Keep Palm and Carry On

It was up, up, and away from Sydney’s windy winter weather to glorious tropical Cairns’ warm climate and sunshine. Flying in was exciting and the warm weather was very inviting and welcomed by all travellers. Once we picked up our transport it was a short drive to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel to unpack, relax and fill our hungry bellies. That night we enjoyed dinner in our rooms and organised ourselves for our first day of sightseeing.

Spectacular Hinterland

Up early we enjoyed the amazing buffet breakfast before making our way to Freshwater Train Station to board the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway Train. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, there was lots of excitement.  It was the most relaxing train ride. Sitting in the old Carriages dating back to the early 1900s, old photos and stories were framed on the inside carriage walls. The train was made from Silky Oak timber and the track is a National Engineering landmark. This trip takes approximately two hours, passing many well know land marks along the way, such as; Freshwater Station where we boarded, Hand carved tunnels 1, 5 and 14, Stoney Creek Station, Stoney Creek Bridge the most outstanding feature of the railway line to view Stoney Creek Falls, Glacier Rock, Red Bluff the steepest part of the Baron Gorges mountainside, Robb’s Monument, Barron Falls Station, Barron Gorge Hydro Electric Station and onto Kuranda Station.

Once we reached Kuranda we enjoyed some photos and lunch at Frogis on Coondoo Café before browsing the many small shops and market stores where lots of souvenir purchasing took place. We strolled along the footpaths checking out very large trees, with amazing root systems and took in the fresh tropical forest air. The atmosphere in Kuranda is laid back and very relaxing – a great place to unwind and explore.

Some of us returned to Cairns by The Sky Rail Rainforest Cableway and others by the Scenic Rail. Both journeys were very much enjoyed by everyone. The Sky Rail gives you magnificent views, up above the rainforest looking down above the canopy as you fly along in your Cable car. You can see waterfalls, rivers and many tropical trees and get to stop at two lookouts on the way down to view the falls and mountains from different viewpoint.  It is breathtaking.

That night we enjoyed dinner together at the authentic and very popular Café Thailand Restaurant situated in one of Cairns main eat streets. It was lovely to relax and get to know each other over great food and beverages. Of course, it was decided that desert would follow watching the line of people purchasing ice creams from Gelocchio which was next door to where we were dining. The preferred flavour was white chocolate after hearing others talking about it.

It was a relaxed walk back to the hotel enjoying the warm night air and taking in the evening atmosphere, stopping to enjoy a photo opportunity when we came across a beautiful pergola covers with many vine leaves and fairy lights, it was magical.

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Today was an adventure to Hartley’s Crocodile Farm. The 28-hectare wildlife sanctuary is surrounded by the Wangetti Valley. The family run sanctuary is home to a variety of animals, such as; kangaroos, wombats, koalas, turtles, emus, cassowaries and many more. However, the main feature of the sanctuary is of course the crocodiles. Our travellers spent the morning exploring the sanctuary visiting the homes of all the animals. At lunchtime we watched the croc feeding show where we saw “Hagrid” eat up a feast. In the afternoon we cruised around Hartley’s lagoons spotting crocodiles and other wildlife. After exploring the sanctuary, we head back to the hotel for an afternoon swim before dinner.

The Majesty of the Reef

Our final full day saw us visit a World Heritage Area – The Great Barrier Reef!!!! We drove from Cairns to Port Douglas – one of the most scenic highways in Australia, as it winds along the coast of the tropical rainforest beaches. From land to sea, and 90 minutes later we arrived at the Quicksilver Pontoon, the largest and most spacious platform on the reef. Floating like an island, the platform is located in Agincourt Reef, home to a wide range of breath-taking coral formations and exotic marine life, making it the perfect spot for snorkelling. Plus, from Quicksilver’s unique viewing platform and underwater observatory, you can see the corals and watch the fish without even getting wet.

Some of the Gang snorkelled for hours and were in awe of the breath-taking coral formations and exotic marine life. We even found Nemo and his friends.

For our final dinner together, we went to The Courty House Hotel which the oldest pub in Port Douglas and one of the most iconic pubs in Australia. Delicious fresh seafood was definitely a highlight.

At the end of our week of sightseeing and exploring, beautiful Northern Queensland, we were sad to say Goodbye, but beyond happy that we had made new friends, who we hope to see again on another Trusted Travel adventure.

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