Day 1: Magnetic Island – Koalas
Day 2: Atherton Tablelands – animals
Day 3: Chillagoe: The Outback
Day 4: Chillagoe Caves and Aboriginal art
Day 5: Mareeba and Daintree River
Day 6: Daintree Rainforest
Day 7: Mossman Gorge
Day 8: Port Douglas, Coral Sea, Low Isles
Day 9: Cairns and Outer Barrier Reef
Day 10: Fitzroy Island
Based on our own experience in Queensland / Australia we describe a 10-day itinerary which gives you the opportunity to see both amazingly varied Australian nature, a number of awesome Australian animals, as well as some of the topmost sights that the state has to offer.
The sunshine state offers a wide range of world-class experiences – and is also home to a most diversified wildlife of species endemic to Australia.
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If you are so lucky to have more than 10 days, you can of course easily stretch the itinerary over more days in some of the places described – all according to preference. If you have less time, you can either cut down on the time spent on one or two of the locations – or maybe you will even completely skip a few locations.
Day 1: Magnetic Island – Koalas
On the first day of your Queensland – Australia trip you will start out in Townsville early in the morning for your Great Barrier Reef island experience. Beforehand, you may have booked your ferry tickets to go to Magnetic Island for the day. You can book your tickets here: Sealink Queensland (affiliate link).
There are frequent ferry departures all during the day, so you can pick the departure as early in the morning as is most convenient to you. Anyway, it is a good idea to be early off, so that you will get the most out of your day on Magnetic Island. The crossing takes just 20 minutes. If you want to take your car to Magnetic Island there is another ferry, the Magnetic Island Ferries, that has a car deck – but you won’t actually really need a car once on the island.
The Sealink Queensland takes you directly to the ferry terminal on Magnetic Island at Nelly Bay. When arriving, you can opt to start out on foot from Nelly Bay or continue by the island bus towards Horseshoe Bay. It is a small island so the bus just goes back and forth from the south to north of the island – from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay, with multiple stops along the way. As an alternative to the island bus, the ferry terminal is also served by taxis – as well as provides both car hire and bicycle rental. There is also a small supermarket near the ferry terminal.
If you feel like it, start your day on Magnetic Island with a snorkelling tour on your own in Nelly Bay. Nelly Bay is one of the best snorkelling spots for beginners since the snorkelling trail is just 100 m (330 ft) off the shore – and there is stuff to see! The tour is marked with surface floats in the water all along the beach. If you are experienced in snorkelling, there are many other snorkelling opportunities in the small bays around the island.
After the snorkelling experience (or if you opt to skip it), we suggest that you jump on the island bus towards Horseshoe Bay. Get off at the Forts stop to do the Forts Walk.
Before ascending towards the summit, you may want to make a small detour (a picnic stop?) at one of the bays, for instance the beautiful Arthur Bay with its stunning rock formations, coral beach and small stream pond. We viewed beautiful giant butterflies there!
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Now it is time for one of the highlights on your Magnetic Island tour! In the lush forest on your way to the Forts, you may be lucky to spot some of the true inhabitants, the koalas, in the eucalyptus tree tops! It is a unique opportunity and one of the real draws on the island! Take your time to observe and photograph the fascinating, calm animals resting lazily on the branches in the tree tops!
Continuing from here you can hike up to the fascinating historic WWII fortifications with breathtaking views of the surrounding scenic bays (Florence Bay, Gowrie Bay and Radical Bay) and the stunning blue sea along the way.
After the Forts Walk you can follow the trail through the forest right until you get to the popular Horseshoe Bay on the northern side of Magnetic Island. You arrive at one of the best beaches on the island with a swimming enclosure, plenty of equipment hire options like jet skis, stand up paddle boards and kayaks, as well as a number of restaurants and cafés with a scenic, panoramic ocean view. You will definitely have fun here until it is time to return.
Once in Arcadia, you now walk out to the rocks inhabited by a group of rock wallabies (the tiniest kind of kangaroos that exists). It is amazing to see these tiny animals jumping around on the rocks. When we visited we even viewed a wallaby hopping elegantly around with a baby in her pouch! That really made our day!
Finally, after an amazing day on Magnetic Island in Queensland, it is time to take the ferry back to Townsville where you will spend the night.
When returning to Townsville, you may even come across yet another special animal native to Australia – look for the flying foxes residing in town – especially in the evening you are likely to see them gather!
