Did you know that the Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest rainforest at 180 million years old? I didn’t before we visited the Daintree Discovery Centre. To put it in perspective, the Amazon is a mere 7 million years old. Driving through the Daintree was a huge highlight of our time in tropical north Queensland and visiting the Daintree Discovery Centre really allows you to learn and see the canopy up close. Here is our Daintree Discovery Centre review with our kids.
Daintree Discovery Centre Review
The interpretive centre is located 10km north of the Daintree River car ferry. It is a privately run centre and since the National Park does not have an interpretive centre, it acts as the main information centre for the Daintree. The Centre has been around for 28 years and receives no government funding. Tickets cost $35/adults, $16/child (5-17), $85/family (2 adults, 2 kids).
The highlight of the Discovery Centre is the aerial walkway through the rainforest canopy and the 23 meter high canopy tour. This allows you to see the rainforest at various levels and truly appreciate the biodiversity that lives there. We were really impressed with the whole experience – the quality of the walkways, displays, exhibits, videos, audioguides – it was all first class.
We love Audio Guides!
As you approach the entrance, you are greeted with a moving dinosaur model that immediately captured our kids’ interest. The staff gave us our audioguides and explained how to use them. What I liked the best was how they had a separate version for the kids. Their narration was very engaging and designed by a teacher. Our kids loved tuning their audioguides to the appropriate number and listening in to the interesting, but also educational explanations. The audioguides are available in about 10 different languages too. Another great thing about the audioguides was that you could also hear the topic being discussed by an aboriginal person from an aboriginal perspective. It was enriching to learn about how the aboriginal people used various plants and trees and how they viewed different wildlife.
The park is really well laid out and organized. Numbers on the walkways correlate to audioguide explanations and information in the brochure. The Centre focuses on the rainforest and the amazing plant diversity that lives here. But it also covers many other related things as well. Cassowarries and aboriginal culture are common themes as you wander through the canopy. You learn about bush tucker ways, cyclones, birds and wildlife and the formation of the continents.
The Aerial Walkway and Canopy Tower
The aerial walkway allows you to see the rainforest from many different angles. We loved how the audioguide pointed out things we never would have noticed on our own, like the bats living in a hollow tree or ephitites attached to almost every tree.
The canopy tower provides beautiful views over the top of the canopy, where you see entirely different birds and plants. As you climb each level, there is tons of information to immerse yourself in from butterflies to spiders. There are staff spread throughout the centre to answer any questions and point out interesting things. The kids loved seeing a giant orb spider up close on the top of the canopy tower. We probably wouldn’t have noticed it without the friendly staff member pointing it out.
Get Ready to Learn, Learn, Learn
We were really impressed at the scientific and environmental focus of the Discovery Centre. They have partnered with numerous organization to research and protect the rainforest. We were even impressed to see that they are a part of the University of Guelph (our home town) International Barcode of Life Project.
The interpretive centre in the middle is a wealth of information as well. Our kids enjoyed the interactive displays and videos and seeing the fish and reptiles of the region. The education at this place went on and on and we were so impressed by the quality of displays and information.
After you have done the aerial walkway and canopy tower, there are other walks through the rainforest. If you are lucky you might see a cassowary on the Cassowary trail. The Bush Tucker trail teaches about how the aboriginal people used the forest for foods and medicine. If you have younger kids, they will like the Dinosaur trail where you learn about the evolution of dinosaurs in the Daintree. Kids will be particular engaged by the moving models they have throughout the trail.
Cafe and Gift Shop
There is a lovely little café there where you can order a bush tucker plate of traditional foods. The gift shop is well stocked with local foods and aboriginal art. We picked up some Daintree tea and there were lots of other goodies on offer.
We were really impressed with the Daintree Discovery Centre. We love sites that teach us about the places we are visiting. The Daintree Rainforest is a great day trip from the Cairns region and the Daintree Discovery Centre allows you to see it up close and learn at the same time. Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours exploring the Daintree Discovery Centre. Our kids really enjoyed the audioguides and interactive displays at the interpretive centre. Instead of just seeing the rainforest, take the time to learn about this amazing ecosystem. Better yet, spend a few nights in the Daintree to really immerse yourself in the jungle.
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Disclaimer: The Daintree Discovery Centre graciously hosted our visit. As always, all opinions are my own.