Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Horizon Club stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

Shangri-La, Sydney

A Horizon Club stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

The Shangri-La, Sydney is nestled in the historic Rocks District, is a luxury hotel with panoramic views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Shangri-La, Sydney

A stay at the Shangri-La, Sydney is always a special occasion, but for this special birthday we decided to splurge on a Horizon Club room, which comes with a whole host of special benefits.

The Shangri-La Sydney is a large hotel, with 565 rooms, three restaurants and one bar. The hotel is located between Circular Quay and Wynyard train stations. It’s a bit of a walk from both, including a steep uphill section. 

Horizon Club Sydney Harbour Room

Shangri-La, Sydney

This stay we chose a Horizon Club Sydney Harbour Room with a king bed and rollaway bed. The room came with absolutely spectacular 180-degree views across Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.

Shangri-La, Sydney

Our favourite feature of the room was the padded window seat that we could all fit on and the block out curtains that fell behind it. After sunset we sat on the seat and pulled the curtains behind us and looked out at the beautiful harbour and the sparkling lights. It was just heaven. 

Shangri-La, Sydney

The Horizon Club Sydney Harbour Rooms are located on levels 31-35, guaranteeing a breathtaking view. The rooms all include access to the exclusive Horizon Club Lounge with its full range of privileges.

Shangri-La, Sydney

The room itself is elegant and understated. Luxe furnishings that are bright and beautiful. 

Shangri-La, Sydney

We loved the large marble bathroom containing a separate bath and shower.

Shangri-La, Sydney

Other amenities include plush Shangri-La bathrobes (which we wore to the pool), a pillow menu (we ordered different pillows and they were divine), premium Shangri-La toiletries, Wi-Fi Access, LCD flatscreen television, DVD entertainment system, In-house movie channels, a full-size executive writing desk, electronic safe, coffee / tea-making facilities and a mini-bar. 

Shangri-La, Sydney

Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney

Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney

Horizon Club Benefits

Shangri-La, Sydney

The added benefits of the Horizon Club definitely made the cost of the room worthwhile. While on the website a 4pm late check-out also listed as a benefit of this package, it is subject to availability and we were not able to get this benefit when we stayed. 

Shangri-La, Sydney

We visited the Horizon Club Lounge for afternoon tea, canapés and breakfast the next morning. The ability to use the lounge during these times meant we didn’t need to buy any extra meals during our stay, as the offerings were so hearty! 

Horizon Club Lounge afternoon tea

Shangri-La, Sydney

The afternoon tea is served between 2pm-5pm and includes scones with jam and cream, a selection of sandwiches (all meat) and pastries. The Shangri-La, Sydney is able to provide food for dietary requirements with enough notice given.

Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney

The view from the room is just breathtaking – try to get a seat by the window if you can.

Shangri-La, Sydney

Horizon Club Lounge canapés

Shangri-La, Sydney

Evening canapés includes alcoholic drinks which the staff refill constantly throughout the evening. The canapé time from 6pm-8pm is the perfect time for dinner with kids! Our fussy eater didn’t see enough that she liked on the buffet tables, so we ordered a kids meal from room service and had it delivered to the lounge. Easy peasy, it arrived on our table about 20 minutes later.

Shangri-La, Sydney
Kids’ pasta

The buffet had an excellent selection of savoury food, hot and cold, salads, cheese and crackers and desserts. It was quite meat heavy, however the Shangri-La, Sydney is able to provide food for dietary requirements with enough notice given (next time I will remember this and let them know in advance that we are vegetarian!) There was still plenty of food that was edible, however, and we were absolutely stuffed by the end.

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Lots of people can be found in the lounge during all times of the day, particularly the evening canapés. Some people are with a group and socialising, some reading books and relaxing. While there is a dress code for using the lounge, we saw many guests in extremely casual attire, so I wouldn’t take the dress code too seriously. We dressed up for the occasion for a fun thing to do, but it certainly isn’t required. 

Horizon Club Lounge breakfast

Shangri-La, Sydney

Breakfast is also available in the Horizon Club Lounge from 6:30am-10:30am daily and until 11am on weekends. The breakfast is advertised as a “light buffet” – however, we thought it was a fantastic feast!

Shangri-La, Sydney

We particularly loved the egg station where we had custom omelettes made for us. A variety of hot and cold food is available, fruit, pastries, cereals, tea, coffee and juices.

Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney

Shangri-La, Sydney pool

Shangri-La, Sydney

We love a good hotel pool, particularly when it’s indoors and heated in winter! The Shangri-La, Sydney pool is a large pool with a separate spa with bubble jets, located in the health club.

Shangri-La, Sydney Shangri-La, Sydney

High Tea at the Shangri-La, Sydney

Shangri La Hotel Afternoon Tea via christineknight.me

We have dined in the Lobby Lounge many times enjoying the Shangri-La, Sydney’s high tea offerings! You can read about high tea at the Shangri-La, Sydney here.

Blu Bar High Tea Buffet

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For an absolute treat, I highly recommend the high tea buffet that is offered in the Blu Bar on level 36. It is just delicious and such a treat! It’s also very pricey and no discount for kids, so I would suggest making this an adult-only treat. 

Read about the Blu Bar High Tea Buffet.

Getting to the Shangri-La, Sydney

If you drive to the Shangri-La, Sydney, valet parking is available: $58 for in-house hotel guests, $44 for restaurant patrons, $40 for guests with functions at the hotel, and $22 for guests who have appointments at our spa. There is a cheaper parking station at Wilson parking – Quay West at 111 Harrington St, The Rocks if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
176 Cumberland St, Sydney
shangri-la.com/sydney

Shangri-La, Sydney

More things to do in Sydney

Find more things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids.

Find things to do in Sydney for free.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney.

Find the best high teas in Sydney.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney.

Cool down at one of these free water parks in Sydney.

Find the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sydney.

A Guide To The Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains in Mount Tomah

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

A Guide To The Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains Mount Tomah

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is the only botanic garden in the world located in a World Heritage area. Home to 21,000 plants of 900 species, the 69-acre garden is located 100km west of Sydney at Mount Tomah, in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Established in 1972, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is heritage-listed and focusses on the conservation of cool climate plants that do not grow in the warmer climate of Sydney. 

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is approximately a two-hour drive from Sydney’s CBD, on the boundary of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Greater Blue Mountains area. 

