Cairns Australia: A Guide to Your Cairns Holiday Travel
When my husband and I decided to visit Australia, our major focus was to visit the Great Barrier Reef. So, obviously, Cairns became one of our travel hubs. We did a lot of reasearch about Cairns in preparation for our travel. So I thought of sharing the information we gathered with the readers of this blog.
Cairns is a must-visit if you are traveling to the Oz.
This colorful city, located in far North Queensland. It is your gateway to the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, the historic 110-million year old Daintree and the marvelous Kuranda. Aside from tourism, Cairns also has a lot of agricultural activities such as sugarcane, banana, tropical fruits and tropical vineyards.
From Cairns, there are also coach services that operate between Cairns and Brisbane, via Townsville and Rockhampton, on a daily basis. The two large coach service providers are Greyhound Australia (www.greyhound.com.au) and Premier Motor Service (www.premierms.com.au). There are also smaller coach services: the Coral Reef Coaches (www.coralreefcoaches.com.au), Sun Palm Transport (www.sunpalmtransport.com) and Country Road Coachlines (www.countryroadcoachlines.com.au) are among the smaller ones that run from Cairns to the North to places such as Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and Cooktown.
Airport information: Cairns International Airport (CNS) is the Cairns airport (www.cairnsport.com.au/airport)
Great Barrier Reef:
This natural wonder is the largest coral reef system in the world. It stretches over 2600 km (1600 miles) and covers about 344, 400 square miles (133, 000 square miles). It is made of over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands. Several tour companies provide services to take you to enjoy the marvels of the great ecosystem (http://www.great-barrier-reef.com/; http://www.quicksilver-cruises.com/; http://www.reeftrip.com/)
Kuranda Scenic Rail (KSR): (www.ksr.com.au)
This amazing scenic railway line is over 115 years old and is about 35 km long. It runs from Cairns to the nearby town of Kuranda.
As it takes you from Cairns to Kuranda, it lulls you through the lush tropical rainforest, woshes you past several waterfalls, carries you over 40 bridges, winds you through 15 tunnels and several awesome curves. You will get a breath-taking view of the Barron Falls when the Kuranda rail cuts through the Barron Gorge National Park and stops at the lookout. During the trip you also get to hear a detailed commentary of the railway’s construction .
Train schedule: It is advisable to book your tickets in advance.
Trains leave Cairns Station at 8:30 AM and 9:30 AM daily; and return from Kuranda daily at 2:00 PM and 3:30 PM daily. Passengers are also picked up en route from Freshwater Station. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to reach Kuranda from Cairns. For rates please visit www.ksr.com.au.
Skyrail is supposed to be the world’s most beautiful rainforest experience – an amazing 7.5 km thrilling Gondola ride over Australia’s historic World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforest canopy and deep into the forest. These are the most botanically diverse areas on earth.
Gondolas depart Skyrail’s Caravonica Terminal.
The Caravonica Terminal is located just 15 minutes drive from Cairns city. You can drive yourself to this terminal. Or, coach transfers to this terminal are also available from most Cairns locations.
A one-way Skyrail ride experience will take approximately 90 minutes. The trip consists of three travel legs. From the Caravonica Terminal the Skyrail will wisk you to the Red Peak Station in about 10 minutes (2.7 km). Here you can take a rainforest boardwalk. After about 20 – 30 minutes the Skyrail will take you another 3.1 km in about 15 minutes, to the Barron Falls Station. You will get about 30 minutes to enjoy the lookouts, historical displays and the rainforest interpretation center. Then you hop on the Gondola for the last leg – about a 10 minutes 1.7 km ride to the Kuranda terminal.
Bowling Green Bay National Park: (http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park/index.cgi?parkid=143)
This is the largest coastal park in the region; it covers 55, 300 hectares. It is located 28 km South of Townsville. The park is open daily from 06:30 AM – 06:30 PM; entry is free.
Great location for campers.
