I have been to Cairns in Far North Queensland several times over the last few years and I think that it would have to be one of the best holiday destinations in Australia. Cairns is small enough that you can soon learn your way around but it also has so much to see and do. If you come from southern Australia, like I do, then it is great to escape the cold weather and head north to the beautiful tropical Cairns climate.
During my first visit to Cairns I enjoyed snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef but more recent trips have been spent exploring the many other rainforest and wildlife experiences in and around Cairns.
When talking to people who have also been to Cairns I am often surprised that they have not been to see some of the attractions that I have really enjoyed. More often than not, the reason they have not been to see an attraction is because they were not aware of its existence!
So I thought that I would share some of the Cairns attractions that I have really enjoyed visiting.
Cairns: Great Paid Attractions
I have been on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway a couple of times now and it is definitely a must to do when in Cairns. The views from the gondolas out over Cairns and the Coral Sea and down into the rainforest are amazing. Looking down into the lush rainforest is definitely a unique way to see it. There are points were you can get out and have a walk around with one of the stops being at the beautiful Barron Falls. The final destination is the nearby town of Kuranda where there are lots of cafes, market stalls and wildlife experiences to enjoy.
Another way to get to Kuranda is via the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Or you can do what we did and go up to Kuranda on the Skyrail and then back to Cairns on the Railway. The Kuranda Scenic Railway has been open to the public since 1891. It provides some spectacular views of the rainforest areas around Cairns and it also stops at Barron Falls. The trip commentary offers great information about the construction and history of the railway.
One of my favourite experiences when in the Cairns region is to travel to Port Douglas to visit the Wildlife Habitat. The best thing about visiting the habitat is that you can have Breakfast with the Birds there! Again this is something that I have done more than once because it is so much fun to have a delicious breakfast while getting to interact with the habitats many birds. The breakfast consists of a well-stocked buffet with hot and cold food and assorted pastries. Many birds just wander around the eating area and others are brought to your table and introduced by handlers. This is a great way to start the day and the fee also covers entry to the rest of the Wildlife Habitat.
If you love walking through lush rainforest gardens and admiring stunning waterfalls then a trip to Paronella Park is just the ticket. This park is set alongside the Mena Creek falls just a short drive from Innisfail, south of Cairns. Walking around the grounds of Paronella Park it is awe inspiring to see the castle, grand staircase, fountain, and picnic area. There is so much history in the park that I recommend joining the guided tour so that you can learn about José Paronella, the man who created Paronella Park.
Cairns: Great Places to go for Free
I love checking out different flowers and plants, so a trip to the Cairns Botanic Gardens is always on the itinerary when I visit Cairns. The tropical flowers and plants are so different to what we can grow in southern Australia. It is beautiful walking around in such lush tropical surroundings discovering amazing plants that I will never be able to grow in my climate! The botanic gardens even have a restaurant and I can highly recommend having a spot of lunch and then going for a walk in the beautiful gardens.
The last natural attraction that I really recommend seeing while in Cairns is the Crystal Cascades. This spot is somewhat of a local secret and I was indeed first shown the amazing cascades by a friend who was living in Cairns. While they are only a short drive from the centre of Cairns they are not mentioned on many of the tourist maps. I would recommend however that you ask a local to show you how to get there because the short trip is well worth it. It is best if you have access to a car because there is no public transport available. The cascades include swimming holes, a BBQ area, and lovely walking track. Again this is one place that I have visited more than once and I would return again when in Cairns next.
While I have highlighted my favourite attractions to visit while in Cairns I can’t stress enough that there is just so much to see and do.
Also if you have access to a car then there are also lots of beaches, lakes and waterfalls that are just a short drive away.