Tropical North Queensland has such an abundance of treasures that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Of course, we all know that it’s the place where rainforest meets the reef, but what does that mean for you, exactly? Happily, our friends at Tourism & Events Queensland have developed a handy guide to help you find your paradise in TNQ, and it all begins with what type of traveller you are.
Are you constantly in search of the next adrenalin rush, or prefer to lie flat on the sand and stare at the sky? Do you plan everything down to the last detail or prefer to hit the open road and see where it leads?
Perhaps all you want is a new experience or to never stray too far from the sea. Check out the personality types below to hone your perfect TNQ holiday.
If adrenalin is your rush of choice, Tropical North Queensland has you covered. Take the plunge at AJ Hackett at Cairns by bungy jumping in the rainforest or ride the giant Minjin Jungle Swing. From Cairns, catch the Fitzroy Fast Cat to Fitzroy Island, where you can trek through the rainforest to the summit, for views all the way to the Great Barrier Reef.
Makes you want to jump in, right? Then head to the outer reef and dive to your heart’s content on an overnight live-aboard boat. Feeling that natural high? It’s about to get higher with a hot-air balloon ride over the Atherton Tablelands. Sunrise never looked so good.
If you like nothing better than an open road, a shortage of plans, and the wind in your hair, get your motor running and point your 4WD to Australia’s northernmost spot, Cape York. This untamed wilderness offers red Outback roads, tricky creek crossings, and stunning waterfalls, with country pubs and ancient rock art peppered along the way.
You’ll pass by two World-Heritage listed wonders – the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, which includes the Daintree Rainforest, and that little thing called the Great Barrier Reef. If all that’s a little too rugged for you, head instead to the Atherton Tablelands for tasty food trails, historic villages and a waterfall circuit that will soothe your soul.
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Must-see sights: Road Trippin' Tropical North Queensland
Ladies & Indulgentlemen
OK, so getting active is not for you. There’s no shame in that. In fact, if rejuvenation and relaxation – and some good old fashioned gourmet indulgence – is your idea of a holiday, go north, my friend.
First of all, get a taste for the region with a trip to Rusty’s Markets in Cairns, where you’ll find loads of tropical fruit, and more. Up on the Tablelands, grab a cuppa at Kuranda Rainforest Coffee, made with locally grown beans roasted on site.
Find time to unwind at a Palm Cove day spa; then browse the boutiques in Port Douglas. For the ultimate indulgence, take a helicopter flight over the reef, and set down on a secluded cay for a picnic with your toes curled in the sand.
If you make it your mission to live in the moment, and return with nothing more than stories to tell, you’ll find beautiful memories in the tropics. Search out the elusive and endangered cassowary in the rainforests of Mission Beach; dive into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to come eye to eye with a giant grouper; and walk with an Indigenous elder to understand the rich cultural heritage of the Kuku Yalanji people at Mossman Gorge. Or head into Gulf Savannah country to step back in time at the Undara Lava Tubes – among the largest and longest on the planet – walking through tunnels created by volcanic activity 190,000 years ago.
Mermaids & Mermen
Water babies be warned – you may never want to leave. The Great Barrier Reef is sure to float your glass-bottomed boat, and then there’s scuba diving, snorkelling, and just generally being in the swim.
But did you know there are watery wonders inland, as well? You can try Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Mossman River, kayak Cape Tribulation, or take a boat cruise on the Daintree River. And then there are all those rainforest waterfalls. For the beach bums, head north of Cairns to Yorkey’s Knob, Trinity Beach or Palm Cove – but don’t forget your stinger suit, and keep a sharp eye for crocs and sharks!
Top Ten Tripper
You don’t miss a trick, do you? Nor should you. Uber planners make the most of every holiday, and this is a holiday with the most.
Get ready to check some (or all) of these off your list: diving and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef; white-water rafting on the Tully River; walking in the Daintree Rainforest; riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway past Barron Falls up to Kuranda (don’t miss the markets there), and gliding back down in the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Then there’s sky diving and hot air ballooning; four-wheel driving; camping on the Atherton Tablelands, walking the sands of Cape Tribulation. Oh, and eating the region’s delicious produce. The list is endless ...