When it comes to learning all about the Daintree Rainforest, the Daintree Discovery Centre is one of the best attractions you can visit. From hiking trails, to the aerial walkway, to the rainforest canopy, the Daintree Discovery Centre is the perfect place to better understand the background of the area. This guide will give you a complete overview of what to expect along the way.
What's in this article?
- 1) What is the Daintree
- 2) Daintree Rainforest Tips
- 3) Where is the Daintree Discovery Centre
- 4) Drive Yourself or Tour
- 5) Daintree Discovery Centre Tickets & Hours
- 6) Daintree Discovery Centre Map
- 7) Daintree Discovery Centre Overview
- 8) Other Daintree Attractions
- 9) Where to Stay in the Daintree
- 10) Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
1) What is the Daintree
At over 180 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is known to be the oldest rainforest in the world (even older than the Amazon!). It makes up 1,200 square kilometers in the northeastern part of Queensland.
You will find everything and anything in the rainforest – from dense jungles and mountain ranges to flowing rivers and waterfalls, the Daintree is packed with it all. You are also sure to find an abundance of wildlife throughout.
There are thousands of different species all around, from birds to reptiles to insects. Spending a couple days exploring the rainforest at places like the Daintree Discovery Centre, is a great add on to any Australia itinerary.
One of the most special aspects of the Daintree is that right next to it is another natural world wonder – The Great Barrier Reef. There are several spots along the coast where you can see where the “Rainforest meets the Reef”, and enjoy two incredible natural landscapes right next to other.
2) Daintree Rainforest Tips
Before going further into the Daintree Discovery Centre, I wanted to point out some helpful tips for the Daintree in general.
1) There is barely any cell service in the Daintree Rainforest. To help get you from place to place, I recommend downloading offline maps to your phone (either on Google Maps or through an app like maps.me).
2) To get to most Daintree attractions, you will need to cross the Daintree River. The car ferry goes back and forth constantly but do expect a wait time during peak hours. The round trip cost is $30 AUD and runs from 5AM – 12AM.
3) If you do not have a car yourself, the best way to experience the Daintree is with a guide. You can choose from some highly rated group tour or private tour options that can take you around the Daintree. Some group tours may include the Daintree Discovery Centre while others may not. I will talk a bit more about those options later on.
4) There are limited stores in the Daintree. If you are coming in for a few days, I recommend bringing/buying anything you would want from Cairns/Port Douglas. You will find some restaurant selections though if looking to eat out for lunch and dinner.
5) The cassowary is the one animal you will hear about most in the Daintree. It looks like some sort of prehistoric dinosaur bird with its colorful head, and is known to be dangerous if you get too close. So if you do see one, be sure to step back and keep your distance.
6) While the waters will seem inviting, you should not swim for a couple of reasons. During rainy season, the stingers (jellyfish) are out in full force and that certainly won’t be pleasant if you encounter any. Secondly, the waters are known to have some salt water crocodiles lurking, so do be careful.
3) Where is the Daintree Discovery Centre
The Daintree Rainforest is located in the northeast part of Queensland. The two closest cities to base yourself out of are Cairns and Port Douglas. From there you can either take a day trip into the rainforest (with your own car or with a tour) or you can opt for an overnight within the rainforest itself.
As mentioned in the tips section, to get to most attractions, you will need to cross the Daintree River. This river crossing is just a few minutes long, however there can be quite a long wait during peak times.
Once on the other side of the river, it is just a 15 minute drive until you reach the Daintree Discovery Centre.
4) Drive Yourself or Tour
The big question when visiting the Daintree is whether you should opt to head in on your own by driving your own car or take part of a private/group tour for the day.
Tours can be very useful if you just do not want to worry too much about logistics and have a guide help explain many useful facts along the way. However, with a tour, you may not be able to visit each attraction that you have set your eye on (including the Daintree Discovery Centre).
If you opt for a Private Daintree Tour though, you are more likely able to dictate what you would like to see for the day and have everything nicely taken care of for you.
On the other hand, driving your own car gives you the freedom to check out the Daintree Rainforest on your own schedule and head off to any and all attractions. You of course would then need to plan the car rental, drive yourself and then figure out any necessary logistics.
I do not think you can go wrong with either option but just note that not all group tours will go to the Daintree Discovery Centre if that is a priority for your trip.
5) Daintree Discovery Centre Tickets & Hours
The Centre is is open every day (except for Christmas) from 8:30AM – 5:00PM. I would suggest heading there closer to opening time to have a quiet and pleasant experience as you make your way along the trails.
As the day goes on, more tours and other tourists will begin to arrive which can make the walkway very crowded. Going earlier on in the morning and you can nearly have the place all to yourself.
Tickets are not so cheap though for the Daintree Discovery Centre. It is one of the more expensive places to visit in the area at around $23 USD for a single adult ticket.
