Everything began in early August 2017 when I finally landed in Cairns after a long flight. After being thoroughly checked, I finally made it – I was in Australia! My Australian host family picked me up at the airport. I had a wonderful time with them over the next two months. They gave me the opportunity to explore Cairns and its surroundings in detail.
As it turned out, I landed in one of the most beautiful areas of Australia. I had informed myself in advance and made sure that I arrive in the dry season – a good decision! The recommended time for travelling is from May to October, as there are frequent storms and cyclones in the rainy season with heavy rainfall and flooding.
Why is Cairns one of the most beautiful spots of Australia? Because it offers tons of opportunities with its tropical rain forest, dream beaches and the Great Barrier Reef!
The first thing I did was to explore the beaches north of Cairns. They all are sandy beaches with palm trees and it really feels like paradise. The most beautiful beaches in the Cairns ares are Ellis Beach, Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach and Trinity Beach. The beaches of Palm Cove and Port Douglas are also pristine, but a bit more touristy. However, due to saltwater crocodiles and stingers, you should only take a dip in marked areas (between the flags and depending on the season) or better not swim at all!
My host family showed me around the area. They took me to the Atherton Tablelands. To get there, we drove up the mountain range, which is populated with tall dense rain forest. We stopped at the Barron Falls and the small charming hippie town of Kuranda. It’s popular for its many small shops and stalls that invite you to stroll. The same day, I also got a glimpse of Lake Tinaroo and walked around Lake Barrine.
I realized that there is so much to explore in the tropical rain forest around Cairns. It’s definitely worth having a look at the numerous waterfalls, creeks and gorges. Especially in hot weather it’s nice jumping into a swimming hole in the middle of the rain forest without any risk of crocodiles. It really cools you down if the outside temperature is more than 30 degrees or more with a high humidity (I had to get used to this humidity… first, it felt like I was permanently in the tropical green house at the zoo! My host mother gave me good advice to drink as many fluids as possible, which took a while to get used to).
Then, I explored the Crystal Cascades and the Barron Gorge on my own. I visited Stoney Creek and Hartley Creek several times to go for a swim. Another time, I took a dip at the Emerald Creek Falls, which are pretty amazing, too. All in all, I really have to say that one of the most amazing things about Cairns is all the amazing waterfalls. It’s also worth seeing the Waterfall Circuit, which is located in the Atherton Tablelands. It consists of the popular Milla Milla Falls, Ellinjah Falls and Zillie Falls. However, my favourite waterfalls are the Josephine Falls. They are located south of Cairns and offer a natural water slide that really entice you to take a swim!
My host family also took me to Granite Gorge, where you can do some hiking and see a lot of wildlife. We saw some wallabies, peacocks and turtles. It’s a perfect spot to go to with children. I also had my first encounter with a snake. The same day we also stopped to swim at Davis Creek – a wonderful place to cool down or go camping!
Cairns is also home to the Great Barrier Reef, which is listed as a World Heritage Site. I was very lucky to get the opportunity to explore it with my host family. We spent a beautiful day on Low Island collecting shells on the beach, snorkeling and swimming with turtles and having a look into the unique underwater world. Another day we went to the Frankland Islands, which are amazing with their white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Thanks to my host dad, who went fishing very often, I got to see and eat some species of fish I’ve never seen before. They always seemed to be huge and colorful! One day he took me fishing and showed me the outer reef. I’ve never seen the biodiversity and splendor of colors underwater before – just breathtaking! I am very grateful to have seen the Great Barrier Reef, which is unfortunately struggling with today’s climate change and is increasingly bleaching due to the sun. For tourists, Fitzroy Island and Green Island are the places to go to on the reef. Even though I haven’t been to these islands, I’m more than thankful to have seen the less touristy parts of the reef, which were possibly even more beautiful anyway.
To keep myself fit, I went jogging as I used to do in Germany a couple of months before. However, I gave this up very quickly due to the high humidity. I preferred to take longer walks and hikes. Besides, I went swimming, of course! It usually takes a couple of kilometers to get to a waterfalls anyway, but I also did some bigger hikes. One time I hiked the Glaciers Rock ending up at a Lookout above the Cairns area. Another day I climbed the Walsh Pyramid (922m), which lives up to its name.
Ok, so what else have I seen?! What can one do in Cairns? Even though I don’t like cities, there are some places to go to in Cairns. I have a weakness for markets: there are Rusty’s Market, which offers exotic fruits and vegetables as well as other small stalls with food and handicrafts, and the Night Markets. It’s also worth having a look at the botanical gardens in Cairns. One can also do some relaxing on the Esplanade or go for a swim in the Cairns Lagoon, which is free and open to the public.
During my time in Cairns, I also did a weekend trip to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation. On the way, I stopped at Mossman Gorge, which offers beautiful walks through dense rain forest and huge trees, so-called “Fig trees”. To get to the Daintree I had to cross the Daintree River by ferry. Once I was there, I realized that there is so much to discover. The diversity of nature and biodiversity is stunning. I especially liked the wonderful big blue butterflies (unfortunately they are too fast to photograph). It’s also possible to see crocodiles, either in the Daintree River or on the beach in Cape Tribulation – so please do not swim! If you’re lucky, you may also see a Cassowary. But be careful! They can be dangerous as well, so it’s better to watch them from a distance. I have to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to see one there.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Cairns and would recommend anyone to take a closer look at this area of Australia!
My TOP 10 Highlights in Cairns are:
- Waterfall Circuit
- Emerald Creek Falls
- Davis Creek
- Josephine Falls
- Granite Gorge
- Mossman Gorge
- Having a cocktail or a BBQ on Kewarra Beach or Trinity Beach
- Doing a weekend trip to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation
- Doing a day trip to Kuranda
- Swimming and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef