After our trip to Cape York*, we’d booked five nights relaxation at Palm Cove, about 25 km north of Cairns. Unlike most visitors, we approached from the north having departed our tagalong group at the Daintree River Ferry. In G’Day Bruce we identified the fact that the major highway in Queensland isn’t a picturesque coastal road. The Captain Cook Highway heading towards Cairns from the north really makes up for it. If you want to drive along the ocean in Queensland, this is where we’d recommend you go – some stunning views which certainly rival The Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
*You can read about our Cape York Adventure in three of our posts; ‘Duct Tape, Zip Ties and WD40‘, ‘The Quest for Pajinka‘, and ‘Ants’ Bums, A Sexchange Hotel and The Sisters of Mercy‘
Palm Cove is a popular holiday spot and has a range of fairly expensive accommodation. We’d done well with AirBnB again, and secured a small unit, managed by Nicola, just a block back from the Esplanade. It had everything we needed including, importantly for us as we regrouped, a washing machine. One of the major goals for this part of our travels was to try and remove as much red dust as possible from us, our kit, our clothes and OTIS the jeep. OTIS was therefore booked in for a steam clean and service. As you can see from the pictures above, it made quite a difference. Fortunately, as well, nothing major had come loose or stopped working so OTIS was ready for the rest of our adventures.
We enjoyed the beaches of Palm Cove and Trinity Beach a few kilometres south. Walking by the ocean, stopping for the occasional drink, watching the full moon rise and having brekkie BBQs by the beach was just what we needed. We also caught up with one of Andy’s ex colleagues, Jodie and her husband Tony who very kindly treated us to lunch at NuNu, a top restaurant in Palm Cove.
We spent some time in Cairns itself during our stay. It’s quite unlike the other regional Queensland cities we visited. There is a definite Asian influence so has a more cosmopolitan feel than many other Queensland cities. This results in some great eateries, two of our favourites were Ganbaranba Noodle Colloseum and The Dumpling Studio. We had some of the best dumplings we’ve ever had, the pot stickers were to die for.
As well as eating, we enjoyed walking along the esplanade and around the marina. Cruise ships stop here, and many visitors use it as a stopping off point to see The Great Barrier Reef. We felt Cairns had more to offer in its own right and this was exemplified by the excellent museum housed in the old School of the Arts which tells the history of the city. The entrance fee was only $10 and we recommend it as very good value. There is also a very interesting Art Gallery in the CBD.
We took a trip into the Cairns hinterland to visit Kuranda, the village in the rainforest. It’s a popular place to visit and you can get there by train or cable car. We decided to drive up and spent several hours exploring the markets and the walks that take you through the rainforest, along the river and across the railway line. Kuranda is situated in the Barron Gorge and we continued on to have a look at the Barron Falls where the hydro-electric plant is fed. Even in the dry season it was a spectacular sight.
Just before continuing our travels to Darwin we stopped in at the Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore them properly but as with many Australian cities they appeared to be a great place to spend a few hours. We really liked Cairns and would suggest that its worth including a visit for a good few days in an Australian itinerary and not just as a launching point for the Reef.