Arcadia Village Motel is located on Magnetic Island, overlooking Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay. The hotel offers 3 bars, a café and 2 even swimming pools. It is only 15 minutes’ walk from Nelly Bay Harbour.
Day 2: Atherton Tablelands – Australian animals
The second day of your Australia trip is going to be a long day – crossing the Atherton Tablelands and ending up in the middle of the Queensland outback, in Chillagoe. Anyway, you will take it step by step, since there are so many interesting stops along the way – you may also want to check some tours and other activities in Atherton Tablelands (affiliate link). (If you plan on renting a car for your trip, do check with your car rental beforehand that they give you a car that you are allowed to take to Chillagoe. It IS the outback and some car rentals are restricted!)
Start as early in the morning as possible (you will want to arrive in Chillagoe before darkness). First stop will be Etty Bay along the coast – 250 km (155 miles) north of Townsville. Here you will go right down to the gorgeous beach which you might even have all to yourself – apart from the stunning cassowaries which are the main reason you stop here! Already along the road you may be lucky to catch sight of them – and if not before – at least on the beach there is a good chance that you will be able to spot them strolling around. Do keep at a certain distance since close encounters should be considered dangerous (they have claws incomparable to what you have ever seen before! – and a few people are known to have been killed by these monster birds).
The region is also called the Cassowary Coast and is the banana hub in Queensland and in Australia with banana plantations as well as a multitude of other exotic fruit industries like lychees, mango, rambutans, guanabana and cocoa. There is even a chocolate factory at Mission Beach!
Continue your drive. Soon after Etty Bay you will turn off towards the Millaa Millaa Falls – which is about an hour’s drive from Etty Bay.
Have a picnic or a snack here with the magnificent waterfalls in the background! If you think time allows, you may also squeeze in a quick stop at Malanda Falls (maybe you can and maybe you cannot depending on how early you left in the morning and how long you have spent at your stops so far. We didn’t do Malanda Falls on our trip). Malanda is the centre of Queensland’s dairying industry.
Nerada Tea Plantation is next. Both for the beautiful green tea plantation – but not least for the 2-3 tree kangaroos living in the tree tops there. It is a special kind of kangaroo which is pretty different from the usual kangaroo – but it is a marsupial which still belongs to the kangaroo family. The owners will point out where on the plantation you are likely to find the tree climbers! When we came, we very soon spotted two kangaroos in a tree just next to the tea room! Check out where to see native animals in the wild in Queensland.
One of the sights on your way today is the Curtain Fig Tree at Yungaburra National Park. Don’t miss this awesome, natural piece of art – created by nature – you will be surprised how voluminous it is!
If you didn’t already by chance see a platypus at the Millaa Millaa Falls, you will now get the chance at Yungaburra Platypus Viewing Platform or just below the bridge. Wander down at Peterson Creek and walk first over and then under the bridge before continuing along the creek. Here you may well spot a few platypuses, especially in the early morning hours and the late afternoon. We were lucky to view a couple of lively platypuses in the creek here. The platypuses come up to breathe and then dive towards the bottom again.
Now it is time to do the final leg to Chillagoe. The drive from Yungaburra to Mareeba is just slightly more than 30 minutes. Make a short stop in Mareeba to buy provisions for the next days – since there are limited shopping opportunities and supplies in Chillagoe. How much you will need to buy will of course also depend on what kind of accommodation you have reserved in Chillagoe – whether meals are included or not.
Shortly after Mareeba you will notice the change of landscape. The drive from Mareeba to Chillagoe is around two hours since you cannot go very fast on the red dusty road. Do take into consideration when it is likely to get dark since it is both easier and safer to drive on this road in daylight! You really should try to arrive in Chillagoe before dusk! You may well encounter dead wallaroos and wallabies (the smaller kangaroos) on the road, wild cows crossing, a few flooded holes depending on season (during the wet season in summer you may for sure want to go in a solid off-road 4×4), as well as oncoming trucks causing a swirl of dust.
The last stretch of road is unsealed with only some odd sealed patches. As a tribute to the pioneers travelling west this 149 km (93 miles) long road is also named the Wheelbarrow Way. Today it hosts an annual wheelbarrow race. When driving here, you will understand the name of the road! Anyhow, we had no problems with the road in broad daylight (in July).
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On the way you will pass through Dimbulah which used to be a stop for for the mining trains from Chillagoe Smelters. Today, Dimbulah Railway Station Museum tells the story of olden times. You will probably not have time to stop here today, but you can consider doing it on the way back in a few days (notice that it is only part time open).
