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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.

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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. 

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!

Cairns Australia Cairns Australia Cairns Australia Cairns Australia Cairns Australia Cairns Australia

There is a disabled-use Liberty Swing which uses the uses the MLAK national keying system. Ask at Muddy’s Cafe for access.

Cairns Australia

There are two toilet facilities in the playground area, barbecues and picnic tables and a cafe. 

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Five fun ways to enjoy the Atherton Tablelands

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

Five 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, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia Gallo, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Australia
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.

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. 

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

Daintree Ecolodge: A Rainforest Retreat

Daintree Ecolodge, Qld, Australia
Daintree Ecolodge: A Rainforest Retreat

The Daintree Ecolodge is a luxurious retreat in the world’s oldest rainforest. It is located near the Daintree Village, before the Daintree River crossing. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

We stayed at the Daintree Ecolodge for two nights and found it to be the perfect base to explore the Daintree Rainforest from. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

The Daintree Ecolodge is a small, boutique resort. It has 15 eco-friendly bayans (which are like seperate cabins) nestled in the canopy of the rainforest. Each bayan has its own screened-in balcony to experience the sights and sounds of the rainforest while still enjoying the comforts of a luxury hotel (and no bugs!).

All stays at Daintree Ecolodge include a gourmet breakfast from an a la carte menu using seasonal produce sourced from the onsite vegetable garden (which you can walk past on the way to the restaurant) and the surrounding region. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

There is no TV or Wi-fi in the bayans! A stay at the Daintree Ecolodge is all about switching off from technology and enjoying the environment around you.

There are three types of banyans to choose from – each has a different price point.

Lagoon Banyan
The entry level accommodation, Lagoon Banyans overlook the onsite lagoon and Jalayamba Restaurant. These banyans have not been renovated like the Canopy and Rainforest Bayans have been. The room includes a king bed with rollaway available to accomodate one additional guest.

Canopy Banyan
The Canopy Banyans are the mid-level room choice. They are located high up in the canopy and have uninterrupted views of the rainforest. Canopy Banyans have been recently renovated. The room includes a king bed with rollaway available to accomodate one additional guest. Access is via stairs. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

We chose the Canopy Banyan for our stay and were pleased with our choice. The view from the room was stunning, like we were staying in our own private cabin in the rainforest. It has the utmost privacy too, being on a mid level and away from the other banyans. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

The room is simple in design but beautiful, with a huge bathroom and small kitchenette including a sink and fridge at the entry.

Rainforest Banyan
These banyans are located on the ground floor and are the top tier of accommodation choice. Each Rainforest Banyan features a bath on the screened balcony. The rooms include a king bed with rollaway available to accomodate one additional guest.

Julaymba Restaurant
The onsite restaurant, Julaymba, serves up delicious meals with a stunning view across the lagoon. Julaymba Restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner only. 

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

Julaymba Restaurant serves dishes created from seasonal, home grown and locally-sourced produce, and is open to the public as well as staying guests.

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

We dined at Julaymba Restaurant for breakfast both mornings of our stay and enjoyed one dinner at the restaurant, which was undoubtedly our highlight meal for our entire Tropical North Queensland trip.

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

Julaymba Restaurant caters to kids and all dietary requirements, so I had a vegetarian menu with plenty of options to choose from, and the kid was happy with her special kids’ menu.

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia
Kid’s meal

Breakfast at Julaymba Restaurant is an à la carte menu – classic brekkie faves, served with a Daintree twist.

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

The Daintree Ecolodge has a pool and spa available for guests to use, but we didn’t have enough time to try them out.

Daintree Ecolodge, Australia

Daintree Ecolodge
3189 Mossman Daintree Rd, Daintree QLD
Online

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, Fitzroy Island, Qld, Australia

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Fitzroy Island

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) is located on Fitzroy Island, near Cairns in far north Queensland, Australia. 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.

