Our suggestion would be to depart from Cairns at 8.30 am and travel up the Kuranda range from Smithfield which is a beautiful drive through the rainforest! This trip will take you approximately 20- 30 minutes to get to Kuranda, which is an eclectic hippie Village in the rainforest mountains which is rich in history. The Range road has a speed limit of 60klms per hour mostly. You can stop off at the Henry Ross Lookout about half way up and admire the views across the landscape and the Great Barrier Reef. Be careful as you turn in here as cars come around the bend from both directions.
Back on the road and continuing up the Range you will come to an expansive concrete bridge that goes over the mighty Barron River, our major water, power and rural irrigation supply. Do not stop on the bridge but move on up the road to a safe part where you can pull over should you wish to walk back and take photographs.
Just a few kilometers from this bridge you will come upon a set of traffic lights. Turn left to enter the Village of Kuranda.
On arrival in the Village of Kuranda we would suggest you stop for around one hour or more and visit the markets for some quick souvenir shopping or pick up some freshly prepared nibbles for the journey. You can also visit the Butterfly Sanctuary but make sure you wear pink, red or white to attract them, see the Koala Gardens, visit Birdworld but make sure you don't wear shiny things otherwise you will have a giant Macaw pulling at your jewellery or clothing and at the Venom House, don't get to close you can see some Dangerous Australians up close and personal.
Another highlight is to people watch as you see Hippies both young and old mingling with tourists and local Indigenous Aboriginals. Pick up some Organic fruits and home baked goods for your journey.
It's a very eclectic little Village with people from all over the world dropping in to see this quaint Village in the Rainforests Highlands.
If you are a photographer then you will love the old buildings, the tree lined streets and the activity of this little Kuranda Village township.
Before leaving Kuranda a must do is to visit the Barron Falls for some photo opportunities. Just look for the brown and white signs that show you the way. You will see these signs at the lower end of Kuranda Village or on the way out to the highway from the Village.
Now it's time for morning tea and a chance to try one of the best coffees in Australia to give you that high that all coffee lovers yearn for.
Mareeba is located about 25 minutes away from Kuranda Village and this area specialises in coffee plantations eighty per cent of Australia's total Arabica coffee production is produced right here on the Cairns Tablelands.
Coffee Works in Mareeba is the ultimate coffee stop, with a range of Australian and International beans. The tour is great and it takes around forty minutes. Tours depart from 10.00 am till 3.00 pm every hour on the hour. The tour is great value as you receive commentaries on the history of coffee, how it is grown and harvested, why it is grown here on the Cairns Tablelands and then you get the chance of tasting between twenty one coffees, local and international, four locally grown teas, two liqueur coffees, twelve locally grown and made chocolates and then entry to their Coffee Works museum.
Mareeba used to be a large Tobacco growing area for Australia but as smoking has become anti-social and more and more information is available on its dangers the large cigarette manufacturing plant was closed down so all the farmers had to research what sort of crops to sow to replace tobacco and thus the rich fertile soils of this region have made it perfect for growing Coffee beans and Coco beans. They really got it right this time as the coffee plantations have really come into their own when just about everyone is a coffee connoisseur nowadays and this in turn brings tourism to the region.
The rich fertile soils of the Cairns Highlands and Atherton Tablelands is known locally as the Fruit Bowl of Cairns and Tropical North Queensland providing everything from Mangoes, Pineapples, Peaches, Nectarines, exotic tropical fruits, every type of vegetable imaginable and supplies all the restaurants, supermarkets and hotels not only in Cairns and Tropical North Queensland but also across the country as well as exporting huge amounts of fresh goods to overseas destinations.
This area has a rich cultural background with immigrants coming from all corners of the earth to pioneer this region which you will see as you walk thru the little townships or even visit the cemeteries and see the huge headstones and monuments of the past tough pioneers that made this region such a beautiful place for visitors to admire from all around the world.
