May 10, 2018

An ancient wonder - discover how the daintree came to be

"Ancient rainforests undergo changes and evolution that span millions of years in time. We’d be here for days if we wanted to explain the whole process, but let’s dive into a more compact version and go back 200 million years to start from the beginning!

1374 metres tall and often veiled in the clouds; Thornton’s peak. This rugged mountainous peak can be found just north of Cairns and sits within the centre of an ancient rainforest. It is considered amongst the wettest locations on earth and is home to flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. In fact, it’s biodiversity is far greater than even the Galápagos Islands. But how was this museum of nature created and how has it continued to thrive even today?

200 million years ago

At this point, the earth contained a single supercontinent, Pangea, which split into two sections named Eurasia and Gondwana. It was on the land mass of Gondwana that the birth of the rainforest and wet tropics began and slowly drifted into the Southern Hemisphere.

65 million years ago

Next we have the age of the dinosaurs and a moment in which a 75% mass extinction occurred. Thanks to this event, some species moved into the tropics and evolved into today’s crocodiles and cassowary.

45 million years ago

This was the point when Australia parted from Gondwana and drifted North, into the tropics. Due to its history in the south, the land mass was able to remain cooler than Africa and Indonesia and when it eventually split from Antarctica, it was almost entirely rainforest. This movement north happened as the earth was cooling and the surrounding warmer waters created an environment in which the temperature was steady. This led to an abundance of animal and plant species evolving and thriving and also sheds light on Australia’s unique biodiversity.

A little more recently

Next came the colossal collision of tectonic plates which formed the Great Dividing Ranges. This sheltered area protected many species and natures survival of the fittest narrowed down the eco-system. Those who couldn’t adapt became extinct, whilst other species learned to thrive.

These times of temperature and sea level changes resulted in the birth of the Barrier Reef as the rainforest turned into the sea. The erosion of the rainforest soils into the water were nutrient rich and provided the foundation for the reef to come to life.


And finally we have the present. The current stage of this magnificent natural evolution. The rainforests of Tropical North Queensland are unlike anywhere on earth thanks to this rocky, turbulent and almost unimaginable, unique history. But it was the combination of all these changes that produced the endemic wildlife that you can discover today. Step into the worlds finest natural history museum and hike through its living story. Visit North Queensland to experience this ancient beauty first hand."

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