Day 24 has reached us and I can’t believe that we only have a few more days left in this wonderful place! Last night we arrived at the Cape Tribulation Beach house and enjoyed a night full of relaxation and fun. Cape Tribulation is located in Queensland, just north of Cairns. It was named by James Cook, who while sailing through the area, hit a reef with his ship. This “trouble” he came upon was the reason he named the area Cape Tribulation.
In the morning we woke up and ate breakfast before we made our way to the Daintree Rainforest Observatory. There we talked to Peter Byrnes about the canopy crane, a 48 meter high device that covers about one hectare of forest when operated, and rotates 360 degrees, enabling viewers to gain an amazing sight! The crane was constructed using a helicopter, and used over 100 tons of steel and concrete.
We were excited to find out that we would actually have the opportunity to go up in the crane and see the canopy, but before we could do this we had a safety briefing, just for precautionary purposes. After this we were all set for the canopy crane! We broke up into groups of three and took turns getting into the gondola that rises high into the sky. We were equipped with harnesses that attached to the gondola. When in the crane we could see the ocean in the distance and were surrounded with mountainous views of green lush rainforest.
While waiting to get a chance in the canopy crane, we went on a nature walk with Peter and he talked to us about some of the projects going on involving the planting of trees to add biodiversity to the property near the canopy crane. It was great to have the chance to talk to Peter and learn about all of the research projects related to the Daintree Rainforest.
After the Daintree Rainforest Observatory visit we ate lunch, and made our way to the Daintree Discovery Centre where we met up with the knowledgeable Paul O’Dowd. Paul talked to us about the Daintree Rainforest which is a class 1A complex mesophyll vine forest that covers approximately 1200 square kilometers and is considered the world’s oldest intact tropical rainforest. Class 1A is the highest biodiversity a rainforest can obtain. The word complex refers to the architecture of the rainforest. Mesophyll refers to the medium leaf size the forest contains. The type of forest includes the word vine because of the strong role vines play in maintaining the canopy of the Daintree.
The Daintree has the most abundant diversity of plants and animals in Australia. There are 800 species of canopy trees, so there is rarely an instance of having two of the exact same trees right next to each other. This diversity is what makes the forest so stable. There is a functional overlap so if one species cannot perform its duty there will be another species that can make up for the loss. The forest works as a fabric with the vines acting like fibers, holding it together. The canopy shields the understory from the outside world.
Toward the end of our visit with Paul we received word that there was a cassowary close by. We rushed over to the area and were able to spot it! The cassowary is a giant bird that can grow up to 2m (about 6.5 feet) tall and weigh as much as 85 kgs (about 187 pounds). We were very fortunate because it is estimated that there are only around 1,200 cassowaries left in the world! It was great that we had the opportunity to talk to Paul. He had so much information to offer!
Our final visit of the day was Cape Tribulation Farmstay which is an 88 acre commercial orchard that grows 50 different kinds of exotic fruit. Since Cape Tribulation offers high temperatures along with high humidity, this provides great conditions for these tropical fruit trees to thrive. When we arrived to the farm we showed up to a table full of fresh fruit! It was such an amazing sight! Dawn talked to us about some of the fruit and even cut up a variety of fruits for us to taste. A few we tried were dragon fruit, mangosteen, passion fruit, miracle fruit, rambutan, and bread fruit.
The bread fruit was a favorite amongst many. It is a carbohydrate that can be cooked up and tastes much like a french fry. In many countries it is used as a potato, and when it gets softer it tastes more like a banana. Another interesting fruit we got the chance to try was the miracle fruit. Dawn told us to put this fruit in our mouths and chew it all around for one minute. She then instructed us to try the lime she had given us. We were all surprised to find out that the lime tasted sweet instead of the normal sour taste! Many diabetics use this fruit so they can get the taste of sweetness in their mouths without actually having to eat sugar. The sweet taste would last for about an hour after the fruit is chewed. Dawn showed us such great hospitality and the fruits we had the opportunity to try were quite tasty!
After our last visit we went back to the beach house and enjoyed another nice dinner before heading to bed.
Sustainability is an important aspect of life in Cape Tribulation. Residents of the Daintree Coast love the rainforest, and want to do all they can to protect it. The Daintree Coast is the largest sustainable energy community in Australia. Many of the residents and businesses are involved in ecotourism.
These visits reinforced sustainability through environment, economy, and social systems. The Daintree Discovery Centre is focused on keeping the Daintree Rainforest intact and supporting tourism as well. Environmental tourism requires biodiversity to exist, so they take preventative measures to ensure that the environment doesn’t get damaged in the tourism process. They did this by constructing board walks and air walks so that many visitors can come and enjoy the rainforest with little damage to the ground and tree roots. With tourism, money from visitors goes into the local economy and allows visitors from all over the world to enjoy the outdoors.
The Daintree Rainforest Observatory also makes efforts to be environmentally sustainable through biodiversity by doing research in the canopy. They are currently doing a project on climate change as it relates to trees and ecosystems. With all of their research their main goal is to advance lowland research in the Australia rainforest as well as working to benefit the tropics all over the world.
Byrnes, Peter. Presentation. Daintree Rainforest Observatory. June 3, 2013
Cape Tribulation Farmstay. Presentation. June 3, 2013
“Cape Tribulation information and history”. Web. http://www.rainforesthideaway.com/capetribulation/cape-tribulation.htm
“Daintree Discovery Centre”. Web. http://www.daintree-rec.com.au/daintree/
“Daintree Rainforest Observatory and picture”. Web. http://www.jcu.edu.au/canopycrane/about/JCUPRD_046917.html
“Map of Cape Tribulation”. Map. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/maps/pacific/australia/queensland/cape-tribulation/
O’Dowd, Paul. Presentation. Daintree Discovery Centre. June 3, 2013