Arriving in Cairns last September, our family was expecting the cool spring season. So what’s with this warm weather greeting us? Located in the state of Queensland, Cairns is a sunshine city all year round. Temperatures were around 25 deg C — with gentle breeze and low humidity — when we visited. The weather was certainly more comfortable than Singapore!
While Cairns is known for its World Heritage-listed sites, there’re also plenty of child-centric activities to make it an unforgettable vacation for the little ones.
Here are the highlights of our five-day self-drive holiday.
Upon touching down in Cairns City, we immediately set off for Port Douglas that’s about an hour’s drive away. This quaint town is also the gateway to the famous Great Barrier Reef.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing at Freestyle Resort, a boutique property that is a 10-minute walk to the picturesque Four Mile Beach.
Hello, Great Barrier Reef! We couldn’t wait to visit the world’s largest coral reef system, which was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1981.
We signed up for a day tour with Quicksilver Cruises. It was a 1.5-hour ride on a catamaran before we reached a spacious two-level reef activity platform.
The Great Barrier Reef is said to be teeming with 15,000 species of tropical fish and over 400 varieties of corals. We couldn’t miss the chance to go scuba diving!
We got Leia and Lauren to snorkel too. Yes, kids could definitely join in the fun as long as they’re confident in the water.
Here, they also took their first-ever helicopter ride. Our experience of the magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef — measuring 2,300km long from up above — was indescribable. The helicopter swooped low enough for us to see the coral clusters and schools of fish.
On the third day, we went to the Atherton Tablelands region and stopped by Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. This wildlife park, which was built on a 10ha World Heritage site, has been operating since the 1930s.
It’s a great place to get up close with saltwater crocodiles, widely regarded as the world’s most powerful biters. We had heart-stopping moments when we witnessed them lunging at the bait at the lagoon.
En route to our accommodation, we stopped over at Crystal Cascades, a secluded freshwater swimming hole that’s hidden in a rainforest — and very popular with the locals.
Here, the fall cascades into several small pools, where Leia and Lauren took a refreshing dip.
When we reached Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat, we fell in love with its homely rustic feel. The air was extraordinarily crisp and fresh amid the rainforest surroundings and we were ready for a good rest.
Take note though that there’s no phone or Internet connection there. This gave us the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and to fully engage with nature — and of course, our kids.
There’s an abundance of brush turkeys and rosella birds roaming freely around the premises. If you’re up for it, there’s also a 9km bush walking track.
We set off back to Cairns city area to explore the Kuranda mountain village. Getting there was an experience in itself.
We took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which took us above the rainforest canopy. During the hour-long ride, we soaked in the magnificent landscape with its lush greenery, highlands and sea.
Among the village’s attractions is the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, touted as the largest aviary and exhibit in Australia with over 1,500 butterflies. We went on a guided tour to learn about these beautiful insects’ life cycle and behaviour.
Next, we visited the Rainforestation Nature Park to feed kangaroos and take photos with koalas.
We also went aboard a World War II Army Duck for a unique rainforest tour on land and water. Our guide introduced to us Cairns’ fascinating plants and wildlife before the amphibious vehicle splashed into the lake for a cruise.
A train ride along the Kuranda Scenic Railway line is also a must. We took this route when we were leaving the village.
For over an hour and 45 minutes, we passed through a World Heritage protected rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and into the awesome Barron Gorge. Our girls loved the ride!
That evening, we stayed over at Mantra Trilogy, a modern apartment with a panoramic ocean view. It is also within walking distance of restaurants and night markets.
On our last day, we decided to relax in Cairns City. We enjoyed lazy moments at Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, a free public saltwater swimming pool. We loved that it’s clean and child-friendly.
In the afternoon, we made our way to Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome, which is said to be the world’s first challenge ropes course in a wildlife park. Imagine ziplining over a ferocious crocodile!
After getting an adrenaline rush from the thrilling activities, slow down your pace and check out native Australian wildlife at the park too.
On our last night in Cairns, dinner was at Prawn Star, a trawler restaurant off Marlin Marina harbour that’s famous for its great dining atmosphere and freshly caught seafood. Think prawns, mud crabs, lobsters and oysters.
Terms and conditions
- Valid for travel on SilkAir in the designated class (W class) only.
- The use of the air tickets will always be subject to seat availability at the time of reservation or ticket issuance.
- Both passengers must travel together on the entire itinerary.
- Tickets cannot be transferred to another person nor re-routed to other destinations; open-dated tickets, open-jaw travel, and en-route stopovers are not permitted.
- Flight/date change after flight booking is not permitted.
- Tickets are not eligible for frequent flyer mileage accrual and cannot be used in conjunction with any other upgrade awards.
- Tickets have no cash value and do not include all applicable taxes such as excess baggage charges.
- Winner shall be responsible to ensure that he or she has all necessary visa and any other travel approval(s).