Driving trips around Cairns
One of the most pleasant ways to spend a day in the Cairns region is to hire a car and “get lost”.
Speak to a staff member who can tell you their favourite spots, or check out these picturesque (and famous) drives.
1. Port Douglas This scenic drive hugs the ocean between Palm Cove and Port Douglas, on a journey that rivals, if not beats the famous “Great Ocean Road”. Keep your camera handy, and be sure to stop at Rex’s Lookout. Stop for lunch at Ellis Beach (mid way between Cairns and Port Douglas), which is casual but the food is surprisingly good and local bands play on weekends. Port Douglas is a pretty town – a mini Noosa, with boutique shopping and a lovely park and pretty lookout if you can brave your way up the back streets to find it. Continue your way to Mossman Gorge if you have the time. Allow half to one day.
2. Daintree Rainforest / Cape Tribulation This drive starts out as the scenic drive to Port Douglas, but instead of turning off, continues through picturesque sugar cane towns and beaches such as Wonga Beach before taking the Daintree Ferry turn off. There are a number of croc boat operators just before the ferry if you’d like a croc tour (these are excellent – apart from the crocodiles, the birds, tree snakes and other wild life are something to behold), otherwise cross the ferry and continue into the Daintree Rainforest. The road to Cape Tribulation is quite long and not sealed, though is well worth the drive through dense rainforest. There is a couple of small shops, and a pub called PJs which serves lunch if you’re hungry when you get near the Cape. Allow one day.
3. Atherton Tablelands One of the most popular day trips with locals is the Atherton Tablelands. Cool, green, and very different to the ecology of the rest of the coastal landscape, the tablelands are a unique environment home to some of the most famed and photographed waterfalls in Australia. Access to the tablelands is via three routes – The Kuranda Range Road, The Gillies Highway and the Rex Range Road from Mossman. The Kuranda Highway is the closest to Cairns, leading from Smithfield roundabout to the Kuranda turnoff. There are many roads and routes you can take in the Tablelands, but a good piece of advice is to go up the Kuranda range, see Kuranda, Yungaburra, Millaa Millaa falls, Malanda falls, Lake Tinaroo, and come down the Gillies. Allow a full day.
4. Babinda Boulders The Boulders are beautiful. A lovely swimming hole that you can drive down to in your own time. Do follow the warning signs though and don’t swim in Devil’s Pool. Many have been tricked by it’s beauty and it has claimed lives. There are plenty of lovely, calm and tranquil places to swim. Our favourite tip is to take a picnic lunch as this is a very peaceful place that you won’t want to leave and there are plenty of places to enjoy a packed lunch. If you’d like to, venture off and see Golds-borough Valley on your way home, it is lovely – and follow the river along, the road hugs it for quite a way. Allow half a day.