To explore the evolutionary consequences of climate-induced fluctuations in distribution of rainforest habitat we contrasted demographic histories of divergence among three lineages of Australian rainforest endemic skinks. The red-throated rainbow skink, Carlia rubrigularis, consists of morphologically indistinguishable northern and southern mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages that are partially reproductively isolated at their parapatric boundary. The third lineage (C. rhomboidalis) inhabits rainforests just to the south of C. rubrigularis, has blue, rather than red-throated males, and for mtDNA is more closely related to southern C. rubrigularis than is northern C. rubrigularis. Multigene coalescent analyses supported more recent divergence between morphologically distinct lineages than between morphologically conservative lineages. There was effectively no migration and therefore stronger isolation between southern C. rubrigularis and C. rhomboidalis, and low unidirectional migration between morphologically conservative lineages of C. rubrigularis. We found little or no evidence for strong differences in effective population size, and hence different contributions of genetic drift in the demographic history of the three lineages. Overall the results suggest contrasting responses to long-term fluctuations in rainforest habitats, leading to varying opportunities for speciation.