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Cairns

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. 

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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.

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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.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

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

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

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.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

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.

Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia Fitzroy Island Cairns Australia

Get more information on Fitzroy Island and Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort & Day Trip

Mossman Gorge: A Magical Experience

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Mossman Gorge: A Magical Experience

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.

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

Getting to Mossman Gorge

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.

There is a large car park at the Mossman Gorge Centre, which is the end of the road for commuting to the Gorge.

From the Mossman Gorge Centre, take the shuttle bus to the heart of the Gorge. No cars are permitted to drive past the Mossman Gorge Centre bar the official shuttle bus. You can walk, however it is a narrow road with no sidewalk and is also quite a long walk especially for kids. 

The shuttle bus service departs departs every 15 minutes, between 8am and 5.30pm daily.

Mossman Gorge Centre

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Start your Mossman Gorge experience at the Mossman Gorge Centre. As well as being the place to buy shuttle bus tickets, the centre also houses an Indigenous art gallery, gift shop, cafe and restrooms. 

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

The staff at the Mossman Gorge Centre can help you organise your Gorge experience, including planning your route as well as booking you onto a Dreamtime Walk.

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Indigenous culture

Visiting Mossman Gorge is a golden opportunity to experience the lives, culture and beliefs of the Australian Ingenious community, especially regarding their connection to the natural world. 

The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk tour is an extremely popular way to learn about Kuku Yalanii culture. Guided by the local Indigenous people, the tour takes visitors along private tracks to visit culturally significant places. Ngadiku (Nar-di-gul) means stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language. 

The Dreamtime Gorge Walk welcomes visitors with a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. The walk then takes place, with the Indigenous guide demonstrating traditional plant use, bush food sources and sharing stories of the rainforest. The tour ends with a traditional bush tea and damper.

Dreamtime Gorge Walk Features (from the Mossman Gorge website):

Traditional smoking ceremony
Stories of the Kuku Yalanji culture and traditions
Experienced Indigenous guides
Intimate group tour (approx 15 guests)
Exclusive access to Kuku Yalanji land
Visit a sacred ceremony site
Soap & ochre paint making demonstration
Bush tea and damper
Free access to the Mossman Gorge shuttle bus
Duration: approx 1.5 hours
Departs: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 3pm daily
Level/Grade of the walk: Easy – however please note the track is on uneven terrain, slippery when wet and has some inclination
Wheelchair accessibility: No

Mossman Gorge Walks

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

We decided to take our own adventures through the Gorge, along one of the shorter walking trails and spending most of our time at the main water hole. The tracks we selected were the Baral Marrjanga, which starts at the shuttle bus stop, and the Rex Creek bridge, which joins it. The walks combined took about 20 minutes. The information below on the different walks is from the Mossman Gorge website. 

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Baral Marrjanga—270 m (5–10 mins) Grade: easy
Baral Marrjanga leads through the rainforest from the shuttle bus stop to a lookout with views of the Mossman River and the mountain ranges beyond. The track includes two sections of elevated boardwalk which pass through the lower rainforest canopy. The track is suitable for wheelchairs, strollers and the vision-impaired.

Lower river track—300 m (5–10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
This track starts at the shuttle bus stop and winds along the Mossman River before joining Baral Marrjanga. Several small lookouts along the track provide views of the river. Although most of the lower river track is easy walking, the steps can be slippery. Please take care and use the handrails provided.

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Rex Creek bridge—460 m (10 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
To reach the Rex Creek suspension bridge, follow Baral Marrjanga to the lookout and take the short, sign-posted track to the left.

Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek bridge)—2.4 km return (45 mins) Grade: moderate to easy
This track begins on the far side of Rex Creek bridge. On the left, 80m from the bridge a small lookout provides views of Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi). A little way past the lookout the track divides to form a circuit that meanders through the rainforest.

