There’s more to Cairns than the Great Barrier Reef

Don’t be put off going to Cairns by the rainy season in the middle of an Australian summer; it can be a surprisingly good time to visit Far North Queensland.  If you’re coming from the northern hemisphere I can imagine that any warm weather is a relief. There’s a predictable tropical weather pattern of night-time showers and day-time mugginess and heat;  it’s not the extreme dry heat of Melbourne on the one extreme or Darwin at the other.

Also there’s a lot more to do in this World Heritage Area than just visiting the Great Barrier Reef although you can’t beat doing a day trip to the outer reef on a cruise such as Ocean Freedom. Our trip was filled with mainly international tourists and a few Australians. It’s a leisurely day snorkelling and diving with the only draw-back being that we were too long at the first site and I imagine there would have been a lot of very sunburnt tourists on their return to Cairns.

Inland from the reef is a favourite horse-riding destination, Blazing Saddles, which has moved from the Atherton Tablelands to Palm Cove, where you can also go quad bike riding. This is a leisurely horse ride with excellent and fun guides who take you safely and expertly through a range of exotic environments including a billabong. If you’re a more advanced rider you can canter as well as trot along with the others.

The World Heritage areas north of Cairns includes one of the most breath taking coastal drives drives along the Captain Cook Highway linking Cairns with Port Douglas. There is not much you can say about this stretch of untouched and undeveloped coastline except to see it- no matter how often you drive along it it, you want to see it again.

In Cairns, you’ll find more than the two extremes of luxury Hotels and backpacker accommodation. One of our favourites for its’ Queenslander-inspired architecture, excellent fresh buffet breakfasts and family-run is the The Hotel Cairns. Set back just one block from the Espanade and a few blocks from the centre of town it’s across the road from KickArts, Contemporary Arts, Cairns. This is where you’ll find fabulous contempory art and jewellary from both local artists from other states as well as  to as far north as the Torres Strait Islands.

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