The scenery along the way is breathtaking with its shades of red. Termite mounds start popping up here and there and come in all shapes, sizes and brownish colours – especially after you have passed the small mountain chain. Now you have definitely left the lush forest behind for a couple of days – and you enter a dry and tropical wooded savanna!
Day 3: Chillagoe: The outback in Queensland, Australia
On the third day of your Queensland – Australia trip you will wake up in an amazing place wherever you stay in the small town. It is tranquil out here – apart from the colourful galahs and other birds chirping in the trees.
Despite being in the outback, Chillagoe has excellent accommodation options and all basic services are available here. There is both the Chillagoe Observatory & Eco Lodge, some hotels, campsites and the Road House.
Temperatures are in general always high here – in particular in summer – but also in winter which is actually the most pleasant season because it is relatively dry. Winter tends to be the high season since there are no tropical cyclones or floodings as it occurs sometimes in summer. Whatever season, do bring plenty of water and a sun hat wherever you go! Chances are that you will feel like going to the nearby swimming hole or billabong in Australian (originating from a term meaning ‘a watercourse that runs only after rain’) at some time during the day.
Today, you will be exploring Chillagoe and its fascinating history! The place is rich in both natural and cultural heritage.
In the morning start out at the Chillagoe Smelters just out of town. They were established towards the end of the 1800’s when promising ores were detected – marking the beginning of the mining history in Chillagoe. In short time the small town became a thriving mining town where copper, gold, silver and lead were mined and processed. From 1901 to 1943 the ore mines produced very large volumes of the metals. At the time Australia really featured a significant mining site here in Chillagoe in the Queensland outback.
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With the comprehensive production Chillagoe also grew as a town. At the peak in 1917 the population counted 10,000 people and there were 13 hotels in town!
You can visit the old site of the blast furnaces and chimneys belonging to Chillagoe Smelters. However, you are not allowed to walk around on the area which is today declared a restricted area due to containing toxic materials. Instead you can get a nice view of the entire area from an elevated viewing platform. You have a scenic view both to the old chimneys, brick flues and blast furnaces – as well as to the surrounding outback landscape. A perfect place to take some good photo shots!
Notice that the old slag heaps are also still there as flat, bare pieces of land. It used to be the location for the waste from the melting process. Around the area you will also be able to spot old, rusty machinery from the production. Maybe not surprisingly, it all lies as it was left back in 1943!
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On site you can read about the mining life of the workers there and the production process. It is most instructive – a real open-air museum – and you will leave the site with a lot of knowledge about the Queensland mining industry in the old days!
In the afternoon you will go to the opposite side of Chillagoe. Here you will set out for a small hike to the Balancing Rock (a rock which stands upright on just a small touchpoint) and other limestone outcrops, as well as to the Wullumba Aboriginal Rock Art Site which is a gallery of Aboriginal cave painting. Taking the Royal Arch Track (a 9 km / 5.5 miles round-trip), you will also get the chance to catch a glimpse of a wallaroo or two in the outback landscape – or maybe a (rock) wallaby. We caught sight of a few.
If you still have time, do also visit the Chillagoe Historical Centre in town which is a museum of the mining industry around Chillagoe. Take a stroll along the main street with the historic bank vault and imagine life here in the old mining days!
Chill out in the evening watching the stunning sunset in the old outback town. You may take another stroll towards the Chillagoe Smelters – just for the picturesque views at sunset – and for great photos!
Day 4: Chillagoe: Queensland caves and Aboriginal art in Australia
On the fourth day of your Queensland in Australia trip you will be exploring some of the awesome caves around Chillagoe. Anyway, if you are here during summer (the wet season: December to March), check up on the visiting status of the caves – that the access to the caves as well as the caves themselves are not flooded due to recent heavy rain.
The Chillagoe-Mungana Caves are spectacular and famed in both Queensland and other parts of Australia. It is limestone caves with an abundance of cave coral, stalactites and stalagmites. The subterranean universe was formed 400 million years ago when the sea left coral structures behind. They later fossilised as massive and remarkable rocks in the outback. Check out the Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park map.
The caves are all full of natural wonders and really breathtaking: (view a more detailed description)
Donna Cave: 1 hour, 330 steps. Illuminated rock formations and crystals in the dark cave.
Trezkinn Cave: 45 minutes, 250 steps. Beautiful limestones and illuminated stalactites.
Royal Arch: 1.5 hour, 300 steps. 11 caverns you enter with hand-held lamps. Bats and fossils.
