Must- dos in the lush trop­i­cal north

If you get the chance to ex­plore this city, take it, writes Made­line Healy

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - DISCOVER CAIRNS -

WHENwe fi­nally touch down in Cairns af­ter what should be a quick, pain­less 21/ hour flight, it is to the great re­lief of just about ev­ery pas­sen­ger on flight DJ779.

Fly­ing with a one-year-old and a three-year-old is not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, I don’t think it’s cracked up to be any­thing. Es­pe­cially not a whole bar­rel of laughs.

Des­per­ate to get off the plane and into the fresh air, we race through the air­port, which is be­ing re­fur­bished, and ar­rive at our ho­tel, the Novo­tel Cairns Oa­sis Re­sort, less than an hour af­ter touch­down.

That is one of the ben­e­fits of Cairns. It is a city with plenty of shops, ho­tels and restau­rants to choose from, but with­out the build-up of traf­fic suf­fered in other cen­tres.

Many trav­ellers to north Queens­land by­pass the city, opt­ing to head straight for Palm Cove and Port Dou­glas. But it is a handy cen­tral point for ex­plor­ing the reef and the

The first is the ever-pop­u­lar Skyrail, which takes vis­i­tors over the top of 7.5km of rain­for­est to the town of Ku­randa. The six-per­son gon­dola cabins of­fer great views of the Co­ral Sea and the rain­for­est, and friendly rangers take guided tours at the two stop-off points of Red Peak and Bar­ron Falls.

We vis­ited on a windy, wet day but that sim­ply added to the ex­cite­ment of be­ing sus­pended over the rain­for­est watch­ing the birds flit in and out of the trees. And while Ku­randa may not be the hot spot of north Queens­land, it is a pretty town to visit.

An­other must is a boat trip to one of the is­lands within easy reach of the Cairns har­bour. We vis­ited Green Is­land on one of Great Ad­ven­tures’ huge cata­ma­rans, which op­er­ate nu­mer­ous reef tours.

Green Is­land is a 6000-year-old co­ral cay 27km from Cairns. The cata­ma­ran takes 45 min­utes to reach the is­land, which fea­tures thick rain­for­est and is sur­rounded by co­ral reef, in­ter­est­ing fish and nice swim­ming beaches.

There are 126 na­tive plant species on the is­land and plenty of birds ea­ger to eat the lunch crumbs.

Once on the is­land, guests are wel­come to use the re­sort pool and check out the beach on the qui­eter side of the is­land.

CO­RAL CAY: Spend a day at Green Is­land. Pic­ture: Tourism Queens­land

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