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

Swimming in Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge, Daintree

The highlight of our visit was swimming in Mossman Gorge. It was too cold for me but I loved sitting on the giant rocks and watching the bright blue ulysses butterflies flittered over head and the fish swimming in the clear water. I spotted catfish and other unidentified species from my perch.

Mossman Gorge, Daintree

Swimming in the Gorge is not recommended as the water conditions can make it a dangerous experience. Mossman Gorge is unsupervised and unmonitored. If help is needed, it is a long way away – with no mobile phone coverage in the Gorge to call for assistance. Note that people have been injured and died swimming in the Gorge and take every precaution if you choose to swim.

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia

If you’re planning on swimming at Mossman Gorge, be prepared. Wear swimmers under your clothes and bring a towel. The water can be icy cold, too. 

Mossman Gorge, Daintree

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia Mossman Gorge, Daintree

Wheelchair accessibility

The shuttle bus, picnic area, toilets and the rainforest boardwalk Baral Marrjanga, which leads from the shuttle bus stop to the Mossman River lookout, are all wheelchair accessible.

What to pack

Insect repellent
Light weight cotton clothing
Hat
Sunscreen
A comfortable pair of walking shoes
Umbrella/Poncho
Snacks/picnic lunch
Water bottle

Mossman Gorge, Daintree Mossman Gorge, Daintree

mossmangorge.com.au

 

A Journey Above The Trees With Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Qld Australia

A Journey Above The Trees With Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

The iconic Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an immersive journey through and above Australia’s World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest.

Where does the Skyrail begin and end?

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

The Skyrail winds it’s way between Smithfield Terminal, located 15 minutes from Cairns and 50 minutes from Port Douglas, and Kuranda.

We chose to take the Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns to Kuranda and the Skyrail from Kuranda to Smithfield Terminal. When booking your package you can elect to also get a bus transfer from Smithfield Terminal back to Cairns, however we called an Uber. The Uber took about 12 minutes to arrive and our drive was indeed around 15 minutes back to Cairns.

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

What does the Kuranda Skyrail journey entail?

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

The full Skyrail experience takes approximately 1½ hours one way, or 2-2½ hours return, including time spent at two rainforest stations. 

I highly recommend jumping out and taking a look at both of the rainforest stations along the way.

Barron Falls 

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

If you’re travelling from Kuranda back to Smithfield Terminal, the first stop is Barron Falls, approximately 10 minutes from the Kuranda Terminal and 15 minutes from the Red Peak Terminal.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Alight here for a spectacular view of the Barron Gorge National Park, including the 260-metre Barron Falls. There are two separate viewing platforms to take in the view, including the new Edge Lookout. The steel and glass structure provides unimpeded panoramic views of the spectacular landscape.

At this stop you can also visit the CSIRO Rainforest Interpretation Centre and learn more about the area’s pioneering past at the historical display.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Plan to spend around 20 – 30 minutes discovering the rainforest, Barron Falls and the Barron Gorge National Park. The walkways here provide easy access to the two separate lookouts.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Barron Falls is at its peak during Cairns’ wet season (December to March).

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Red Peak

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

If you’re travelling from Kuranda back to Smithfield Terminal, the second stop is Red Peak, home to complimentary ranger-guided boardwalk tours and the Rainforest Discovery Zone.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

This is a great stop to really learn about the ancient rainforest through the interpretive signage and by strolling along the boardwalks through the landscape. 

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Upgrade to Glass Floor Gondolas (Diamond View)

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

We have previously taken the standard gondolas so this time wanted to try something a bit different and take the Skyrail’s glass floor gondolas, called “Diamond View”. The regular gondolas have been given an upgrade for this experience with the addition of a glass floor so you can look down onto the rainforest as you fly over the top.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

It’s quite a dizzying experience, truly like flying over the to, with such a cool perspective of the trees from directly above.  

Diamond View gondolas carry a maximum of 5 passengers and depart stations every 7 minutes (approximately). Diamond View passengers can enjoy dedicated boarding queues at all terminals and stations – however the queues were very light when we visited.

