The Best Cheap Day Trips from Cairns
Cairns has come a long way since its beginnings as a boggy swamp and rollicking goldfields port. Considered the gateway to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, it is a city in tropical Far North Queensland. Its Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park tells the stories of indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with music and dance. Cairns Esplanade, lined in bars and restaurants, has a swimming lagoon. Northwest of the city, Daintree National Park spans mountainous rainforest, gorges and beaches. Cairns is unabashedly geared towards tourism with its countless resorts, tour agencies, souvenir shops and a million reminders of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The city center is more boardshorts than briefcases, and you'll find yourself throwing away all notions of speed and schedules here, thanks to heady humidity and a hearty hospitality that can turn a short stroll into an impromptu social event. Fittingly, Cairns is awash with bars, clubs, eateries and cafes suiting all budgets. There's no beach in town, but the magnificent Esplanade Lagoon more than makes up for it, and the northern beaches are but a local bus ride or short drive away. With so much to see and do, Cairns is a great area to experience, and there are several options for exciting day trips and tours to let you see all the area has to offer.
Create your own perfect day in the beautiful rain forest of Tropical North Queensland with the choice of five different itineraries showcasing the best of Kuranda. Explore indigenous culture at the Tjupakai Aboriginal Cultural Park, including didgeridoo demonstrations and a heritage dance performance. At Rainforestation Nature Park, take an exciting Army Duck tour, hand-feed birds and kangaroos, and even cuddle a koala for an additional fee. All itineraries include a one-way ride aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. During the 1.5-hour journey, learn about regional history as your train winds through Barron Gorge National Park and wraps around mountain curves for spectacular vistas. Cross Stoney Creek Bridge and chug by gorgeous waterfalls before arriving at the charming Kuranda train station. To return to Cairns, get an aerial view of the rain forest as you glide above the treetops on the 4.5-mile Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Ride in a 6-passenger gondola and disembark at two different vista points to take in fantastic views and explore the forest via a boardwalk. Hotel pickup and drop-off in Cairns is included with all options.
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After being picked up in a 4WD around 7.00 am you'll make your way north along the Captain Cook Highway. Your first stop for morning tea will be at the Daintree Cruise Centre. After a great cup of coffee and biscuits, set out to explore the Daintree River on a 1- hour guided cruise. Here watch out for estuarine crocodiles ranging in size from tiny youngsters to a massive 4 meters. Learn about the many different species of mangrove, the saw python snake, the beautiful Azure Kingfisher, Egrets, Herons and many other species of birds and wildlife. The guide then picks you up at the Daintree Ferry crossing, where you'll make your way to the Alexandra Range Lookout to enjoy spectacular views of the Rainforest, the ocean, its surrounding reefs and the majestic Daintree River. Be right in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. This is the oldest living rainforest on earth. It's a spectacular site with ancient King Ferns hundreds of years old, and towering North Queensland Fan Palms. This is the only place in the world where they are found. At the Jindalba boardwalk go on a very informative 45 minute guided National Park elevated boardwalk tour with your driver guide to experience this beauty up close. See ancient 900 year-old palms, and maybe even find the elusive Boyd's Forest Dragon.
Then take a short 20 minute drive through this magnificent rainforest to your lunch location at Lync Haven, an animal refuge. Get treated to an amazing BBQ lunch with steaks and tasty garden fresh salads, fish or a vegetarian burger. After lunch you can hand feed some of the Kangaroos in care, an amazing experience. Your journey continues heading further north to Emmagen for afternoon tea stop. You'll have ample time to enjoy a beautiful refreshing swim in this amazing freshwater mountain stream. Then head to Cape Tribulation beach itself for a leisurely stroll along the beach to admire the spectacular views. As the day comes to the end make your way back toward Cairns for drop off at your accommodation around 6.30 pm.
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After pickup from your hotel in Cairns, board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for Kuranda. It's a spectacular aerial ride above the treetop canopy, with two optional stops to enjoy a guided walk through the rainforest or visit the CSIRO Interpretive Centre. On arrival at your destination you'll have free time to do as much or as little as you like; perhaps shop in Kuranda's Heritage Markets, or grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants or cafes. Upgrade your experience to include a visit to Rainforestation Nature Park, or gain entry to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. If you'd like, enjoy a wildlife encounter at Birdworld, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary or Kuranda Koala Gardens. Finish your day trip with a scenic rainforest journey aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway back to Cairns, where you'll be dropped off at your hotel. Alternatively, you can travel 1-way to Kuranda by railway and return to Cairns by skyrail.
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Your naturalist guide will meet you at your accommodation and you'll ascend the McAllister Ranges and head west through the wetlands of Mareeba. Your first stop is Mareeba Wetlands where you will enjoy morning tea. This break will be followed by a twenty minute cruise in an environmentally friendly and quiet electric boat. Look forward to viewing the plentiful birdlife on the wetlands. From here, travel through this wetland area viewing wallabies, emus and other wildlife. Then, continue along the irrigated agricultural land of this fertile area, eventually crossing over the mountain range Great Divide and into the western watershed. Travel through historical towns and rolling hills rich in minerals, which eventually give way to the towering limestone karsts scattered around Chillagoe. Here you can delve into the history of the copper smelters, whose old chimneys dominate the western horizon. Visit the remains of the once mighty smelters to ponder what it was like working there. Enjoy a wonderful lunch and delicious salad before setting off for your National Parks cave tour. The fossilized remains of the ancient coral reefs with hidden limestone labyrinths offer a portal to a lost world just like the Great Barrier Reef. After the cave tour, head back towards the east coast and stop for a short comfort stop before arriving back in Cairns.
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