Get ready for amazing opportunities for adrenaline and adventures in Cairns this summer.
The rainforests of Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are lush, the rivers are full and the waterfall chasing is spectacular.
Opening image: Skyrail Rainforest Cableway over Din Din (Barron Falls). Image: Brad Newton.
Cairns receives most of its 2,000mm of annual rainfall over the summer months. All that rain trickles into the creeks and rivers, some of which spills spectacularly over rocky cliffs into crystal-clear waterholes – perfect for majestic, misty views. In fact, Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) has more waterfalls than just about anywhere else in the country, and here, refreshing swims are a daily ritual for the locals.
The Cassowary Coast – named due to its famous, feathered locals – runs from Cairns to Cardwell, and is a great place to find some of the region’s most beautiful falls and swimming holes. Josephine Falls – an hour south of Cairns – is complete with a natural rockslide that will see you scooting toes first into the emerald-green pools below. Nandroya Falls is a picture-perfect waterfall, which you can hike to from the Henrietta Creek camping area, while the Cardwell Spa Pool’s iconic blue water is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike and is the perfect spot for a refreshing soak while surrounded by ancient rocks, twisted tree roots and a natural amphitheatre of rainforest.
The Atherton Tableland’s Waterfall Circuit is also home to some of Cairns’ most popular waterfalls, including the beautiful Millaa Millaa – a stunning swimming spot – and Zillie and Ellinjaa falls. The best falls just for viewing include Millstream Falls, Australia’s widest, single-drop waterfall which can be found on the outskirts of Queensland’s highest town, Ravenshoe. And you can’t miss the dramatic Din Din (Barron Falls), a thunderous spectacle where you can witness an outpouring of more than 265,000 megalitres a day.
Adventures in Cairns
With so many gushing waterfalls and brimming rivers, now is the prime time to get the adrenaline pumping on a white water rafting adventure. Raging Thunder Adventures offers tours of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Tully River, where the guides show you how to navigate the rapids like a pro. They are there with you for every twist and turn of the river that slices dramatically through the spectacular World Heritage rainforest.
Meanwhile, Cairns Canyoning offers a chance to channel your inner explorer with an expedition into the depths of the tropics. During a half or full day in the rainforest you can get your Indiana Jones on, and abseil down towering cliffs, riverboard down rapids, leap from rocks and clamber up crevices, and then chill out and swim under waterfalls. There are options to suit all thrill-seekers, and do prepare to get drenched.
Join a jet boating ride with the crew from Bad Fishy and experience the thrills of jet boating on the stunning Cairns waterfront. All we can say is: hold on and get ready to get wet! The experienced and friendly captain will take you on a ride through the beautiful Trinity Inlet, the marine heart of Cairns, where the rainforests meet the sea and mangroves line the channels. Keep an eye out for salties on the banks, as you’re whisked into nature’s playground. It’s fast and furious, Cairns-style.
Keeping it reel
If fishing is your thing, then you’ll have another reason to love Cairns and TNQ. Many fishing fanatics make an annual pilgrimage up north with dreams of luring in a big one.
As one of the world’s best wilderness fishing hotspots, you can catch fish pretty much anywhere you drop in a line: on the open sea, from the stunning beaches, inland rivers or tidal estuaries. While zoning and limits apply to certain areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, whether you’re dropping in a handline or big-game fishing for yellowfin tuna, there’s something for every level of experience.
Bait shops can provide you with handy hints and local tips on the best places to go, or you can book a fishing charter which caters for both amateurs and seasoned pros. Gone Fishing, Cairns Reef Fishing, Fish Tales and East Coast Angling all provide fishing gear, and the crew will help you identify and clean your catch.
If you are lucky enough to land a big one, there’s plenty of restaurants in downtown Cairns that have chefs who will happily cook your catch for you, including Ochre Cairns, for fresh and seasonal contemporary Australian cuisine and Salt House, an iconic institution in Cairns, with a stunning location between the Cairns Esplanade and Cairns Marlin Marina. Here, it’s all about alfresco drinks, groovy live music and fresh, local produce.
Drink and dine beachside
After a full day out in the summer sun, you’ll want some cool bevvies and great food, so check out these waterfront bars, where you’ll see just why ocean views and bars are a match made in heaven.
Make sure to check out the exciting Prawn Star, a restaurant of four restored fishing trawlers moored and decorated in fairy lights. Perfect for an evening of seafood and cold bevvies under the stars. If it’s the classic brewpub experience you’re after, you can’t go past Hemingway’s Brewery with authentic craft beer developed onsite and an easy, relaxed vibe. For sundowners, the Bluewater at Trinity Park – perched on the marina with an al fresco terrace – is absolutely built for it, or visit Trinity Beach Tavern for a classic pub feed with stunning views of the Coral Sea from the balcony.
For foodies looking to taste their way around the region, join a half-day brewery and distillery tour led by Cairns Brewery Tours, or head further afield to the Cairns Tablelands to try small batch spirits, organic wines and local produce such as native tropical fruits, coffee and jams with Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures.
For more adventures in Cairns, check out cairnsgreatbarrierreef.com.