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

As well as the cool climate plants, the garden is home to a diverse range of local fauna, including over 150 species of birds, marsupials, lizards and colourful insects. Brush-tailed and ring-tailed possums, sugar gliders and greater gliders might be spotted in the garden, as well as fairy wrens, lyrebirds and cockatoos. During our visit we saw kookaburras and skinks.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The garden is set out into distinct areas that highlight various plant species. Pick up a free map from the Visitor’s Centre and take a self guided tour around the gardens at your own pace.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Guided walking and shuttle tours are also available daily. Walking tours are free but the 20-minute shuttle tours attracts a fee of $8.50pp (disability Pension card holders, Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Garden members and children under 5 are free.). Check departure times and purchase tickets for tours at the Visitor Centre.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Different parts of the garden bloom throughout the year so no matter when you visit, the garden is beautiful. We visited in spring to see the daffodil display.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Kids can pick up a Children’s Adventure Quest from the Visitor’s Centre for $7.50. It includes everything in the photo below. 

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

There is a discovery centre underneath the Visitor’s Centre that has lots of information about the plants and some hands-on elements for kids.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Eating at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Visitors are more than welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the gardens. If you would like to purchase takeaway coffee, snacks or light meals, the Ugly Mug Kiosk, located near the car park, is open Monday and Tuesday from 9am to 4.30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 5.00pm.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The Potager, Mount Tomah

The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

During our visit we dined at The Potager for Father’s Day, an upmarket restaurant with a botanic theme. While the balcony offers incredible views over the garden, it also offers little shade, so we chose to dine instead as we visited on a hot day.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The Potager has a decent kids’ menu and various options for different diets. I had a vegan option, the Veggie Patch (with local kale, roasted cauliflower and sautéed mushrooms on a bed pumpkin hummus, avocado cream, sun flower seeds, fresh local herbs, $22.90).

The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Our group also ordered the kids’ Avo & Cheese Sandwich (with chips, $9.50), the Pan Fried Salmon, (with roasted fennel, pumpkin, tomato, spinach, hummus, topped with shaved shallot, $32) and the Botanic Burger (180g Beef patty, bacon, American cheese, pickled onions, house relish, served on toasted milk bun with chips, $26.90).

The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The food and service were both excellent and I would highly recommend dining here for a bit of a special occasion.

The Potager Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Getting to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden can be accessed via the Bells Line of Road.

Driving from Sydney: From the CBD, cross the harbour heading north and follow the M2 motorway onto the M7 motorway. Take the Richmond Road exit towards Richmond. Follow the signs to Blue Mountains and follow Bells Line of Road from Richmond to the Garden.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Driving from Lithgow: Drive along Chifley Road from Lithgow to Bell. Continue on Bells Line of Road from Bell to the Garden. The Garden is about a 40-minute drive from Lithgow.

The Garden is not accessible by public transport.

Botanical Gardens Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden
Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah
Hours: Daily, weekdays 9am to 5.30pm, weekends and public holidays: 9.30am to 5.30pm
Prices: Entry to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is FREE.

Get more info on The Potager and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

More things to do in Sydney and the Blue Mountains

Find more things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids.

Find things to do in Sydney for free.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney.

Find the best high teas in Sydney.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney.

Cool down at one of these free water parks in Sydney.

Find the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sydney.

Oatley Park Inclusive Adventure Playground

Oatley Park Playground

Oatley Park Inclusive Adventure Playground

Oatley Park Playground

The Oatley Park Inclusive Adventure Playground is an adventure playground designed to blend into its bush setting, incorporating nature-based play elements and built with predominantly natural materials. 

Oatley Park Playground

The new playground is located in Oatley Park, a 112 acres reserve on the Georges River in the southern Sydney suburb of Oatley. The park is bounded by the Georges River, Lime Kiln Bay, and Jew Fish Bay.

Oatley Park Playground

The Oatley Park Adventure playground design incorporates community feedback and ideas and follows the NSW Government’s ‘Everyone Can Play’ inclusive play space guidelines to create accessible play elements for children of all abilities in over 80 per cent of the playground. (Note: whether this level of accessibility has been achieved or not remains to be seen.)

Oatley Park Playground

I haven’t had the chance to visit the new playground yet, so a big thank you to local Melissa Derwent who provided me with pics and info, and the Georges River Council for their pics from opening day.

Oatley Park Playground

The park features seperate play zones with a toddler play area, a flying fox with river views, an active play zone, giant tube slides and a teen zone. 

Oatley Park Playground

There is a smaller slide and climbing net area for younger or less confident kids.

Oatley Park Playground

The flying fox.

Oatley Park Playground

The nest swing is a great inclusive addition. There are also regular and toddler swings.

Oatley Park Playground

Oatley Park Playground

Oatley Park Playground

New picnic and barbecue facilities have also been built. The toilets are a 200m walk from the main play area, up the path through the bush, towards the oval. They are currently the original toilets, with plans to replace these at some stage. These toilets automatically lock at night.

Oatley Park Playground

The paths in Oatley Park are shared by pedestrians, cyclists and cars, and the maximum speed limit is 20km/hour. Navigating the parking areas involves reversing across shared paths, so please check twice before reversing. 

When visiting Oatley Park playground, please be kind to the new shrubs that have been planted and stay out of the garden beds to enable these plants to grow. 

Oatley Park Playground
There are rubbish bins in the park but no recycling bins, so be prepared to take your rubbish with you. There has been lots of rubbish left in the park already, so please be responsible with your rubbish!

Oatley Park Playground


Oatley Park is home to many beautiful creatures: wallabies, echidnas, tawny frog mouths and king parrots to name a few. You might see a few on a quiet day.

Oatley Park is also home to various bushwalking tracks. Many of these tracks criss cross over the shared path. Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society has developed bushwalking maps and flora and bird guides to Oatley Park.

Try the Headland track, which has water and bush views that just sparkle on a sunny day. It starts or ends at the Baths. 

The Myra Wall Garden has a wheelchair accessible bushwalking path.

Oatley Park Playground

The original steamroller that has been park of the park for decades remains in the new design. It is an excellent place for kids to let their imagination run wild. 

Oatley Park Playground

The park features lots of nature play areas for kids to get imaginative and close to nature.

Oatley Park Playground

Getting to Oatley Park Adventure Inclusive Playspace Playground

Oatley Park Playground

There are no direct public transport links to the park. It is a 1.7km walk from Oatley Station. The 954 bus service from Oatley Station drops you 700 metres from the entry to Oatley Park. 


Entry to the park via Oatley Park Avenue is narrow and means that often, only one car at a time can pass through. AVOID entry and exit to the park during school drop off and pick up. You can also drive in via Douglas Haig St. 

Myra Wall Garden, Frog Hollows and the Oval are overflow carparks.

The park closes at sunset and the vehicle gates are locked. Make sure if you have driven in, to leave before the gates are locked as there is a fee to retrieve your car.

Get Directions

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Cool down at one of these free water parks in Sydney.

Find the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sydney here.

