In this three-part travelogue series, mum-of-three Natasha Liok shares her travel tips on where to go and what to do on a family vacation in Australia.
By Natasha Liok
Having previously conquered Perth and Gold Cost with the kids, we decided that for the June holidays this year (2016), we would focus on a place that has a plethora of outdoor activities for the little ones to enjoy. The aim: to expose them to nature — flora, fauna and marine life — and Cairns was the perfect place to do so.
When researching what to do with the kids when in Cairns, I came across this website called Cairns Holiday Specialists, and eagerly started planning our holiday around the wide variety of outdoor tours. I narrowed down a few and confirmed them prior to leaving for the trip. The staff at Cairns Holiday Specialists were very helpful in answering my multiple detailed emails right down to ensuring that there were car seats in the tour bus and advising which attractions were closed due to maintenance so I could switch up the days.
Upon arriving in Cairns, our stroller had unfortunately lost a wheel! But no worries as we head off to Cairns Central to stock up on groceries, grab a quick bite at the food court, and purchased an affordable umbrella stroller at Kmart for about S$20! Cairns Central may not look like much from the outside but it has several mega stores under one roof like Myer, Target and supermarket Coles, making it a convenient pit-stop. Take note – the Asian menu at the food court is nothing to scream about but the Tacos were exceptionally good.
We stayed at a timeshare property managed by WorldMark Club by Wyndham Cairns as part of a Marriott Vacation Club programme. However, as we drove up towards the coastal areas, we found nicer locations such as the Palm Cove area right along the beach. Further up is Portsdown, where there are quaint retail shops, chic cafes and yummy fish and chips bistros.
Below are some activities that I highly recommend:
Billy Tea Bush Safaris
I loved this activity packed tour because it allowed the kids to do some crocodile-watching while on the Daintree River cruise. The children were able to learn about the rainforest through an informative guided tour and it was completely safe for them to trek through due to the National Park elevated boardwalks. They saw spiders with gigantic magnificent silver webs glistening in the sunlight and touched leaves with interesting textures. My kids especially loved dipping their toes in the Emmagen Creek while I just sat there admiring the view.
Kuranda, Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Rail
We went on the Kuranda, Skyrail & Kuranda Scenic Rail by train tour. Sitting on the train back from Kuranda to Cairns was an amazing experience. While being elevated at 328m above sea level, we passed spectacular waterfalls that cascade down the side of the mountain into the breathtaking Barron Gorge. The Kuranda Skyrail and Scenic Railway experience cost AUD$766.00 for eight of us.
Green Island Dundees
The trip across to Green Island is relatively short. It takes an hour at most but my advice is to travel earlier in the day as the waters tend to be calmer. Included in the price is a transfer to Green Island, choice of snorkelling gear (when you reach the island) or glass bottom boat tour, a self-guided island walk and free WiFi on the vessels. A full day reef cruise departing Cairns at 9am gives you about five hours on Green Island. A little tip: bring a mat if you don’t like to lie on the sand because the deck chairs for lounging are rented out at ridiculous prices. We paid AUD$ 605.00 for a party of eight.
Natasha Liok is a mum-of-three to Joshua, Sophia and Jacob (aged seven, five and two respectively). This is the second in a three-part travelogue series on family travel in Australia. Catch back next week for part three.