Cairns is a beautiful Australian city located on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, about 1,700 kilometres from Brisbane. Its coastal position, adjacent to the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range, means it enjoys a tropical climate, making it a popular destination for tourists. The city is often referred to as the ‘gateway to the tropical north’, consequently there are many Cairns package holiday deals and organised tours that allow tourists the opportunity to explore these spectacular sights safely and successfully. Many of these package tours and activities are particularly suited to travellers who no longer feel inclined to pursue adrenaline-fuelled extreme pastimes, and who prefer to explore in relaxed comfort.
The Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree Rainforest, two miles north of Cairns, is a spectacular World Heritage Site and the oldest lowland rainforest on earth, at an impressive 135 million years old. There are numerous package tours available, including day trips, guided trekking, hotel stays and lodges, but one thing is for certain; you cannot rush the experience. Exotic birds, rare rainforest dragons and butterflies deserve your undivided attention, and river boat cruises will glide you past the jungle homes of reptiles, crocodiles and pythons. After such awe-inspiring sights, you may appreciate some refreshments in one of the many restaurants and cafes that use local, seasonal produce to create delicious food. Daintree produces tea, coffee and vanilla beans that you can buy to take a little taste of the rainforest home with you. One tasty delight that may not travel so well is the famous Daintree ice cream; no visit to the rainforest is complete without a visit to the Daintree Ice Cream Company to sample their homemade ice creams, made from tropical fruits grown in their own orchards.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is situated close to the Daintree Rainforest and tours by air and glass bottomed boat are available for tourists to experience the sensational coral reefs that are home to many varieties of fish. Fitzroy Island is one of the many ‘high’ islands that became separated from the mainland by rising waters; you can experience the peaceful paradise of the island on ferry cruises that take in all of the outstanding coastal scenery.
If you are taking holidays in Cairns, you may feel tempted to head further north and explore the further reaches of North Queensland. Organised package tours take care of every detail, leaving you relaxed and focused on the sights and sounds of Cooktown, the Northern Atherton Tablelands and the sparsely populated town of Laura, home to the largest collection of prehistoric rock art in the world. It is worth bearing in mind that Cairns experiences a tropical monsoon climate and, whilst it enjoys a dry season from June through to October, rainfall can occasionally be heavy, leaving planned routes unavailable. An organised tour with a qualified guide will ensure that you travel in safety and comfort, leaving you free to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Kuranda Scenic Railway
Another stress-free way to experience Cairns is the Kuranda Scenic Railway, a unique railway journey through a tropical rainforest paradise. The two-hour journey connects Cairns, Freshwater and Kuranda and takes in mountains, waterfalls and over a thousand species of flowering plants. Take the Skyrail Rainforest Cable Car for part of the journey, travelling metres above the rainforest canopy; it’s a breathtaking way of experiencing the land. Once in Kuranda, enjoy some traditional bush tucker, locally grown coffee and homemade cakes in one of the many restaurants. Browse the shops and take home a souvenir or two. The daily market sells Australian Opal jewellery, boomerangs, didgeridoos and crocodile leather goods, as well as handmade jewellery and clothing.
Shopping in Cairns
Back in Cairns, you can continue your retail therapy with a visit to one of the city markets; the night markets on the Esplanade are open daily until 11.30pm, for souvenirs and handmade crafts. Afterwards, take in one of the stylish bars nearby that offer a laidback, cool vibe, which should be just the thing after a day full of World Heritage sightseeing and market shopping! Hotels in Cairns are plentiful, but it makes sense to use the expertise of your tour operator to identify the best offers at the time of travel. Tourism is certainly important to Cairns, although it does not appear in Australia’s top ten destinations for travellers. A quieter cousin to the popular destinations further south, it has a charm and quality that appeals to mature travellers and seasoned voyagers who want to combine the best of eco-tourism with the comfort and relaxation of a luxury holiday.