Cairns Journals

Adventures in Cairns

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A March 2000 trip to Cairns by Adventures With Adam

The Coastal Drive -- A Tropical Big Sur Photo, Cairns, Australia More Photos
Quote: After a week in Sydney, I travelled to tropical Queensland where the opportunities for adventure are plentiful. Here are some recommendations for a reef trip, an awesome day of whitewater rafting, a spectacular drive and a great meal.

Adventures in Cairns

Overview

Quote:
-- Rafting down the Russell River. -- Snorkeling around the Frankland Islands. -- Driving up the Captain Cook Highway to beautiful Mossman Gorge. -- Eating kangaroo at the Red Ochre Grill.Quick Tips: Cairns, on the northeast coast of Australia’s Queensland, is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Located between two World Heritage areas -- the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef -- it offers a bonanza of outdoor adventure. The city itself isn’t Paris. Or even Key West. You really don’t need to budget any time seeing the town. And despite its oceanside setting, it doesn’t even have a decent beach. Still, Cairns provides an ample range of comfortable lodgings and good restaurants,...Read More

Red Ochre Grill

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Restaurant | "The Red Ochre Grill"

Quote:
After a rough day of snorkeling the reef or battling the rapids, nothing seems to satisfy quite like a big slab of kangaroo, emu or crocodile. And there’s nowhere better to find it than the Red Ochre Grill at 43 Shields Street in Cairns. Offering native cuisine in a setting that is nice without being fussy (nothing in Cairns is too formal), this restaurant served up the most memorable meal of my Australian adventure. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available here. The dining room is pleasant and bright with blond wood, but I chose an outdoor table beneath the stars of the Southern Cross. My meal began with the crocodile appetizer, which was batter dipped and deep fried tempura style the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2001

Red Ochre Grill
43 Shields Street
Cairns, Australia
(61) 74051 0100

Kuranda Village

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Story/Tip

Barron River Gorge Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
Worth at least a quick look, especially for its shops, galleries and views, is the village of Kuranda. You can easily reach this former-biker-town-turned-artist-colony by driving up a narrow, winding, climbing road off the Captain Cook Highway, just north of Cairns. Signs along the way warn of kangaroo crossings, though none hopped in front of me. Near the top, be sure to stop at the Barron River Gorge lookout for a spectacular view of the falls. If you’re lucky enough to catch the river at high level, you’ll be awed as the whitewater plunges hundreds of feet to the bottom of this rock-walled gorge. Walking paths here allow for further explorations. The town is rife with t...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 23, 2001

The Coastal Drive -- A Tropical Big Sur

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Attraction

The Coastal Drive -- A Tropical Big Sur Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
An American ex-pat living in Queensland advised me to skip the local tourist traps and instead drive up the coast. "It’s one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives," he claimed, and he wasn’t kidding. The ride up the Captain Cook Highway resembles a tropical Big Sur, the road curving around lush, green mountains that meet the blue Pacific. I rented an efficient Daitsu from the very accommodating Sugar Land Car Rentals at 252 Sheridan Street in Cairns for A$70, including insurance. After a brief morning stop in Kuranda (see Kuranda journal entry), I headed north on the Captain Cook Highway toward Port Douglas -- about a 45-minute ride away. With its more scenic setting and charming ar...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2001

The Coastal Drive -- A Tropical Big Sur
Captain Cook Highway, Queensland
Cairns, Australia

A Foaming Fury Whitewater Rafting

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Attraction | "A Foaming Fury Whitewater Adventure"

Quote:
A full-day whitewater rafting trip down the Russell River with Foaming Fury outfitters proved to be the single most memorable experience of my Australian adventure. I was fortunate in that the previous week’s cyclone had raised the water to exciting levels. The day began with a hotel pick-up at 9:30. It would be another three and a half hours before our paddles touched water, but it was worth the wait and effort. Our rafting was preceded by an hour of bus travel, lunch, a 40-minute rainforest hike to our put-in spot, and a half hour of swimming while our guides inflated the six-man rafts. Then, after a thorough safety lesson, we were ready to go. The setting closely resembled Mossman Gorg...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 23, 2001

A Foaming Fury Whitewater Rafting
Russell River/Mulgrave River
Cairns, Australia

Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive

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Attraction | "Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive"

Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive Photo, Cairns, Australia
Quote:
The Great Barrier Reef is the real reason just about anyone travels to Cairns. However, the reef is not just offshore; you have to boat out to it. There are dozens of outfitters running reef trips out of Cairns and Port Douglas. I chose an excursion to Normanby Island, part of the Frankland Islands chain south of Cairns, with Frankland Island Cruise & Dive for $A125. It’s a bit longer trip to get there, but because access to this national park area is restricted, you’ll have a more peaceful reef experience. Our trip began with a cruise down the Mulgrave River. I kept an eye open for crocs on the river bank, but none materialized. Once out on the open water, the captain opened the thro...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 23, 2001

Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive
Frankland Islands
Cairns, Australia