 

Ryde Park Scooter and Bike Track

Ryde Park Scooter and Bike Track

Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia

A brand new scooter and bike track was added to Ryde Park in March 2018. It’s a great little area with stop signs and roundabouts, making it fun and educational at the same time. There are three picnic tables with shade scattered around the track. Trees have been planted but it will be a while before they will give any shade. A water fountain at the entrance of the park is handy if you visit on a hot day.

Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia

Ryde Park
Ryde Park, Blaxland Road, Ryde

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

The best things to do in Cairns (with or without kids)

The best things to do in Cairns, Qld, Australia

The best things to do in Cairns (with or without kids)

Cairns is the gateway city to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in tropical Far North Queensland. The perfect base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree and attractions in Far North Queensland, there are plenty of reasonably-priced accommodation options, restaurants, grocery stores and Cairns attractions in this small city. We found plenty of things to do in Cairns and the surrounding regions to spend at least a few weeks exploring everything there is to do in tropical Far North Queensland.

Cairns attractions

Cairns Aquarium

See the marine species who inhabit tropical North Queensland while keeping your feet dry at the Cairns Aquarium. The aquarium is dedicated exclusively to the habitats, animals and plants found in Australia’s Wet Tropics – the region which borders The Daintree Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. Explore 10 North Queensland ecosystems and 71 exhibits showcasing how magnificent and unique the creatures in this part of the world are. 

Cairns Aquarium

Spot the endangered Freshwater Sawfish, marvel at Grey Reef Sharks and watch the Humphead Maori Wrasse in awe. Daily animal feeding sessions and the hands-on touch tanks will keep the kids enthralled.

Read more about visiting Cairns Aquarium.

Frankland Islands day trip

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

The pristine Frankland Islands are located 10km offshore, 45km south-east of Cairns. Surrounded by healthy coral that is teeming with sea life, a day trip to the Frankland Islands is one of the best and easiest ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef.

The Frankland Islands day trip is a great option for families with younger kids in particular or people who want a day of varied activies on the reef rather spending most of the day on a boat or snorkelling on the reef, or who are prone to seasickness but still want to see the reef.

Read more about our experience visiting the Frankland Islands.

Fitzroy Island day trip or longer stay

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise with lush rainforest and unspoiled beaches, accessed by a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns. Take a day trip to the island or stay for a few nights. 

Read more about our experience visiting Fitzroy Island.

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Located on Fitzroy Island, the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation dedicated to rehabilitating sick and injured turtles, brought in from the Great Barrier Reef and Cape York Peninsula. You can visit the CTRC when day tripping or staying on Fitzroy Island. Bookings are required to visit the CTRC which can only be made once you have arrived on the island. 

Read more about our experience visiting the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Cairns Esplanade

Cairns Australia

The beachfront boardwalk leads to a variety of recreational facilities that are free to use. 

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

Cairns Australia

The city of Cairns has no beaches. Instead, it has the gorgeous Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon which is right on the waterfront. The lagoon is a stunning spot for a swim, and with flat water and plenty of shallow areas is perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities. 

There are picnic tables and 12 barbecues nearby and plenty of grassy parkland and trees to sit under. The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is a top Cairns attraction for a very good reason – it’s perfect for swimming in year-round, needing no wetsuit in stinger season like the ocean.

Muddy’s Playground

Cairns Australia

This fantastic playground has fenced areas, a splash playground, flying fox, sound chimes, track ride, rope bridge, slides, mouse wheels, play houses, story telling areas, see-saw, trick track and puzzle games. Muddy’s Playground is one of the top Cairns attractions for families and it’s easy to see why!

Read more about Muddy’s Playground.

Healing Garden Playground

Cairns Australia

The Healing Garden is opposite Cairns Hotel and includes features to assist with balance and harmony such as bamboo which is seen as a symbol of strength and healing colours throughout the play area – pale violet to sooth soothe emotional distress and bring calm and yellow to help strengthen the mind and to assist with nerve pain.

Fun Ship Playground

Cairns Esplanade

The Endeavour Fun Ship playground opened in 2006. The maritime-themed playground is located BBQ Sandpiper and picnic tables. It includes lots of climbing elements that lend themselves to nautical play.

Cairns Esplanade

Toilets are located a short distance to the north west of the Fun Ship Playground.

Skate Plaza

Cairns Australia

Boarders and bladers will love this skate park which includes a large bowl area.

Cairns Australia Cairns Australia

Bouldering Park

Cairns Australia

Suitable for all ages, the bouldering area is a large rock surface with climbing grips on it.

Beach Volleyball

Cairns Australia

There are four international standard Beach Volleyball Courts.

Fitness Stations

Cairns Esplanade

There are several fitness stations located on the Esplanade. 

Petanque Court

Pétanque is a boules sports, where players roll their boules/balls towards a target ball.

Multi-use court

Cairns Australia

Multi-use court is located within the Northern Esplanade Activity Precinct opposite Cairns Hospital.

Fig Tree Playground

Cairns Fig Tree Playground

Located on the south end of the Esplanade, near the Marina, the Fig Tree Playground is a beautiful, natural climbing structure wrapped around a fig tree. It’s shady, thanks to the tree, and encourages climbing, running and sliding.

Cairns Fig Tree Playground

The location is beautiful too, right on the water. There are toilets nearby and the path that leads north up the Esplanade to the Lagoon and Muddy’s Playground.

Read more about Fig tree Playground.

Green Island

Take a day trip to stunning Green Island and snorkel with tropical fish and turtles. Day trips leave from Cairns Marina. Green Island is a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns, making it a good option for a day trip where most of the day is spent on the island enjoying a variety of activities. A day trip to Green Island is one of the most popular things to do in Cairns and is suitable for all ages.

Get more information about Green Island day trips

Great Barrier Reef Pontoons

Another option for seeing the Great Barrier Reef is with a day trip to one of the reef pontoons. We decided against this option as it takes a lot longer to reach the pontoons than Fitzroy, Green and Frankland Islands and as we suffer from sea sickness and had a child with us who wouldn’t have enjoyed a long, rough boat trip.

If you are a strong snorkeller or diver, or want to see a large variety of sea life deep in the ocean, then a reef pontoon could be a good idea for you. Regardless of which option you choose, a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef has to be on your list of things to do in Cairns!

Things to do in Cairns and the surrounding region

 

Josephine Falls

Josephine Falls Cairns

Josephine Falls is a tiered cascade waterfall located in Wooroonan, Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland. 

The falls are an hours drive south of Cairns, in the foothills of Queensland’s highest mountain range, Bartle Frere. 

Read more about our experience at Josephine Falls.

Atherton Tablelands

Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

The Atherton Tablelands is a lush, fertile region around 1.5 hours drive south-west of Cairns. Renowned for its tumbling waterfalls and abundant wildlife, the Atherton Tablelands makes for a great day trip or longer stay to explore everything that is on offer.

