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  • Sydney
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  • Why We’re Ditching Europe for Barefoot Luxury in this Sunny Australian Paradise

Why We’re Ditching Europe for Barefoot Luxury in this Sunny Australian Paradise

And if this is your first trip, we promise it won't be your last

Nu Nu Restaurant (Image Credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

It starts with the name. Tropical North Queensland evokes images of palm trees, ancient rainforests, endless reefs and cane fields. And for anyone who has been before, that’s exactly what you'll find - but there’s so much more to this veritable paradise. A trip to Tropical North Queensland is also barefoot sunrises in winter, roadside honesty boxes and bananas for $2/kg. It’s roads lined with beaches, ice-cold local beers and warm encounters by the dozen. Talk to a handful of tour operators and staff and you’ll discover that the majority of them came for a holiday and never managed to leave. Tropical North Queensland gets under your skin in the very best way. 

With temperatures averaging 25 degrees celsius throughout June and July, and an incredible itinerary that could be achieved in a long weekend, we’re all about this easy, breezy and most importantly warm winter break.

Salt House (Image Credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

Cairns to Port Douglas 

Flying into Cairns, you’re rewarded with an immediate holiday hit. Vibrant greenery lines the airport grounds and warm air hits you as soon as you step off the plane, forcing a quick strip of your jacket. Before jumping in the car for the hour-and-a-half journey to Port Douglas, head to Salt House to refuel. An introduction to the semi-alfresco dining situation you’ll come to love up here, this iconic local venue offers expansive views across the marina. Start with a cold Hemmingway’s beer and dine on local seafood and wood-fired pizza. 

As you head out of Cairns and begin your drive North, do stop as many times as you like for roadside stalls burgeoning with fruit. Don’t rush - you’re on Queensland time now. 

Port Douglas is a great starting point for your adventure. Enabling you to break up the 2.5-hour journey to Cape Tribulation, it offers a chance to ease into the tropical climate. Accommodation options are plentiful with price points for all budgets. If you’re travelling without kids, check into the Peninsula Boutique Hotel, the only hotel in Port Douglas with beach and ocean views. Nestled on Four Mile Beach, you’re only steps from the shoreline and a two-minute stroll into the heart of town. End the day by sailing into the sunset whilst sipping on bubbles with Sailaway before returning for a refuel at Zinc.

Sailaway (Image Credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation 

It’s time to head further north. In order to get the most out of your day, tee up a tour with Daintree Discovery Tours. Their tours are intimate and informative, so you’re covered on all fronts. The ‘Total Daintree Experience’ is a great entry point to exploring the area and begins with a wander through Mossman Gorge. Your guide will point out all kinds of natural gems that you might have otherwise missed like basket ferns, spiders and bird calls. Nip over to the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre for some wattle seed damper, jam and cream paired perfectly with some Daintree Tea! 

Then it’s back on the bus before a river cruise and some croc spotting. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of these ancient creatures moving, gear up for a thrill! As you trawl the banks, don’t forget to look up and absorb the glistening green of the lower Daintree. You’ll then take a turn around the Madja Boardwalk, an incredible insight into the mangrove-lined habitat, before arriving in Cape Tribulation. 

Take the opportunity to throw yourself into a digital detox with a stay at Cape Trib Beach House. Sip on an espresso martini beachside whilst you soak up the knowledge that you’re standing in the only place in the world where two world heritage sites meet. 

Cape Trib Beach House (Image Credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

Cape Tribulation to Port Douglas 

Today’s the day. After a quick breaky, it’s time to head out onto the reef with Ocean Safari. Offering the shortest ride out (and an exhilarating one at that!), these guys take no more than 25 guests out to the Mackay Reef. You’ll visit two different snorkel locations where you can expect to find giant clams, tropical fish, corals and turtles. After what can only be deemed to be a wildlife encounter of a lifetime, jump back aboard, grab a cool drink from the esky and enjoy the ride back as you transition from reef to rainforest again. 

Now’s your chance to embark on one of Down Under Tours day or private tours. Offering everything from wetlands to waterfalls, you’ll be able to find or curate one to suit. As you make your way back to Port Douglas be sure to stop in at Daintree Discovery Centre to take a closer look at the rainforest and swing by Daintree Ice Cream for a sweet treat made from unique tropical fruits. Soursop anyone? 

After an active day, you’ll melt into your sheets at Thala Beach Nature Reserve. But not before stopping off at Osprey’s Restaurant for a feast inspired by the flavours of the region.

Port Douglas to Cairns 

Start your day with one of Thala’s incredible free tours. The 145-acre property is home to a swathe of wildlife alongside private beaches and palm tree groves strung up with hammocks, two divine pools surrounded by rainforests and plenty of alfresco spaces to kick back.

Whilst you won’t want to leave, the set menu at Nu Nu in Palm Cove is beckoning. Dine on impeccably constructed dishes crafted from the finest rainforest, reef and outback ingredients against the backdrop of palm trees and crashing waves.

Thala Nature Reserve (Image Credit: Tourism Tropical North Queensland)

And So Begins A Lifelong Obsession...

It’s likely that you won’t be leaving Tropical North Queensland without a little bit of the passion of the operators and locals rubbing off on you. No one does things by halves up here. An immense effort goes towards protecting the local environment and ensuring eco and sustainable tourism is paramount. Sailaway is leading the way in their industry with the development of a completely electric sailboat, Master Reef Guides aboard Ocean Safari trips are contributing to surveying and documenting the reefs they care for and Thala Beach Nature Reserve has seen hundreds of species return after 30 years of regeneration efforts. 

Whilst you won’t find vast Amalfi cliffs and boutique Euro shopping here, you will find access to private beaches, two adjacent world heritage sites and endless wildlife encounters - barefoot luxury in every sense of the word. You'll leave with a sense of connection and a longing to return. What could be better than that? 

Nu Nu Restaurant (Image Credit: Nu Nu Restaurant)

Tropical North Queensland has something to offer at any point in the year. If you're interested in planning a trip, head to Tourism Tropical North Queensland to get started. 

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