Lying 2000 km north of Brisbane, this erstwhile goldfields port created from a vast swamp, is one of the premier cities of Australia today. For those interested in visiting Northern Queensland, Cairns is the perfect starting point. Apart from that, it serves as the gateway to the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Cairns is home to a large rainforest region, having some of the most incredible flora and fauna to be found anywhere else in the world. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that hordes of nature lovers are drawn to Cairns, not only because of the wildlife found here, but due to the proximity with the Reef.
The tropical rainforests of Australia beckon you next summer to experience an aerial adventure like no other, as you glide over the canopies and waterfalls to view the denizens of the wild. If you have limited time in Australia, Queensland has it all. An ideal seven day itinerary has been planned out for you to discover this exotic region, before you are guided to the spectacular coral wonder world of the Great Barrier Reef.
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Ultimate Summertime Cairns Itinerary
There is no better way to begin your summer sojourn to Cairns with an early morning stroll along the Esplanade Boardwalk. The Esplanade is 3 km long starting from the Holiday Inn to the Lagoon. Along the boardwalk, there are ample signs displaying vital tourist information about the city and other attractions.
Your next stop would be the Botanical Gardens, one of the most popular sights of Cairns. Located 5 km away from the center of the city, the garden houses approximately 4000 species of plants. Free guided walks are conducted daily to take you to the important spots which showcase the flora and fauna of the Queensland coast.
After lunch, head to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park where you can experience the aboriginal culture of Australia, dating back to nearly 40,000 years. The trip involves an hours theatrical presentation, which incorporates dances and audience interaction.
A short drive away is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which takes around 2 hours to explore. The cable car ride here is a truly unforgettable trip which shows the World Heritage listed tropical forests of Australia, the oldest surviving in the world. The 7.5 km ride passes through four stations, where one can hop off and on, while exploring the rainforest at leisure.
Culminate the first day of your exciting trip with a visit to the Northern Beaches, that stretch for 26 km from Cairns. All the beaches have restaurants and shopping centers, apart from other attractions. Boarding the Sunbus from Cairns is the best way to see all the beaches, except the furthest Ellis beach which is largely undeveloped.
Explore the largely untouched forest of the Daintree Rainforest National Park which lies an hour’s drive from Cairns. Named after the Australian geologist Richard Daintree, the area has extraordinary diversity and 7% of the bird species in the country can be found here.
In the afternoon head to Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas where visitors can walk on elevated boardwalks to view the animals below and the birds high up in the canopies.
The Kuranda Koala Gardens is where you will spend the early hours interacting with koalas and other animals. The garden also has a unique walk through Snake House, from where one can view reptiles from very close quarters.
A one minute walk will take you to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary which houses the largest free-flying aviary in the southern hemisphere. There are 2000 species of butterflies which are reared here and can be visited during the 30 minutes guided tour conducted throughout the day.
Five minutes drive by car will bring you to the Rainforestation Nature Park which is spread over 100 acres. The park gives an insight on the local flora and fauna, by way of a conducted Army Duck tour.
Your fourth day in Cairns should be saved for the best. The Kuranda Scenic Railway journey involves a total time of three hours, starting from Cairns and ending 37 km away at Kuranda. Enroute, travellers can experience great views of the Macalister Range and rainforest type vegetation. There are different classes to choose from, all provided with a running commentary and other services.
You can spend the afternoon at the Wildlife Dome under which a natural jungle setting has been created. Below the dome, visitors can freely mingle with birds and get up close with snakes, lizards and other reptiles. Animal presentations and educational activities continue all through the day.
No trip to Cairns is complete without a visit to the World Heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef. Take a vessel from the Marlin Jetty in Cairns which will bring you to the first reef site in about two hours. A glass bottom boat tour is the highlight of this trip. Visit the second pristine reef location and discover the breathtaking wonders by yourself, before you arrive back in Cairns by early evening.
Today take a special journey through the scenic Atherton Tablelands. Walk through the rolling hills and the dry plains in the Wet Tropics Rainforest. This place is the site of the largest tree, the Kauri Pine, and affords great chances to see different wildlife. The amazing 500 year old strangler fig tree can also be found here. A visit to the live dairy farm to learn about cheese making will be a massive highlight to the trip for any cheese lovers.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, experience the rush of skydiving over the Barrier reef from 14,000 feet. This is the ultimate place to skydive, as it provides stunning views of the Reef and the adjacent rainforest.
An absolutely must do activity is scuba diving. This is the ultimate reef experience. Enjoy the warm waters and explore the coral reefs into the late afternoon.
Reef and rainforest are the principal factors that will enhance your trip to this region of Australia. There is no place on earth which offers such exhilarating adventures in such a short time.
There is so much to do in Cairns that it’s easy to spend even a month without running out of options. Just find a hotel in Cairns that fits your requirements, get comfortable and enjoy exploring this wonderful destination at leisure.