The wet tropics comprises of an area that stretches for 450 kilometers from Cooktown to Townsville. It comprises of tropical rainforests as well as an array of plant and animal species. Apart from Madagascar and New Caledonia, there is no other place on earth that has such a large number of endemic flowering plants. The Wet Tropics of Queensland were declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1988.
For the last 415 million years, the Wetlands have been evolving. Since the Gondwana separation, a lot of evolution has taken place, although the rainforest still has about 80% of its plants and animals featuring some primitive characteristics. About 15 million years ago, the Australian and Asian continental plates were in collision and this resulted in a mix-up of two evolutionary streams and hence the similarity of flora and fauna found in the Wetlands and mainland Asia.
It is said that most of Australian Marsupials have their roots in the Queensland Wetlands. The rainforests were a good habitat for rodents, bats, marsupials and monotremes and that is why they feature animals such as the endemic ring tail possum, musky tat kangaroo as well as the flightless Australian Cassowary.
For more than 40,000 years, the Aborigines have lived in the area stretching from Cardwell all the way to Cooktown. The Barrinean Tribesmen are thought to have been the first to dwell in the wetlands, making theirs the oldest forest culture in the area. A marked difference is noted between the Aborigines of the forests and others. Forest Aborigines heavily depended on unique hunting weapons as well as toxic plants to survive the jungle. You can still find this culture at Murray upper and Bloomfield River.
Note that about 15% of the protected area comprises of national parks such as :
- Barron Gorge National Park
- Black Mountain (Kalkajaka) National Park
- Cedar Bay National Park
- Daintree National Park
- Edmund Kennedy National Park
- Girringun National Park
- Wooroonooran National Park
In these parks, you will find 370 species of birds 50 of which are unique to the area. You will also find about 107 mammal species. That you can find 113 species of reptiles 24 species of which are endemic is the most interesting aspect of visiting this region. There is also 51 species of Amphibians 22 of which are endemic.
Some of these endemic species are going the dinosaur way and you are thus well advised to visit the Wetlands before they become completely extinct.
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