Marrdja is a Kuku Yalanji word meaning rainforest walk. This well-designed looped walk begins and ends at the side of Oliver Creek, a slowly rambling mountain stream emerging beneath a dense pristine canopy of rainforest trees and shrubs. Stems and branches are festooned and drooping with epihytes, as well as the aptly named Wait-a-while. It’s spiky tendrils always ready to catch unwary visitors. Crystal waters flow gently across a flat rocky bed, but there are clues revealing another side. Suspended remnants high in branches and along upper stream banks indicate a torrent during wetter days.
Daintree Coast rainforests closely resemble the rainforests that covered Australia over 50 million years ago when the climate was wet and warm across the continent. The climate has changed many times since. In cooler, drier times, the once widespread rainforests shrank, finding refuge in sheltered valleys and moist mountaintops along the east coast. The rainforests in Noah Creek and Coopers Creek catchments seem to be refuge remnants and they have remained unchanged over the last 15,000 years. The resulting rare rainforest plants found on the Daintree Coast are very similar to some of the original Gondwanan plants preserved in these fire-resistant rainforest refuges.
Signs along the boardwalk trace the evolution of Daintree Coast plants, and provide information about the two chief habitats you will encounter – rainforests and mangroves. Near where Oliver Creek joins Noah Creek there is a notable transition from rainforest to mangrove forest. The first thing that grabs attention is the near absence of an undercanopy – a distinctive feature of mangrove forests. Of further note is the abundance of strange knobbly root structures emergent from the dark mud. These belong to the erect dark tall stems of numerous Bruguiera gymnorhiza trees. Such roots are some of the ingenious design solutions these plants have evolved for living on the tidal edge. If you look carefully you will see honeyeaters feeding for nectar from bright red spiky flowers amongst the glossy green foliage.
Signs along the boardwalk take you on a 350 million year journey. It begins with the first land plants, through the age of dinosaurs, the appearance of flowering plants and to the break-up of the super continent Gondwana. The journey continues through the coming of humans and their immense impacts. Management strategies to protect these special places are indicated in signs proclaiming this site as part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The inscription of this Area on the World Heritage List in 1988 confirms its exceptional natural values which deserve protection for the benefit of all humanity. The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area comprises public and private land tenures including National Parks and State Forests. The Area is managed in accordance with a joint agreement between the Australian and Queensland Governments.
- Distance/length: 1 km
- Location: Oliver Creek, Cape Tribulation Road, Daintree National Park.
- Walking Time: 45 mins. Address: Cape Tribulation Road.
- Directions: Carpark and entrance on the south bank of Oliver Creek, along the Cape Tribulation Road.
- Contact: For more information: Wet Tropics Management Authority C/- Wet Tropics Management Agency, 15 Lake Street, Cairns 4870 (PO Box 2050, Cairns). Telephone (070) 316555. Web address
PLANTS AND ANIMALS YOU MIGHT SEE
Mangrove epiphytes: Mymercodia antonii (Ant Plant), Staghorns & Cymbidium orchids
General VegetationPrimary Rainforest. Austromuellera, Haplostchanthus sp, Lepiderema hirsura, Fan palm forest.
Invertebrates in the mudCrabs
Invertebrates in the vegetationBird winged butterflies
Rare/ Endangered Biota
Waterlifetoadfish, juvenile fish and fry, bream
Norm Duke (20 February 2006)