The Rainforest Area aims to display many of the rainforest plants typical of the subtropical rainforests of eastern Australia. These rainforests were once widespread along the coast from north Queensland to Victoria, but they have now been much reduced by land clearing.
Most of the rainforests of the Hunter Valley are of the Subtropical type and normally occur below 900m altitude, with Warm Temperate Rainforests at higher altitudes and Cool Temprate Rainforests confined to the high moist mountains of the Barrington Tops above 1200m. Dry Rainforests occur in lower rainfall areas, and/or on poorer soils and extend to the central parts of the Hunter Valley. Representatives of all of these types are in the Gardens' collection.
Other Australian rainforests include the Tropical and Monsoon Rainforests of northern Australia.
Cool Temperate Rainforests have the least diversity and are often dominated by a single species, whilst the Tropical Rainforests and to a lesser extent, the Subtropical Rainforests, are the most diverse and complex.