The Archways: 30 minutes, easy self-guided walk. Semi-open cave system 15 km from Chillagoe in Mungana. Do also visit the Mungana Aboriginal art site located close to the Archways. It is well signposted.
Bauhinia Cave: 20 minutes, difficult self-guided walk. Narrow passage to impressive underground chamber.
Pompeii Cave: 50 minutes, difficult self-guided walk. Steep passage to impressive rock formations. Bats.
We suggest that you either do a couple of the guided cave tours – and at least the self-guided tour at the Archways. Bring good shoes, and in particular torches for the self-guided tours.
When you are at the Archways, don’t miss the Mungana Aboriginal art site just next to the Archways. Stunning Aboriginal cave paintings originating from the Kuku-Yulanji Aboriginal people can be viewed here! It is surprising that you are allowed to get all close to them!
You will need to get tickets for the guided tours beforehand from ‘The Hub’ in Chillagoe.
When you are back in Chillagoe, you will now do like the locals. Go to Weir Road and jump into the billabong (the Weir swimming hole)! It is very refreshing on a hot summer (or winter) day!
In the evening you will on a clear night enjoy the sights of a spectacular sky full of stars – and maybe the moon lying down smiling – as it sometimes does in the tropical regions! Stargazers may also get a chance to visit the observatory at the Chillagoe Observatory & Eco Lodge. If you stay at one of the campsites, you will have the chance to participate in real outback campfires and enjoy the genuine outback atmosphere!
’10-Day Itinerary for Queensland in Australia’
Day 5: Mareeba and Daintree River
On the fifth day of your Queensland / Australia trip you will leave Chillagoe and drive in the rugged landscape through a couple of small historical villages back to Mareeba. You may well get some wildlife encounters on the way: wallaroos, wallabies, wild cows or a snake on the road. Not least, you will be viewing thousands of reddish-brown termite mounds.
When approaching Mareeba you will again be back in beautiful crop-producing farmlands. The area is famed for its sugar cane fields, banana, coffee, macadamia nut and cocoa plantations as well as papaya, pineapple and mango orchards. The mango is locally used for making mango wine (Golden Drop).
Go to Skybury Coffee Plantation just outside Mareeba to have a cup of excellent morning coffee with great views over the tablelands. It is not only Queensland’s oldest plantation – it is also the oldest commercial coffee plantation in Australia! Over 70% of Australia’s coffee crop is grown around Mareeba. There are several local coffee roasters. Moreover, Mareeba even features a coffee museum, the Coffee World.
Next, visit the Mareeba Heritage Museum & Visitor Information Centre (free entry) in town – a real must-see! It is a great and very instructive museum which in a brilliant manner illustrates the olden times in the region. You will learn about Mareeba’s aboriginal background and fascinating history, the timber logging, the mining industry and the gold mining days, the 75-year long tobacco production, the importance of the railways … and the rodeo! (and you can have another cup of local coffee brew at Mareeba Heritage Coffee House!)
Mareeba has a well established rodeo tradition and a solid rodeo history dating back to 1949. The annual rodeo festival takes place in July. There is a whirl of activity with agricultural shows, wood-chopping competition, parades and crowning of the rodeo queen.
Mareeba is also known for hot air ballooning. If you have time (or stay for another day) you may go to give it a try!
If you want to stay for another day in Mareeba (to get a bit more time in Chillagoe – or to get the real feel of the Mareeba region and its exotic and comprehensive farmland production), you may consider making it a Friday or a Saturday.
In the afternoon you will continue your drive towards Daintree Rainforest which is a World Heritage area.
On the way you will pass lots of fields of sugar canes and rails for the sugar cane tramways. There is an extended network of cane railways along the coast used to transport the freshly harvested canes to the sugar mill in the season June/July to November/December.
It is a 1.5 hour drive from Mareeba to Daintree River where you will take the small car ferry to cross the river. Do have cash ready to pay for the ferry ticket since only cash is accepted outside office hours. Check the hours and fares. At some moments during the day the wait to cross can be pretty long!
After crossing you will ascend the winding road and continue to your accommodation in Daintree which you have reserved beforehand.
One possibility is to stay at the Daintree Rainforest Retreat in Cow Bay. It is a fabulous place in the middle of the rainforest and it even features a pond, which is home to insects and tiny animals, as well as a cool swimming pool (with a fence around) for the guests! Perfect for a true rainforest experience.
