Wet Tropics of north Queensland – introduction to a World Heritage icon

Tropical North Queensland is home to one of the world’s oldest living rainforest, the Wet Tropics.

Enchanting rainforests, wetlands, wildlife and indigenous traditions are just some of the attractions to this ancient world. Rainforests, reefs, rich culture, tantalising tropical foods and outback adventures – the Wet Tropics packs it all into one unforgettable adventure package.

Where is the Wet Tropics?

The Wet Tropics hugs Queensland’s coastal fringe from Townsville to Cairns like a long green ribbon wrapping itself around the coast. This is a special landscape that traces living examples of some of the earliest flowering plants and the emergence of songbirds. The diversity, evolution and survival of many rainforest species provides a fascinating story about how life has evolved.

The Wet Tropics offers stunning scenery and extraordinary natural beauty at every turn. From the rugged peaks of Mt Bartle Frere to the quiet mystery of the Daintree Rainforest, this World Heritage Area is laced with trails, drives and waterways all offering unique experiences. You can drive along 40 scenic routes with over 100 spectacular lookouts and camera-toting hotspots.

Wet Tropics rainforest Queensland | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Hiking and Mountain Biking in Wet Tropics

There are plenty of bush walks and cycling trails in the Wet Tropics. The historic Bump Track, for example, is a short drive from Thala and is well worth the exertion required. It’s a favourite trail for mountain bikers and is used for the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge  as well as by trail runners in the Great Barrier Reef Marathon.

The proposed Wangetti Trail will traverse through Wet Tropics areas and promises to be a game changer for active and adventure travellers. Thala is well positioned for a trail entry/exit point proposed for Oak Beach.

Significance of the Wet Tropics for indigenous people

The cultural significance of the World Heritage Area is reflected in the unique traditional practices undertaken by Rainforest Aboriginal people who call the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area their home. Rainforest Aboriginal people look after the World Heritage Area in many different ways and participate with land managers of the Area to ensure its natural and cultural values are protected for future generations. Kuku Yalanji people are known as the rainforest people. Guests at Thala enjoy a free cultural presentation and didgeridoo each Monday night as Kuku Yalanji elders showcase their cultural traditions.

Wet Tropics rainforest Queensland | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Mossman Gorge

Learn about the rainforest and the connection that the Kuku Yalanji people have with this spectacularly beautiful country by visiting Mossman Gorge Centre. An Indigenous eco tourism centre at the gateway to Mossman Gorge, visitors can take a guided Dreamtime Walk, dine at the café overlooking the forest or just enjoy this magnificent place for its tranquil beauty.

Wildlife of the Wet Tropics

Cassowaries are the poster child of the Wet Tropics, though sadly, they are listed as an endangered species. Dog attacks, car accidents and clearing of forests have all attributed to their decline, with less than 2,000 thought to exist in the wild. Mission Beach, Etty Bay (south of Cairns), Cape Tribulation and the Daintree (approx one hour north of Thala) are well-known habitats where it’s possible to spot these magnificent creatures in the wild. Visit the Daintree Discovery Centre and you’ll likely sport cassowaries in the forest beneath the treetop boardwalks.

Wet Tropics rainforest Queensland | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Boyd’s Forest Dragons are another critter to put on you ‘must see’ list. With a colourful, large-scaled head and line of curved spikes down its back, these critters are quite adorable in a sort of miniature Jules Verne Journey to the Centre of the Earth kind of way. They are masters of camouflage and very difficult to spot, however. Approximately 50cm long when fully grown, it is often found clinging vertically to a tree trunk.

Lace monitor lizards are much larger and are commonly seen lumbering across the forest floor or scampering up a tree. Despite their size they are quite swift if the feel threatened. There are lots of lace monitors in Thala’s forest. Up to one and a half metres in length, lace monitors are an impressive sight. This lizard is arboreal and is a major predator of birds’ nests, but it also eats reptiles, small mammals, large insects and even carrion and food scraps.

Lace monitor lizard | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Saltwater crocodiles are an apex predator that inhabit coastal waterways – all visitors should be aware of the danger of these creatures. View them in safety at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, just 10mins drive from Thala.

Book your own Wet Tropics Adventure

Guests staying at Thala Beach Nature Reserve can experience many of these terrific Wet Tropics adventures – just ask to book a tour at Reception when you check in!

Wet Tropics rainforest Queensland | Thala Beach Nature Reserve