Tropical north Queensland:
- hot, humid climate all year but esp. humid, wet and cloudy in Summer with
risk of tropical cyclones hence Low Season, although the rain itself does
not usually interfere with most activities and usually wear light
"Summer clothes" such as shorts all year round.
- peak tourism season June-Oct while during the tropical cyclone-prone hot,
humid, very wet summer, many local businesses close for holidays elsewhere.
- access usually via the international airport at Cairns
which itself does not have any beaches of note.
- Great Barrier Reef
- tropical beaches:
- warm ocean waters year round but risk of potentially fatal stings from Box
Jellyfish which deters most from swimming in beaches in Summer,
preferring the resort swimming pools to cool down.
- sand flies can be a problem on the beach.
- tropical rainforests
- resorts esp. at Port Douglas
- Salt-Water (Estuarine) crocodiles inhabit many of the far north
- can be seen in the wild via boat cruises along the Daintree River in
Winter when they tend to sunbake on the banks, but during Summer, tend
to remain under-water.
- they are most active in Summer which is their mating and nesting
season - a dominant male will usually control 5-10km of river and
service all the breeding females in that region while ensuring other
males do not encroach his territory.
- in Winter, they go into semi-hibernation, usually not eating and just
- they are opportunistic eaters and usually avoid too much exertion in
getting or eating their food & thus prefer to eat fish & crabs
rather than large animals that require much jaw work such as cattle or
humans, although they will take these if the opportunity avails itself.
- Do NOT swim in waters inhabited by these crocodiles which may grow to
8m (males) and 3-4m (females).
- the great range of tropical fruit are generally at their peak Dec-Feb, by
Winter, local produce is limited.
Port Douglas Four Mile Beach sunrise rainbow - typical wet
start with the south-easterlies bringing showers
- Captain James Cook gave the future site of Cairns only a sideways
glance when he sailed past in 1770 and it was more than a century before
the discovery of gold in the region saw a major settlement established
in 1876. Large numbers of fortune-seekers were enticed to leave their
homes in Europe, the British Isles, Malaysia and China and head for
- The allure of gold led to remarkable achievements as men and
pack-horses forged supply routes over the steep, forested range to the
hinterland. The Barron River also formed part of the transport routes
until railways were built to service the goldfields and later, the
development of tin, copper and coal mines.
- Within a decade, mining and the development of the cattle and timber
industries were all contributing to a booming economy. Cleared areas on
the Tableland and the fertile coastal strip were farmed to provide
sugar, rice, vegetables and fruit for local and southern markets, and
Cairns became the premier town of the north.
- property development progressed rapidly in the late 1980's and 1990's
following the completion of the International Airport in ~C1984 which
was locally funded
- Cairns is now a popular destination for backpackers
- The Great Barrier Reef
- The Gulf Savannah & the Outback:
- Located to the west and north of Cairns, this country contains a
wealth of fascinating geological and cultural features including the
Undara lava tubes, extensive Aboriginal rock art sites, and
eco-tourism options. Major events like the Laura Aboriginal Dance
and Cultural Festival attract international media attention and are
generating a greater appreciation of the very sophisticated culture
of Australia’s original inhabitants.
- the historic Kuranda scenic railway:
- 34km, 100 minute journey from Cairns to Kuranda
on the edge of the Atherton Tableland, passes through 15 tunnels
& passes across 30 high bridges on a track created in a
tremendous engineering feat between 1882 & 1891. Rises 328m as
it chugs through the Barron Gorge National Park, thick with World
Heritage-listed rainforest, waterfalls & ravines.
- departs Cairns twice daily fares cost $50 return or $125 return
for a family (can get RACV discounts) with trains leaving Cairns
~8.30am and leave Kuranda ~3.30pm at which time most of the shops
close in Kuranda.
- Skyrail Rainforest Cableway -
~2.5hrs return trip with stops every 45min en route to Kuranda.
