Cape Tribulation Research Station
directed by AUSTROP is situated in the Daintree tropical lowlands, considered to be the ‘jewel’ of the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This is a very special area of rainforest sandwiched between the coastal fringing reef (and the Great Barrier Reef) and the coastal mountain range (which rises to over 1000 meters (3,000 feet)). The area has a wide variety of habitats from coastal reefs to tropical rainforest. The Research Station is a research and conservation organisation that specialises in lowland tropical ecosystems, in particular those of the Daintree lowlands, and has been in operation for over 16 years.
AUSTROP is non-affiliated, and funded by the not-for- profit, tax-exempt Australian Tropical Research Foundation.
The Station provides research facilities, full accommodation and access to forest and coastal environments. We have a very wide range of research equipment, appropriate to supporting a wide variety of research activities. You may contact The Station Director for more information regarding available equipment and materials.
The Station is also home to a resident flying fox colony (unreleasable animals) whose inhabitants do ‘ambattadorial’ (ambassadorial) duties at the Bat House visitor centre. In addition to greeting visitors, our bats serve as subjects for endless amusement, speculation, and the occasional psychological or behavioural study. Proceeds from the Bat House fund the research activities of the Cape Tribulation Tropical Research Station, feed the resident fox colony and help the yearly rescue of spectacled flying foxes, orphaned through tick paralysis, in areas of the Atherton Tableland to the west of Cairns. We also sell books, T-shirts, batty stuff and local memorabilia. All Bat House staff are volunteers.
Who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Man, we’re so incredibly friendly you can even contact us!
is well equipped with 2 airconditioned laboratories, as well as extensive field equipment. Accommodation is in light and airy bunkhouse style buildings. Food is plentiful and we are proud to boast a wide variety of cooking styles and menus (The Station is not called “Cape Tribulation Cooking Camp” for nothing!). The Station does not have a formal intern program schedule (after all we primarily exist to facilitate research). It is impossible to be specific as to what projects will be in progress at the Station, but there will certainly be something new and different! We do research year-round; whether a specific project is available depends on the idiosyncrasies of the weather, plants, animals and funding authorities (usually us!). We can also accommodate student groups up to a maximum of 20.
Austrop Research Station
Situated in the heart of Cape Tribulation the Research Station and Bat House sit off the main road, opposite P.K’s backpackers, on 8.5 hectares of reclaimed and rehabilitated Rainforest. Originally a cleared block of land, the numerous volunteers, interns and researchers have helped the AUSTROP team to return the area to its former glory.
Cape Tribulation, on the Coral Sea off far-north Queensland, Australia, is about 120 km north of Cairns, at 16 S, 145E (about the same latitude as Costa Rica but in the S hemisphere). It is in the Daintree tropical lowlands, considered to be the “jewel” of the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This is a very special area of rainforest sandwiched between the coastal fringing reef (and the Great Barrier Reef) and the coastal mountain range (which rises to over 1000 meters (3,000 feet)). The area has a wide variety of habitats from coastal reefs to tropical rainforest.
Backing the area is the coastal range, which varies in altitude from 700-1,348 meters. This range has a major impact on local weather and is the cause of exceedingly high precipitation in the region (4 meters per annum on average). The climate is seasonally wet with a monsoon-influenced wet season from January to May and a dry season from June to January.
Flora and fauna in the Daintree Region
Unique flora and fauna exist in this part of the world including crocodiles, cassowaries, fruit bats and tree kangaroos. Many of these animals and some of the plants are threatened or endemic. Primary threats to this area are invasive species, particularly the introduction weeds, which have spread across wide areas. Unfortunately, in addition to the stunning scenery and unique wildlife, the area suffers from significant loss of habitat for fauna, especially due to land clearing for ‘development’.
The rainforest in the Daintree Region is estimated to be 135 million year old, making it arguably the oldest and most primitive rainforest in the world. This area is often described as a tropical paradise ‘where the rainforest meets the reef’. Many of the species still here originated 120 million years ago when Australia was still part of the ancient landmass of Gondwana. The Wet Tropics rainforests (From Cooktown to Townsville) contains:
- Over 3,500 vascular plant species;
- Australia’s largest range of ferns and the world’s largest concentration of ancient flowering plants;
- The highest number of endemic mammals of any region in Australia;
- Almost half of Australia’s bird species;
- Nearly a quarter of Australia’s frog species, more than 20 of which are endemic;
- A greater diversity of freshwater fish than any other region in Australia;
- Outstanding invertebrate diversity, including well over 60% of Australia’s butterflies
(Source: Wet Tropics Region NRM Plan, Statement of Planning Intent – Rainforest CRC 2002)
Despite this amazing diversity, this rainforest only represents 0.1% of Australian land. It is thus vital that we conserve this extremely small and vulnerable – but infinitely unique – environment.