Cairns + Far North Queensland

When did we go: July 2008
How many days: 10
Where did we stay: Novotel Palm Cove Resort (Now the Coral Coast resort)
How did we get there: Qantas

I recently had some photos pop up on social media reminding me about a family trip to Far North Queensland from 10 years ago. You may be wondering why a trip that was 10 years ago is worth writing about now, but it is still hands down, the best holiday in Australia I have ever been on. I went with my father, sister and our family friends Michael, Jackie and Matt.

We were very lucky to have accommodation in Palm Cove, where my grandparents had a holiday apartment in one of the resorts (what used to be the Novotel Palm Cove Resort – my research shows that this has now been split into 2 or 3 different resorts). My sister and I had been on quite a few relaxing, beach holidays over the years to Palm Cove, but this one was full of adventure and ticked a bunch off the tourist bucket list for the area.

Since the trip was so long ago, below is a general list of the things we got up to. I recommend doing some research prior to visiting as I am sure some of the details I have listed have since changed!

Palm Cove

The top of the Cairns Northern beaches before Port Douglas is Palm Cove. It is a pretty amazing location, with the beach on one side and the rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands behind you. It is a little village with mainly resorts, hotels and restaurants. Our favourite pub was Apres pub and we hit up happy hour most days. Palm Cove is about 30 mins north of Cairns.



Kuranda is situated upon the Atherton Tablelands in amongst the rainforest. There’s a couple of ways to get up to Kuranda, you can drive the windy roads, take the cable car or the train. All will take you through the rainforest up to the village. This time around, we took the cable car up and the train back down. The village itself isn’t too big but there is plenty to do including a butterfly house, river cruises, markets and a pub. I would put the train down as a must do if visiting the area.


Mossman Gorge

If you’re keen for a refreshing dip without the risk of stinging jellyfish and snappy crocs, heading to Mossman Gorge is a great idea. But take note – it is super refreshing! In amongst the Daintree forest, there are a couple of trails to check out, plenty of wildlife and also a suspension bridge. Definitely worth taking a couple of hours to go and check it out.


Hartleys Crocodile Adventures

One way to tick off seeing a croc in real life is to go visit Hartley’s, as well as a large number of other Australian wildlife. There are a number of live shows throughout the day and also a little boat cruise where some of the crocs jump out of the water for food. There is also a commercial crocodile farm and multiple feedings of the animals during the day. Definitely worth the day visiting!

Great Barrier Reef

This one was a great big bucket list day! We went with Reef Magic Cruises and the day flew by with so many things to do. After the short half hour trip to the pontoon and a quick introduction from the crew, we were able to jump in for a snorkel. The fish, turtles and other marine life were amazing! If you’ve had enough of snorkelling, and want to check out the fishes dry there is also the underwater observatory and the semi-submersible. To top it all off, lunch was included too. And for those with a bit of extra cash to spend, there are helicopter rides available too. To top off the day, the crew also take photos during the day and were made available so the day would never be forgotten!

Pro tip #1 – don’t forget to bring an underwater camera!

Ellis Beach

We never really swam at Palm Cove itself, we always would go up to Ellis Beach for a beach day and a swim. Great beach with a pub for lunch and is just a quick 5 mins drive north of Palm Cove.

Devil Pool lookout and Babinda Boulders

Another great spot for a very refreshing swim, Babinda Boulders is an amazing natural beauty of the rainforest. A short walk from the swimming hole is the Devil Pool lookout which is well worth checking out.

Curtain Fig Tree

Just the coolest, oldest looking tree you ever did see.

Millaa Millaa Falls

What would a holiday be without some waterfall chasing?

Cane toad races

No true North Queensland trip would be complete without running into a cane toad or two.

If the above doesn’t get you keen to head north (well, maybe discounting the toad racing), there is still a bunch of things we did that that Cairns and the surrounds have to offer. If you’re keen for an Australian holiday, I would definitely put this high on your list!

Photo credit: Jackie Brinkhuizen and Sarah Oborne.


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