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Celebrity Solstice Asia & Australia Blog #4 From Cairns

Ben Hall

After three sea days on Celebrity Solstice we’re back on land, sort of, as we’re actually anchored off Yorkeys Nob off the northern beaches of Cairns, one of North Queensland’s most famous holiday destinations. We’ve been tendering ashore to take in one of Australia’s most appealing tropical cities.

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Cairns has a reputation as a backpacker haven, but it’s now evolving into a sophisticated city which is ideal for romantic getaways and it now has the hotels and restaurants to prove it. Dubbed the “gateway to North Queensland” Cairns is a major hub for visitors to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the region’s ancient rain forests.

We only had a day in Cairns and this time we decided to take a wander around the city as we’d done the most iconic activities here previous trips in snorkelling the Barrier Reef and visiting the ancient rain forests of the Daintree.

In the city itself, the centrepiece is The Esplanade which is a recreation area along the ocean front and popular with walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, bird watchers, and people watchers. It’s also where a slew of restaurants and cafes beckon both locals and visitors, along with the 4,800 sqm salt water swimming lagoon which has become the focal point of daytime activity in Cairns.

The city has little souvenir shops scattered throughout the city centre selling furry kangaroos and koalas, Aboriginal art, boomerangs and didgeridoos, and part of the fun of the Cairns shopping experience is working out which of it is junk, and which is worth the money.

Just outside the city and Kuranda is a quaint village west of Cairns in the rain forest and a Train and Skyrail tour is one of the most popular ways of getting there. The Kuranda Scenic Train takes about 90 minutes and winds through the Kuranda Range and past Barron Falls, and on the return you can take the Skyrail which is basically a gondola which runs over the top of the rainforest canopy. This tour can be done in reverse order as well.

But really, this place is all about the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree, two of Australia’s iconic holiday destinations.

A snorkelling or diving trip out on the Great Barrier Reef is one of those essential Australian experiences and the beauty of Cairns is that is one of the closest cities to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Green and Frankland Island are a short catamaran ride away and are both ideal for an easy exploration of the beautiful reef and some charters also head to the Outer Reef where fixed pontoons make a comfortable base to dive into the deep blue.

Tropical North Queensland is the only place in the world where two of the most complex ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage listed tropical rainforest, meet in grand style and a trip to the Daintree is another iconic Australian experience. The 135 million year old rainforest is the most ancient and primitive in the world and day trips can also take in Mossman Gorge, Port Douglas and Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Farm.

Next stop, Brisbane and two sea days for a bit of R&R.

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