It's now time to depart for Mungalli, and a great place to stop for lunch at Mungalli Creek Organic Dairy Farm. The drive will take around one and a half hours through Tolga, Atherton – Road 1, Milla Milla lookout, Milla Milla. Mungalli Creek Dairy Farm is a biodynamic farm that makes some of the best cheeses and yoghurts in Australia. You will find lots of this produce is used in the fine dining restaurants in the Cairns region and can also be found in most supermarkets and specialty stores. These organic specialties are delicious. Mungalli Creek Dairy Farm also has a taste tempting menu available for lunch to try out some of their fresh healthy produce. Afterwards why not take a little walk to beautiful Mungalli Falls located only three minutes away by car, a great chance to digest your lunch and enjoy this beautiful and peaceful location and get some memorable pictures.
Mungalli Falls to Undara – The road through Papina Falls, Windy Hill Wind Farm, Ravenshoe the highest town in Queensland, Innot Hot Spring, and Mount Garnet will allow you to see the transition between the green Tablelands and the Australian Outback. This journey will take approximately two hours so ensure you have lots of water and nibbles for the trip. In this great expansive country of ours we always carry spare water in case of a breakdown during the summer season.
Undara Lava Tubes - It is an exclusive place to visit
Located on the eastern edge of the ruggedly beautiful Gulf Savannah region of Northern Australia, the multi-award winning Undara Experience captures the essence of the real Australian Outback. A bit of history about the Tale of the Tubes.
About 190,000 years ago the Undara Volcano erupted violently, its molten lava flowing quickly through the low points in the landscape – including valleys and river beds. As the top outer layer cooled and formed a crust, the fiery magma below drained outwards leaving a series of long, dark, hollow tubes. In time the ancient roof collapsed and created fertile pockets where rainforest plants, animals and insects continue to thrive. The significance of these impressive, natural geological and cultural wonders have been preserved for present and future generations through the gazetting of this important area as the Undara Volcanic National Park.
Here guests have a choice of accommodation styles from specially restored antique railway carriages nestled in the Queensland bush or a central camping area with superb above ground tents and all amenities.
Whatever style of accommodation you choose to stay in at Undara Lava Tubes, the Undara Experience also includes evening spotlighting walks to see Australian nocturnal animals in their natural habitats looking for prey, storybook campfire evenings, delicious dining featuring the region's best produce, or a quiet drink in the bar as the outback sunset fades into the clearest of starlit nights.
We would advise to bring your swimmers as they have a swimming pool and it's nice to go for a swim before you join the sunset tour. Also make sure you have good walking shoes not thongs for wandering around the Australian bush.
We would strongly recommend you join the Sunset Tour to experience the outback nightly secrets as well as to sleep in the Train Carriage rooms if you are not a camper.
Wildlife at Sunset Tour - Approx 2 Hours and departs around 5.15 pm
This is your opportunity to watch and photograph a variety of local native animals, including wallabies, kangaroos, lizards and birds, before enjoying a cold drink and local produce as the sun sets. Learn about the local landmarks, plains and distant ranges. As dusk settles, travel to Barker's Cave to witness literally thousands of micro bats leave to feed for the night.
- Easy fitness level – boardwalks, steps, short uneven climb
- Includes refreshments and fruit and cheese platter
Undara Lave Tubes
Bush breakfast at Ringer's camp – This is a must do. Enjoy a real Aussie Breakfast while listening to the birds around you. I would advise to always keep an eye on your plate as the Kookaburra's will swoop down and steal what's on it!
After breakfast it's time to hit the road and come back to the “real world” or civilisation. Your next journey is to the romantic and mesmerizing Paronella Park which will take approximately 2 hours and travel back through Ravenshoe, pretty Milla Milla and the Palmerston Highway.
Built on 5 hectares or 13 acres of lush rainforest beside Mena Creek Falls, Paronella Park heritage gardens is a "must see" for all visitors to tropical north Queensland. It is the fulfillment of José Paronella's dreams. From the turret-topped balconies of the concrete Spanish Castle, to the Hydro Electric generating plant below the falls, we stand in awe of his amazing human achievements and dedication against nature's natural forces.
