cairns natural attractions
- skyrail rainforest cableway
- paronella park
- nerada tea plantation
- undara lava tubes
- chillagoe caves
- fruit bat falls
- natural attractions directory
A fabulous combination of Mother Nature and man’s ingenuity has seen some fantastic attractions pop up in the Cairns region.
There are some great scenic spots that include Barron Falls in the Barron Gorge National Park, Mossman Gorge north of Cairns near Port Douglas, Babinda Boulders waterhole south of Cairns and Crystal Cascades, just outside Cairns city.
One that shouldn’t be missed is the worldclass award-winning Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Visitors float above the ground travelling though the rainforest canopy up the Kuranda Range to the village. This is an elegant way of getting an up close and personal view of the rainforest.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is one of the region’s best known tourist attractions. The calbecars wind over 7.5 kilometres of pristine World Heritage listed rainforest between Smithfield and Kuranda.
Gliding just metres above the rainforest canopy in comfortable six-person gondola cabins, the Skyrail journey immerses you in an intimate rainforest experience where you’ll see, hear, smell and become part of the tropical rainforest environment.
Visible from the cars it the magnificent Barron River Gorge, complete with massive waterfalls.
Voted Australia’s Best Major Tourist Attraction, the multi-award winning Skyrail is recognised not only as a premier tourist experience, but as a world leader in eco-tourism.
Skyrail can be enjoyed as complete day tour adventure or combined as a package with a number of Cairns’ other leading tourist attractions.
Skyrail’s Kuranda Terminal is located a short walk from the famous village of Kuranda where you’ll be able to enjoy the local attractions and shopping.
Kuranda features the bird and butterfly sanctuaries, Cairns Venon Zoo and Cairns Wildlife Safari Park.
There are also 2 massive markets, which feature locally produced arts, crafts and souvenirs in a rainforest outdoor setting.
Packages are available which inclue a trip up the range on the Skyrail and back down on the Kuranda Scenic Railway – a perfect way to see the most of this wonderful Far North Queensland destination.
Paronella Park, south of Cairns near Innisfail, is a unique monument to an Spanish immigrant’s love of his wife and love of his adopted home. The picturesque ruins sprinkled amongst lush vegetation are a relaxing and beautiful take on the region.
Created in the 1930s by a Spanish immigrant José Paronella, the park feels like something out of a fantasy movie. Rising out of the gardens that surround them are castles, battlements, paths, terraces and waterways that decorate the landscape.
José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. His dream was to build a Spanish style castle for his wife Margarita, nestled in the rainforest surrounds of Mena Creek.
They laboured with unswerving determination, until, in 1935 after much hard work, the Park was officially opened to the public. The park was very popular, with the hall a favourite venue for dances and parties.
Upwards of 7000 trees were planted by José, including the magnificent Kauris lining Kauri Avenue. Disaster struck the park several times, with floods and a fire causing major damage forcing the park to be closed for a number of years.
The park was sold in 1977 and for many years remained untouched, allowing the park to become overgrown.
Mark and Judy Evans, the current owner/operators, purchased the Park in 1993 and formulated a plan to put the Park back on the map. After much hard work they were successful, with the Park gained National Trust listing in 1997. It has since been recognised by a total of 11 Tourism Awards in the period from 1998 till April 2000.
Paronella Park’s life as a pleasure gardens continues as José intended, for visitors, and with social gatherings, particularly weddings, continuing to make use of this unique location.
Visitors can explore, dine, experience Aboriginal culture and learn the amazing history of one man and his dream to build a legacy.
The park is located at Mena Creek, around 120kms from Cairns. Tours leave daily, with a Caravan Park available for overnight stays.
Nerada Tea Plantation on the tablelands has a long history dating back to the 1880s as the Cutton brothers farm growing some tea.
In 1950 Indian-born Doctor Allan Maruff bought a farm in the Innisfail area and he set out to find the Cutton brothers old farm site. After locating it and salvaging the tea plants which had begun to grow wild in the area, he purchased a tract of land in the Nerada Valley, located on the Atherton Tablelands and began growing his crops.
While Dr Maruff was forced to sell off his properties in the 70s, the Nerada Tea Plantation has continued to operate to this day and has grown into one of Australia’s largest and best known tea plantations.
Tourists can take a guided tour of the plantation, seeing all aspects of tea production from seedling to harvesting stage, with lessons in the perfect cup of tea as well. Surrounded by lush green hills and thick rainforest, the plantation is a perfect place for the tea-drinking tourist to find some insight into the history and production of this famous crop.
Many different tour companies make a stop over at the plantation on their trips around the Tablelands, or you can drop in on driving tours.
The Undara Lava Tubes were formed some 190,000 years ago when a major volcano in the McBride volcanic province erupted, its molten lava flowing down a dry river bed.
As the top layer quickly cooled and crusted, the fiery magma below continued to flow through the tubes, creating the spectacular caverns we see today.
The word Undara means ‘a long way’ in Aboriginal language. The tubes are approximately 100 kilometres long, making them one of the longest continuous lava flows in the modern history of our planet.
The Undara tubes are located around half a day’s drive from Cairns and are accessable from a number of different transport options, including by air, a historic train ride or scenic coach transfer.
The Undara Lava Tubes are located in the Undara Volcanic National Park which is south-west of Mount Garnet or east of Mount Surprise via Innisfail, south of Cairns. The Undara Experience offers accommodation from cabins to camp sites.
The spectacular lime caves at Chillagoe offer a glipse of Far North Queensland’s ancient geological history.
The historic town of Chillagoe on the far western end of the Atherton Tablelands is the gateway to one of the regions most impressive tourist attractions, the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park.
Chillagoe lies within a belt of limestone, 5km wide and 45km long, extending from south of Chillagoe north-west to the Walsh River and beyond.
Around 400 million years ago, the Chillagoe area we know today was underwater, part of a shallow inland sea. The limestone was deposited from mud and coral reefs that covered the sea. As the area dried out, the limestone was eroded, forming the amazing rock formations and caves that we see today.
Over 600 caves are present in the area, complete with stalactites, stalagmites, crystals and 35,000 year old aboriginal rock art.
The area also features a number of different flora and fauna unique to the area, making the area one of the richest places to see Far North Queensland’s ancient natural history.
Chillagoe is located around 220kms west of Cairns via Mareeba and Dimbulah. The area is best accessed by car, as it will allow you to take in the breathtaking scenery and take your time visiting the many wonders of the region.
Lush waterfalls such as Fruit Bat Falls are in abundance on Cape York. The scenery of Cape York is highly diverse, ranging from rugged wilderness through to lush tropical rainforest and white sandy beaches.
Waterfalls such as the picturesque Fruit Bat Falls dot the landscape, providing a chance for visitors to rest and cool off on their journey around the Cape.
Most of the best places are only accessable by 4WD, ensuring crowds are limited and the landscape remains relatively free of commercialised tourism options.
While most people choose to take their own vehicle when visiting, there are a number of guided tours that will do the work for you, providing food and accommodation along the way.
The small heritage town of Cooktown is the gateway to Cape York and features a number of tourist attractions as well.