Lonely Planet (UK) - - Queensland’s Coast -

1If­be­gin­ning the jour­ney in Cairns, start with a fourhour drive north along State Route 81 to reach Cook­town. Once there, ex­plore the man­grove-lined curves of the En­deav­our River and spot salt­wa­ter croc­o­diles lurk­ing by the wa­ter’s edge on a two-hour dinghy tour (from £40 per per­son; fish­ing­cook­ Grab a fresh seafood lunch such as a ‘peel-your-own bucket of prawns’ at 1770 Restau­rant on the water­front (from £12; 3/7 Web­ber Es­planade), then head over to Cook­town Botanic Gar­dens to wan­der among the na­tive plants and dis­cover the ex­quis­ite flo­ral il­lus­tra­tions of botanist Vera Scarth-John­son (en­try free; Finch Bay Road).

2It’saround a 20-mile drive south to Rossville, and the leg­endary Lion’s Den Ho­tel. Stay for a glass of the favoured lo­cal beers: Great North­ern or Castle­maine XXXX (from £3.50; li­ons­den­ho­ Con­tinue to Bloom­field, where lo­cals from the Wu­jal Wu­jal Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity run tours to the thun­der­ing Bloom­field Falls (from £15; ad­ven­turenorthaus­ The Bloom­field Track stretches from here to Cape Tribu­la­tion, wind­ing through the an­cient Dain­tree Rain­for­est. Stop overnight at the Fern­tree Rain­for­est Lodge (be­low left), a col­lec­tion of cosy wood cab­ins set deep in the for­est (from £85; fer­n­treerain­for­est

3Geta bird’s-eye-view of the Dain­tree, set­ting off from Port Dou­glas on the south­ern tip of the rain­for­est and see­ing where the world’s old­est rain­for­est meets the Great Bar­rier Reef (from £245; gbrhe­li­ au). Then head to the Silky Oaks Lodge (above right). Lo­cated deep in the rain­for­est near Moss­man, this lux­ury eco-lodge has self-contained tree-house cab­ins with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows and broad balconies com­plete with ham­mocks. You could ex­plore the nearby walk­ing tracks, or sim­ply lie back and re­lax to the sounds of lo­cal birdlife and the Moss­man River flow­ing by (from £310; silkyoak­

4Fo­ran in­tro­duc­tion to the for­est cul­ture of the Kuku Yalanji Indige­nous group, head to Moss­man Gorge, which runs up­stream from Silky Oaks Lodge (walks from £40; moss­man­ It’s then a 10-minute drive east to Cooya Beach for a spearfish­ing ad­ven­ture. Juan Walker tells the story of his coun­try and demon­strates the tra­di­tional hunt­ing meth­ods of his an­ces­tors, fol­lowed by a camp­fire lunch of crabs and seafood (from £100; walk­a­boutad­ven­

5An­hour’s drive south is the small moun­tain vil­lage of Ku­randa, the start of a his­toric rail­way (above) that winds through forested hills via tracks carved out by early Euro­pean set­tlers. En­joy views to­wards the coast and the wa­ter­falls of the Bar­ron Gorge Na­tional Park on the two-hour jour­ney to Cairns (from £30; au), the gate­way city to the Great Bar­rier Reef.

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