Summer in the Wet Tropics brings a different beauty to the area. For locals, it offers a sense of nostalgia; for visitors, an understanding of why it’s affectionately named “the big wet”.
A common misconception of many is that the Daintree Rainforest makes up the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and while it is probably the hero attraction, it is a small part of nine sub-regions covering almost 900,000ha from Townsville to Cooktown. From wildlife to waterfalls, rainforest to rivers, some of the most spectacular the Wet Tropics has to offer is during the wet season.
It has become somewhat of a local tradition to visit Barron Falls in all her roaring beauty after any massive downpours. As one of the most easily accessible and mighty falls in the Wet Tropics, it should definitely make your bucket list. No words can really describe the sheer power of the water that tumbles over the 250m rock face during the wet season – it has to be seen to be believed. Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway both take you on rainforest journeys offering incredible vantage points to view the flooding Barron Falls. If that’s enough to gauge your interest, fall in love with other waterfalls the Wet Tropics has to offer, or revere in the raging Tully river from the comfort? and warmth? of an inflatable raft boat.
Recognised as a part of one of 35 international global biodiversity hotspots, home to over 2800 plant species and a huge percentile of Australia’s wildlife, the Wet Tropics is the ideal place to get up close and personal with nature. There is a certain magic exploring the rainforest in the rain and discovering species large and small. None larger than rainforest giants, the Twin Kauri Pines and the iconic strangler fig trees – the Cathedral Fig and Curtain Fig. All of which are impressive feats of nature and time with the kauris boasting 1000 years of age and both figs hailing over 500 years old. In the likelihood of rain, you can even try to take shelter inside the Cathedral Fig Tree.
Throughout the Wet Tropics is a number of walks and hikes catering to all levels of fitness. From climbing Queensland’s highest peak, Mount Bartle Frere, to the much more wet season appropriate Mamu Tropical Skywalk or Daintree Discovery Centre. Observe different parts of the ancient Wet Tropics World Heritage Area from elevated walkways with parts peaking above the canopies so you can witness a sea of leaves sure to make your Instagram followers green with envy – bonus points for any wildlife you spot here. The wet is also a great opportunity to explore Paronella Park and the tumultuous Mena Creek Falls, taking shelter in any of the historic castle hideaways if the rain gets too heavy.
The Kuku Yalanji people of Mossman Gorge operate guided Dreamtime Walks telling the stories and legends (Ngadiku) of their people who have lived in the area for 50,000 years. With an intimate knowledge and deep respect for nature and its cycles, learn about culturally significant sites, plant use, bush foods and the importance of the wet season to the local Indigenous people.
There are many accommodation options that provide a bespoke service within the area. Stay where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Wet Tropics rainforest at Cape Tribulation or Mission Beach, or cosy up in a cabin in the heart of the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands. The eco-resort, The Canopy Rainforest Treehouses, doubles as a wildlife sanctuary so you can stay dry and let the animals come to you. It’s not uncommon to have a cassowary saunter through the property or to have a possum perch on your balcony. As the clouds roll in, watch as the colours of the rainforest saturate, listen as the frogs come to life and sit back and enjoy the calming nature of, well, nature.