Ferntree Rainforest Lodge boasts 2 swimming pools and an on-site restaurant and bar. All accommodation is air-conditioned and includes a refrigerator. The tour desk can arrange Great Barrier Reef trips, crocodile tours and guided rainforest walks.
Day 6: Exploring Daintree Rainforest
If you wake up early on the sixth day of your 10-day in Australia trip, you will enjoy the sounds of the Queensland rainforest waking up at dawn. With a bit of luck you may catch sight of a musky rat kangaroo – a small marsupial living near creeks and other wet areas or the red legged paddy melon which looks like a small kangaroo.
Today, you will do some board walks and other trails in the rainforest – possibly ending up at the northern point Cape Tribulation. It is one of the best ways to explore the 135 million years old rainforest which is the oldest rainforest on Earth and an absolutely wondrous universe. It is also unique in having the largest number of both plant and animal species in the world – more than 3,000 unique species!
You will pick 2-3 of the walks as described in the Daintree Discovery Guide.
Take a look here to book other tours and activities in Daintree (affiliate link).
Read more about Daintree Rainforest:
You can opt to do a boardwalk:
On this boardwalk you will pass through creeks and other wet areas in the lowland rainforest. You will get the chance to see the tallest cycad in the world (which is 20 metres high) – and you may catch sight of the beautiful flightless big bird with the powerful legs and claws, a cassowary. The walk is named with the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people’s term for ‘Foot of the Mountain’). The start location of the walk is at the Daintree Discovery Centre, Tulip Oak Road in Cow Bay.
This walk is a window back in time as it covers the evolution of the rainforest in species all through the last 400 million years. You will pass through mangroves and see paperbark and pandanus trees, as well as a beauty of botanical diversity, for instance flowering plants like orchids. You will start out from Cape Tribulation Road just south of Cape Tribulation.
This boardwalk is a walk through lowland forest, mangroves and rainforest beach. There are chances of spotting cassowaries along the way.
Before going, always check for possible park alerts.
For lunch try something local – for instance in a place like Mason’s Café just south of Cape Tribulation. Here you get the chance to taste a croc or a kangaroo burger – and you can jump into their swimming hole which they guarantee is crocodile-free!
If you stay at a lodge with a swimming pool like the Daintree Rainforest Retreat, you may now also opt to spend the rest of the day in there – and just relax in the middle of the vast rainforest!
Day 7: Mossman Gorge
On the seventh day of your Queensland – Australia trip you will go to Mossman Gorge World Heritage Site in the southern part of Daintree. If you have time, you may also consider a boat trip to Mossman Gorge (affiliate link).
Mossman Gorge is a rainforest experience where you can get unique insight into Australia’s aboriginal authentic culture through the guided ‘Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk’ with a local indigenous person. The area is a natural wonder featuring huge granite boulders and crystal creeks.
When arriving at Mossman Gorge, you will park at the Mossman Gorge Centre. First thing here is to book your Dreamtime Walk for later today in the Mossman Gorge Centre.
’10-Day Itinerary for Queensland in Australia’
Itinerary for Queensland Australia
Now you will take a shuttle bus into the Gorge (buses depart every 15 minutes). Fees apply.
There are many things you can do here. Take some of the walking tracks, for instance the Gorge Circuit meandering through the intriguing rainforest. You may also bring a picnic to enjoy at a beautiful spot under the canopy of the lush rainforest. Relax at one of the water holes appearing here and there on the forest floor. Be aware that having a swim in a water hole is at your own risk (there is no crocodile-free zone here)! So is entering the Mossman River which can be dangerous and where floodings can occur fast and be massive in case of rain.
Do be back in due time for your Dreamtime Walk. On the walk you will learn about the flora and fauna used by the original Kuku Yalanji people in Queensland / Australia. You will enter the people’s private land and you will learn about bush food and poisonous plants. Moreover, you may learn how to make bush soap and the special ochre paint.
At the end of the day, return to your Daintree accommodation (if you stay for another night in the rainforest) – or continue to Port Douglas for the night which is at short distance from Mossman Gorge (20 minutes’ driving).
’10-Day Itinerary for Queensland in Australia’
Itinerary for Queensland, Australia
Day 8: Port Douglas – the Coral Sea in Queensland, Australia
Port Douglas is next. It is a small seaside town at the Coral Sea featuring luxurious hotels, upscale resorts, vibrant restaurants and a lively marina with a whirl of reef-oriented activity. Quite uniquely it is the place in the world at the same time adjacent to two World Heritage-listed sites, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
The tropical coastal town is the gateway to exploring the Coral Sea and the reef. Several tour operators offer tours (affiliate link) and cruises to pristine coral islands as well as the Outer Reef. From Port Douglas you may for instance get access to top reef experiences on the Agincourt Reef with its stunning biodiversity or to the Low Isles, a protected sandy coral cay surrounded by fascinating reef.