Highlights to the Atherton Tablelands include chasing waterfalls, visiting the Tolga Bat Hospital, seeing the 500-year-old Curtain Fig Tree, spotting the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo at the Nerida Tea Plantation and a delicious trip to Gallo Dairyland.

Read more about our experience visiting the Atherton Tablelands.

Kuranda Village

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

Kuranda is a mountain village that has become a popular tourist attraction near Cairns. It’s a great place to take kids as there are several attractions all close to each other. Hold a koala, feed free-flying birds and dance with butterflies all in the same day in Kuranda.

Kuranda Village is accessible by car, however it is a popular destination to reach by taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Get more information on things to do in Kuranda Village.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

Winding its way through the World Heritage-listed Barron Gorge National Park, the Kuranda Scenic Railway is an unforgettable journey through hand carved tunnels and spectacular scenery. The Kuranda Scenic Railway runs between Cairns and Kuranda Village.

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

The iconic Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an immersive journey through and above Australia’s World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest. It runs between Smithfield Terminal, around 20 minutes out of Cairns, and Kuranda Village.  

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Located in the southern part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland, Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.

Our time at Mossman Gorge was the highlight of our entire trip. We loved is so much we visited twice.

Mossman Gorge is around 80km north of Cairns and 5km from the nearest town of Mossman. It’s also about a 20 min drive from Port Douglas. It is easily reachable by car or as part of an organised tour.

Read more about our experience at Mossman Gorge.

Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

Visit the oldest rainforest in the world! The Daintree region begins at Mossman Gorge and continues over the Daintree River and north to Cooktown. A day trip the Daintree is doable from Cairns however it is a long day and you will see more if you stay in the Daintree itself like we did. 

You can self-drive the Daintree in a regular car or take a tour.

Read about our experience in the Daintree Rainforest.

In the Daintree we stayed at the Daintree Ecolodge. Read about our experience at the Daintree Ecolodge.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

Beautiful Port Douglas is a gorgeous resort town close to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Located only an hours drive north from Cairns, it’s a fab base for exploring the area, or just relaxing for a few days on the beach. 

Read more about things to do in Port Douglas.

Paronella Park

Cairns Paronella Park

Paronella Park is a heritage-listed tourist attraction. It is located 120km south of Cairns at Mena Creek, in Tropical North Queensland, Australia.

The park has a special story that has to be heard to be truly understood for the visinary project that it was, when its founder, José Paronella, embarked on his dream to build a castle in the 1930s. 

Read more about visiting Paronella Park.

Cairns accommodation

We stayed in two hotels during our time in Cairns.

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort is a newly renovated hotel in the heart of Cairns. The combination of a superb lagoon pool and recently refreshed rooms, combined with its excellent location close to the esplanade, marina, restaurants, supermarket and Cairns Aquarium make this an excellent choice of accommodation in Cairns, particularly for families.

Read more about our experience at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort.

Pullman Cairns International

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

The Pullman Cairns International is a grande dame of a hotel, with a majestic soaring lobby which makes for a very impressive entrance. 

The breakfast buffet at the Pullman Cairns International was sensational and worth staying at again just for this added benefit.

Read more about our experience at the Pullman Cairns International.

Riley, a Crystalbrook Hotel

Riley Crystalbrook Cairns

The Riley is a brand-spanking new hotel that features bright, light and stylish rooms, and a 1,000-square-metre lagoon-style pool. It has to be the most beautiful pool in Cairns.

The rooms are so quiet, comfortable and beautiful that you won’t want to leave – unless it’s to head to the pool!

Read more about our experience at Riley, a Crystalbrook Hotel.

Canopy Treehouses

Cairns Canopy Treehouses

Stay in a treehouse nestled in the rainforest and get up close to Australian wildlife at the Canopy Treehouses in the Cairns Highlands, Queensland, Australia. 

The Canopy Treehouses offers six extremely private treehouses set in 100 acres of rainforest, teeming with wildlife. Located 90 minutes drive out of Cairns, the Canopy Treehouses is a great option to base yourself for a few days and explore the region.

Read more about our experience at the Canopy Treehouses.

Cairns weather

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Far North Queensland is known for its hot and humid summers and mild, dry winters. We’ve visited in both and found January to be unbearably hot and humid but a pleasant swimming temperature, and July to be pleasant to explore the region, but a bit cold in the sea and pools. I would suggest considering what activities you want to do while you’re in the tropics before selecting a season to visit.

Summer (December – February)
Average temperatures range from 23.6 – 31.4°C (74.5 – 88.5°F). The wet season begins in December, with most of the area’s annual rainfall (around 2000mm / 78.7″) soaking the region in these months. When we visited in January, the skies opened daily around 4pm with a massive amount of rain. While the average daily temperature might not look too high, it is HUMID as anything!

Autumn (March – May)
I would suggest the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) as ideal for visiting Cairns if you want to swim in warmer water without the high humidity that summer brings. The average daily temperatures range between 21.5 – 29°C (70.7 – 84.2°F), with the rain starting to subside from April onwards. The area can be windy however until August. 

Winter (June – August)
Winter is peak tourist season in Cairns, mainly due to the lower humidity, low rainfall and no stingers in the ocean. We found the temperatures perfect day to day, however swimming pools are not heated so we found them chilly, and the we needed wetsuits to swim in the ocean due to the cold temperature (for us!).  Average temperature in winter range from 17.5 – 26°C (63.5 – 78.8°F).

Spring (September – November)
The end of the dry season has temperatures ranging from 20.5 – 29°C (68.9 – 84.2°F). Humidity starts to build with the start of the west season at the end of spring. November is an amazing time to visit the reef to see the annual coral spawning.

Daylight Savings Time
Queensland does not observe daylight savings time. The time zone in Queensland is Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), UTC +10.

Sea temperature
In summer, the average sea temperature at Cairns’ northern beaches ranges from 28.9 – 29.4°C (84 – 84.9°F). In winter the average sea temperature is 23.8- 24.5°C (74.8 – 76.1°F).

Stinger season

Stinger season (or jellyfish season) falls between November and May in Cairns and Port Douglas. It is advised to wear stinger suits in the water from November onwards (sometimes even October), as box jellyfish and Irukandji (the smallest of the box jellyfish family) can be deadly if you are stung.

The region’s beaches are lined with stinger nets and on the Great Barrier Reef, while the risk of marine stingers is low, stinger suits are recommended and are available for hire on tour boats.

Keeping sun safe

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

The sun in Queensland is intense, even in winter. The Ultraviolet (UV) Index can be high and cause extreme sunburn, so look in the local weather reports for the UV index, which describes the daily solar UV radiation intensity.

