The Best of Both Natural Worlds

Cairns, Australia, offers the best of two worlds: the rainforest in the mountains, and the Great Barrier Reef.


Worldmark Resorts

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ramcgraw on April 4, 2005

All the rooms were set up with either two or three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a patio overlooking the pool gardens. The pools and hot tubs were easily accessible. All the tours picked us up and dropped us off at the front gates of our resort.
Worldmark Resorts
South Cairns
Cairns, Australia

Quicksilver Tour

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by ramcgraw on April 4, 2005

We were picked up from our hotel in the early morning by a tour bus. We had a lively tour guide on the hour-long trip to Port Douglass. Port Douglass has a variety of restaurants and shops to entertain you while you wait to board the ship. We boarded the ship and had a 1.5-hour voyage to a platform for snorkeling and diving. The ship offered tea and biscuits right from take-off as well as some informational programs about the possibilities at the platform.

We were served a buffet lunch on the ship as we neared the platform. The food was mostly cold picnic-type foods and pleasant enough.

Once at the platform, we put on our snorkel equipment, which included the standard gear and a wetsuit for an optional $5. I highly suggest the wetsuit if you are prone to burning. The snorkeling was set up within a large marked-off area. It was impossible to get lost in the water, but there was enough room to spread out from the many people snorkeling. You can also take a semi-submersible boat around the reef away from the snorkelers. This allows you to see the reef without getting wet. I suggest doing both.

I did not scuba dive but heard from others it was just okay for the price. Unfortunately, these people had never dived before and were with a beginner's class. The road home was very relaxing, especially when tea and biscuits were served again. I actually fell asleep on the boat ride and bus ride home. It is an exhausting day, and I would suggest keeping the schedule for this day simple otherwise. Also, if you are worried about seasickness (I was), the boat is very smooth in the water. I had no problems whatsoever.

Quicksilver Tour
Marina Mirage
Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, 4877

A Day in the Rainforest

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ramcgraw on April 13, 2005

We started our day by being picked up at our hotel by a tour bus, which drove us to the train station. We rode the scenic railway up the mountain, taking about 45 minutes. It was a beautiful ride up the mountain. The trip was narrated by a tour guide who explained the significance of building the railroad and pointed out landmarks. There was one stop on the way up the mountain at an overlook of Barren Falls. This was a great photo opportunity. At the top of the mountain, we rejoined our tour bus and were driven the 5- to 10-minute trip to Kuranda. We were dropped off with about an hour to shop.

The village has many shops, and several are local artist boutiques. We enjoyed shopping in the village. The tour bus then took us to Rainforestation, where we spent most of the afternoon. Rainforestation was divided into an aborigine show, a ride in an army duck, and lunch. The show was a wonderful display of the musical instruments and dance styles of aboriginal culture. They even got volunteers out of the audience to participate in the last dance. After the show, we went on the Dream Time Walk with the performers. They showed us how to throw a spear, boomerang, and play a didijiroo. We even got an opportunity to practice throwing a boomerang. Next, we went to a buffet lunch, which was included in our tour. The food was varied and fairly good.

Lastly, we boarded the Army Duck and went for a part-land/part-water tour of the rainforest. The guide pointed out different wildlife and plants throughout the tour. At the end of the tour, we were dropped off in an orchard. Stop at the little cafe there and get a sample of the different ice creams made with the fruits if you get a chance. We went to the wildlife area last which has different Australian wildlife and the opportunity to hand feed kangaroos. Lastly, we boarded the bus and were taken to the Skyrail Station. I compare it to riding one of those rides at an amusement park that gives you a bird's eye view of the entire park. The Skyrail cars take you down the mountain.

There is room for six people per car, and if it is not a crowded day, you can get a car to yourself. There are two stops on the way down. Both have overlooks and restrooms. It takes about 45 minutes to get down the mountain, depending on how much time you take at the overlooks. At the bottom is a gift shop for any last-minute souvenirs. Our tour bus picked us up and took us back to the hotel. It was a wonderful day with a variety of activities. You can drive yourself if you like but the Scenic Rail and Skyrail are very impressive. You can also reverse the order of your trip if you like. I loved this day!

A Day in the Rainforest
Kuranda
Cairns, Australia

A Car Trip to Natural Beauty

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by ramcgraw on April 18, 2005

We took a road trip south of Cairns on a loop road. It took between 5 and 6 hours, with lots of stops to drive the loop. It would probably take about 3 hours to drive it straight, but then where is the fun?

Our first stop was a quaint teahouse at Lake Barrine. There was a beautiful garden for a great photo opportunity. This would be an ideal spot for an outdoor wedding. It is so beautiful. We asked for scones and tea even though they were not on the menu, and of course, they served them. We sat on a deck facing Lake Barrine, which is a crater lake.

Our next stop took us slightly off the loop to a small town named Yungaburra. There was a great little shop there that had fabulous woodworking. I'm not sure of the name, but it’s on the main road in Yungaburra. The stop we made was the Curtain Fig Tree. Look at my pictures. There is really no way to describe it.

We then got back on the loop about 10 miles back and stopped at Milla Milla Falls next. It is a beautiful falls, and you can swim at the bottom of the falls if you want. Next, we stopped at Zillie Falls. This one you can only see from the top. This was my least favorite of the falls. The last waterfall we stopped at was Ellinjaa Falls, and it was the most beautiful. You could also swim at the base of these falls.

We went a little farther on the loop and stopped at a unique place called Paronella Park. Look for a separate entry on this place. We did not make many stops on the way back, but there were several other things to see.

A Car Trip to Natural Beauty
South of Cairns
Cairns, Australia

Paronella Park

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by ramcgraw on April 24, 2005

Paronella Park is hard to describe. It belonged to a Spanish man named Paronella and his wife. It was their vision to have a castle in this part of Australia. There are many gardens and remains of the castle. In the early 20th century, it was the center for entertainment in the community. They showed movies, had tennis matches, threw garden parties, and swam in the nearby river.

The tour, which is part of the entrance price to the park, is very thorough and explains the different features better than I can. The present owner of the park greeted us in the parking lot and told us our money would be refunded if we did not think this was a unique experience. It was definitely a unique experience. It reminded me of what an old English manor house and gardens might have looked like. The gardens are exceptional, and at the end of the tour, you can explore them at your leisure.

In the gift shop is the opportunity to taste different wines produced in the area. There is no cost to taste if you buy a bottle. If you do not buy, it is $3 per person to taste. We bought a bottle of mango wine, which was very good. The entrance fee to the park was about $20 per person.

Paronella Park
Japoonvale Road, Mena Creek, near Innisfail
Cairns, Australia
(07) 40653225

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