The best of Far North Queensland

From our time exploring Port Douglas and surrounds here are the top things I would recommend are worth your time and money investment.

The Great Barrier Reef

There’s no denying that this was probably both John and I’s favourite experience. Neither of us are big on swimming with fish so it took us right out of our comfort zone but we knew we had to do it.

Because we weren’t so keen on seeing the really big fish we decided on a half day cruise that took us to the Low Isles. This meant instead of jumping off a boat into deep water we could enjoy the reef by wading out from the beach.

I was a little skeptical that we may not see as much being so close to shore but I needn’t have worried at all. As soon as we swam out we saw abundant, colourful coral and fish, including some pretty huge ones. We were also treated to several turtle sightings, which is what i had hoped most to see, small reef sharks (eep, this made me a bit nervous but I am so glad we saw them), and even a cute little starfish lying on the sand.

We were definitely not bored for the few hours we were on Low Isles, but at the same time were more than ready to hop back on board the boat for a muffin and some tea to warm up when time was up.

Even though we only saw a little part of it, I was completely blown away by the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. I sure hope we can look after it for generations to come.

Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for food. When a sea turtle eats several of these they are no longer able to swim down to the bottom of the ocean and camouflage. Sadly, the bags cause them to float and subsequently they are easy prey. I’m glad to see society is becoming more aware about the dangers of plastic on our marine animals.

The Daintree and Cassowary Falls

In a spontaneous decision while away we joined a tour to explore the Daintree. With just us and another couple on board it was practically a private tour and so much fun.

The day started with a crocodile cruise, where, despite the cloudy conditions, we did in fact see a couple of crocs on the go. Then it was on to a beautiful place in the heart of the forest for some morning tea – scones with jam and cream, yum!

From there we headed to a private property to take in Cassowary Falls, all the while the drive took us through the absolutely gorgeous scenery of the Daintree Rainforest. You could feel the temperature in the rainforest was substantially cooler than Port Douglas as there are so many huge trees fighting for the sunlight and creating a gorgeous canopy above.

Once we arrived at the farm we hoped into an open back jeep and went on a four-wheel drive adventure to the falls, clinging on for dear life but laughing lots. The waterfall was picture perfect and so tranquil. I can’t imagine having something like that on my land. Our guide had brought some food for the fish in the deep water. I had changed into my bathers because I was definitely keen to swim where there was a waterfall, however I quickly changed my mind once I felt the temperature of the water and discovered just how many creatures lived in there!

The fish food drew swarms of fresh water fish, including a catfish, an eel and several fresh water turtles (much less cute than the sea turtles but cool nonetheless). John and I even managed to pat the eel! Definitely not something we thought we would do. For the sake of some cool video footage I even mustered up the courage to stand in the middle of all the fish while our guide threw in some food that caused them to thrash about my legs. I did not enjoy that one bit!

Cassowary Falls and all its wildlife were definitely a highlight. I loved seeing so much nature.

Mossman Gorge

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The day we left for the airport we decided to check out Mossman Gorge at last, and I am so glad we did. Just 10 minutes drive north of Port Douglas, this beautiful part of the Daintree has so much to offer.

There are several walking tracks with the longest being a loop of couple of kilometres. I wanted to head out on that one to see as much of the rainforest as we could. So, after finishing the smaller routes we took the long one. It begins with a suspension bridge over the gorge and then continues up for a little way before the official track starts. Unfortunately, in my pregnant state I wasn’t quite able to tackle the whole loop and we had to do an out and back route but it was a lovely walk. We saw a few bush turkeys out there, as well as some geckos, plus the rainforest itself is exceptionally pretty.

After all the walking we headed back to a part of the gorge that offers the perfect place to swim, with a little beach-like entrance and a place clear of boulders. The day we were there was a ‘no swimming’ day but many people were still. I was keen as the water was crystal clear and it is such a beautiful spot. As long as you stay out of the currents and rough waters you should be fine. However, since the water comes down from the mountains underground before being exposed to the sun in Mossman Gorge, it is incredibly freezing water. A quick in and out dip was all that was needed to feel refreshed.