- Cairns Convention Centre
- Tjapukai Aboriginal
Cultural Theme Park
- Paradise Palms golf course
- The Pier marketplace
- 4-5 star hotels:
- colonial architecture, 5 star luxury, close to Reef Casino,
private balconies, great views, swimming pools
- $220/n; 5 min walk to convention centre; 16 story;
- Radisson Plaza Hotel:
- on the wharf; rainforest lobby is complemented by a stunning
Great Barrier Reef aquarium;
- private balconies; swimming pool; near the Lagoon swimming
- $198/n or $222/n with water view; 8 min walk to convention
- adjoins the 24hr casino; rooftop swimming pool; in-room spa
- $227-327/n; 5 min walk to convention centre;
- Inn Cairns Boutique
- $135/n; 5-6 story; salt-water pool; near shops; 7 min walk to
- The Lakes Resort:
- 2 storey apartment style resort; 3 swimming pools; massage;
tennis; near Botanic Gardens; 4km from CBD;
- Pacific International
- $145/n; 10-11 story; 7 min walk to convention centre; private
balconies; pool; opp. casino;
- $145-175/n; 7 story; 10 min walk to convention centre; pool;
- Il Centro Apartment Suites:
- $150/n; south-west of CBD 2 min walk to convention centre;
close to train station;
- 38 suites; pool;
- Oasis Resort:
- $180/n; ~8 story; 314 rooms; 2 ha tropical gardens, stunning
pool with own sandy beach; 12 min walk to convention centre;
- Outrigger Cairns resort:
- $190 1br & $280 2br apartments; 6 story; opposite the
Lagoon swimming pool; near Oasis
- Club Crocodile Hides Hotel:
- $115/n; 3 star motel style;
- Cairns International Airport
- Marlin Coast Sunbus:
- infrequent (hrly and 2hrly on w/end), often late, sometimes
- separate bus routes from Cairns to:
- Holloways Beach & Yorkey's Knob (ie. it ain't easy to
get from Holloway's Beach to Palm Cove by bus)
- Trinity Beach
- Palm Cove
- The largest coral reef system in the world which includes 2,900 individual
reefs and 900 islands over a distance of more than 2,000 kilometres. It
encompasses an area of 350,000 square kilometres – an area greater than
the United Kingdom or half the size of Texas – and is recognised
internationally as the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.
- a large number of cruises cater for those wishing to see the Reef by
- glass-bottom boat (eg. Green Island where you see wide range of
corals, small & large fish schools including Bat Fish, sea turtles,
- semi-submersible boat (eg. Green Island)
- snorkeling - beginners should try Green Island, good swimmers
accompanied by a swimming adult can try the richer, more colourful outer
- turbulence due to strong winds will not only create more difficult
conditions due to waves but increase the turbidity of water
- consider going early morning before winds pick up.
- walking the reef in special oxygen helmets (eg. Green Island) -
suitable for non-swimmers
- scuba diving
- see official website for the Great
North of Cairns:
- 11km (20min) north of Cairns by bus;
- small settlement on a beach with a couple of restaurants, a newsagent
and a bottle shop
- Trinity Beach:
- located only 15-20 minutes north of Cairns, Trinity beach is a local
favourite. With it’s beautiful sweeping coconut palm fringed beach and
selection of restaurants and cafes, including one of the finest Italian
restaurants in the region
- taxi from Airport $30, from Cairns CBD $35; local bus to cairns $4;
Airport Bus $12.50;
- accommodation (all have swimming pools, A/C, ceiling fans):
- Kewarra Beach:
- 20min north of cairns
- Kewarra beach Resort - $205-429/n on wotif.com
incl. return airport transfers; waterfall spa; Kuda Meta swimming pool
- Paradise Palms Golf Course - world-renown championship golf course
- Palm Cove:
- tropical beach resort village -expensive
- Blazing Saddles horse riding
- Cairns Tropical Zoo
- Outback Opal Mine
- tropical beach resort village far north Qld, approx. 68km or 1 hr
coastal drive north of Cairns
- avg. temperatures: Summer (Oct-Apr): 29-33degC & very humid, wet
(esp. Dec-Apr); Winter (Apr-Oct): 25-29degC, humid, low rainfall;
- port allows commercial boats to pick up passengers for snorkelling and
scuba diving to the the Great Barrier Reef, including the richest areas
near the Continental Shelf such as Agincourt Reef.
- founded in 1877 as a bustling town gripped by gold rush fever but soon
became a sleepy hollow when the gold rush faded, with it becoming a port
for the local sugar industry from 1904. Much of the town was devastated
by a cyclone in 1911.
- Marina Mirage retail centre.
- Rainforest Habitat
- Hartley's Crocodile
Adventures (25km south) - wetland boat rides;
- Flames of the Forest - candlelit dinner amongst the rainforest streams
- Sky Safari helicopter tours
of the reef
Daintree Village - the end of the sealed road.
