part of the Wet Tropics which is known  famously for being where forest meets ocean. A diverse landscape of unique plants, stunning  coastlines, freshwater rivers and thriving wildlife. For the family, there’s a nice  balance of touristy and not-so-touristy adventures to indulge in, the difficulty is choosing,  as there is a lot on offer. 

1. How to get there 
Head to Cape Tribulation which is a two hour drive from Port Douglas, a car ferry runs  regularly across the river and once you’re over, most attractions can be found on the main  road. There are options to stay locally or if you prefer to base yourself in one of the amazing  resorts closer to town, then the QT in Port Douglas is superb. 

2. Best time to go
June-August. Humidity is lower and nights are cooler. If you can sneak away outside of  school holidays then August would be the sweet spot. 

3. Climate 
Hot, humid summers (December-February) and mild, dry winters (June-August). The  average temperature ranges between 17°C and 29°C. 

4. Why we love it 
The perfect blend of adventure, education and wow factor for all family members. For  those raising screenagers in the city, this is your chance to get them off the grid. Google  can’t save you now honey, learn how to read a map!     

Our Daintree Top 5 

1/ THE DAINTREE DISCOVERY CENTRE 
Just across the river, it’s the perfect place to start your  appreciation of just how amazing the Daintree is. There  are audio guides available for both adults and children.  Plus there’s something quite cool about telling your  kids they are standing where dinosaurs once roamed. 

2/ OCEAN SAFARI 
One of the best ways to experience the reef and get  up close with an abundance of tropical fish, eagle  rays, starfish and sea turtles. Ocean Safari offer both  morning and afternoon excursions for small groups  of around 25 people; catering for families with littlies  as young as two. It’s only a 25 minute boat ride out to  sea and they have great coffee!  

 3/ JUNGLE SURFING 
 Zip-lining through the forest canopy is freakin’  awesome. Not only do you get to see the forest from  above but it’s safe for everyone from 3 to 103 years  old. The whole family can have fun (including mum)  although she will be having a wee panic attack watching  her precious babies dangling their arms and legs  from their harnesses. “Look mamma, no hands!” 

4/ SWIMMING HOLE & MASON’S FOR LUNCH 
Crocodiles are salt water creatures, so anyone up in  Cape Trib will tell you that you are as mad as a cut  snake to swim at the beach, but madder still if you  don’t experience the natural beauty of the fresh water  Swimming Hole. Nearby, Mason’s Café is the best place  to encourage your kids to get a bit adventurous with  their taste buds, serving local delicacies like wild boar,  camel, kangaroo, emu and of course, crocs. NOM. 

5/ AFTERNOON TEA ABOARD THE M.V. MATILDA 
Sit back and relax with a wine and a snack whilst a qualified  botanist takes you nature spotting through the  mangroves. Crocodiles will warm up on the river banks  during the day, so get on the water before sunset and  you’ll have more chance of spotting one. If you miss  out, Jessie the owner is raising a baby crocodile and  stroking his soft underbelly is truly something special.       

HOT Tips 

1. Get there early  Head down a side road and drive quietly - it’s  your best chance to see a Cassowary in its  natural habitat.

2. Get a map. There is no phone reception, so get a map  from the local store and enjoy a digital detox! 

3. Allow extra time  Don’t under estimate the length of Cape  Tribulation Road. It is longer than you think  and it pays to allow extra time to get to your  excursions on time. 

4. Try the local food  It’s organic, free-range and delicious! 

5. Prepare for rain  You are in a rainforest. 

6. Don't swim at the beach  The beaches look beautiful but there  are plenty of freshwater options that are  croc-free. 

7. Wear mosquito repellent  Because, mosquitos.

8. Minimise your footprint  Take all rubbish with you and stick to the tracks.     

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