Wear SPF30+ sunscreen and reapply regularly, particularly after swimming. High quality sunscreen is available in supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. Where possible choose reef-safe sunscreen. 

Choose sun-safe clothing like light, loose shirts and dresses that cover the shoulders, chest and arms, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Sunburn up here is no joke and can land you in hospital.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

When choosing swimwear, consider longsleeved swimsuits for girls, longsleeve rashies for boys and adults. Not long do they prevent sunburn, they also eliminate the need for excessive sunscreen which is good for neither the skin nor the reef.

Looking for more things to do in Cairns, or for more Cairns attractions? Check out the official Tropical North Queensland site.

The best things to do in Cairns, Qld, Australia

 

Pullman Cairns International: Cairns Accommodation Reviews

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

Pullman Cairns International

The Pullman Cairns International is a grande dame of a hotel with a soaring lobby and excellent location, right in the heart of Cairns, close to the Cairns Marina, shops, restaurants and supermarkets.

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

We had a basic room with two double beds. The size of the room was excellent, plenty of room for our luggage and for us to move around. 

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

Our room had a private balcony with a city view, work desk and one chair and a massive bathroom. 

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

Other room features include a mini bar, 24-hour in-room dining, bath robes, iron and ironing board, C.O Bigelow bath fragrances and amenities, coffee/tea making facilities, hairdryer, wireless and wired Internet, iIn room safe and blackout curtains. Cribs are available for use.

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

The Pullman Cairns International has a lovely rooftop pool and spa that is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

Breakfast each morning is served in the lobby area. It is well worth opting for breakfast in the package as the buffet is sensational – one of the best hotel breakfasts we have ever had. 

Pullman International Cairns Qld Australia

Included in the breakfast buffet: egg station, juicing station, a variety of fresh juices and iced teas, savoury hot food, fresh fruit, pastries and more. 

Pullman Cairns International
17 Abbott Street Cairns Qld
Phone: + 61 7 4031 1300

pullmancairnsinternational.com.au

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort: Cairns Accommodation Review

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort is a newly renovated hotel in the heart of Cairns. The combination of a superb lagoon pool and recently refreshed rooms, combined with its excellent location close to the esplanade, marina, restaurants, supermarket and Cairns Aquarium make this an excellent choice of accommodation in Cairns, particularly for families.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

We stayed in a newly renovated room with two double beds overlooking the pool. Rooms are also available with a king bed. The elevator on our floor went directly to the car park for easy luggage transferral.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

The hotel is slowly being renovated and some parts of the hotel are the older rooms and do not have direct elevator access to the car park. I would highly recommend when booking requesting a new room with access to the parking. Even if you aren’t self driving, the rooms that have access to the parking garage are easiest to reach from the lobby as well.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

Our hotel room included internet, a large TV, balcony overlooking the pool and fridge. There is a small Woolworths supermarket a few blocks from the hotel where we bought supplies and put them in the fridge for snacks.

Other hotel features include:

Large free-form lagoon pool with sandy beach
Swim up bar
24-hour reception and porter service
24-hour room service
Valet laundry, dry cleaning and in-house guest coin laundry
Gymnasium
Undercover car parking at $9 per day
Conference / function facilities
Broadband Internet in the rooms (charges apply, free to members so sign up!)
Tour desk
Foreign exchange
Babysitting on request

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

The lagoon pool is incredible and our favourite feature of the hotel. I found the pool was a bit cold for me when we visited in July as I am extremely cold sensitive and the pool isn’t heated, however the kids at the resort didn’t mind and spend hours in it, particularly loving the free pool noodles and floats.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

We loved the Beach Club next to the pool where we happily ordered cocktails and food while the kid swam. The Moku Swim Up Bar is the only swim up bar in Cairns!

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns Novotel Oasis ResortThe Beach Club menu is the same as the Terrace Bar, however the Beach Club opens at 11am and closes early, while the Terrace Bar is open from 4pm – 10:30pm.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

If you’re after an indoor dining option, Moku Bar & Grill opens daily at 6pm and offers a different island-inspired menu, designed to share.

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

Breakfast is served daily in the Moku Bar & Grill. I loved the custom omelette station. There were plenty of healthy choices as well as fun “holiday” food. 

Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort Cairns Novotel Oasis Resort

Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
122 Lake St, Cairns City QLD
https://www.novotelcairnsresort.com.au/

The best things to do in Port Douglas (with or without kids!)

The best things to do in Port Douglas, Cairns, Qld, Australia

The best things to do in Port Douglas (with or without kids!)

Beautiful Port Douglas is a gorgeous resort town close to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Located only an hours drive north from Cairns, it’s a fab base for exploring the area, or just relaxing for a few days on the beach. There are plenty of things to do in Port Douglas and its surrounding areas.

While we travelled Port Douglas and surrounding areas with our 7-year-old, the area is also great for adults without kids. The activities below suit people of all ages.

Four Mile Beach

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

 The focal point of Port Douglas, Four Mile Beach is a lovely little slice of paradise right in the centre of town. 

Note: Stinger Season runs from October through to May, with dangerous jellyfish active in the area. The northern end of the beach has a stinger net during this period where it is safe to swim.

Rock Pools

The northern end of Four Mile Beach is a great spot to splash in rock pools, perfect for kids to explore and play.  

Wildlife Habitat

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, QLD, Australia

Get up close to iconic Australian animals in a natural surrounding at the award-winning Wildlife Habitat. Cuddle a koala, meet a python, see crocodiles and feed kangaroos. You can also get the chance to see the endangered Southern Cassowary and Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. 

Get more information on visiting the Wildlife Habitat.

Flagstaff Hill Lookout & Walking Trail

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

Flagstaff Hill is a short, steep walk from the main street of Port Douglass. It gives a stunning view over the Coral Sea and Four Mile Beach. The summit is accessible by car or walking trail, which starts at the northern end of Four Mile Beach.

Four Mile Beach Lookout

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

If you don’t want to walk all the way to the summit you can drive up and then back down to the beach, then take a short walk up the steps to the new Four Mile Beach Lookout viewing platform that extends out over the Coral Sea.

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

I really enjoyed this short walk and thought the view from here was much better than from Flagstaff Hill.

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

Port Douglas Markets

Drop by the weekly Sunday markets and pick up arts and crafts, jewellery, fruit and vege, books, coffee and more from vendors who travel in from all over Far North Queensland. The markets are held on the grassy Market Park every Sunday from 8am-2pm.

Thala Beach Resort Coconut Plantation

Port Douglas, Qld, Australia

If you’re coco for coconuts then you’ll want to stop by the Thala Beach Resort coconut plantation, just south of Port Douglas. You can wander around the 700 coconut palms that stand sentinel at the entrance (watch out for falling coconuts!) or if you’re a guest of the resort, join their free Coconut Odyssey tour to learn all about the health benefits of the coconut.

