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The 110-million-year-old World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, 2 hours north of Cairns, gets most of the attention, but tracts of rainforest closer to Cairns are just as pristine. These rainforests and the Daintree are part of the Wet Tropics, a World Heritage area that stretches from Cape Tribulation to Townsville. This dense, lush environment has remained unchanged by ice ages and other geological events, and the plants and animals retain primitive characteristics. In the tract's mangroves, eucalyptus woodlands, and tropical rainforest are 65% of Australia's bird species, 60% of its butterfly species, and many of its frogs, reptiles, bats, marsupials, and orchids.

Because so much rainforest wildlife is nocturnal and often difficult to spot, consider joining Wait-a-While Rainforest Tours (tel. 07/4093 8414 or 0429/083 338 mobile; www.waitawhile.com.au) on a day-into-night tour to the Atherton Tablelands. This tour costs A$190 adults and A$165 children, including afternoon tea, dinner at a country restaurant, and a light supper at the end. The tour begins from Cairns at 2pm and finishes at about 11:30pm. Pickups from Port Douglas can also be arranged.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.