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Exploring Tropical North Queensland from Cairns

Home > Cairns > Adventure | Beaches | Camping | Escape the City | National Parks
by Kate Galea (subscribe)
A full time traveller Kate and her partner have called a Toyota Coaster home since December 2016. They are currently touring Australia making memories and lapping up everything this amazing country has to offer. Visit www.theroadhousecoasters.com
Published June 30th 2018
Roadtriping around Tropical North Queensland
After a month based in Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, I feel just about qualified to give a few recommendations of places to check out when you are travelling around here. It turns out there is a lot more to do than explore the Great Barrier Reef, so here is a list of some of my land-based favourites.

Mareeba Drive-In - 1 hour 10 drive from Cairns. It is a pretty steep and windy drive up the to Mareeba from the city but it is well worth it. Located in the Atherton Tablelands, this old school Drive-In movie theatre is the perfect way to spend an evening. They show two movies a night on Friday and Saturday but you only pay one entry fee. No BYO food or drink is allowed but there are burgers, pizzas and of course, popcorn served from the kiosk.

Mareeba
Sleep over at the Drive-In


Mareeba Heritage Museum - 1 hour 10 drive from Cairns. This museum might look small from the outside but around every corner, there is another history setting ready to delight and educate. We popped in for a quick look but spent over an hour wandering around the museum, old houses, schoolroom, bar, shops and train. Right in the middle of the historical settings, there is a little cafe where you could imagine you really are in the past. If you go on a Saturday there's also a little market outside.

Jindalba Boardwalk, Daintree National Park - 2 hours 30 north of Cairns. 10 kilometres north of the Daintree River Ferry Crossing. There are walks that you can do at the nearby Discovery Centre but if you don't want to pay $35 to climb the 23-metre tower to the lookout or do the skywalk, then there are a few free options here. One is the 700-metre boardwalk and the other is the 3.5-kilometre walk through the wilderness. We opted for the longer one which took just over an hour as there was so much to stop and look at.

Daintree
Rainforest walk in the Daintree


Daintree
Where the rainforest meets the reef


Mossman Gorge - 1 hour 15 north of Cairns. Just 15 minutes north of Port Douglas, things start to get real tropical around here as you drive through the sugar cane fields. The Gorge is only 5 minutes out of Mossman and on the way to the Daintree.

Port Douglas - 1 hour north of Cairns. This fancy holiday destination is well worth a look. It leans towards the fabulous end of the tourist scale with less motels and more resorts than Cairns. The drive north to PD from Cairns is beautiful and while you don't want to do it in pitch black as it is pretty windy and narrow, try and time it for around sunset so you can admire the sky over the ocean which is right next to you the whole drive. When you get there you'll be spoilt for choice of where to have dinner. There are only two caravan parks within walking distance of the high street and if you go on a Friday or Saturday make sure you book in advance. Must do's while you are in town include; a stroll along 4 Mile Beach, watching the sunset from Rex Smeal Park, walking up Flagstaff Hill and a fancy meal at one of the candle-lit restaurants.

Sunset
Sunset by the water in Port Douglas


Port Douglas
Looking down on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas


Barron Falls, Kuranda - 40 minutes from Cairns. If you take the Kuranda Scenic Railway, then the train will stop at Barron Falls Station where you can get a good look at the falls. If you don't opt for that then you can drive there easily too. Park in the car park in the Barron Gorge National Park at the end of Barron Falls Road and take the 1-kilometre boardwalk stroll through the rainforest to the station and the lookout. The drive from here back to Cairns is pretty spectacular too and there are some great photo opportunities.

Atherton Tablelands coming into Cairns


Palm Cove. Cairns - 25 minutes north of the city. Located on the northern beaches this little slice of paradise is well worth a look, a stroll and a spot of lunch. The palm tree lined beach is perfect for tying a hammock too and there are numerous eateries calling out for your tourist dollars.

Noah's Beach Campground - Daintree National Park. 2 hours 40 from Cairns. There are a few camping options in the Daintree National Park but Noah's Beach Camp means that you are in the rainforest for one minute and then the reef is at your feet moments later.

Daintree
Noah's Beach Camping


Have fun exploring!
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Why? Exploring Tropical North Queensland from Cairns
When: Anytime
Where: Tropical North Queensland
Cost: Free
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Great article Kate :)
by Gypsy Rose (score: 2|405) 231 days ago
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