Things to do a short distance from Port Douglas

If you’re after more things do in Port Douglas and its surrounding areas, I would suggest hiring a car and visiting some of these amazing attractions right on its doorstep.

Kuranda Village

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

Kuranda is a mountain village that has become a popular tourist attraction near Cairns. It’s a great place to take kids as there are several attractions all close to each other. Hold a koala, feed free-flying birds and dance with butterflies all in the same day in Kuranda.

Kuranda Village is accessible by car, however it is a popular destination to reach by taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Get more information on things to do in Kuranda Village.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

Winding its way through the World Heritage-listed Barron Gorge National Park, the Kuranda Scenic Railway is an unforgettable journey through hand carved tunnels and spectacular scenery. The Kuranda Scenic Railway runs between Cairns and Kuranda Village.

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

The iconic Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an immersive journey through and above Australia’s World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest. It runs between Smithfield Terminal, around 20 minutes out of Cairns, and Kuranda Village.  

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge, Daintree

Located in the southern part of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park in Far North Queensland, Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.

Our time at Mossman Gorge was the highlight of our entire trip. We loved is so much we visited twice.

Mossman Gorge is around 80km north of Cairns and 5km from the nearest town of Mossman. It’s also about a 20 min drive from Port Douglas. It is easily reachable by car or as part of an organised tour.

Read more about our experience at Mossman Gorge.

Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

Visit the oldest rainforest in the world! The Daintree region begins at Mossman Gorge and continues over the Daintree River and north to Cooktown. A day trip the Daintree is doable from Cairns however it is a long day and you will see more if you stay in the Daintree itself like we did. 

You can self-drive the Daintree in a regular car or take a tour.

Read about our experience in the Daintree Rainforest.

In the Daintree we stayed at the Daintree Ecolodge. Read about our experience at the Daintree Ecolodge.

Cairns

Cairns Australia

Cairns is a great spot to visit with plenty to do. Visit the Cairns Aquarium, swim in the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, take kids to the excellent Muddy’s Playground on the waterfront, or take a day trip islands including Fitzroy and Green.

Get more information on visiting Port Douglas.

Get more information on visiting Tropical North Queensland.

The best things to do in Port Douglas, Cairns, Qld, Australia

8 fun ways to enjoy the Atherton Tablelands

The best things to do in the Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Qld, Australia

8 fun ways to enjoy the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands is a lush, fertile region around 1.5 hours drive south-west of Cairns. Renowned for its tumbling waterfalls and abundant wildlife, the Atherton Tablelands makes for a great day trip or longer stay to explore everything that is on offer.

Wildlife that can be found in the Atherton Tablelands includes frogs, platypus, brolga, rock wallabies, bandicoots, quolls, the rare Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and hundreds of species of birds including golden bowerbirds, king parrots, honeyeaters, crimson rosellas and masked owls.

Tolga Bat Hospital

Tolga Bat Hospital, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

A highlight of our Atherton Tablelands visit, the Tolga Bat Hospital is a volunteer-run wildlife care facility for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of all species of bats as well as a sanctuary for bats unable to be released back into the wild. 

Tolga Bat Hospital, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

The Tolga Bat Hospital also focuses on educating the public on the importance of bats in our ecosystem, the issues effecting bats in the wild and what we can do to help and protect bats and their habitat.

Tolga Bat Hospital, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Guided educational tours of the Tolga Bat Hospital are run once daily between 3-6pm, with a minimum of four people and maximum of 10. A second tour may be added if there is demand. Bookings are essential. Tour times vary seasonally as they depending on when the bats come down from their 6m high cages to feed in the afternoons. The tours tend to start at 4pm in summer and between 3-3:30pm in winter. Tours last for an hour, starting with an eight-minutes movie on the Tolga Bat Hospital.

Tolga Bat Hospital, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Following the short movie, the tour commences and takes guests into the bat cages to meet the residents up close. We met microbats that were so tiny they were the size of a tiny mouse or even smaller, and a flock of flying foxes feasting on fruit. The tour is extremely educational and involves a lot of talking by the guide on the various species and their distinguishing features and their importance to the environment. 

Tolga Bat Hospital, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Bats are incredibly important as they are pollinators! Without bats spreading seeds, we lose plants, including important fruit crops.

Get more information on visiting the Tolga Bat Hospital.

Curtain Fig Tree

Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

This 500-year-old stranger fig tree in the Curtain Fig National Park is absolutely worth a visit. The renowned Curtain Fig Tree which is only a short drive out of the small town of is a giant tree with root that hang down from its branches like curtains. Take the short boardwalk around the base to see it from all sides. The boardwalk is wheelchair / stroller accessible.

Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

The Curtain Fig Tree is a result of one tree leaning against another on a 45-degree angle, with a strangler vine then growing along the angle of the leaning tree and dangling to create the “curtain”. This is one of the largest trees in North Queensland!

Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Gallo Dairyland

Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

We stopped at Gallo Dairyland for lunch on recommendation of our hotel. Gallo is beautifully located on a working farm with lovely rural views from the dining area. 

Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

The cafe is open for business seven days a week, 9:30am to 4:30pm, and offers a basic menu (including options for kids) plus cheese tasting, chocolates made on-site (you can watch the chocolatiers in action!), daily milking demonstrations from 3-4pm and an animal nursery with calves, alpacas and chicks. Bags of feed are available for sale and kids are welcome to hand-feed the animals. 

Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Gallo DairylandThere’s even a little play area for kids near the chocolate lab.

Gallo Dairyland Gallo Dairyland Gallo Dairyland
Get more information on visiting Gallo Dairyland.

Nerida Tea Plantation

Nerida Tea Plantation, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

We dropped by the Nerida Tea Plantation, which is located 10km from the town of Malanda, for a Devonshire tea. The tea room is open daily from 10am-4:30pm and I can highly recommend their amazing scones.

Nerida Tea Plantation, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Visiting the estate you can also learn about how tea is grown and processed, see the factory, buy factory-fresh tea and, if you’re lucky, see the resident Lumholtz tree-kangaroos, Misty and Billy, like we did!

Nerida Tea Plantation, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Nerida Tea Plantation, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Nerida Tea Plantation, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

Get more information on visiting the Nerida Tea Plantation.

Mungalli Creek Dairy

Mungalli Dairy Cairns

Mungalli is a family-run biodynamic dairy. This means the farm is run in a way that focuses on maintaining a healthy and vital relationship between the soil, animals, environment and the people who live on the land.

Mungalli Dairy Cairns

Drop by for the most amazing dairy products, a light lunch, or a slice of their famous cheesecakes. Their ploughman’s lunches are incredible! There is even a vegetarian one available. 