The design of Paronella Park the Spanish Castle in the rainforest was inspired by the Moorish architecture and gardens of Spain that Jose fondly remembered from his childhood, and as such Paronella Park has strong Spanish aesthetic and architectural qualities. Jose Paronella's idea was to build this Castle in the rainforest for his bride to be but a few little matters along the way changed his plans a touch. The concrete structures, which have been beautifully and lovingly restored after being damaged by flood, fire and weathering, are surrounded by lush vegetation which enhances the sense of discovery, and romantic qualities of ruined structures contribute to a strong sense of place. The strong aesthetic qualities of Paronella Park are enhanced by the emphasis placed on contrast which creates a series of clearly defined spaces which enable a variety of vistas and differing perspectives, intimacy and openness, and light and shade.
The hydro-electric system designed and built by Jose even before the Australian Government had this technology is utilised in Paronella Park and was the earliest application of hydro-electric technology in Queensland, and as such is both rare and significant as an example of creative and technical achievement, and has the potential to reveal further information about the development and application of this technology. In Madrid, Paronella was particularly impressed with the cafe by the water in the Botanic Gardens, and was also impressed by the work of Antonio Gaudi. He created garden elements inspired by those in the Alcazar Garden in Seville. Paronella did much of the work himself. He also employed a cane cutter who had worked as a carpenter in Malta and the cane cutter's nephew to work on the project full-time. He also made use of the large number of unemployed men who had arrived in the Innisfail region during this period, and exchanged food and shelter for labour.
Whilst here at Paronella Park you can see local Indigenous Aboriginal Dancers and also enjoy a cold drink or a nice cup of tea and cakes. Paronella Park is open every day from 09.00am till 7.30pm. The best way to discover the castle and the park is join the 45 min guided tour: This guided walk takes the visitor through the highlights of the Park and tells the extraordinary story of Jose Paronella's dreams and vision. Walk thru the original homestead and see original tools of trade and learn more about the romantic story that is behind the building of Paronella Park Castle.
Please allow additional time to visit the park by yourself, as the gardens are beautiful. I would suggest too spend about two hours including the guided tour.
Your leisurely trip back to back to Cairns will take around one and a half hours.
Chillagoe Caves & Outback Cairns | BT
- Departs From: Cairns, Port Douglas (extra cost), Palm Cove & Cairns Beaches
12 hours (approx)
It’s obvious the knowledgeable Chillagoe Caves tour guides love their jobs. They are all passionate locals who thrive on showing visitors this part of the world and you will find their commentary a valuable part of your day. The incredible Limestone Caves. They are truly spectacular and if you’re struggling with the heat of the outback in summer, keep in mind it’s considerably cooler in the caves, which makes for a comfortable exploration. The visit to Balancing Rock and to see the Aboriginal Rock Art is a big highlight on this Chillagoe Tour Skybury Coffee Plantation is the largest coffee plantation in Far North Queensland. Try the range of award-winning blends of coffees and shop in the gift shop during your visit.
Cairns Hot Air Balloon Scenic Flight
- Departs From: Cairns, Cairns Beaches, Palm Cove
40 - 60 Minute Flight
While floating above the Atherton Tablelands behind Cairns, do keep your eyes peeled for animals, they often hide but suddenly you could spot some ’kangaroos take off! Inflating the Hot Air balloon is impressive as the skin seems to suddenly expand into life so try to get a shot in front of it! Share your selfie to our Facebook page. It’s a good idea to wear a hat because of the heat from the hot air balloon burner which can also give off soot, so also avoid wearing white or light clothes.
Cairns Rainforest Tours | Waterfalls & Paronella Park | NEXP
- Departs From:
10.5 hours (approx)
Experience breath-taking waterfalls (swimming optional), a volcanic crater lake with wildlife cruise, luscious tropical rainforests and their giant flora and spend 2 hours at the famous Paronella Park. Pick up from your Cairns accommodation starts approx. 7.30am and heads south to the Gillies Hwy; the connection between Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands that provides breathtaking views back down over the Goldsborough Valley. As you reach the top of the range witness the flora change to tropical rainforest where an assortment of natural treats await you.