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Queensland Self Drive: Cairns and Highlands Loop (Cairns - Cairns) Australia

Queensland Australia
Queensland Australia
Queensland Australia

Queensland Self Drive: Cairns and Highlands Loop (Cairns - Cairns) Australia

story by: Mike Williams

Few places on earth can match the beauty and sophistication of Tropical North Queensland – where the rainforest meets the reef. Take to the water and explore the Great Barrier Reef, head north to the seaside village of Port Douglas and visit the superb tropical rainforest of the Daintree & Cape Tribulation, where two World Heritage areas exist side by side.

Day 1: Cairns – Cape Tribulation
After taking time to explore Cairns and its surrounds, start your journey north on the scenic coastal road. Port Douglas is the perfect spot to stop for lunch before you continue north to the Daintree National Park. It takes less than five minutes to cross the Daintree River by ferry, but on the other side you enter an entirely new tropical world.

Day 2-3:Cape Tribulation – Atherton
To get a true perspective of the magnificent rainforest a visit to the Daintree Rainforest Environmental Centre is a must. If time allows a Daintree River Cruise gives you a different vantage point of the forest, you might even see some crocs. Next stop is Mareeba, via Mount Molloy, sitting atop a plateau 1000 metres above sea level.

Day 4: Atherton – Mission Beach
Head off early down the Range towards Innisfail (one of Australia’s largest sugar-producing towns) before arriving in Mission Beach, you can stretch your legs on the 1.5km Ulysses Link Walking Track, which winds its way along the beach foreshore.

Day 5: Mission Beach
Spend a day relaxing in Mission Beach or if sightseeing is more your thing, take a drive to Paronella Park (47kms from Mission Beach) a crumbling Spanish castle at Mena Creek. Paronella Park appears to be hundreds of years older than its true age creating the image of a lost paradise and fantasy garden hidden in the depths of the rainforest.

Day 6: Mission Beach – Cairns
Leisurely make your way back to Cairns.

Highlights worth seeing along the way
GREAT BARRIER REEF– Get out on the reef on a day tour from Cairns, you won’t be disappointed!
ATHERTON TABLELANDS – Tucked away in the folds of the hills are lovely waterfalls surrounded by lush rainforest, some popular ones are Millaa Millaa, Malanda and Mungalli.
MAREBA WETLANDS – See the amazing array of wetland birdlife in the wild.

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