Additional fees apply: One Way Skyrail Diamond View upgrade $20.00 Adult, $10.00 Child

Things to do in Kuranda

Kuranda Village, Qld Australia

Allow plenty of time at Kuranda Village exploring the markets, attractions and restaurants. You can get more information on things to do in Kuranda Cairns here.

Kuranda Skyrail packages

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

Book your entire package online, including self-drive options and coach pick-up or return to Cairns city, Cairns beaches, Palm Cove and Port Douglas locations. 

Freshwater Railway Station (an option for boarding the Kuranda Scenic Railway) is approximately 7km from Skyrail’s Smithfield Terminal so a coach transfer is required. 

Bookings are essential.

Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia Skyrail Kuranda Cairns Australia

skyrail.com.au

We were hosted by Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. All opinions are my own.

Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Qld Australia

Things To Do In Kuranda Cairns

Kuranda Cairns, Qld Australia

Things To Do In Kuranda Cairns

Kuranda is a mountain village that has become a popular tourist attraction near Cairns, in Qld, Australia. 

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 taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway.

Get more information on taking the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.

Kuranda Markets

Kuranda Village, Qld Australia

There are two market locations at Kuranda. The Original Markets are located near to the Skyrail and Kuranda Station, making them the first you will come across when visiting Kuranda. The Heritage Markets are further down the main street of Kuranda and contain the entrances to Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld Kuranda.

Kuranda Village, Qld Australia

The Kuranda Markets are a fun place to browse and pick up handmade goods such as jewellery and woodwork. Aboriginal artefacts are also available for sale, and local produce like macadamia nuts and honey.

The shops are mostly locally family owned businesses, which makes it even better to know you’re supporting the local community with purchases made.

Australian Butterfly Sanctuary

Kuranda Australian butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

Home to over 1500 butterflies, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is the largest butterfly light aviary and exhibit in Australia and the southern hemisphere. Wear something bright (red, white or hot pink) if you want a butterfly to land on you. 

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

The majestic green and yellow Cairns Birdwing and the Monarch butterfly can be spotted flittering about the aviary.

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

We enjoyed watching the butterflies hatching and eating nectar from flowers.

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

Be sure to walk through the breeding laboratory which houses 4000 caterpillars in their varying stages of development.

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

We did have some luck with butterflies landing on our bags, heads and clothes, but they are so fast that it’s hard to get photos! Some butterflies were extremely tame and landed on people’s shoulders and hats and remained there for quite a long time.

Kuranda Australian Butterfly Sanctuary Qld Australia

There is a free shuttle service operating from the Kuranda Skyrail Terminal and the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, or it is only a short 10-minute walk.

Get more information about the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.

Kuranda Koala Gardens

Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia

Cuddle a koala at Kuranda Koala Gardens. The garden is home to a reasonable selection of iconic Australian animals including koalas, wallabies, wombats, snakes and lizards, bilbys gliders and Australia’s freshwater crocodile. 

Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia

Allow around an hour to walk around and meet all of the animals at Kuranda Koala gardens.

Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia

Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia Kuranda Koala Gardens Australia

The attraction is located in the Kuranda Heritage Markets. Free shuttle service operates from the Kuranda Skyrail Terminal and the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station to Koala Gardens, or it is only a short 10-minute walk.

Get more information on Kuranda Koala Gardens.

Birdworld Kuranda

Kuranda Birdworld Australia

Get up close to over 350 birds roaming freely at Birdworld Kuranda, one of Australia’s largest collections of free flying birds and the giant rainforest cassowary. The birds come from all over the world, including plenty of native Australian species. 

Kuranda Birdworld Australia

We spotted Amazonian macaws, the cassowary, rainbow lorikeets, bright coloured parrots, pink galahs and many more. As we entered we were given a handy information sheet with all of the bird species along with coloured pictures of birds to help with identification.

