Cairns & North Queensland Travel Guide • Freedom Destinations
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Explore Cairns & North Queensland Where the rainforest meets the reef

Cairns Travel Guide

Cairns is the hub of many North Queensland activities, as well as a great place to stay in its own right. Most of the tours and Great Barrier Reef excursions go out from here, although there are pickups from nearby beach resorts as well.

  • Cruise, snorkel and swim over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Discover the lakes and waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands
  • Browse the boutiques and galleries of fashionable Port Douglas
  • Explore the ancient rainforest of the Mossman Gorge
  • Enjoy a good Aussie breakfast at a Cairns Esplanade eatery
  • Cast yourself adrift on an Island Resort
  • Cross the Daintree River to historic Cooktown
  • Learn to dive beside the Great Barrier Reef
  • Spot wildlife and more from a helicopter or hot air balloon
  • Dine under the star at Palm Cove waterfront
  • Head to Kuranda village on the Skyrail rainforest cableway

There are day tours to nearly all the must-see attractions, which you can pre-book before you go but, for longer stays in North Queensland, consider a hire car.

Getting There

By Road – Cairns is 400 miles from the Whitsunday Islands and 1050 miles from the capital of Brisbane.

By Rail – board the Spirit of Queensland from Brisbane to Cairns.

By Air – Some direct flights from the UK and regional flights from most major cities.

Guide to North Queensland

Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef coastline boasts many hidden beaches and some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

These reef islands are often covered in lush tropical rainforest that gives way to fine, white sand beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea. Many offer romantic resorts accommodation where you can relax and refresh during your Australia holiday.

Down the coast from Cairns and further inland, amongst the sugar cane fields and fruit plantations, are North Queensland’s quiet country towns, where you can linger for a while on a leisurely driving holiday. The larger coastal centres of Townsville, Airlie Beach, Mackay and Rockhampton are gateways to the region’s stunning beaches and islands.

Northern Reef Islands

  • Green Island – luxury eco lodges 45 minutes from Cairns
  • Fitzroy Island – snorkelling, diving and kayaking close to Cairns
  • Orpheus Island – intimate, all-inclusive luxury resort right on the reef
  • Magnetic Island – popular island resort a ferry ride from Townsville

Whitsunday Islands

  • Hamilton Island – superb facilities and a choice of accommodation
  • Daydream Island – fun and friendly island with plenty of activities

Island transfers can be by launch, ferry, plane or helicopter depending how far they are from the mainland. Your FREEDOM Consultant will arrange island transfers for you.

Getting Around

By Road – The easiest way to get around North Queensland is by car or motorhome. The Great Barrier Reef coast is one of the most scenic touring routes in Australia and many visitors make the whole journey from Brisbane to Cairns.

By Rail – The Spirit of Queensland runs 5 days a week between Cairns and Brisbane with access on the way to Townsville, Fraser Island and the beautiful Whitsundays.

By Air – There are local flights between Cairns, Townsville and Hamilton Island, plus several smaller North Queensland towns.

Plan your holiday

How Will You Discover Cairns?

Places to stay and things to do in Cairns and North Queensland.

Elsewhere In Australia

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