Rainforest Comfort and Precautions
This intent of this guide is to help you minimize the risks of running into harm on your own adventures into the rainforests of tropical Australia. While the list is long, and the risks are there, we have spent many weeks out in the scrub, and not yet had a problem, probably because we are aware of the hazards and take action to reduce our risks. Dont be intimidated, be educated and act wisely.
Warm Coat in Highland Rainfrorests
Yes, we do know this is the tropics, but high altitude tropical rainforests can be cool or even cold in the winter months (June-August), especially at night.
Wet weather gear
It seems obvious, but there is a reason that for the word rain in rainforests. Some forests in the mountains in this region can get 4 meters (14 feet) of rain per year.
To the best of our recollection no one locally has died from leeches, which are most common during the wetter seasons. Somewhat disgusting nuisance is a better term for their impact on humans visiting the forest. Use repellent on your shoes/sandals, stay on trails, and check yourself every once in awhile.
These mites are found in rainforest soils and rotting timber. Avoid the rash and potential for scrub typhus by not sitting on the ground or on logs, using insect repellent, and changing clothes after you return from your adventures.
Like forests everywhere, tropical rainforests here have their own guild of ticks. Only one species, the Scrub Tick, is potentially dangerous to humans. A toxin injected during feeding by females can cause a fatal paralysis. If you are bitten by tick, remove it, and get someone to identify the tick. If it is a scrub tick, consult a doctor. Early symptoms of tick paralysis include headache and nausea.
Other things that bite
Just like forests in your home country, there are ants, bees, and centipedes and spiders, and also like at home, some can cause painful and harmful bites and stings. Minimize close contact with these critters, if you camp out in the forest, think about using a tent.
There are only a thousand of these endangered birds roaming the rainforests of Tropical Australia, so it is unlikely that you will encounter one. (We would love to see one in the wild!) Occasionally these large birds can be aggressive, and their kick packs a wallop. Backing away, ducking behind a tree, and holding out your backpack or an article of clothing in front of you are the recommended ways of dealing with cassowaries.
These are an introduced species whose feeding causes quite a bit of damage to the forests. They are trapped and hunted, the intent being to keep their populations low. They understandable are very shy, but are potentially dangerous. Climbing out of harms way, or hiding behind cover are the best ways of dealing with these animals.
Snakes are common in the rainforest, but are either secretive, or spend much of their life high in the forest canopy. Still, many species are highly venomous. Most humans bitten either were bothering the snake, or had stepped on it. Watch where you are walking, and give any snake you encounter a wide berth. Snakes in the tropics can be active at night, so be sure to use a flashlight when you are walking around camp.
This plant can give you a painful rash that can last for months. It grows largely in disturbed areas alongside roads and trails. It is not common, but if you are hiking in the forest, avoid contacting plants with fuzzy heart-shaped leaves until you know what this plant looks like.
Also called Wait-a-While, this rainforest vine has a considerable array of hooks a spines to catch and puncture you. If caught by the vine, just stop and pluck off the bits that are holding you, thrashing around and yanking will have a painful result.
Crocodiles are really not a rainforest species. However, you will find them in rivers and estuaries bordered by rainforest. Most of these places are have signs stating the fact that crocs are present, and that activities in and near the water are not a good idea.
Just like your forests back at home, there are plants here that produce fruits that are inedible or even poisonous. Leave the foraging for wild food to your guides.
If you walk around the streams in the forest barefoot or wearing flimsy shoes there is a chance that you will step on one of these fish, which can inject toxins into your foot through it's spines. A person getting stung by a bullrout is a rare event and the venom can be quickly disabled by putting the effect area in hot (not scalding) water.