Is the Daintree Rainforest the Oldest in the World?

Is the Daintree Rainforest the Oldest in the World?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/23/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

The Daintree Rainforest; a natural paradise home to some of the world’s most spellbinding wonders and unique wildlife.

Nestled in Australia’s tropical Queensland region, Daintree stretches thousands of kilometres along the green coastline. It is, in fact, one of the oldest rainforests in the world.

Daintree’s Formation

Back millions of years ago, Australia was a warm, humid climate with continuous rainfall all throughout its region. It was a completely tropical country land, with no dry outback or cold climate like nowadays. The continuous rainfall and humid climate was a paradise for rainforests, which soon flooded the entire region in ancient plant life and unique animals.

However, over thousands of years, the climate started to change, becoming drier and drier. Eventually the majority of the land was unsuitable for rainforest life. The rainforest grew smaller and smaller until only a section was left. Sitting in the northeast region of Queensland, it is now the Daintree Rainforest. The Daintree Rainforest is now a ripe old age of 180 million years. That’s right, 10 million years older than the Amazon!

Its special qualities

Being so old, it comes to no surprise that this natural wonder is jam-packed with ancient and bio-diverse wildlife. It is has the most biologically diverse flora and fauna in the entire world. Many species here are not native in any other parts of the world. 80% of the entire world’s fern species, 40% of the country’s bird species, as well as 35% of Australia’s mammals, and not to mention 12,000 different insect species. Species such as the Ulysses Butterfly, Boyd’s Forest Dragon, and the Southern Cassowary are unique to this rainforest alone and would be extinct without it.

The ancient species living here are vast. There tare 19 primate plants families remaining on Earth, and 12 live here!

How Humans Discovered it

The first humans to discover and reside in the rainforest were, of course, the traditional owners of Australia; the Aboriginal people.

As the rainforest was vast and thick, there were 18 different Aboriginal camps living within the Daintree Rainforest. The Kuku Yalanji tribe, who co-existed with the rainforest to survive and thrive.

They hunted the local native animals, and feed on the vegetation, having vast knowledge on the rainforest. Toxic vegetation was used too, as the Kuku Yalanji have methods to cut away poison. They existed here for over 9000 years until the European settlers invaded Australia. Gold attracted the Europeans to the rainforest, who began mining the area and attacking the local tribes. The first village of the area wasn’t until 1988 and led to a large chunk of the rainforest to perish.

Related article: Cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.