WELCOME TO CAIRNS
The Great Barrier Reef Drive takes you from the city to the jungle, but before you leave the city behiind you there's a few things to experience and explore without going too far. Cairns is surrounded by attractions on all sides, some very close like the Regional Gallery, Skyrail, Botanical Gardens and Tjapukai, others a bit further out like the reef, Mossman Gorge and the Daintree rain forest. If you are in Cairns on the weekend be sure to check out Rusty's Markets, lots of fresh fruit and vegies, arts and crafts, massage, and some good takeaway food too.
Cairns, the start of the Great Barrier Reef Drive
The city of Cairns is the hub where people arrive and depart to explore the far north but in the city there's a few things to do too. You can swim and soak up the sun at the huge lagoon on the Esplanade and use the free gas BBQs. There's the Regional Gallery just around the corner, and the Esplanade is packed with eateries, bars and the Night Markets have souvenirs and arts and crafts for sale. The Red Arrow Walk near the Botanical Gardens is a great place if you want to escape the justle and bustle of the city.
Skyrail & Kuranda Train
One of the closest and most popular attractions in Cairns is the Skyrail Cableway in to the rain forest clad hills to the village of Kuranda where you can browse the markets, eat and drink at the many cafes, go for a rain forest walk and see the Barron Falls flowing, or visit the Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary. This tour can also be done in reverse where you go up by train and come down the hill on the Skyrail.
Tjapukai Aboriginal Park
Discover the living history of Australia’s indigenous people at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Cairns. Immerse yourself in traditional Tjapukai culture and learn to play a didgeridoo, throw a spear and catch a boomerang. One of the world's oldest living cultures is brought to life by Aboriginal dance performances, storytelling and various interactive crafts and activities. Tjapukai will provide a unique insight into the traditional way of life as told by the Aboriginal people.
Escape to Fitzroy Island, a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef located only 45 minutes by high-speed ferry from Cairns. Relax on the beach, swim and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, take a glass-bottom boat tour – the choice is yours. The ocean and reef surrounding the island are protected as Marine National Park and are teeming with turtles, clown fish, hard and soft corals allowing a great snorkeling experience right off the beach.
Cruise to Green Island from Cairns and find a tropical paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. You'll spend either four or five hours at Green Island, with plenty of time to snorkel or scuba dive, tour the reef on a glass-bottom boat, enjoy a buffet lunch or view coral from a semi-submersible submarine. Green Island is 27 kilometers from Cairns, and you'll cruise there aboard an air-conditioned catamaran with spacious, luxurious cabins and decks.
Hot Air Ballooning
Hot air ballooning in north Queensland is a must do experience for your visit to Cairns. Be amazed at the balloon launching spectacle, start your day by watching the sun rise over the rolling hills of the majestic Atherton Tablelands. Float over ever changing panoramic landscapes – the variety is astonishing – outback to rainforest in one sweeping view. Door to door transfers from Cairns available.
Great Barrier Reef
You wouldn't go to Paris and not go and see the Eiffel Tower, and in the same way you can not go to north Queensland without at least one trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The three main places to go to the reef from are Cairns, Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. There is great variety in the reefs and the fish so if you have already been out from one place you will find you see new stuff if you go out again a second time.
The World Heritage listed Daintree National Park contains some of the oldest surviving rain forest in the world, and a visit to north Queensland is not complete without going here. To see it properly you need a few days and we recommend you rent a car and stay there a few days in some amazing rainforest accommodation but if your time is limited then book on a day tour because you simply have to see this!
Jungle Surfing in Cape Trib
There's a few ways to see the rain forest in north Queensland but the most exciting way is on a zipline in Cape Tribulation with Jungle Surfing. This day tour will pick you up from Cairns, stop at many scenic attractions along the way, show you the Daintree rain forest and give you the experience of jungle surfing the tree tops in the world's oldest rain forest in Cape Tribulation!
The Atherton Tablelands are up in the hills behind Cairns, a pleasant cool change in the summer. This area is packed with beautiful waterfalls, patches of rainforest, National Parks, lakes, an old volcano crater, and some massive trees many centuries old like the Cathedral Fig Tree and the Curtain Fig Tree. Depending on the tour you book you will be taken to waterfalls, historic villages,, farms, farms or wineries. Outside the rainforest areas there are fertile farming areas where they grow everything from vegies to exotic fruits to coffee and tobacco.
Paronella Park was built a long time ago by a Spanish immigrant with a passion for castles. You can see it on this ultimate Paronella Park tour - view in the daylight PLUS beautifully illuminated after dark. The tour includes entry to Mamu Tropical Skywalk's 37 meter rainforest viewing platform, an informative presentation and swim at the magnificent Josephine Falls; and Wildlife spotting - guaranteed to view wallabies. Full length tour is complete by choosing the Meal inclusive option with 5 mouth-watering dishes to choose from!
All entrance fees included too.
White Water Rafting
Go rafting on the the Tully River on this action packed full-day white water rafting adventure from Cairns! The Tully River rafting adventure, one of Australia's most popular rafting excursions, winds through World Heritage Rainforest and offers more than 45 rapids up to grade 4 IN up to 5 hours. The Tully River is Australia's best and most famous one-day white water rafting experience. It's North Queensland's ultimate white water, white knuckle adventure. The 140 km. drive to Tully is a scenic journey through coastal mountains and fields of sugar cane.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE?
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!
This drive takes you along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but make sure you hop on a boat from Port Douglas or Cape Tribulation too so you can immerse yourself in this amazing world of wild coloured coral and tropical fish.
THE DAINTREE RAIN FOREST!
While you can see some rain forest in various places along the drive you definitely have to cross the Daintree river to see the real ancient Daintree rain forest, do some of the National Park board walks, swim in the pristine creeks, or book a guided tour in Cape Tribulation to learn more about it.
You can see cassowaries in zoos around the world but meeting a cassowary in the wild is an experience not to be forgotten. This ancient flightless bird has been walking the planet ever since all continents were still joined together as one and dinosaurs roamed the earth. The cassowary is listed as endangered but has been making a good comeback, and there is a fair chance you will see one in the Daintree if you spend a few days there.
LOTS OF BEACHES!
If you love the beach then you will love the Great Barrier Reef Drive, there are dozens of stunning beaches to explore along the way, just in the Daintree there's ten of them already, and even in the busy season there is a good chance you will find one all to yourself.
LOTS OF OTHER STUFF!
What ever you can imagine, you will find it along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Exotic fruit wines, hang gliding, home made icecream, crocodiles, rainforest sculpture trail, tea, insect museum, cassowaries crossing the road, massage, jungle surfing, Aboriginal culture tours, helicopter rides, More info added soon on the multitude of attractions and sights to see.