A visit to the Daintree Rainforest Observatory is a unique sensory immersion into nature within the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia. The tropical rainforest ecosystem of the Daintree is one of the most complex on Earth and has the highest biodiversity of anywhere in Australia.
Annual average rainfall is approximately 3500mm (~137 inches) and is strongly seasonal, with 70% falling during the wet season which runs from December to April. Summers are often hot and humid, with the mean daily temperature in January around 28°C (82°F). However, temperatures up to 36°C (97°F) are not unusual during the summer months. Winters are mild and dry with the mean daily temperature in July around 22°C (72°F).
Northern Australia is subject to tropical cyclones in the wet season and their occurrence is unpredictable. The impact of these severe tropical storm systems are regarded as a natural phenomenon and a key evolutionary factor in shaping the ecology of Queensland's tropical lowland rainforests.
The vegetation at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory is complex mesophyll vine forest. There are a large range of botanical structural features represented including buttress and spur roots, a tall but irregular canopy with indistinct stratification of sub-canopy (saplings, seedlings, and ground cover layers) and irregular stem diameters. Also prominent on the site are a variety of robust woody lianas, vascular epiphytes, palms (both feather and fan), zingibers and aroids. The canopy is irregular, varying from 25 to 40 metres (82 to 131 feet), with dominant canopy trees belonging to Proteaceae, Meliaceae, Sapindaceae, Apocynaceae, Lauraceae, and Myrtaceae families.
The surrounding forests support around eight hundred species of vertebrates, a number of which are endemic. Mammals observed on the site include Bennett's tree-kangaroo, prehensile-tailed rat, long-tailed pygmy possum, giant white-tailed rat, Cape York and bush rats, fawn-footed Melomys, long-nosed bandicoot, and a variety of bats.
A wide range of birds including several dove species, five species of honeyeaters, Victoria's riflebird, orange-footed scrubfowl, spotted catbirds, lesser sooty owls, ospreys, grey and brown goshawks, and parrots have been recorded at the site.
Also present on site are several frog species and reptiles including Boyd's forest dragon, eastern water dragon, carpet and amethystine pythons, and two colubrid snakes.
We seek volunteers to assist us with duties throughout the year. Volunteers can stay at the observatory in modern facilities free of charge (meals not included) for up to four weeks at a time in exchange for four hours volunteering per day.
The minimum expected stay is three days, which is 12 hours of volunteer work. Volunteers need to be over 18 years of age and should be physically fit as most tasks involve manual labour.
Volunteer tasks usually involve manual work under supervision of our staff. Work is often performed between 8am and noon, but this can be varied on request as long as it suits the requirements of the observatory.
The type of task varies according to the our requirements at the time, and any specialised skills volunteers have to offer. We try to offer volunteers a variety of tasks but that is not always possible.
Dormitory accommodation is available for groups of up to 40 people, in four- and six-berth rooms. These have access to a communal industrial kitchen, and an amenities block nearby provides laundry, bathroom and shower facilities. A BBQ deck is also available to visitors, and there is a large indoor space with audiovisual capability.
The Observatory offers two triple share rooms for visiting researchers. Each includes attached kitchen and bathroom.
All building and rooms are accessible with ramps. Paths through the forest are gravel and have occasional steep gradients. Please contact us with any specific queries.