Mungalli Dairy Cairns Mungalli Dairy Cairns

Get more information on visiting Mungalli Creek Dairy here.

Millaa Millaa Falls and the Waterfall Circuit

Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

You can’t miss chasing waterfalls in the Atherton Tablelands! Millaa Millaa Falls is probably the most majestic of the falls, so if you don’t have time to drive the 17km Waterfall Circuit to see the Zillie and Ellinjaa Falls as well, then Millaa Millaa Falls is your best option (and also the easiest to get to).

Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia

The 18-metre Millaa Millaa Falls are beautiful to behold, with the water cascading into a pristine waterhole at its base, perfect for swimming (although the water was icy cold when we visited in July). You might even spot a platypus there!

There is a grassy picnic area so bring some snacks and stay a while if you have the time. 

Nick’s Swiss Italian Restaurant

Nicks Swiss Italian

The whole family will enjoy dining at Nick’s, located in Yungaburra. The menu is Swiss, and includes a wide range of food that also suits vegetarians. The portions are huge!

Nicks Swiss Italian

Drop by for a meal and play one of the musical instruments, check out the cuckoo clocks and have a laugh with the fantastic team who run the restaurant. Nick’s is also wheelchair accessible and pet friendly.

Nicks Swiss Italian Nicks Swiss Italian Nicks Swiss Italian

Get more information on visiting Nick’s Swiss Italian Restaurant.

Lake Escham

Lake Escham Cairns

This stunning, clear, blue lake surrounded by cool rainforest is a popular spot for swimming, birdwatching, canoeing, picnics and bush walks. With its calm water, Lake Escham is perfect for families.

Lake Escham Cairns

There is a shady 3km walking track loop around the lake.

Lake Escham Cairns

Swimmers can use the bathroom facilities to get changed after their dip. No cafes on site.

Lake Escham Cairns

Get more information on visiting Lake Escham.

Read about more things to do in the Atherton Tablelands.

The best things to do in the Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Qld, Australia

Visiting the Daintree Rainforest

The best things to do in the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns, Qld, Australia

A journey into the Daintree Rainforest

The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is located in Tropical North Queensland. One of the oldest rainforests in the world, the Daintree is home to unique plants and animals that are found nowhere else. 

The Daintree Rainforest

Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree region stretches 95km, beginning at Mossman Gorge, an hour’s drive north of Cairns. It continues past the Daintree Village, across the Daintree River, through the Daintree National Park rainforest to Cape Tribulation, and then along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown. The Daintree region ends at the Bloomfield River. 

Added to the World Heritage list in 1988, the Daintree is home to some incredibly rare animal and plant species. 30% of all Australian frog, marsupial and reptile species can be found here, as well as 65% of bats and butterflies species. Around 430 species of birds live in the Daintree, 13 species of which can be found nowhere else. The Daintree has the largest range of plant and animal species in the world that are classified as rare or threatened. 

A journey through the Daintree is like a trip back in time. Walking through rainforest that is over a hundred million years old is a truly humbling experience. 

It is one of the oldest continuous living tropical rainforests in the world – over a hundred million years old.

Great Barrier Reef

The Daintree Rainforest is bounded on one side by the Great Barrier Reef. It is the only place in the world where two World Heritage-listed sites meet. At Cape Tribulation, visitors can stand on the sand that connects the two incredible locations – where the rainforest meets the reef.

Daintree River

The mighty Daintree River flows through the heart of the rainforest, and is home to an incredibly diverse range of life including over 150 fish species, over 100 crustaceans and the prehistoric-looking Saltwater Crocodile. The river is possibly also the most species-rich mangrove estuary in the world, with 30 of Australia’s 38 mangrove species found here.

Both the Daintree River and, a bit further north, Coopers Creek, offer wildlife cruises with guides. We did a one-hour wildlife-spotting river cruise with the Solar Whisper.

The Daintree Ferry

Daintree Rainforest

The only way to get into the Daintree Rainforest National Park and up to cape Tribulation is by crossing the Daintree River on the vehicle ferry. The ferry operates daily from 6am to midnight and takes around 30 cars at a time. The crossing takes around 10 minutes however the wait to cross can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or even longer in peak season (July – Sept) and at peak times during the day (mid morning to lunchtime going north and mid afternoon to 5pm going south).

Leave as early as possible for your day trip into the rainforest and return early or have dinner and return late to avoid the long wait. When we visited in July, we lined up at 9:30am and crossed at 10am heading north. To get back over the river we lined up at 3:30pm and crossed at 4:30pm.

The Daintree Ferry costs $30 return per car. If you are staying for longer, a multi-day pass is available for $59, which allows for five return trips. 

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest

We spend one afternoon at Mossman Gorge, one day driving to Cape Tribulation and then back down again stopping at various points along the way, and then revisited Mossman Gorge the following morning. 

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

The most southern part of the Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people.

Mossman Gorge was the highlight of our entire trip. It was serene, blissful, a bit, dare I say it, magical. 

The Gorge is located south of the Daintree River so no river crossing is needed to access it.

You can read about our experience at Mossman Gorge here.

Solar Whisper Daintree River Wildlife and Crocodile Cruise

Daintree River Solar Whisper

Located on the south bank of the Daintree River, the Solar Whisper is easily located by car – no need to cross the Daintree River to get there. 

Daintree River Solar Whisper

The Solar Whisper is a solar-powered, electric boat that glides silently up the Daintree River emitting zero emissions (the only boat on the Daintree River to be so eco friendly). 

Daintree River Solar Whisper

Being so silent, the boat can glide up to crocodiles and other wildlife on the river without scaring them or damaging their habitat.

Daintree River Solar Whisper

The Solar Whisper boasts a 99% success rate* for spotting crocodiles, as well as other wildlife such as birds, frogs, snakes, fish and crabs. The boat also has a “croc cam” which helps show up camouflaged wildlife. 

Daintree River Solar Whisper

We had an extremely knowledgable guide on our one-hour river tour, who pointed out various birds hidden in trees as well as many crocs resting on the river banks.

Daintree River Solar Whisper

On the tour, we learned lots of fun facts, such as that you can tell the age of a crocodile by the number of teeth it has – when crocs lose their teeth they don’t grow back.

Get more information on the Solar Whisper.

Daintree Village

Daintree Rainforest Village

Located on the south bank of the Daintree River, the Daintree Village is the regions original settlement, dating back to the 1870s when timber cutters set up here. The village is tiny and quaint, with restaurants, artists’ studios and souvenirs on offer. There are also free electric barbecues and picnic tables. 

Daintree Village Hotel

Daintree Rainforest Village

We stopped for dinner at the Daintree Village Hotel. It has great pub food in a laid back setting, and a selection of souvenirs to shop for.

