Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Walk in the Rainforest

While in Cairns, we rented a car for the day and drove an hour north to Daintree Rainforest. It was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Daintree Rainforest covers roughly 1,000 square miles and is home to a wonderful array of plants and wildlife.
Learning about the different types of rainforest timber

We started our day by visiting the Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre. The Centre has a guided tour that zig zags up elevated walkways and enables you to see all levels of the forest, from the ground to the canopy. We quickly discovered that the ground level contained some amazing ferns, odd looking fruits, and lots of mosquitos.
Stinging Tree - DO NOT TOUCH.  Why did this make me want to touch it??

Up in the canopy, we were surrounded by song birds and butterflies. The air was warmer and we could even see some flowering trees in the distance.

As we walked around the Centre's paths, it was easy to see how Aboriginal cultures lived off the land in the rainforest. Massive fruits littered the ground and little marsupial critters scurried from tree to tree.  Our guided talk taught us all about the 'bush tucker' that was available to eat in the area, like sapote and Davidson's Plum and jackfruit.
Ehh, not sure if this one was edible...

The people at the Discovery Centre were so friendly and very helpful in suggesting nearby hikes where we could spend the rest of our afternoon. They also clued us in to the Daintree Ice Cream Company, a local farm that grows all kinds of rainforest fruits and then turns them into delicious ice cream.

Each day, they prepare 4 different flavors of ice cream. A cup of ice cream comes with a scoop of each flavor so you can try all four. The flavors of the day were mami sapote, passionfruit, wattle seed and macadamia. Yum!

No rainforest story would be complete without a cassowary. Cassowaries are large flightless birds, native to Australia. Though rare to see one in the wild, we were warned several times to be wary if we did see one. They have been known to charge people and their sharp claws can do serious damage.

There are two interesting facts about cassowaries that I find fascinating.

The first is that cassowaries have a funny looking calcium ridge on their heads that is filled with a honeycomb like substance. When an interpreter at the zoo mentioned that scientists have a few theories but no one has confirmed what the exact purpose of the ridge is, Drew leaned over to me and said, "I bet it has something to do with picking up sound vibrations." Sure enough, we looked it up when we got home and that is one of the three popular theories

Before & After art. Someone painted the bottom sign, normally a speed bump, to look like a dead cassowary.
The other interesting fact is that cassowaries eat the large rainforest fruits whole. They just gulp them down. The outer layer of the fruits will break down in the bird's stomach acid and then they just poop out the rest...which is an almost intact fruit. Needless to say, they have to eat a lot of fruit to get enough nutrients and calories from the skin!

I was so excited to see this Cassowary poop.
Cassowaries also make a low whumping sound. Check it out. It looks like they are about to hock up a hairball when they do it.

And no rainforest post would be complete without a cool tree picture...

Drew, ever the climber


  1. You are getting to see the coolest things. Amazing tree (and climber!) Amazing poop. ;) Frantically googling mamey sapote ice cream. What is this madness?

  2. Amazing. Seriously. Glad you were excited about the poop. yum. Did you eat the leftover fruit? haha

    (I want to touch the stinging tree too. A lot.)

  3. Ian leaned over my shoulder as I was reading this post, saw the picture of the berries and immediately said, "I bet Andrew ate that!" Miss you guys. Love reading your stories!

  4. We saw that tree in the Daintree, as well - my favorite tree ever!

  5. Love the hilarious sign vandals!


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