Kuranda Birdworld Australia

Many of the birds are quite happy to get up close to visitors and will swoop down and land on your head, shoulder or arm. You can buy a small bag of bird seed and nuts at the entrance to entice the birds to land on you or feed from your hand. 

Kuranda Birdworld Australia

The birds are attracted to shiny things so you will be asked to remove jewellery and hats when you enter to avoid them being stolen. Also note that while the birds are comfortable around people they are not tame animals and will give you a nip if you get too close and they don’t want a bar of it, so give them plenty of respect and space and you will make some happy feathered friends.

Kuranda Birdworld Australia

The attraction is conveniently located in the Kuranda Heritage Markets. Free shuttle service operates from the Kuranda Skyrail Terminal and the Kuranda Scenic Railway Station to Birdworld, or it is only a short 10-minute walk.

Get more information about Birdworld Kuranda.

Kuranda Cafes and Restaurants

Kuranda Village, Qld Australia

Allow plenty of time for your visit to Kuranda, including a stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants. You can find a full list of the cafes and restaurants in Kuranda here.

Get more information on things to do in Kuranda here.

We were hosted at Birdworld Kuranda, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Kuranda Koala Gardens. All opinions are my own.

Kuranda Cairns, Qld Australia

All Aboard The Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Australia

All Aboard The Kuranda Scenic Railway

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 has been running from Cairns, Qld, over the Great Dividing Range to the town of Kuranda on the Atherton Tableland, since 1891. 

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

The journey takes approximately 2 hours, including a 10-minute stop at the Barron Falls Station for a quick look at the Barron Falls, and passing through 15 hand carved tunnels, 37 bridges as well as spectacular waterfalls.

Passengers can choose to start their journey in Cairns or at Kuranda, and can also select to take the train in a single direction and take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway the other, or take the train in both directions.

We selected to start in Cairns and end our journey at Kuranda. 

You can get more information on taking the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway here.

Kuranda Scenic Railway Heritage Class vs Gold Class

The Kuranda Scenic Railway offers two ways to take this special journey – “Heritage Class” or “Gold Class”. 

Heritage Class just includes the basic journey in an original carriage with no added extras.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia
Kuranda Scenic Railway Heritage Class
Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia
Kuranda Scenic Railway Heritage Class

Gold Class offers the ability to travel in comfort with individual lounge-style chairs and dedicated host service. 

Kuranda Scenic Railway
Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class

We have previously travelled in Heritage Class but decided to try Gold Class this time. Gold Class includes includes morning or afternoon tea featuring a selection of Queensland and local Tablelands produce such as Gallo Dairyland Cheese, Skybury Coffee, Wondaree Macadamias, Mango to Go (100% pure mango treat), freshly baked muffins, Sirromet wines and Great Northern Brewing Company Super Crisp Lager as well as a complimentary gift pack.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

The Kuranda Scenic Railway gift pack includes Kuranda Scenic Railway badge, pen and postcard.

Gold Class also includes the option to take an exclusive tour of the Heritage-Listed Signal Cabin at Kuranda Station (for morning Gold Class service only. Ask your Guest Service Attendant for details).

Other Gold Class benefits on select departures: welcome tropical mocktails served in the pavillion area 20 minutes prior to the arrival of the train when boarding at Freshwater Station in the morning, and welcome drinks served onboard the train, 20 minutes prior to departure, when boarding at Kuranda Station in the afternoon.

The menu can’t be altered if you have any dietary requirements, however the regular menu does always feature a gluten-free / vegetarian option. 