We visited the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre during our two-night stay on Fitzroy Island. You can read about our stay at the Fitzroy Island Resort here.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, many of whom are threatened by natural and human factors. Spoiler: it’s mostly human behaviour that’s harming the turtles.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Turtles arrive suffering at CTRC suffering from disease and/or injuries caused by boats, discarded fishing gear or have eaten plastic after mistaking it for food. “Floaters disease” is a very common ailment that turtles are brought in with, where air is trapped between the shell and body, making it impossible for the turtle to dive underwater and feed itself. If not treated, turtles with “floaters disease” either starve or are eaten by predators. There are also a number of turtles brought in from the Cape York Peninsula suffering horrible injuries from getting entangled in discarded fishing nets. The injuries are often so bad that the turtles can’t be saved. 

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

The CTRC has been doing amazing work in its 15 years of operation, with the success rate in rehabilitating turtles and returning them to the wild has improved from 20-30% to ~85%. Satellite tracking of these released turtles has shown that even after long periods of rehabilitation that once released the turtles do well, some quickly covering very large distances in the ocean.

CTRC relies on the generous donations from supporters and volunteers to continue their excellent work.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Visitors to Fitzroy Island can take a tour of the CTRC. The tours are limited to 15 people and are available to book on the day of the tour only, once you are physically on the island. Resort guests can book at the hotel reception. Day trippers can book at the General Store. Tours book out extremely fast so make it the first thing you do on arrival if you are day tripping to the island, or book it first thing in the morning if you are a resort guest. The turtles can have “rest” days where the tours are not run, so call Reception on (07) 4044 6700 ahead of booking your trip check that the day you’re visiting isn’t a rest day.

The tours run daily from 1pm, and are approximately 45 minutes in length. Often if the tours are booked out, additional tours are added. Tours cost Cost: $11.50 Adult, $7.00 Child (4-13 years), infants free of charge.

Our turtle tour experience

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia
We took the turtle tour and were so glad that we did. We were given an excellent tour by Azri, the resident marine biologist. He gave the group an incredibly educational tour, talking a lot about the reasons turtles ended up at the CTRC and what we can do as individuals to protect the turtles (don’t use plastic, recycle rather than contribute to landfill, don’t release helium balloons). 

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

The tour is a fantastic way for kids in particular to learn about how their actions contribute to harming turtles so they can make good decisions as they get older. We learned about the effects of turtles eating garbage – it traps air and makes the turtle float to the surface unable to dive for food and protection, resulting in “bubble butt” or “floaters disease”.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

While the situation for our turtles is quite grim the tour is also uplifting and positive as the educational component also focuses on the turtle species and lots of fun facts about them.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Kids are encouraged to ask all their turtle questions and we learnt lots of interesting details such as how old do turtles get, how big do they grow (Leatherbacks, the largest, grow up to 2m, and green sea turtles are the 2nd largest), where do they lay their eggs (Heron and lady Elliot Islands and how many eggs to do they lay at a time (100!). We learned how to tell male and female turtles apart (males have long tales, females short), and so much more.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

There were seven turtles in the facility when we visited, only only one of which was able to be viewed due to her healthy condition – she was almost well enough to be released back into the wild. 

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

At the end of the tour kids get a special certificate to take home and remind them of their tour and to be a good turtle ambassador. It was an eye opening experience for us adults on the poor situation for turtles, as well as extremely interesting for the kids – particularly the older ones.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Note that there is a lot of talking and listening required on the tour and nothing in the facility to be played with. Turtles can’t be touched! I would suggest the tour for kids maybe aged 6+ or younger if they have good listening skills and won’t get bored from all the talking.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

cairnsturtlerehab.org.au

 

Fitzroy Island Resort & Day Trip

Fitzroy Island Resort & Day Trip

Fitzroy Island Resort & Day Trip

Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise with lush rainforest and unspoiled beaches, accessed by a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns, Qld, Australia. Stay at the Fitzroy island Resort for the ultimate escape from it all!

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

We spent two nights at the Fitzroy Island Resort in July and really loved being on “island time” relaxing, hanging out in the pool, wandering up and down the beach and through the rainforest.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

We didn’t feel the need to overload with activities because it’s a gorgeous spot to just sit around and do nothing! While the weather was excellent in July, if swimming is your prime purpose for visiting I would suggest coming in warmer months as I found it too cold to swim in July.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Fitzroy Island is the perfect retreat for families, so it’s not surprising that the island was packed with kids of all ages. It was great for our daughter to make friends with other kids and have someone to play with in the pool, or while we ate dinner at Foxy’s Bar in the evenings. 