Mossman Gorge rainforest walk
Port Douglas Four Mile Beach
Port Douglas Four Mile Beach
- picturesque town at the foothills is the region's sugar capital.
- Mossman Gorge is 5min east
- horseriding on nearby Wonga Beach
- Sugar Mill
- Silky Oaks Lodge & Day
Spa 20min from Port Douglas, set on the edge of the Daintree
N.P. & boasts its Treehouse Restaurant
of north Queensland:
- World Heritage-listed because of their natural and cultural
significance, the Wet Tropics have been described as containing “an
almost complete record of the major stages in the evolution of plant
life on earth.” At points north of Cairns the rainforest meets the
reef in a rare conjunction of two unique natural environments. The
northern forests are home to the Casowary
- Mossman Gorge:
- 5km from Mossman township, this is a steep-sided valley with
crystal clear water of the Mossman River tumbling over smooth
granite boulders amongst several types of forest.
- 2.7km loop easy walking track follows the bank of the river from the
car park and passes through tropical rainforest, but the rest of the park is inaccessible except to
well-equipped, experienced bushwalkers.
- the river is used by many to swim as it is very inviting in the
clear water amongst the granite boulders but drownings have occurred
- brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly in common & you may see the
green & black Cairns birdwing (the female, with no green, is
Australia's largest butterfly).
- Daintree Village
- a base for the Daintree Rainforest, 38km north of Port Douglas
- Daintree Mangroves Wildlife Sanctuary
- Daintree River Cruises:
- female and young crocodiles usually seen lazing on banks in
Winter, but may be hard to find in Summer when they are more
- tree snakes usually easily seen
- learn of the different trees & plants and how important
mangroves are for the environment in providing food sources for
- Bruce Belcher's 1hr crocodile cruise
- Nice n
Easy Cruises 1.5hr cruises - must book!
- Billy Tea Bush safaris
- Gary's Safaris
- Daintree River vehicle ferry - make sure you check times
- Daintree Discovery Centre
- 25m Canopy Tower; 30min drive north of Daintree village & 10km
north of the vehicle ferry.
- Daintree Rainforest River Train
- Daintree National Park:
- the Daintree rainforests are the oldest in the world, some 120-200
million years old (the Amazon rainforest is 7 million years old), it
is one of the most bio-diverse regions in Australia, and has the
most primitive flowering plants in the world.
- Cape Tribulation:
- pristine rainforest beach where coral reefs can be seen where the
rainforest reaches the sea.
- annual rainfall 4500mm (180") !!
- exotic fruit tasting &
farm tour everyday at 4pm, must book!
- Ferntree and Coconut Beach
- the end of the sealed road 30km north of Daintree village - the
road north to Cooktown may require 4WD and passes through the towns
of Ayton & Helenvale
- Alexandra Range, Niau Falls
- named after Capt Cook as he repaired his ship The Endeavour there in
- established in 1873 as a port for the Palmer River goldfields which
flourished from 1873-late 1880's.
- survives as an historic area and district centre
- 235km north of Cairns but unsealed road in north part
- Thursday Island:
- Qld's most northerly administrative centre, lying on the tip of Cape
York Peninsula in the Torres Strait.
- a colourful outpost with Europeans in the minority amongst the native
islanders, Malays, Polynesians, Chinese & Japanese
West of Cairns:
- rainforest cultural village accessible by car, SkyRail, or the historic
scenic railway hand-built in 1891 winding up the edge of the Barren
River Gorge, through tunnels and over numerous bridges.
- Kuranda markets open Wed, Th, F & Sat.
- the many tourist shops & eat-in food places close 3.30pm
coinciding with train leaving for Cairns.
- Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
- Birdworld - 70 species of free flying birds
- Kuranda rainforest is only 40,000yrs old.
- Granite Gorge - pretty little gorge with a weir & lots of wild
wallabies to feed, ~$12 per car entry and only ~10min easy drive
- Platypus Park
- Lake Tinaroo
- Lake Barrine
- Cathedral Fig Tree
- Mt Hypipamee National Park - great birdwatching
- $390/2n; elevated romantic luxury cabins surrounded by bush
with sweeping views & spas;
Lakes rainforest cottages:
- $190/n; 500m from shore of lake Eacham, encircled by
rainforest; 10min by car from Yungaburra township;
- southern aspect (west of Innisfail):
- Millaa Millaa Falls - the classic northern Qld waterfall
surrounded by tropical butterflies
- Mungalli Falls
South of Cairns: