Tropical North Queensland, home to interesting & rare wildlife you won't see anywhere else in the world. There are many reasons to visit Cairns and spend a while taking in the delights of tropical North Queensland. Beyond adrenaline activities and great nights out, Cairns is the gateway to two of the worlds' greatest natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics and you have the very rare opportunity to see rainforest meet the Ocean.
This means that this region is home to all sorts of interesting and rare wildlife that backpackers won't be able to experience anywhere else.
Tropical North Queenslands Interesting & Rare Wildlife
One of the most interesting creatures is the cassowary. Cassowaries are giant ground birds of the rainforest, related to ostriches, emus, rheas. Female cassowaries (larger than males) can reach up to 2 meters in height, these birds have brighly coloured blue skin on their heads and necks, red wattles, and black feathers over the rest of their body with grey legs. They also sport a helmut known as a casque on their head in order to protect their skulls when running through dense forest undergrowth and with sound amplification.
The cassowary can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour and jump over 1.5 meters. Females are the more dominant of these species and male cassowaries rear the young. These extremely endangered birds can be aggressive when threatened. They have sharp claws on their toes... with the middle one reaching up to 5 inches in length. They can charge and kick opponents and are known as one of the world's most dangerous birds. You can occasionally spot cassowaries in the wild at Cape Tribulation, but you should be cautious about approaching these animals.
Another interesting creature is the quoll. Quoll's are carnivorous marsupials related to the Tasmanian Devil. Queensland is home to both the largest and smallest members of the species.
Quolls typically live in isolated forest areas, have brown fur with white spots, and consume both small animals and jungle fruits. As they are marsupials, babies are born and live in the mothers pouch for several months. These babies are known as pups and are actually no bigger than a grain of rice at birth.
These animals were first brought to European attention when collected by Captain Cook. While he maintained their native Aboriginal name, settlers to Australia often referred to the quoll as the "native cat".
Another interesting mammal is the tree kangaroo. While all of Australia is famous for kangaroos, tree kangaroos are a unique species found only in the tropics of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
These kangaroos are specially developed for life in the trees... with extra padded paws, longer forelimbs, and a more cylindrical tail. Tree kangaroos generally aren't quite as jumpy as their ground dwelling relatives. Most time is spent climbing slowly through the trees to negotiate some awesome heights, but in an emergency they can jump up to 60 feet to the ground. The best spot to see tree kangaroos is a trip to the Atherton tablelands.
Giant Potato Cod
Looking out to sea.... While clown fish like Nemo are often the star of the show, one of my favourites in Tropical North Queensland is the Giant Potato Cod. Found at diving sites further out towards the continental shelf, Giant Potato Cod are huge fish that can reach up to 2 meters long and weigh over 100 kilos. They have a bluish gray body with large, potato-shaped spots in either black or brown along their body. They live among the coral reefs and consume small rays, fish, and crabs. Interestingly, potato cod start their life out as females and then develop into males as they mature.
Their presence at Cod Hole along with the other wonderful marine life to be found, makes this site on of the world's best known diving sites. Trips of 3 to 5 nights can be arranged to take Cairns backpackers up to these northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef along the Coral Sea for some of the world's best diving and snorkeling.
The above are just a couple of examples of some of the interesting and rare wildlife in Tropical North Queensland, let us know what you spotted during your visit!