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Best Ways to See Queensland's Rainforest

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The Wet Tropics rainforest is a 500km long World Heritage Site, a staggering 80 million years older than the Amazon. Situated along Queensland’s coastline, the rainforest is home to countless species of wildlife and plantlife, and well worth the hike it can take to reach the heart of it.

But hiking isn’t the only way to see what the Wet Tropics have to offer. There are loads of amazing ways to experience one of the oldest forests in the world - here are just a few.

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in Cairns covers a mere 7.5km of the swathe of greenery, but the sight from one of its 125 gondolas is a spectacular one. It feels very strange indeed to be suspended above trees which can reach up to 60 metres in a six-seater gondola. Even though heights usually make me a bit wobbly, the ride is so smooth you barely notice you’re soaring over 500 metres above sea level.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, in Barron Gorge National Park // Credit: chameleonseye

Amazing views aren’t the only thing that Skyrail has to offer, though. The track is split into three sections with two stopping points on the way up to the summit: Red Peak Station invites you to descend through layers of canopy in a free ranger-guided tour, spotted with scenic overlooks and endangered plant species, while the Barron Falls platform offers an incredible view of the crashing waterfall at Barron Gorge National Park.

Skyrail won the Sustainable Tourism Award in 2009 and 2010, and prides itself on offering an immersive rainforest experience while preserving and protecting the area’s natural splendour. A round trip costs $79 (approx. £37) per adult.

Kuranda is also well worth the visit once you reach the top. Nestled deep in the forest, the village is a gorgeous example of rural life in Australia, and counts a butterfly sanctuary and koala gardens among its top attractions. If you don’t fancy sailing back down on Skyrail, you can take the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which was unfortunately closed during my visit, but winds through the forest closer to ground-level for an insider’s point of view.

Kuranda Scenic Railway // Credit: Ed-Ni-Photo

Another highlight of my trip to Queensland was getting to see the Daintree Rainforest. Named after Australian geologist Richard Daintree and located north of Cairns, Billy Tea Safaris offer day tours around the forest and surrounding area. Aboard a high-tech minibus, we set off for the Daintree River, where we switched out the bus for a boat.

The Daintree River Cruise is a must-do when you’re in Queensland. Getting up close and personal with crocodiles might sound slightly terrifying, but the tour guide was quick to put us at ease once we were ready to disembark, reminding us to ‘step very quickly off the boat and run past the riverbank!' There were also plenty of rare snakes and birds lurking in the trees, and we were able to squeeze close to the bank for the best views.

Daintree River // Credit: FiledIMAGE

Billy Tea Safaris took us deep into the forest on a walking tour next, exploring the land where Southern Cassowaries roam free. Unfortunately I missed out on seeing one of these beasts myself (or fortunately, when you realise they can kick a human to death without much effort), but our tour guide explained the proper protocol if you do come into contact with one of the prehistoric-looking birds. Remain calm and back away slowly - cassowaries are faster than most humans, so it’s not a good idea to run!

Credit: Jess Philips

The ratites are still endangered, but thanks to the rainforest’s World Heritage Site status and the conservation efforts of residents, their numbers are back up from around 900 to over 3,000.

Our tour culminated in a short stopover at Cape Tribulation, the site where Captain Cook allegedly first landed in Australia - so named because of his shipwreck upon reaching this stretch of coastline. The beach is beautiful to behold with the backdrop of the forest behind, and offered a lovely spot to dip our toes in the water and feel the sun on our faces.

Billy Tea Safaris’ Daintree, Cape Trib and Bloomfield tour costs $205 (approx. £103) per adult.

Tourism is an integral part of keeping the Australian rainforest alive and thriving, and helps prevent deforestation while providing suitably breathtaking vistas. For more information on the Wet Tropics, visit tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au/wet-tropics-rainforest/

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