Wallaman Falls, Kirrama National Park, Edmund Kennedy National Park, Girringun National Park, Broadwater Creek and the Dalrymple Gap track are all part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Visitors can experience a range of plant communities including riparian and vine-thicket rainforest and open forest. Casuarinas, eucalypts and grass trees colonise nutrient poor soils, whilst palms, umbrella trees and figs prefer the more fertile soils of the rainforest.
Girringun National Park and surrounding protected areas cover a large geographical region protecting over 67 vegetation types. This includes nine endangered communities such as the she-oaks lining the banks of the Herbert River Gorge. The range of habitats provides homes for a rich variety of animals, one of the highest number in Australia. All of Australia’s six glider species, including the endangered mahogany glider, are found in this region.
Eleven macropod species such as kangaroos and wallabies, and 25 frog species also occur within the protected areas. Platypus, eastern water dragons and freshwater turtles can be seen int he creeks and rivers. The rainforest are home to the endangered southern cassowary and the musky rat-kangaroo.
Lying along the coastline, just north of Cardwell, Edmund Kennedy National Park contains areas of low coastal rainforest, eucalyptus forest, melaleuca woodland, sedge swamps and extensive mangrove swamps. Many of the mangrove species known to occur in Australia are found in the park.
Much of the wildlife is nocturnal although birds and reptiles may be seen during the day. Orioles, sunbirds, black butcherbirds and honeyeaters are common. The nesting mounds of orange-footed scrubfowl can be seen along the edge of the walking tracks.
Waters surrounding Cardwell are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Estuarine crocodiles are present in the creeks which flow through this area. Do not swim in the creeks.
Protected since 1932, Hinchinbrook Island is one Australia’s largest island national parks (39,900ha). The Bandjin Aboriginal people lived on Hinchinbrook Island for many thousands of years. Today middens and remains of stone fish traps are reminders of their culture.
Hinchinbrook Island is renowned for its habitats. Its extensive mangrove forests are among the richest and most diverse in Australia. They are important breeding grounds for many marine animals.
The seagrass beds around Hinchinbrook Island are the basic food source for the protected dugong which are occasionally seen in Missionary Bay.
Adult green turtles and dolphins also frequent the Hinchinbrook area.