Cairns & the Tropical North Highlights
On the northeast coast of the Australian state of Queensland, this small port city of less than 135,000 people is best known as the gateway to the the Great Barrier Reef. Its 18th- and 19th-century sugar cane plantations have long since given way to gently sprawling suburbs, while miles of wild, pristine beaches remain. The city’s jewels are its well-planned Esplanades, which include a palm-shaded cove of beach resorts and a man-made lagoon beside the South Pacific.
In addition to the unspoiled islands and luxury resorts of the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is relatively close – for widespread Australia – to some uniquely Australian attractions. About 100 miles to the north, Daintree Rainforest Park is full of indigenous species of marsupials, bats, birds, frogs and more. A half-hour from the city, an antique railway takes you through the lush mountains of the Atherton Tableland, and just an hour’s drive away, the Outback begins at the rodeo town of Mareeba. Just a short flight from Sydney, sweet, sleepy and seaside Cairns is like a one-stop shop for Down Under sights.