Wildlife Parks & Zoos

Reef Magic Day Tour


Reef Magic Cruises operate day trips direct from Cairns to the Marine World activity platform located on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Join us for the day and Experience The Magic for yourself. Marine World pontoon on the Outer Reef offers a full range of facilities and activities on-board. The po...

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Sunlover Reef Cruises | Moore Reef Tour


Discover the real reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. Departing daily from the Reef Fleet Terminal in the heart of Cairns, travel by fast, air-conditioned catamaran to our Moore Reef pontoon on the outer Great Barrier Reef, which is perfectly positioned and equipped for you to explore one of the natura...

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Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

Located just 40 minutes north of Cairns and 25 minutes south of Port Douglas, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures is simply the best place to see crocodiles and local wildlife in Tropical North Queensland. With over 2100 metres of timber boardwalks and pathways leading you on a journey of discovery throu...

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Sunlover By Starlight 2 Day Tour


For an intimate once-in-a-lifetime overnight experience on the Great Barrier Reef join Sunlover by Starlight. Situated at Moore Reef pontoon on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, visitors are treated to an awe-inspiring underwater spectacle, teeming with brilliantly coloured corals and more than 10,00...

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Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas

The award-winning Wildlife Habitat is Australia's leading environmental wildlife experience, providing visitors with a chance to observe up close a huge range of flora and fauna. Wildlife Habitat was constructed in 1988 on 8 acres of agricultural land that has been transformed to provide a window in...

About Wildlife Parks & Zoos For Port Douglas

Papilio Ulysses Joesa - The Ulysses Butterfly

Ooh, you lizzies butterfly! Its not often pronounced right, but the reaction is nearly always the same. We all love to spot these wonderfully splendid creatures in flight, radiating their bright, electric blue colour through our rainforests and gardens.

Papilio ulysses joesa, is our endemic sub species of 14 Ulysses butterflies found through Indonesia, New Guniea, Solomon Islands and here in Port Douglas, North Eastern Queensland. We also know this beautiful specimen as the Blue Mountain Butterfly. The Ulysses can be spotted year round, but like a lot of creatures is most abundant in the Wet Season.

The Ulysses is primarily a common rainforest butterfly, but has now extended its range into suburban areas, particularly in areas were native faunas host plants are utilized. One of the most popular is Melicope elleryana, the Pink Princess Corkwood. If you want to attract the butterflies then the males find blue objects very tempting and will spot a good one from 30 metres.

Adult Ulysses are a dramatic sight in flight. They fly very fast for a butterfly, in an erratic motion to confuse predators, and this combined with their massive 10cm, black bordered, metallic blue upper wings, create mesmerizing flashes of blue that are visible for hundreds of metres. They do not live for long (from three to six weeks), feeding on nectar, especially from Lantana, and often traveling along river and road sides, or on the edge of the forest canopy. They have a lot of natural enemies and like all butterflies their life cycle requires a complete metamorphosis.

As caterpillars the ulysses butterfly also have many predators. For camouflage they are green in colour, with light coloured warning markings, and two white horns on their tales. The larvae feed on new growth foliage and will build a suspended cocoon from its host plants leaves about 4cms in length. Specific host plants include...

Common name | Scientific Name
Pink Princess | Corkwood Melicope Elleryana
Yellow Euodia | Melicope Bonwickii
Northern Euodia | Melicope Vitiflora
Little Euodia | Melicope Rubra
Fuzzy Lemon Aspen | Acronychia Vestita
Silver Ash Flindersia | Bourjotiana
Glasswood | Geijera Salicifolia
Kerosine | Wood Halfordia Kendack

The caterpillars will also accept foliage from citrus trees such as lemon and orange.

The open image of the Ulysses butterfly is an icon of Far North Queensland. It has become a flagship for promoting tourism, a must see in the wild, and the marketing symbol for Dunk Island Resort. There is not considered any need for conservational concern at this stage, however commercial captive breeding would alleviate any concerns in regard to taking specimens from the wild.

Hopefully for a long time yet you can imagine these butterflies as the dancing illuminating little fairies of our forests, and next time you catch a glimpse, see if you are quick enough to grab a photo as they pounce away on their brilliant blue path.

The Kookaburra
By Jamie Harbord

Hearing the Laughing Jackass (as it was once known as) in full voice is one of the most extraordinary and iconic experiences of the Australian bush, something even locals cannot ignore, and tourists relish. In Port Douglas, the kookaburra can more commonly be heard and seen around Craiglee & the southern end of Four Mile Beach, although it is not unusual to see them around town.

Kookaburras have some very interesting characteristics, and have evolved some puzzling, yet scientifically intriguing ways of rearing their young.

They are the largest of the kingfishers, and may live for up to 20 years, although like many kingfishers they dont actually fish. Kookaburras hunt from a perch, and pounce down on their prey. Although they feed mainly on insects, their diet also consists of small mammals, birds and rodents, lizards, frogs, and most famously, snakes. They get all the moisture they need from their food.

This superbly vocal bird has been made famous by Hollywood, used in jungle scenes from Africa to the Amazon. In the natural world it uses its boisterous call in greetings, courtships, and most spectacularly to demarcate territories in mass laughing battles. The call starts with a low hiccupping chuckle, then, the bird throws its head back into a raucous laugh.

If you've noticed more kookaburras recently it's because they've just started their breeding season, becoming more vocal in courting and defending territories. They live in family groups with the senior pair only breeding and offspring from the previous few years helping with all parenting duties, a characteristic in the animal world normally only seen by us and other primates.

Nesting occurs in tree hollows or in holes made in white ant (arboreal termite) mounds. Normally 2-3 eggs are laid, one a day; therefore also hatching 24 hours apart. When food supplies are low the last egg laid will be smaller and the chick will be killed and eaten by its siblings.

All Kookaburras develop bare spots of skin on their breasts for heat transfer to eggs and all the family help with incubation. In a good season, within an established family system, a second clutch will be laid and the auxiliary birds will completely take over raising the first clutch.

These family living units also help lay claim to Kookaburras being regarded as highly intelligent amongst the birds. One story Ive heard takes this a step further to suggest emotions and even calculated revenge.

A friend witnessed a tree goanna raid a Kookaburras nest. Two days later the goanna was chased up a tree by dogs and while distracted by the dogs one of the Kookaburras seized the opportunity to get even. The Kookaburra swooped and with a single blow from its massive beak, pierced the centre of the goannas skull, leaving it to fall to the ground dead.