The iconic Great Barrier Reef Drive has reopened, providing a coastal route to Port Douglas and Daintree, the daily ferry service from Cairns, and the scenic inland route via Mareeba and Mount Molloy.
The reopening is a significant milestone in the recovery for tourism operators north of Palm Cove after rainfall from Cyclone Jasper forced its closure due to flooding. The Great Barrier Reef Drive on the Captain Cook Highway also reconnects businesses in Port Douglas with their staff.
Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre has reopened, giving visitors access to the southern section of Daintree National Park to see one of the world’s oldest rainforests on a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk with a Kuku Yalanji guide.
Daintree Village is a popular touring option, too. With lunch spots at the Daintree Village Hotel, and Solar Whisper and Croc Express operating wildlife cruises on the Daintree River.
The drive from Cairns Airport to Port Douglas estimated to take 1.5 hours.
From the reef, the rainforest and the outback, here’s V&T’s favourite tourists spots to experience:
Top tower view
If bungy jumping isn’t your thing, you can now tackle the new Tower Climb and Lookout and cheer on your mates instead. It’s a 196-step climb but you’ll be rewarded with a view of the Great Barrier Reef. And of course, the chance to photograph your friend’s expression as they take the plunge. skyparkcairns.com
Daintree Food Trail
Queensland’s northern-most mushroom farm, a goat farm and the effervescent Penelope Kefir Queen are among almost 30 producers of the Daintree Food Trail. You can take on the trail yourself with a downloadable map or follow a chef as a guide. It celebrates the diverse produce and farm gates on the Great Barrier Reef Drive between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. daintreefoodtrail.com
See stars underwater
Marine biologists at Reef Magic Cruises are installing Reef Stars at their Marine World Pontoon. These provide a stable base for coral to grow on with the aim of increasing coral cover. Guests will glide over the Reef Stars on the glass-bottom boat tour.
Taste the tropics
At the top of the rainforest, hiding in the hills of Myola, a short six-minute drive from the rainforest village of Kuranda, you’ll find a farm experience you didn’t know existed. Taste locally grown wagyu beef and tropical delicacies at KUR-Cow Farm’s sunset BBQ packages. With ATV tours, a hayride and horse riding offering a cowboy experience at Barnwell Farm.
Sip gin at the distillery
Rediscover the summer flavours of mango, finger lime and ruby grapefruit with the local Wolf Lane Distillery Tropical Gin at the cellar door. Three Wolves kickstarted Cairns city’s small bar scene when they opened their namesake bar in a laneway. Next they opened the below street-level Flamingo’s Tiki Bar, followed by the gin bar at the Wolf Lane Distillery.
Crystalbrook Riley champions pioneering and passionate eco-efforts without compromising on luxury. With airy suites, a sprawling lagoon pool, Eléme Day Spa and vibrant culinary offerings, a stay at this Cairns five-star hotshot is sure to have you living the life of Riley.
Introduce the kids to diving
Children aged from eight to 11 who can’t wait until they turn 12 to learn to dive can try scuba diving for the first time with Divers Den’s PADI-endorsed program for kids. The dive is done in a pool where you can also snorkel and zip about with an underwater scooter.
Awesome outback stay
Mount Mulligan Lodge is a property set on a working cattle station beneath the awesome Mount Mulligan, a tabletop mountain that can be seen from miles away. This luxury outback resort is situated on a secluded, entirely private 28,000-hectare heritage site, offering boutique accommodation, outback adventures and all-inclusive meals.
Follow the taste leader
Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures has launched tag-a-long tasting adventures from Cairns, the Northern Beaches and Port Douglas taking in the farm gates of the Atherton Tablelands. Try locally grown coffee, nuts, tropical fruits, cheese, fruit wines and spirits and listen to the commentary via CB radio. outbacktastingtours.com.au
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