The resort offers daily complimentary activities for guests – check the board each morning to see what is on offer.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

If you’re visiting with kids, pick up a free Fitzroy Island Activity Book from reception. It’s a really fun little booklet for kids to tick off things they do and record their stay.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Getting to Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Located 29km south-east of Cairns, Fitzroy Island is extremely easy to reach by the regular ferry transfers on the Fitzroy Flyer. The ferry departs from the Cairns Marlin Marina Birth 20 three times a day.

Cairns – Fitzroy Island:  8am, 11am and 1:30pm
Fitzroy Island – Cairns;  9:30am, 12:15pm and 5pm

If you’re planning to stay overnight on Fitzroy Island, this is the only way to get to the island and back again.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Since we were staying at the resort, we booked the Fitzroy Flyer as part of our accommodation package. Once your departure times have been booked, you are able too change them if you need to. 

Wanting to day trip to Fitzroy? You have some additional options, with two other boats taking day trips to and from the island and optional inclusions for lunch and activities.

Get information on all of the transport options to Fitzroy Island Resort and packages.

Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

The boutique hotel on Fitzroy Island is a beautiful place to spend a few days relaxing on island time. We were blown away but how gorgeous the very well appointed rooms are. While the website advertises rooms with a kitchenette, it’s basically a full kitchen with all the equipment needed to make meals.

If we stayed on Fitzroy Island again, I would take my own food over to the island in a cold bag on the ferry and make our own meals in the excellent kitchen. While there is a general store on the island it doesn’t stock a lot of items and what it does stock are expensive due to the cost of transporting them. 

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Sunset from our balcony was absolutely divine and we loved sitting there and just watching the beach and the colours float across the sky. It is absolutely worth paying for the balcony and ocean view.

Fitzroy Island Resort facilities

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

While the island is open to dray trippers, the resort and its facilities are only for use by the hotel guests.

Outdoor pool & spa
Swim up pool bar
Arcade games room
Children’s play room
Movie theatre
Dive & Adventure Centre
Massage services
24-hour reception
Tour desk
Conference & meeting venues
Wedding ceremonies & functions

The movie theatre shows two movies a day, one for kids and one for teens / adults.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia
Reading/board games room

The reading room had a shelf full of books that could be borrowed as well as board games.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia
Games room
Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia
Toddler play room

We used the pool a fair bit even though it is not heated and it was way too cold for me to swim. The cold didn’t bother the kids in the slightest.

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The arcade room is also popular, as is the table tennis table – free to use, just ask reception for the paddles and ball. 

Fitzroy Island also has a general store and a casual restaurant and bar called “Foxy’s Bar”, both of which are available for use by resort guests and day trippers.

Fitzroy Island Resort Island Suite

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

We stayed in a Fitzroy Island Resort Island Suite – a one bedroom suite with seperate dining and balcony. The bedroom included a queen bed with a pullout sofa bed in the living room.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

The suite also contained a kitchenette with microwave, toaster and full size fridge and tea and coffee facilities, TV, lounge and dining area and a massive en suite black marble tiled bathroom. The suite was air conditioned, which we didn’t need to use in July.

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Use of shared guest laundry with lifts to all floors.

The resort building has rooms on three floors – ground, first and second, with long, sheltered outdoor boardwalks joining the rooms to the elevators and main resort area.

There are elevators and stairs to access each level.

I would highly recommend requesting a room at the very end of the boardwalk if possible even though it makes it a longer walk to get back to the resort facilities. We found that each morning at around 6am small children would run up and down the boardwalks relentlessly, which would wake us all up.

Zephyr restaurant

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Zephyr restaurant is open in the evenings for dinner and at breakfast, which we had included in our package.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Breakfast was a very decent buffet with pre-made hot food and continental options.

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Things to do on Fitzroy Island

Fish feeding

A free daily activity. Twice a day the resort staff bring out a small amount of fish food and throw it off the jetty. It attracts all kinds of fish and if you’re watching you’ll get a very educational talk on what they fish are and their place on the reef.

