Cairns – Gateway to Tropical North Queensland

 In Tropical North Queensland

Cairns, in the heart of Queensland’s tropical north, is the hub from where many people start their incredible Tropical North Queensland experience.

Cairns’ central location offers brilliant access to the Great Barrier Reef and world heritage listed tropical rainforest. It’s also the start of the Savannah Way – 3,700 kilometres’ adventure drive that links Cairns with Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley.

The Esplanade is the city’s main attraction. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists take a leisurely stroll along its seaside boardwalk and saltwater swimming lagoon. Only a short drive north, discover Cairns’ northern beaches where you can swim, picnic, barbecue and let the kids run riot on the playgrounds.  Cairns has something to keep everyone entertained. Burn calories with a power walk along one of the many local beaches. Or just “kick back”, enjoy a guilt-free meal & cold drink and watch the world pass by.

Head for a local favourite that locals frequent to relax and escape a sizzling Queensland summer day. Crystal Cascades, on Cairns’ northern side, boasts some really beautiful swimming holes. The Cascades are a sequence of waterfalls leading (I nearly said cascading!) down to a fresh-water swimming hole.

Cool Waters Holiday Park, close to Crystal Cascades, is less than 10 minutes’ drive from Cairns. Pull up for a night or two and unwind in its tropical rainforest setting on the banks of its freshwater creek.



For an unforgettable evening, lose your inhibitions and experience Tjapukai with dinner and an Aboriginal cultural show. Meet the Djabugay people before they whip you off for a mysterious journey to explore their ancient Tjapukai culture. Step into their world and experience the thousand-year-old ceremonies they still proudly follow today.

Another “must-do” is the Kuranda Scenic Railway. It’s not called scenic for nothing. Book a single journey as the famous train elegantly winds its way from Cairns to Kuranda. Hang your head out the window and observe as the entire train crosses a bridge at the same time! Upgrade to Gold Class and enjoy complimentary food and beverages.

Kuranda has heaps to keep you there for a while. It’s popular for its quirky arts and craft shops and markets and boutique owner operated cafes. Check out Frog’s Restaurant where the quality is good and won’t leave you hungry!  Head to the butterfly aviary where you’ll find every colour flying silently around you.  Take in some amazing views as you drift a few metres above the rainforest canopy as you head back to Cairns via Skyrail. Use all of your five senses as you immerse yourself in an intimate and entertaining rainforest experience. Listen as your guide shares their backyard’s secrets. If you’re not too squeamish or aren’t vegetarian, snack on Green Tree Ants.

Cairns is well known as the entry to the incomparable Great Barrier Reef playground. But there’s so much more to do in the area than getting wet. It offers many “terra firma” experiences for every age and taste. You’ll need several days in the area to experience this natural paradise.

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Showing 7 comments
  • Kristy Harper

    Wow, this sounds amazing. I’m flying to Cairns very soon and I’m even more excited now.

  • Brad Conner

    I thought I was an Olympic Boomerang Gold Medallist! It was so much fun learning to throw an odd shaped piece of wood and it comes back. I also enjoyed playing the didgeridoo and throwing spears. Tjapukai is a great place to learn about Australia’s aboriginal people. They have so much history and stories to tell. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joey Todd

    I went to the Tjapukai Night Fire last week. It was simply outstanding! It was very informative, and the crowd was encouraged to interact. All of the performers were friendly and the food was good. It’s definitely worth the money and is one of the best activities in Cairns!

  • Mary

    We’re flying up to Cairns at the weekend during school holidays with 2 teenage boys. I’m interested in taking them to Tjapukai – is there enough there to keep them occupied? Thanks, Mary.

    • Mark Gwilliam

      Hi Mary – thanks for showing an interest in my blog. Yes, your two boys will love Tjapukai. Everyone is so friendly there and they’ll both be well occupied – especially if they participate in the show! Have a great time.

  • Dawn

    I have just left a comment on a different article. I’d also like to mention that Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome is a great place to visit when in Cairns!

    • Mark Gwilliam

      Hi Dawn – thank you for your comments. I must admit that I haven’t been there myself but hope to very soon.

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