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Kuranda Skyrail

On the drive back to Cairns is the Kuranda Skyrail and Railway, a cable car and old train experience. We chose to do both to get to and from the village of Kuranda at the top.

We went up on the skyrail, which takes about an hour and half because you can get off at a couple of stops along the way to explore the rainforest. There are some beautiful views from above the treetops in the cable car. Along the way you also see the impressive Baron Falls, both from the cable car and a viewing platform. During the train ride back down towards Cairns the falls are also a stop off.

Once we reached Kuranda we had some lunch and did the butterfly sanctuary. I really enjoyed the butterfly sanctuary. There were so many colourful variants and some absolutely huge butterflies. They would also land on you if you were wearing white or bright colours.

We took the railway back down – an hour and 45 minute journey through lush forest, tunnels and past waterfalls. It took us almost a full day to do both the skyrail, railway and the Kuranda Village.

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Roaming Perth’s north (or north of Perth)

In my head I come up with really good plans.

I mean, I have great ideas, they’re executed exactly how they should be and everyone involved has a really good time. Unfortunately, that’s only in my head.

Last week I had decided to organise a bit of a weekend adventure for John and I, to do something we wouldn’t normally do. I thought a road trip to go swimming in Serpentine falls would be lots of fun, but then I heard a billion leeches live in those waters and I thought ‘hm, maybe we’ll revisit that idea the day I need to lose a bit of blood’.

Instead I researched Yanchep National Park and discovered they have caves you can explore, koalas, hiking tracks, tearooms and a bunch of different things that I thought could be really cool to discover.

So, I told John to pack his camera and some walking shoes and that we were headed on an adventure. We left mid-afternoon, which ideally would have been a bit earlier but I had other things i had to get done that morning.

By the time we arrived we were about half an hour too late for the final cave tour for the day, which was a real bummer. I thought that would be the highlight of the trek up that way and was now a bit annoyed that the ‘adventure’ I had talked up lacked much venturing.

Despite my poor planning skills (to check when the cave tours actually operated) there was still some cool things for us to see like the super cute snoozing koalas and plenty of kangaroos around the park.

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A lady at the visitors centre showed us a collapsed cave system on the map that we could still visit on our own, so we drove through the park roads to have a look.

We arrived at the entrance to a cave, which was closed for a private function, but we had a quick little peek through the corridor and saw it beautifully lit up with fairy lights – apparently people can host their wedding receptions inside one of the caves.

Nearby we found a track and eventually stumbled upon the collapsed cave system, which was huge walls of limestone surrounded by shrub and trees.

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On the way back to the car we heard lots of rustling in the bushes and out bounded a whole mob of kangaroos (sir Google tells me that’s what a group of roos are called).

It was pretty cool to be out in the bush just us and the wildlife. There are also huge numbers of black cockatoos at this park and they made quite the racket our whole visit.

20160305_162830_resizedAfter leaving the park we headed for Two Rocks. I’ve seen countless pictures of it but have never seen the famous King Neptune statue from the old Atlantis theme park in person, and since we were already so north we thought we might as well.

As luck would have it today it was closed, but of course it would be open tomorrow. Still, I didn’t even know it was something people could still visit but it did appear visitors can walk the stairs to the base of the statue at certain times.

I wasn’t exactly sure of how to get there either but once we came into Two Rocks there’s no missing it, it looms overhead quite impressively, if not a little creepily in John’s books.

20160305_165536_resized_1With the gate closed for another day we bid our farewell to King Neptune and headed back to Yanchep for a quick dip in the ocean, eagerly devoured fish and chips for tea and headed back to the ‘burbs.

It’s only half an hour from home but Yanchep felt almost like a country getaway for the day and offered some great hidden attractions for Perthians to explore.

That does raise a question though; is Yanchep in Perth’s north or north of Perth?