General store

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The general store sells souvenirs and basic groceries, with a few takeaway food items (such as pies). I highly advise taking your own groceries and pharmaceutical items as when we visited they had run out of things like Panadol.

Foxy’s Bar

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Open for lunch and dinner, Foxy’s is popular with day trippers as well as hotel guests. It has a casual atmosphere and a real “island” vibe. We loved the pool tables at the bar that were also free to use.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

There is a dedicated kids’ menu at Foxy’s Bar. The menu for lunch and dinner is almost identical, with the removal of some lunch items on the dinner menu. This makes for a bit of a limited choice of food (as well as expensive) if you’re staying on the island for a few days so I recommend definitely planning to make some meals yourself if you are staying longer than one or two nights. As a vegetarian I struggled with the food options being limited, too.

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Nudey Beach

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Take the short Nudey Beach Track to reach the beach (info below). The beach is absolutely stunning, but note that it is a coral beach not sand, so reef shoes are advisable. 

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Walking and exploring

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

There are several bushwalking tracks on the island of varying lengths and difficulty. 

Secret Garden Track 1km return – 45 mins
This is an easy, inland trail through the rainforest . Look out for the various native birds that life on the island and the skinks that dart around your feet. You might even see butterflies.

Nudey Beach Track 1km return – 45 mins
An easy walk that has some steep steps to climb up and down, the track goes through the rainforest and down to the stunning Nudey Beach. Take water and a picnic with you. There are no bathrooms on this trail or at the beach.

Lighthouse Road 3.6km return – 2 hrs
This hike goes up a steep concrete road, passing several viewing platforms, culminating at the lighthouse. There are excellent views of the island from the lighthouse – which can be accessed if a ranger is on duty.

Summit Track 2.6km return – 3hrs
Graded “difficult”, this is a hike recommended for fit hikers as it takes in very steep terrain. The track goes through rainforest and opens up to stunning island and ocean views. During the warmer months, it’s best to attempt the summit hike in the morning before it gets too hot. Take plenty of water and sunscreen, and wear good walking shoes.

Diving

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Visit the Fitzroy Island PADI accredited Dive & Adventure Centre to dive with qualified and experienced instructors. The dive centre offers PADI certified courses and plenty of dive options for experienced divers. 

Snorkelling

It’s easy to swim out from the beaches and experience snorkelling around the fringing coral reefs. Marine life includes clownfish and sea turtles. You can hire equipment from the Dive & Adventure Centre.

Giant ocean trampoline

The ocean trampoline is located 25m offshore, so you need to be a strong swimmer to reach it. 

Glass bottom boat tour

Want to see the fish without getting wet? Take the glass bottom boat tour and get a good look at the reef and marine life without needing to dip a toe in the ocean. There are dry and wet glass bottom boat tours available – on the wet one snorkellers are welcome to get in the water and then back into the boat again. Glass Bottom Boat Tours depart twice a day, 10.30am and 3pm, bookings essential.

Sea kayaking

Hire a kayak and paddle around the island. Kayaks offer the chance to visit private beaches and snorkelling spots that aren’t available by foot or boat. Sea kayaks are available for hire from the Dive and Adventure Centre.

Stand up paddle boarding

Hire a stand up paddle board and enjoy being on the ocean. Stand up paddle boards are available for hire from the Dive and Adventure Centre.

Sunlover Reef Cruises

If you’re staying on Fitzroy Island and want to visit the outer Great Barrier Reef, the Sunlover Reef Cruises take visitors to the outer Moore Reef Pontoon for snorkeling or diving.

Eye Spy Sailing

Another option best suited to those staying on the island, the luxurious Eye Spy Catamaran takes guests on a midday Scenic Sail or an afternoon Sunset Sail from Fitzroy Island.

Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Visiting the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) was one of the main reasons we visited Fitzroy Island. 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.

The tours of the CTRC run daily from 1pm, and are approximately 45 minutes in length. Often if the tours are booked out, additional tours are added. Tours cost Cost: $11.50 Adult, $7.00 Child (4-13 years), infants free of charge.

Get more information about the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and our experience taking the tour.

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Get more information on Fitzroy Island and Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort & Day Trip