Australia's Tropical Rainforests
Australia’s Tropical Rainforests cover approximately 900,000 square hectares and are internationally recognised as being one of the most ecologically fascinating natural areas in the world, as one of few remaining truly pristine tropical rainforest places on the planet. These forests contain an amazing array and diversity of flora and fauna. Skyrail operates a tour from Cairns or Port Douglas to this region.
Stretching for over 500 kilometres along Tropical North Queensland’s coastline, these rainforests are the oldest continually surviving rainforests on earth and once covered the entire Australian continent. Read more
Over millions of years, as the climate and geography changed, the Australian rainforests receded to a small band between the coast and the Great Dividing Range, and stretching from Cooktown in the north to Townsville in the south.
Today these rainforests represent less than one thousandth of the country’s total land mass.
Despite their relatively small size, the rainforests are home to an amazing diversity of life and provide a living record of the ecological and evolutionary processes which have shaped Australia’s plants and animals for over 415 million years.
To protect these rainforests, and to ensure that they are preserved for future generations, they were placed on the World Heritage list in 1988.
Tropical Rainforest Facts
To be classified as a tropical rainforest, the area must receive at least 1.3 metres of rain per annum. The mean average rainfall in Australia’s Tropical Rainforests varies between 1.2 metres and 3 metres per annum; 60% of which falls in the summer months, December to March. Read more
Approximately 2,800 different plant species from 221 families are found in Australia’s Tropical Rainforests and include:
- 65% of Australia’s ferns
- 21% of the country’s cycads
- 30% of its orchid species
The rainforests are also home to a diverse range of Australian animals including:
- 35% of Australia's mammals
- 30% of its marsupials including tree kangaroos and possums
- 60% of its butterflies
- 40% of its bird species
- 29% of its frog species
- 20% of its reptile species
- 37% of its freshwater fish
- 60% of the country’s bat species.
Protected within the World Heritage area are over 200 rare or threatened plants. The World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforest contains 16 of the world’s 28 families of primitive flowering plants.
Some of the trees found here are more than 2,000 years old. The tallest trees in the forest reach up to 60 metres.
These rainforests of Tropical North Queensland are home to one of the world’s largest flightless birds, the Southern Cassowary, and to Australia’s most primitive kangaroo, the Lumholtz tree kangaroo.
Wet Tropics Evolutionary Timeline
Rainforest Nature Diary
Skyrail's Nature Diary is published monthly and contains observations by Skyrail Rangers on the seasonal flora and fauna as well as facts and figures about the various plants and animals found within the cableway precinct. Read the Nature Diary