Keen to take the family on a tropical adventure to a faraway land? You know, where there’s lush rainforests and waterfalls, white sandy beaches, endless swimming spots, and of course, cocktails by the pool for mum and dad? You can stop dreaming about a distant paradise and leave your passports at home, because a sensational city in far north Queensland has all this and more.
Cairns is a fun-filled wonderland like no other and is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef , ancient rainforests, spectacular gorges, exotic wildlife, nature drives and beachfront dining. Not to mention the unlimited supply of family-friendly good times. And best of all, it’s right here on our doorstep. Here are our top eight adventures for you and your little ones in magnificent Cairns:
1. Skyrail to heaven
You can’t take the kids to Cairns without doing the Skyrail. Take a 90-minute cable carriage journey over endless pristine, World Heritage-listed rainforest and enjoy breathtaking ocean and mountainous views of the surrounding region. The journey takes you to the vibrant town of Kuranda where you can enjoy lunch and visit a butterfly farm and koala sanctuary, before taking the famous Kuranda Scenic train back to Cairns.
2. Road trip to Port Douglas
If the kids are old enough to enjoy the view, the ocean drive from Cairns to Port Douglas is one of the country’s best. Head there in May for Port Douglas Carnivale when the town comes alive with music, performers, fresh seafood, and there’s even a helicopter lolly drop. Yum!
3. Go back in time in the Tablelands
For those seeking a tree change, head an hour out of town to Atherton Tablelands to discover its rich history at the Historical Village Herberton. This charming little village will take you straight back to yesteryear as you walk through 50 original buildings (including a chemist, grocers, mechanic and jail). There’s also a museum, train rides and a blacksmith demonstration. Be sure to stop at Bakerville Tearooms for scrumptious homemade pies and scones.
More travel tips from an insider. A Local's Guide To Cairns
Driving routes in TNQ. Road Trippin' Tropical North Queensland
4. Be mooved at Atherton
Do not leave Atherton until you have visited Gallo Dairyland, a fully operational dairy farm featuring a gourmet cheese and chocolate factory. Kids will love watching the cows being milked, patting farm animals and seeing how cheese is made. Then you can relax at the cafe and feast on as much chocolate and cheese as you want. Bring an empty tummy for this one.
5. Strawberry fields forever
Not far from the dairy farm, between Atherton and the historic Township of Yungaburra is Shaylee Strawberry Farm where you can pick your own strawberries. The rich, red volcanic soil and weather conditions make this the perfect spot to cultivate large delicious, juicy strawberries. For the sweetest strawberries make sure you head there between July and November.
6. Dreamtime magic in the Daintree
Mossman Gorge is at the southern end of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, and is a must for swimming, nature walks and introducing the little ones to indigenous culture. Take the Dreamtime Gorge Walk where you will be welcomed with a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony,which wards off nasty spirits. Hear stories of culture and traditions before meandering through pristine rainforest trying traditional bush foods and learning how to make bush soap and ochre paints. Then it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy some bush tea and heavenly damper.
7. Splashtastic fun on the Esplanade
Tuckered out from all your exploring? Muddy's playground on Cairns Esplanade is a must and the kids go crazy here – plus it’s free! Muddy's is a modern splash playground and parklands, which incorporates interactive and educational play. The playground’s theme is ‘Life in Trinity Bay’ and includes storytelling areas, a flying fox, sound chimes, track ride, rope bridge, slides, play houses, see-saw and puzzle games. There’s barbecues and picnic tables, so be sure to take supplies and make a day of it.
8. Have an indigenous encounter
Tjapukai Aboriginal Centre is one of Cairns’ biggest attractions, and is a modern, vibrant and engaging village boasting theatres, gallery and a bush tucker-inspired restaurant. Meet a real warrior, learn how to throw a spear and boomerang, and have a go at the didgeridoo. At night the centre livens up for Nightfire, where you can join the Tjapukai warriors for a corroboree celebrating Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and learn traditional language songs, before the ceremonial fire is lit (think: fire ball shooting towards the stars). So cool!