The Magnet Island is located about 8 km from Townsville; it has 23 beaches and bays. It has rugged landscape, and some of the beaches can be reached only by foot. You can see rugged granite boulders, hoop pines, eucalyptus trees and free-ranging kaola bears. Part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park also borders the island.
Most of the island is a National Park. It offers a wide range of convenient accommodations for visitors some of which are listed below.
Pure Magnet – http://www.puremagnetic.com/;
Best of Magnetic – http://www.bestofmagnetic.com/;
Bright Point Delux – http://www.brightpointdeluxe.com.au/;
Peppers Blue on Blue Resort – http://www.peppers.com.au/Blue-On-Blue;
Segara Villas – http://www.segara.com.au/;
Marguerites on Magnetic – http://www.margueritesonmagnetic.com.au/;
Champagne Apartments – http://www.champagneapartments.com/;
Island Leisure Resort – http://www.islandleisure.com.au/;
Kareeka Holiday Cottage – http://www.magnetic-island.com.au/kareeka.htm)
You can also catch ferry transport to the island (http://www.magnetic-island.com.au/sun-ferry.htm).
Museum of Tropical Queensland: (www.mtq.qm.qld.gov.au):
The Museum of Tropical Queensland is located in Townsville. It features a marvelous showcase of wide range of interactive exhibits. You can see exhibits of life in the tropics, interactive displays of unique flora and fauna of North Queensland, interactive displays of amazing sea creatures and much more. The Tropical Science Center is also a great attaction of the museum.
Cairns Wild World Tropical Zoo: (Link)
This is a locally owned operation, which is owned by the Freeman family. It is located over six hectares of land, on Captain Cook Highway at Palm Cove; about a 20-minute drive from Cairns city. Unlike traditional zoos, the Wild World Zoo, allows free intermingling of visitors with animals. You can touch, feed and pat the animals.
The zoo members include wombats, dingoes, kangaroos, koala bears, adders, pythons, reptiles such as varans, lizards and crocodiles. It also has trained birds such as eagles and owls. They try to keep the animals in an environment that simulates their natural home as closely as possible. The snakes are kept in glass cases.
The zoo has several shows such as the snake show, crocodile show and free flight bird show. So make sure to check the show timings before you go.
Daintree forest: (http://www.daintreerainforest.com/)
We took the one day Daintree trip organized by Billy Tea Safaris (www.billytea.com.au) from Cairns, Australia.
For our lunch we stopped at a rustic restaurant and met this friendly parrot called Barron. Please see the video below:
This World Heritage-listed oldest tropical rainforest is located about 2 hours North of Cairns, on Cook Highway. The Daintree is over 135-million years old. It is a Tarzan’s paradise.
A visit to the Daintree Rainforest will give you a wonderful outdoor experience of the untouched tropical rainforest. You can immerse yourself in the serenity of the golden beaches with calm water, the remote wilderness and thousands of species of birds and other wildlife. It is home to about 430 species of birds, including 13 species that are found nowhere else in the world.
If you are a wilderness-lover; it is a must-see. If enjoy spotting crocs and snakes, make sure to take a Daintree river tour. (Another haven for croc and snake lovers is the Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Adventures)
You can travel to Daintree from Cairns, or you can even plan a stay over at Daintree village (http://www.daintreevillage.asn.au/).
Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Adventures:
This is a crocodile farm located 40km North of Cairns, on the magnificent coastal drive between Palm Cove and Port Douglas. It is well-known for it best crocodile show in Australia. It also has other wildlife such as cassowaries, dingoes, snakes, koalas and lizards. (www.crocodileadventures.com)
The Esplande: (http://www.cairnsesplanade.com/story.html)
Talk about man-made marvels! The Cairns esplande is one such marvel that has transformed a muddy tidal swamp into a warm touristy sandy beach. It has a swimming lagoon, foreshore promenade, Fogarty Fountain Park, wide grassy areas, bikeway / walkway, jumping water jets, mangrove maze, pelican swings and many other attractions and activities.
Topless sunbathing is permitted in the esplande lagoon. But remember that full frontal nudity and topless beach volleyball / rugby / frisbee throwing are not permitted.