» Feel free to purchase your ticket ahead of your visit to the Daintree Discovery Centre «
Adult: $35 AUD
Student: $32 AUD
Child (5-17 years old): $16 AUD
Child (0-4): Free
Family (2 adult / 2 child): $85 AUD
Note that with your ticket you can come back as many times as you would like in a week’s time period. It also includes the very useful audio guide that will explain a ton during your time in the centre.
6) Daintree Discovery Centre Map
The Daintree Discovery Centre can be split up into 5 main sections:
1. Aerial Walkway
2. Canopy Tower
3. Cassowary Circuit
4. Bush Tucker Trail
5. Jurassic Forest
The trail is super simple to follow and you will see a variety of signs posted throughout.
7) Daintree Discovery Centre Overview
Once you have bought your tickets, you can begin the walk around the area. You will receive both an audio guide and 68 page guide book that will give you a ton of useful information to learn more about the Daintree.
The small boards throughout the Centre will have a number for you to listen to or an excerpt for you to read in the book. There are a lot of stops along the way so don’t feel obliged to listen and read each and every single one of them.
A) Aerial Walkway
From the visitor center, you will first begin on the Aerial Walkway. This 11M high walkway will take you through a variety of different trees and wildlife as you lean a bit more about the history of the Daintree and the diverse species that are abundant throughout.
It is pretty fascinating as you look around, how many different trees and plants make up the Daintree. Each tree will have its unique features and characteristics.
B) Canopy Tower
At the very end of the aerial walkway you will find the canopy tower. This tower is 23M in height and soars above the rest of the Daintree Discovery Centre. As you make your way up there will be 5 different viewing platforms until you reach the top.
Each platform will have a bit more information of the different elevations of the rainforest. Some animals or fauna that you may see at one level may be completely different from a few levels up.
Once all finished up on the tower, make your way back down where you can enter the interpretive centre. Here you can see firstand many of the animals that live in the Daintree and learn even more about the overall history of the rainforest.
C) Cassowary Circuit
After checking out the Canopy Tower and heading into the interpretive centre, the next trail will be the Cassowary Circuit. Are you wondering what a cassowary is?
Well, it is basically a dinosaur looking bird with a pink and blue colored head, that began to evolve over 60 million years ago!
This short circuit will take you around the bottom of the forest as you learn more about the animal, what they eat, and how the species has survived for so many years.
It is not guaranteed to see a cassowary but if you do see one in the area, do not approach it. They can be aggressive so stay a safe distance away from the animal.
D) Bush Tucker Trail
The Cassowary Circuit loops back around to the Interpretive Center, where you can then head on the Bush Tucker Trail.
On the Bush Tucker Trail you will learn more about the plants of the rainforest and how many of these plants can be used for medicinal purposes.
E) Jurassic Forest
In the middle of the Bush Tucker Trail you will be directed towards the short trail through the jurassic forest. This path is full of life sized replicas of these creatures as you learn what animal life was like millions of years ago.
Once finished up with the Jurassic Forest, head back on the previous trail that will take you right back to the start of your day at the visitor center.
8) Other Daintree Attractions
In addition to your time at Daintree Discovery Centre, you can continue onto some other Daintree attractions. There is plenty to do around the area if you have a couple days to spare:
1) Daintree Walks – Dubuji, Jindalba and Marjdda – There are three main walks that you can take part of throughout the Daintree and get a bit closer to the wildlife of the area. » Learn more about the Dubuji Boardwalk.
2) Mason Café and Emmagen Creek Swimming Holes – Since you cannot really swim in the water off the coast (due to stingers and fresh water crocodiles), make your way to a couple swimming holes, where you can cool off in the water.
3) Daintree Beaches – Cow Bay, Myall Beach, Thorton Beach – Looking for some beach time? Well, there are plenty of beaches all along the coast.
4) Cape Tribulation – The most famous of beaches in the Daintree is Cape Tribulation. It is a great spot to relax and enjoy some beach time, and you can head up to the Kulki Lookout to get some views in from above.
5) Mt Sorrow – The toughest hike in the area is the one up to Mt Sorrow. A 4-6 round trip hike takes you to one of the highest points in the area overlooking much of the rainforest and the coast. » Learn more about the trail in the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail Guide
6) Daintree River Cruise – Head out on the water and take a boat down the Daintree River. You are sure to see plenty of crocs and other wildlife throughout your time on the river.
7) Mossman Gorge – At the beginning of the rainforest is the Mossman Gorge, a beautiful setting where you can walk along the boardwalk and rainforest trail. » Learn more about the gorge in the Mossman Gorge Walk Guide
9) Where to Stay in the Daintree
If you decide to head into the Daintree and stay for a night or two, below are some potential highly rated options to choose from.
Looking for a budget option, check out Safari Lodge
10) Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
If you are taking the day trip in from Cairns or Port Douglas, here are some accommodation recommendations for each.
5. Oaks Resort
Now that you have a better sense of what the Daintree Discovery Centre is all about, it is time to make your way there yourself. Do not forget to check out some of the other Australia itineraries and guides up on the site and feel free to ask any questions below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!