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Rainforest Fun
One of the most amazing ecosystems in the world is quickly dwindling, so Madeline Hoskin goes in search of some of Australia’s best rainforest experiences.

Did you know 75 per cent of Australia’s original tropical rainforest has been cleared since the late 18th century? There’s been so much agricultural, industrial and urban progress that today only half a percent of the Australian landmass houses this richly diverse ecosystem.

Luckily for us, this is one continent where the public is encouraged to see the wonders of such habitats first hand, while also learning how to protect them. A family trip to the rainforest is both fun and educational, and with some located on the doorstep of our major cities, a rainforest escape can be easier to arrange than you think.

NEW SOUTH WALES
www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Minnamurra Rainforest Centre
Found 15km from Kiama in Budderoo National Park, Minnamurra is a beautifully preserved rainforest haven. The centre offers a 1.6km Rainforest Loop Walk and 2.6km Falls Walk – neither too strenuous. Kids love playing Tarzan along the elevated walkway as they run through the trees. All general facilities are wheelchair (and pram) friendly, as is the first 500m of the Loop Walk. Minnamurra Rainforest Centre is home to rare flora and fauna, the Lyrebird Cafe, gas barbecues and shelters, so there’s plenty on hand to make a day of it. Check ahead during school holidays to align your visit with discovery programs such as ‘Snakes Alive’. For further venturing, you’ll find the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk just 25 minutes away, and Ben Ricketts Environment Preserve provides great accommodation for overnight visitors.

Also in New South Wales:

Macquarie Pass National Park
Nightcap National Park
Sea Acres Nature Reserve

QUEENSLAND
www.nprsr.qld.gov.au

Daintree Rainforest
www.daintreerainforest.com

As Australia’s largest rainforest and neighbour to Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef, an estimated 400,000 people visit the Daintree each year. This popularity has developed a flourish of rainforest activities in the area. Your clan can choose to road trip through the greenery, or take part in family-friendly tours (either public or private) that can encompass everything from Aboriginal discovery and river cruises, to 4WDing, kayaking and jungle archery. At the Daintree Discovery Centre there’s a mesh of boardwalks and interactive activities for kids. If staying longer try to make time for mangrove exploring, horse riding on the beach, or maybe even pick up a self-drive audio guide – with so many options available, there’s no room for boredom.

Springbrook National Park
www.springbrooktourism.com.au

If you’re after a rainforest close to the ‘big smoke’, Springbrook is a fantastic choice at only 40 minutes from the Gold Coast. You’ll find a bounty of beautiful falls, lookouts, picnic stops and easy walks (there are also a few tougher ones for energetic explorers). Purlingbrook Falls is a great circuit, with an easy 4km route that starts at Gwongorella picnic area. You can discover the ancient beauty of buttress roots, epiphytes and babbling waterfalls during the day, and come night the area has a research observatory and even glow worms for some extra excitement.

Also in Queensland:
Kuranda Village in the rainforest

TASMANIA
www.parks.tas.gov.au

Lake St Clair
Located at the southern point of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, an equal 2.5 hours from both Hobart and Launceston, this lake has been perennially sculpted out by glacial movement to form the deepest lake in Australia. Set amidst lush rainforest in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it’s a stunning spectacle for families wanting to soak up a slice of the outdoors. Lake St Clair Park Centre has informative displays about the geography and Aboriginal history of the area, with staff always on hand to recommend the best walks for your tribe. Easy walks include Watersmeet and the Platypus Bay and Larmairremener Tabelti Aboriginal Cultural Walk. In summer and autumn you’ll find extra walks and talks run by park rangers that are fun for all ages. For overnight lodging, camp in the park or stay nearby at Derwent Bridge.

Also in Tasmania:
Southwest National Park
The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

VICTORIA
www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Great Otway National Park
If your family is after breathtaking rainforest and rugged coastline, with a picturesque tangle of golden beaches and luminous lakes for good measure, Great Otway can deliver all of this just a hop, skip and a jump (or 3 hours’ drive) from Melbourne. Bordered by the iconic Great Ocean Road, this park is a blend of idyllic scenery and family entertainment. There’s walkways, horse riding, mountain biking and beach bumming galore, and family tours can be organised to give you and the kids unique dolphin and seal encounters, or even guide you through the rainforest by night. Your best camping option is at Blanket Bay, but with only 22 sites make sure you book in advance!

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Kakadu National Park
www.kakadu.com.au

For a real Aboriginal Rainforest education, Kakadu cannot be beaten. The historic traces that linger within rock artworks and rare artefacts found in the area will astound the entire family. The Bowali Visitor Centre (in the Jabiru region) and Warradjen Aboriginal Culture Centre (in the Yellow Water region) have experienced staff to help you with trip ideas and enquiries. The best time to go is in the dry season between May and October – that’s when rangers will provide free guided tours, talks, activities and evening slide shows. For more structured family action, try the Kakadu Gorge and Waterfall Tour, Wurreng Cultural Walk or Animal Tracks Safari.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

El Questro Wilderness Park
www.elquestro.com.au

In the desert stretches of WA, rainforest is particularly rare to come across. In fact, the only place you’ll find them is tucked up north in the Kimberley region. That’s what makes places like El Questro so special. Owned by Delaware North Parks and Resorts, El Questro offers a good range of tours and exploration options for visitors to their unique, green oasis. Your family can enjoy the Chamberlain Gorge Cruise, bush culture and history tours, bird watching, wallaby, lizard and barramundi spotting and horse riding. Make sure to check out the Emma Gorge trail which is a one-hour trek that treats you to a waterhole at the end! Both camping and resort options are available.

 

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