Daintree Rainforest

The hotel menu had lots of great food options, including healthy choices, a vege option (an excellent vegetarian burger) and a kids’ menu.

Daintree Rainforest Village

Daintree Discovery Centre

We ran out of time to visit the Daintree Discovery Centre. If you’re only spending one entire day in the Daintree National Park and want to drive up to Cape Tribulation and do a few other things, there is not much time left for the Discovery Centre unless you leave really early in the morning and get back to your hotel later.

The Daintree Discovery Centre is the first stop north of the river. It is a highly educational experience, featuring a 23 metre rainforest canopy tower, aerial walkways and boardwalks, audio guides in eight languages (including one for kids), rainforest reptiles and native fish displays, children’s displays, a mini theatre, interpretive centre with touch screens, access for prams, strollers and wheelchairs and a coffee shop.

Get more info about visiting the Daintree Discovery Centre.

The Original Daintree Ice Cream Company

Daintree Rainforest

This sweet spot is a must-stop in the Daintree! The Daintree Ice Cream Company is a tiny little shopfront located in an orchard where visitors can do a scavenger hunt around the trees to locate various fruits – many of which they may not have ever heard of before. 

Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Ice Cream Company makes unusual flavours such as black sapote ice cream and roasted wattleseed. They make four different flavours every day and visitors are served a bowl containing all the flavours on offer.

Daintree Rainforest

On the day we visited the flavours were yellow sapote, davidson plum, coconut and wattleseed. We adored the two fruit flavours in particular and wished we’d bought another bowl.

Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest

Get more information about The Original Daintree Ice Cream Company

Cape Tribulation

Daintree Rainforest

35km north of the Daintree River crossing is Cape Tribulation and the end of the sealed road thought the Daintree National Park. You can take any regular car across the Daintree River and up to Cape Tribulation – but not beyond this point. It is 4WD only beyond Cape Tribulation.

We drove directly from the Daintree River crossing up to Cape Tribulation and slowly made our way back down again. This was an excellent strategy as it allowed us to avoid most of the traffic on the single road through the rainforest as we were going in the opposite direction to most people.

Cape Tribulation Activities

There’s lots to do in Cape Tribulation, making it an excellent place to spend a fair chunk of your time in the Daintree. Horseback riding with Cape Trib Horse Rides, ziplining with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours and a half-day reef trip with Ocean Safari are some of the more adventurous options. You can also take guided walks or rent a sea kayak from Cape Trib.

Cape Trib Horse Rides takes riders from novice to expert on a ride that culminates at Myall Beach.

Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours is a guided tour through six tree platforms and seven ziplines, with platforms ranging from 5m to 19.5m above groundEven kids can zip!

We were keen to try a half-day tour with Ocean Safari however we ran out of time. The tours visit two destinations on the Great Barrier Reef. 

Cape Tribulation Beach

Daintree Rainforest

The main attraction at Cape Tribulation is the beach! Stepping out from the rainforest directly onto the beach is a remarkable experience, and the beach at Cape Trib is breathtakingly beautiful.

Daintree Rainforest

We spent a long time walking up and down the beach, marvelling at the tiny sand balls made by crabs and exploring the mangroves. This is truly a special spot.

Daintree Rainforest

We took a short walk past the entrance to Cape Tribulation Beach and found a stunning lookout at the end.

Daintree Rainforest

There is a large carpark right next to the beach, with accessible restrooms.

Myall Beach

Daintree Rainforest

Myall Beach is accessed from the same car park as Cape Tribulation Beach, so you can park in the one spot and visit both beaches via short walks. It’s a bit longer walk from the car park to Myall Beach than Cape Trib Beach, however it is not a challenging walk.

The beach itself is absolutely beautiful. Take a stroll up and down it but don’t go for a swim – there are crocs in these waters!

Boardwalks at Cape Tribulation

Daintree Rainforest

There are two self-guided interpretive walks at the Cape Tribulation. Dubuji Boardwalk (a 1.8km boardwalk through the forest and mangroves) and Maardja Botanical Walk (a shorter boardwalk and pathway through the coastal rainforest).

Dubuji is 10 minutes south of the town of Cape Tribulation while Maardja located a further 10 mins drive south again . When we visited, Maardja Botanical Walk was closed.

Dubuji Boardwalk

Daintree Rainforest

Follow the signs to the Dubuji car park and boardwalk from the main road. The Dubuji Boardwalk is an easy 1.8km stroll through the rainforest and mangroves. We loved the fan palms that towered high over us. 

Daintree Rainforest

There is the option here to exit onto Myall Beach or return to the car park. There are several signs along the boardwalk with fascinating information about the rainforest, making it a slower trip than if it was a straight walk. 

Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest

There are accessible restrooms in the car park.

Maardja Botanical Walk

Maardja Botanical Walk is a boardwalk and concrete path through the rainforest, featuring informative signs along the way to Oliver Creek, where crocodiles may be spotted. Maardja Botanical Walk was closed when we visited.

Whet Cafe Bar

Daintree Rainforest

We stopped for lunch at Whet after a recommendation from our accomodation. We thought the service was average and food decent. 

Daintree Rainforest Daintree Rainforest

Get more info about Whet Cafe Bar

Mason’s Swimming Hole

Daintree Rainforest

Mason’s Swimming Hole is on the property of Mason’s Cafe. The swimming hole is a freshwater waterhole free of crocs and full of fish. Entry is $1. Note that there are no restrooms or showers available. 

Daintree Rainforest

The swimming hole has some shallow sections and a rope swing. With no current it is a nice, safe spot for kids to swim. 

Get more info about Mason’s Cafe

 

 

Driving Times in the Daintree

From Cairns to Port Douglas – 60 minutes

From Port Douglas to Mossman – 15 minutes

From Mossman to Wonga Beach – 20 minutes

From Wonga Beach to either South of Daintree Ferry or Daintree Village – 15-20 min

From North of Ferry to Cow Bay/Diwan – 15-20 min

From Cow Bay/Diwan to Cape Tribulation – 20-25 min

Information for visiting the Daintree National Park

Daintree Rainforest

EFTPOS is available at the ferry between 8am-4:30pm seven days a week. At all other times users of the ferry need to pay cash unless they have a concessional card.

There is extremely limited mobile phone (cell phone) coverage throughout the Daintree. Telstra is meant to have the best coverage, however we have Telstra and had zero service the entire day. The Daintree Village has good mobile phone coverage however it is limited in the ferry area and north of the Daintree River.

Daintree Accommodation

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

There are various options to stay in the Daintree Rainforest, both north and south of the river, with pros and cons for each. We stayed south of the river at the Daintree Ecolodge and loved our time at the boutique hotel.

Read more about our stay at the Daintree Ecolodge here.

The best things to do in the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns, Qld, Australia