As one of the most popular destinations to see and experience The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia has a ton to offer. Here are 5 must try activities — that may not be listed in your guidebook!
1. A day trip to Kuranda
This village (www.kuranda.org) surrounded by rainforest is a calming day’s retreat where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and pecan pie at Petit Cafe, then wander the markets full of interesting art and handmade souvenirs.
You can drive or take the cable car or Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns.
If you take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 45-minute or so cable-car ride, take advantage of the free short nature tours, led by rangers, who will also show you what to do if you run into a cassowary in the rainforest.
Passengers who opt for gold class on the Kuranda Scenic Railway will enjoy a platter of delicious local cheese, dip and dried fruit, among other snacks.
Cable-car and rail package combinations are available, with fares starting from A$50 (S$50.90, one-way, adult).
2. Learn about the Rainforest People
They are the Tjapukai, or people of the rainforest, who used to live where Cairns and its surroundings now are, for 40,000 years.
At Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, you are taken back in time to see how the world, according to the Tjapukai, was formed from the breaking apart of a cassowary egg.
You will learn about traditional medicine, music and dance, as well as how to throw a boomerang and spear.
You can also sign up with other operators, such as Culture Connect, for day trips to Janbal Gallery in Mossman, where you will learn about Aboriginal art and can paint your own; or to meet the Cooya brothers, two Aboriginals who will teach you how to spear fish and mud crabs in the mangroves for your lunch.
3. Cuddle a Koala
Koalas possibly have the best working hours in Australia.
They work just 30 minutes a day, for three days, before getting a full day off. And the clock starts the moment the zookeeper carries them off their perch in the trees.
If you do get a chance to meet them, notice how your fingers will come away smelling of eucalyptus.
The male marsupials have a scent gland on their chest and emit the smell of the foliage they devour.
4. Enjoy a Free Barbecue
The Cairns waterfront is dotted with electric barbecue pits and shelters, which casual users can use for free.
Simply take along your choice of grub – a nearby Woolworths Supermarket will have meat and produce. When you are done, clean up after yourself.
The terrific scenery of mountain ranges, or seagulls swooping along the water, is a given. Details of where the barbecue grills are can be found at www.cairns.qld.gov.au.
5. Putter around Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a quieter beach town with a more laidback vibe than Cairns, great for a couple’s getaway. Four Mile Beach has fine, sparkling gold sand and the marina is picture perfect.
It is a one-hour drive from Cairns, along a winding but scenic coastal road. Do not miss the Ironbar restaurant’s entertaining nightly cane toad races.
For more Queensland adventure ideas, click here!
By Serene Luo, The Straits Times, July 19, 2015