EXPLORE CAIRNS IN 48 HOURS WITH MY FREE PRINTABLE ITINERARY!
This year I joined the Telstra Influencers Network and when they recently challenged me to spend a weekend in Cairns to find their new #WifiNation Hot Spots and explore the Tropical North Queensland region, I couldn’t refuse. If you haven’t been to Cairns or Port Douglas or the Daintree Rainforest, then I urge you to put these destinations high up on your Australian bucket list. Whilst I was born in Sydney, I moved with my family when I was little and grew up in Brisbane, Queensland. We spent many holidays exploring Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Tropical North Queensland. Perhaps I got a little nostalgic when I was in Cairns, but there is something quite special about Queensland that really speaks to me. I think it’s the balmy nights, glowing sunsets, gigantic palm trees, super laidback people, warm salty ocean, evergreen rainforests and wide open landscapes that I fell in love with a long time ago, so it was nice to be back at the very place I call ‘home’.
For my intrepid readers (yes that’s you!) I have written an itinerary for you to use as a guide when you get the chance to explore Cairns and Tropical North Queensland. I’ve also included a list of Telstra #WifiNation Hotspots which you can use for free. How amazing is that!
TRAVEL TO CAIRNS My weekend in Cairns started with a late night flight from Sydney. My flight with Virgin Australia departed at 6.30pm and arrived at 9.30pm. Upon arrival I collected my bags and organised a hire car with Budget. Hiring a car is an absolute must! It gives you the freedom to explore when you want and where you want. I booked two nights at the Mantra Trilogy located in the heart of Cairns, on The Esplanade. When you arrive, the hotel can organise a complimentary car park as well as room service for you from one of the local restaurants. Unfortunately wifi isn’t free at the hotel, but that doesn’t matter because you’ve got Telstra Hotspots all over Cairns. And remember, you have a big day tomorrow so don’t stay up too late!
SUNRISE WALK ALONG THE ESPLANADE – 3 hours The best way to discover Cairns is to walk along The Esplanade and the best time to enjoy The Esplanade is at sunrise, when it’s a lot less crowded. Set aside at least an hour or two to enjoy the stunning views and when you finish, pick one of the many restaurants and cafes lining The Esplanade and enjoy breakfast.
JOSEPHINE FALLS – 4 hours After breakfast head back to the hotel, tie up your sneakers and back your backpack with snacks, a few bottles of waters, swimsuit, sunscreen and towel because you’re about to jump in the car and drive an hour south to explore and swim at Johnstone Falls. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tropical North Queensland, visitors can swim in the crystal clear water, relax on the nearby rocks and fall asleep under the warm sun as the leaves rustle in the wind high above in the rainforest canopy.
PALM COVE BEACH – 5 hours The best place to watch sunset in Tropical North Queensland is from Palm Cove Beach. So after a relaxing few hours at Josephine Falls, jump back in the car and drive 90 minutes north (after an hour you will pass Cairns with 30 or so minutes left until you reach Palm Cove Beach). Along the way, make sure you stop at the many sugarcane fields to take photos – the cane fields are very Australian! I actually stumbled across Palm Cove purely by accident and I am so glad I did. I high recommend walking along the promenade here, admiring the various luxury hotels but when the sun starts to set make sure you watch from the south end, which is lined with gigantic palm trees. When darkness falls, make your way to Nunu for dinner. It’s one of the best places I’ve eaten! If you eat too much, take another leisurely beach stroll under the moon light then slowly make your way back to Cairns for a night of rest and relaxation.
CRYSTAL CASCADES – 2 hours With less than 24 hours left of your Cairns adventure, I suggest you make the most of your last day. Get up early, pack your suitcase and snacks to last you until the afternoon, check out, jump in the car and drive 30 minutes inland to Crystal Cascades. I researched directions online and found them quite sketchy; I think this is deliberate as many locals love this waterfall. Buuuut in the tradition of sharing my travel experiences, the exact coordinates are -16.9643320, 145.6707810. Type this into Google Maps and you’ll be able to find the exact location of Crystal Cascades. I highly recommend getting there early – it means you avoid the crowds, the heat and above all, you get to enjoy the Cascades all to yourself. From the carpark, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to reach the waterfall. Do be careful if you plan on swimming along the Cascades, there have been numerous deaths and just a few days earlier, a man had got himself into trouble after jumping off the waterfall (strictly forbidden) and drowned.
FAIRY FALLS – 1 hour I’m going to let you in on a local secret…Fairy Falls. And guess what, it’s very close to Crystal Cascades and you don’t need to get back in the car to find it. When you walk back to the car park look for the toilet block. About 50 metres to the right of the toilet block you will see a sign warning of the Stinging Tree, which causes severe pain and distress if you come in contact with it – so be careful. Just tucked next to the sign is a rocky, unmarked footpath. Dive straight in and follow this for about 10 minutes until you come to Fairy Falls. You won’t miss it however the path intersects a rocky section, so just go with the flow and continue to go forward until to see the path again. I was on my own and took my time as I didn’t want to get lost, so I suggest you do the same regardless. When you see the Falls, you need to clamour up a lot of slippery rocks so make sure you wear proper hiking shoes. There is a cute swing rope at the falls too so have some fun here!
DAINTREE RAINFOREST AND MOSSMAN GORGE – 4 hours Now you need to drive over to the Daintree Rainforest. A lot of people will tell you that you need a guide or go on a tour to explore the Daintree, and that’s certainly very true if you plan on exploring the farther parts of the rainforest. However for this itinerary, you don’t have that much time so when you leave Fairy Falls, drive north for 90 minutes to Mossman Gorge. The drive is gorgeous so make sure you leave some time to stop and take photos along the way. The only way to access Mossman Gorge is to stop at the Visitors Centre and purchase a bus ticket which takes you directly into the Daintree Rainforest and to Mossman Gorge. When the bus drops you off, take the footpath on the right and you will walk past three look outs and then the Mossman Gorge swimming hole. All you need to do here is get into your swimsuit and splash around the freshest, coolest water you’ll ever experience. I felt really hot when I arrived and I could literally feel the cold water cool my body temperature down. Bliss!
VILLA ROMANA – 3 hours Now by the time you leave Mossman Gorge and drive back to Cairns, you’ll be starving! I highly recommend eating at Villa Romana which is on The Esplanade. Serving the best Italian food on the north coast, I used to eat here when I worked at Virgin Australia as a flight attendant when I was studying at uni many years ago. Order the beef carpaccio for your starter and the salami pizza with any of the salads for your main - heaven! After your late lunch, you better head back to the airport for your flight back home.
HOW TO USE TELSTRA #WIFINATION HOTSPOTS So what are the Telstra Hotspots, where can you find them and how do you connect? In November last year, Telstra switched on their free wifi giving everyone in Australia access to over 1,000 Telstra #WifiNation Hotspots. So with Telstra Hotspots popping up all over Australia where can you find them in Tropical North Queensland? Right here:
1. 71, 89 and 157 Esplanade CAIRNS CITY QLD 4870 2. 65, 83 and 121 Abbott St CAIRNS CITY QLD 4870 3. 130 Sheridan St CAIRNS CITY QLD 4870
To connect, all you need to do is find your nearest Telstra Hotspot, connect to Free_Telstra_WiFi when you are in range, accept the T&C’s and start using the free wifi. It’s that easy! And so perfect for your travels. Enjoy!
DOWNLOAD MY ITINERARY HERE: Explore Cairns in 48 hours