Travelling Gold Class made the journey incredibly special. It was a relaxing, comfortable experience with constant snacks and drinks being supplied, in incredibly comfy chairs. We would absolutely travel this way again in the future.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

The journey from Cairns to Kuranda

We boarded at Cairns, the igirinating stop. The next stop is Freshwater, where the bulk of passangers board, followed by a pit stop at Barron Falls Station. There is ample time to get out and take photos of the beautiful Barron Falls during this time.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia

Keep cameras at the ready as the scenery on both sides of the train is spectacular the entire journey.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Cairns Australia Kuranda Scenic Railway Kuranda Scenic Railway

More information about Kuranda Scenic Railway

The Kuranda Scenic Railway operates daily all year, except Christmas Day.

TO KURANDA TIMETABLE
Depart Cairns station 8.30am & 9.30am
Depart Freshwater station 8.55am & 9.55am*
Arrive Kuranda 10.25am & 11.25am
FROM KURANDA TIMETABLE
Depart Kuranda 2.00pm & 3.30pm*
Arrive Freshwater 3.32pm & 5.02pm
Arrive Cairns 3.55pm & 5.25pm
*Gold Class is available on selected departures

Bookings are highly recommended. Our Gold Class cabin was completely full. I suggest combining the journey aboard Kuranda Scenic Railway with a Skyrail Rainforest Cableway experience in the other direction, and also allowing plenty of free time in Kuranda to explore.

Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class

Gold Class offered on the following services:
9.55am departure from Freshwater Station to Kuranda
3.30pm departure from Kuranda to Freshwater
Please Note: No Gold Class service is offered between Cairns and Freshwater Station. All customers are welcome to commence or end their journey at Cairns Station, however the special service does not run between Freshwater and Cairns Stations.

Information regarding prams and strollers

Collapsible prams and strollers can be stored under the Heritage Class seats provided they are no more than 25cm in height once collapsed.

A limited number of non-collapsible or large collapsible prams and strollers may be accepted on a Kuranda Scenic Railway service. They can be stored in the Accessibility (PWD) carriage wheelchair spaces if they aren’t being used for wheelchairs, in the guards van or in the luggage storage section on each service. The acceptance of larger prams and strollers on each Kuranda Scenic Railway service is at the discretion of the onboard staff and subject to available space on the day. Children are not allowed to travel on the train in a stroller or pram for safety reasons.

Wheelchair accessibility​​

Wheel chair access at Cairns, Freshwater & Kuranda stations
Wheel chair Ramp at Cairns station
Wheel chair lift at Freshwater & Kuranda stations
Wheel chair access at Barron Falls station is unavailable
When booking please advise Reservations you require wheelchair access, so that we are able to provide the appropriate assistance

Things to do in Kuranda Village

Allow plenty of time at Kuranda Village to visit the attractions, markets and restaurants. Read more about things to do in Kuranda Cairns.

Kuranda Scenic Railway, Qld Australia

ksr.com.au

We were hosted by Kuranda Scenic Railway. All opinions are my own.

Frankland Islands: A Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Visiting the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

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.

There are five islands comprising the Frankland Islands: Normanby, High, Russell, Round and Mabel. The islands are part of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 

How to get to the Frankland Islands

There is only one way to visit to these uninhabited islands: booking through Frankland Islands Reef Cruises. The islands are uninhabited, which means no bathroom or running water. While camping is allowed on Russel Island, Frankland Islands Reef Cruises are the only company to hold a permit to visit Normanby Island.

The day trips depart from Deeral. You can self-drive like we did, or take the Frankland Islands Reef Cruises air conditioned coach that departs Cairns daily at around 7.45am. Transfers are also available from Mission Beach. 

The drive takes about 45 minutes. It’s a gorgeous drive south, past fields of sugar cane and the iconic Gordonvale Pyramid. 

The departure point also has no facilities so prepare to board the luxurious boat Turtle Islander straight away, where there are restrooms and drinkable water available. The boat has two levels, air conditioning, shade and plenty of comfortable seating inside the boat.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

It’s a 30-minute calm water cruise along the Mulgrave River, which is lined with rainforest and mangroves, before a short 6-mile open water crossing to the Frankland Islands, which takes about 15 minutes. If you’re lucky like us, you’ll see crocodiles on the banks of the river.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Morning and afternoon tea is provided on board the boat – tea, coffee and some bikkies are very happily received.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

If you’re like me and suffer from extreme seasickness but still want to see the reef, then this is the best option for you. The Frankland Islands day trip is the shortest open water crossing of any Cairns reef day tour (approx 15 minutes).

