Nature, culture and history
Approximately 74 per cent of Paluma Range National Park is within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA). Proclaimed in 1988, the WTWHA extends for about 450 km between Cooktown and Townsville. Consisting of nearly 900,000 ha, vegetation is primarily tropical rainforest, but also includes open eucalypt forest, wetlands and mangrove forests. The WTWHA meets all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing. These criteria recognise the area's exceptional natural beauty and the importance of its biological diversity and evolutionary history, including habitats for numerous threatened species. The WTWHA also has cultural significance for Aboriginal people who have traditional links with the area and its surrounds.
Find out more about the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Flora and fauna
Rainforest plants, including palms and fig trees, fringe Waterview Creek. Distinctive red flowers of weeping bottlebrush trees (Callistemon viminalis) overhang the creek, luring brilliant blue Ulysses butterflies (Papilio ulysses joesa).
The moist conditions of the rainforest-fringed creek attract a variety of birds such as azure kingfishers (Ceyx azureus), pied monarchs (Arses kaupi), noisy pittas (Pitta versicolor) and northern fantails (Rhipidura rufiventris). During the summer months you may even see buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers (Tanysiptera Sylvia). These birds migrate from New Guinea to nest.
Freshwater turtles (Emydura macquarii) sun themselves on rocks and logs and quickly retreat into the water at the first hint of danger. Goannas (Varanus varius) can also be seen near the water's edge and venture between the rainforest and open woodland looking for food.
Beyond the creek, towards the foothills, the rainforest gives way to drier open woodland. Stands of poplar gum (Eucalyptus platyphylla), bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia) and Moreton Bay ash (Corymbia tessellaris) dominate the canopy with an understorey of cocky apple trees (Planchonia careya) and tall grasses. Woodland birds such as laughing kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae), forest kingfishers (Todiramphus macleayii) and a variety of honeyeaters are often seen.
During the evening, nocturnal birds become active and may be seen with spotlights. The distinctive ‘mo-poke’ call of the southern boobook owl (Ninox boobook), along with the wood-chopping sound of the large-tailed nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus), can provide a lead to their location. The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) also occurs in the area and is sometimes seen during the day roosting on lower tree branches.
Many of the mammals at Jourama Falls are also nocturnal. Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) and the larger mahogany gliders (Petaurus gracilis) actively feed at night, particularly in the vicinity of flowering eucalypts and grass trees. Mahogany gliders are endangered as their lowland habitat was greatly reduced as a result of tree clearing.