Location Spotlight: Cairns & Hinterland

Aerial view of Cairns

4.5 minute read

The very place you think of when you hear “tropical Queensland”, Cairns and its hinterland sit high up in the country for good reason. 

Whatever experience you’re chasing, this city knows no shortage of culture and natural scapes to immerse yourself in. Make your way through the city and check out where locals eat.  

Once you’re settled, hop in your car and add these 7 things to your list of things to do in Cairns! Prepare some wholesome snacks and your favourite tunes as you make our way towards the must-see sights. 

Stop 1: Cairns Botanic Gardens

Situated a conveniently short distance from the airport, you could even touch down and make your way here as the first major pitstop!

Prep your senses with a walk through a tranquil world of flora and fauna; collections of orchids, exotic flowers and pathways of plants are ready to greet you on the ground or towering above you.  

Perfect for taking it easy and resetting, they’re open every day from 7:30am to 5:30pm. Stop by one of their cafes for a bite, and try a guided walking tour through the garden.

Bird lovers, bring your binoculars and hiking shoes on Tuesdays for the bird watching walking tour at 8:30am!  

Stop 2: Skyrail Forest Cableway

Once you’ve settled in and explored a few local businesses and beaches, prepare your backpack and hat, and make your way to the Skyrail Forest Cableway.

Nestle yourself in a cable car and watch yourself slowly rise above the mist, revealing the grandeur of the oldest rainforest in the world.  

Or, add an extra route that’s just as scenic, with the Kuranda Scenic Railway. From the tops of the trees to the forest floor, it’s the perfect preview of how rich the Cairns Hinterland is.

P.S: They even have an interactive online map to help you plan your tour! Check out RN Gem’s amazing capture of this place. 

Stop 3: Atherton Tablelands

Fuel up the car and stock up your supplies, and head southwest on a 3-and a half hour scenic drive towards Atherton.

This town is the perfect, peaceful spot for solitude! Home to grand waterfalls, hiking trails for all energy levels, there’s a whole bunch of activities sure to fill your day up to the brim.  

Plenty of maps are provided for newcomers, some themed with the best paths to take if you’re interested in food trails, geological hotspots, or museums and galleries! 

Stop 4: Fitzroy Island

Time to head from lush, deep greenery, to the fresh, salty ocean islands. Hop on the Fitzroy Flyer for a 45-minute trip into the calm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Take your shoes off when you land on this island, and make the sports hub a priority for your diving, paddle boarding and kayaking.  

Here, the early bird catches the fish. For angler-happy folk, get picked up by the Reef Fishing Charter at 6:30am, where they take you towards Cairns reef and cast your line out for some sizeable snapper or barramundi! 

Stop 5: Port Douglas – Flames of the Forest

Time for another road trip! About a 1-hour drive north, Port Douglas has everything you could ever want for the ultimate showcase of the Great Barrier Reef.

Drive along the coastline from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, timed for a sunrise or sunset drive for maximum appreciation.

When dusk hits, get a taste and deepened cultural experience at Flames of the Forest. Packed with dishes to excite the palette, you will enrich your knowledge about the land through stories and music from the Aboriginal people.

Stop 6: Daintree River Cruises

Time for an adrenaline rush of croc spotting as you head 48 minutes inland, towards Daintree River!

Expect a mix of croc feeding, and education on their sustainability and preserving these ancient creatures. You’ll also absorb some valuable education and newfound respect for the rainforest and its residents.

Stop 7: The Great Barrier Reef

It wouldn’t be a trip to Queensland if it was without a visit to the one and only Great Barrier Reef!

Worth a day to itself, marvel at the sight of its blue hues and legendary sea life. It’s the world’s largest coral reef system, stretching over 2,300km and home to a third of the world’s coral species and nearly 5,000 marine & mammal species. 

Pick from a sky tour around the brightest aqua Heart Reef, or an underwater dive with turtles and coral through Hastings Reef!

P.S: Did you know you can volunteer on the Great Barrier Reef? You could work on the beachside and rehabilitate a turtle one day and get amongst coral health the next, learning about conservation efforts! 

Cairns is the ultimate stop in tropical Queensland to relax and unwind in charming and beautiful surroundings.

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