What’s included in the price

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Included in the price is generous buffet lunch, which is served on the island. The menu includes a choice of several salads, chicken, ham, prawns, breads and an abundance of fresh tropical fruit. I received fresh vegetarian wraps. 

Also included in the price are flotation devices, snorkeling gear (prescription masks are an extra $15), seasonal protection suits, free guide for certified divers. Wetsuits are available for an extra cost ($15).

When we visited in July the water was too cold for me to swim without a wetsuit.

Things to do on the Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Once you’ve arrived on the island, there are plenty of activity options and the day just flies by.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Snorkelling is easy to do right off the beach. Only a few metres out we saw parrot fish, clown fish, giant glams, sea cucumbers and more.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

While it would be quite easy to spend the day just snorkelling, walking around the island and relaxing, there are optional extras that can be added on to make the day more adventurous.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

I chose to do the Adventure Snorkel Safari ($10). The onboard marine biologist took took swimmers around to the other side of the island where the coral is in abundance and the sea life similarly so.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

It was incredible to see the healthy coral teeming with fish, giant clams, and I even spotted a sleeping green sea turtle. Sea life that is found in this part of the reef also includes anemonefish, nudibranchs, sea stars, stingrays, feather stars, wrasse, butterflyfish, angelfish, parrotfish, damselfish and manta rays.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

While I was doing the adventure snorkel, Alec and Cheese took a ride on the semi-submersible ($5). The tour went to the same reef that my snorkelling tour visited, but from the comfort of the enclosed boat. It’s a great option for kids who aren’t strong snorkellers. From their excellent position they saw the same stunning coral and fish life that I did on my snorkelling tour.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

After lunch we did the Guided Island Walk ($5) with the cruise’s marine biologist. The walk was one of the highlights of the day for us. We took a very slow walk around the island, through the rock pools, rainforest and beaches, learning about the islands and their unique creatures. 

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

One of the distinctive features of the Frankland Islands are their coral beaches, rather than soft sand. On the walk we learned that in the ocean coral only lasts around 10 years, after which it washes ashore and eventually forms the rock shelf. 

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

We also learned that the islands were made into a National Park after a special star protozoa was found on Normandy Island, in one small spot on the shore. The protozoa (too small to photograph) is only found in one other place in the world, Okinawa, Japan, making is a special place in need of protecting. 

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Other optional activities: scuba diving (from $99), clear kayaks ($15), stand up paddle board ($15), sea-doo scooter ($70). 

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

If you want to camp on Russell Island, you can also be transferred to the island for a fee. Permits apply. 

Photography on the Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

There is an underwater photographer onboard daily. Ours was excellent at getting lots of photos of us snorkelling and on the beach. He also brought his drone so we were able to get the fantastic shot of us on the beach from above. I thought his package to buy all of the photos at the end was very reasonable (I can’t remember how much it was however!).

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

You can hire an underwater camera ($35) from Frankland Island Reef Cruises. I used my GoPro underwater, however the water was a bit cloudy on the day we visited so I didn’t get amazing shots that do justice to how beautiful the reef was. 

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

What you need to know about a Frankland Islands Day Trip

Check in at 8.15am for an 8.30am departure
The tour returns to Cairns around 5.15pm.
Bring shoes to walk around on the beach as it is coral, not sand. We took reef shoes but thongs/flip flops would also be fine.

Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia Frankland Islands Cairns Australia

Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

franklandislands.com.au

We were hosted by Frankland Islands Reef Cruises. All opinions are my own. Additional images with thanks to Frankland Islands Reef Cruises.