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Most of us assume an intimate knowledge of Australia – cosmopolitan cities, unspoilt beaches, distinctive wildlife and the vast red centre. Visiting Tropical North Queensland however, is a truly different Australian experience as Rebecca Avent discovered.
Firstly, there is the remarkable colour of this region. It’s green, very green. The tropical climate not only provides perfect weather to top up your tan but it also supports the incredible rainforest and the wide expanses of sugar cane, palm and banana plantations. My limited knowledge of this part of Australia had me geared up for a relaxing few days by the pool with cocktail in hand. But what surprised me most was how a holiday in the tropical North really can be as relaxing or adventurous as you like - from tranquil beachfront resorts, indulgent spas or thrill-seeking adventure activities, to exploring the luscious rainforest and stunning Great Barrier Reef.
First up for me was a visit to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda, just 25km from Cairns and offering art and craft markets galore. Kuranda is the last stop on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway that stretches an impressive 7.5km above the rainforest, offering spectacular views over the Cairns’ tropical region and out to the Coral Sea beyond.
For those seeking adrenaline-pumping action, there is plenty on offer like hot air ballooning, sky diving, white water rafting and bungy jumping. I decided to try white water rafting down the Barron River and boy, was it a blast! We were in expert hands as our Raging Thunder guide; ‘Baz’ guided us down the grade three rapids… perfect for first-timers like me.
Adventure behind me, I set out to explore the renowned World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest. I opted for the full day tour up to Cape Tribulation, which sits just north of Cairns and Port Douglas. Accessible only by cable-driven ferry, as the oldest rainforest in the world it really is something else. My tour took me up to the stunning Cape Tribulation beach where the rainforest plunges down towards the coast, giving way to white sand and fringing reefs.
No visit to Tropical North Queensland would be complete without taking a tour to the Great Barrier Reef. As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef truly is an experience of a lifetime. I jumped onto a Quicksilver Cruise to the dazzling Agincourt Reef and right from arrival I thought the set-up was impressive. From the permanent platform floating at the reef’s edge, I had the option of exploring however I wished – get wet by diving or snorkelling, or stay dry and view the reef from a semi-sub or from above on a heli-flight. Whichever way you choose, you’ll be amazed by the vibrant colours, stunning array of fish and dramatic sculptures of the reef.
Further enhancing my experience in this tropical wonderland was the excellent choice of accommodation available, such as Voyages Dunk Island Resort. Set in the heart of a beautiful tropical rainforest island and within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef, the resort offers such a huge array of activities it’s hard to decide what to do next.
Sitting on the edge of the Mossman Gorge in the Daintree Rainforest, Voyages Silky Oaks Lodge is located just 20 minutes from Port Douglas. This luxurious romantic escape offers a choice of either private tree house or river house accommodation and I immediately relaxed into the tranquil surrounds. The most difficult decision was to choose between a leisurely rainforest walk, a swim or kayak in the crystal clear waters of the Mossman River or to simply lay back and enjoy the serenity in my own personal hammock.
Australia’s Tropical North Queensland is a stunning region teeming with pristine beaches, activities galore, vibrant colours and balmy tropical temperatures. Take my advice and steal yourself away to this hidden treasure next time you’re looking for an unforgettable holiday.