About Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation itself is a promontory of land jutting out into the Coral Sea off the northern coast of Queensland, Australia at a latitude of 16'05. Its nearest city is Cairns, 140km to the south.
The Daintree Rainforest encompassing the Cape Tribulation section of the Daintree National Park is Australlia's largest remaining tropical lowland rainforest, and is believed to be the oldest rainforest anywhere in the world at over 100 million years of age. The rainforest eco-system and microclimate have enabled the survival of a concentration of primitive and ancient plant species that has no parallel on earth. The area is home to many species of native mammals, birds and butterflies, many of which are found nowhere else. In 1988 the area was awarded World Heritage listing for its ongoing protection.
Captain James Cook named Cape Tribulation, "because here began all our troubles", when his ship ran aground on what is now known as Endeavour reef off the coast in 1770. But before the arrival of Europeans it was home to the Aboriginal people of the Kuku Yalanji tribe.
Cape Tribulation is now renowned as an outstanding area of natural beauty and eco-tourism. With its warm climate, lush tropical rainforest, white sand beaches, fringing reefs and close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef (another World Heritage Area) it is a unique and unspoilt destination for travellers of all kinds. It is one of only two tiny areas in the world where the rainforest meets the reef.
The Kuku Yalanji aborigines, the original inhabitants of the Cape Tribulation area, identified five distinct seasons:
- Kambar: Late December to March - rain
- Kabakabada: April to May - cool with rainfall easing
- Duluruiji: June to September - cooler & dry with some rainfall
- Wungariji: October to November - hot & dry
- Jarramali November to December - hot & stormy
We now generally acknowledge two main seasons; the 'wet' from December to April, and the 'dry' from May to November. The average annual rainfall over the past seventeen years has been 3854mm, giving Cape Tribulation one of the wettest climates in Australia.
Long before the arrival of the Europeans, the Cape Tribulation area was peopled by the Aborigines of the Kuku Yalanji tribe. They lived off the abundant food supply in the rainforest - cassowary, wallaby, tree kangaroo, echidna, scrub turkey, jungle fowl, lizards, fish, snake, pigeons - also many berries, roots and nuts.
In June 1770, Captain James Cook was sailing up the east coast of Australia in the Endeavour making a chart of the coastline. His ship ran aground on the Endeavour Reef about 40 kms north east of Cape Tribulation. He named the point he had charted earlier in the day "Cape Tribulation because here began all our troubles".
During the second half of the 1800s, timber cutters were active in the area, concentrating on the prized red cedar trees. Tropical agriculture also began at this time in what is now known as the Cow Bay area; however it was not until the 1920s that settlers arrived in the Cape Tribulation area. They progressively tried to earn a living from fruit and vegetables, timber cutting and cattle. In the early 1970s tourists began to discover Cape Tribulation.
Pressure from visitors together with a recognition of the outstanding natural values of the area, led to the 1981 declaration of the Cape Tribulation National Park.
In 1983-4, Cape Tribulation became the focal point of a major conservation issue in Australia: the construction of the Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield road. Objection to the road came from throughout Australia and overseas, and a large number of people established a blockade in a bid to stop the road which was officially opened in 1984.
Out of this controversy there came a determined and sustained effort from the conservation movement to have the tropical rainforests of north Queensland included on the World Heritage List.
Despite strong opposition from the Queensland Government and local council, the wet tropics rainforests were entered on the World Heritage List in December 1988.