Also around Port Douglas you have easy access to outstanding beaches. The popular, sandy Four Mile Beach is Port Douglas’ famous beach that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Take a stroll in Port Douglas and get the feel of the small town. Have lunch in one of the hip restaurants or immerse yourself in one of the trendy cafés. The vibe is great.
In the afternoon you may opt to explore the Four Mile Beach – or you may go on a reef tour out of Port Douglas (which you will already have made a reservation for).
The reef tour could be a Low Isles and lagoon tour on a glass bottom boat with snorkelling possibilities on the Low Isles (for example organised by Reef Sprinter which also provides snorkelling equipment and stinger or wetsuits). You will get to study the exotic hard and soft corals, as well as the vividly striped fish, a sea turtle or two and even small sharks in the shallow sea surrounding the islands. The coral islands, Low Isles, have been known for centuries.
The Aboriginal people, the KuKu Yalanji and Yiragandi people, know the islands as Wungkun. Also Captain James Cook described the islands back in 1770. In addition to the snorkelling adventure you may also get a guided tour to the historic lighthouse from 1878 in the middle of the island. It was also precisely to Low Isles the famous crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was brought in and died after getting mortally speared by a stingray’s barb.
Stay either in Port Douglas for the night to experience nightlife here, or continue down to Cairns where you may arrive just in time to try Cairns Esplanade Lagoon (free entry). The Lagoon is a large, filtered salt water swimming facility without the risk of stingers and crocodiles. Next to it you will find barbecues for public use.
Regal Port Douglas is located 200 m from the beach, right at the start of the restaurant strip in Port Douglas. It offers deluxe accommodation with free private parking as well as heated open-air swimming pool.
’10-Day Itinerary for Queensland in Australia’
Day 9: Cairns and Outer Barrier Reef tour
On the ninth day of your 10 days in Queensland / Australia trip you will have a (second) reef experience out of Cairns. You may want to go to the Outer Barrier Reef on a day tour where you will snorkel among colourful corals, larger fish and other spectacular marine life. The Outer Reef offers the opportunity to view even more impressive corals, fish and other reef life than in shallow water near the coast, although the colours noticeably to some extent have bleached over the last years.
If you are an experienced diver you probably will want to go scuba diving. Plentiful tour agencies offer a wide range of reef tours out of Cairns – you will just have to pick one depending on your preferences, experience and budget! You should of course already beforehand make a reservation for your preferred tour.
When you return to Cairns in the late afternoon, you may now want to go to Cairns City Library. In a large tree near the library in Lake Street you may be an avid spectator of an eye-catching colony of flying foxes literally hanging down the tree. Such striking flying fox colonies can be found at various locations in Cairns.
’10-Day Itinerary for Queensland Australia’
Day 10: Fitzroy Island – Queensland in Australia
The last day of your 10 days in Australia / Queensland trip you will go to Fitzroy Island for a different island experience. Fitzroy Island is not a coral island – but an island with a rainforest in the middle and many kilometres of walking trails. Anyway, it is surrounded by the Coral Sea with its stunning coral structures – so there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel and study stunningly beautiful corals and small colourful fish from the beach.
Take the Fitzroy Island Ferry / Fitzroy Flyer to the island (make reservations beforehand, or even easier – book a tour to Fitzroy Island (affiliate link)).
When arriving on the island there are plenty of things to do. Set out on a hike to the summit and the lighthouse (allow 2.5 hours). It is a round trip where you from the summit get breathtaking views over the ocean. With a bit of luck you may even spot a humpback whale if you come here during the whale migration season (binoculars will be useful!). The trail will take you through the lush rainforest with all its spectacular vegetation.
After the hike you may want to relax on the beach where you arrived this morning (Welcome Bay) – and do some snorkelling and coral viewing (you may even be able to view the corals from the beach itself without going snorkelling). You can also opt to hire a kayak to see the spectacular corals from a different angle. If you haven’t brought your own snorkeling gear, you can as well hire masks and fins at the Dive and Adventure Centre.
By now time is probably up for the picnic you may have brought to Fitzroy Island – or alternatively lunch in one of the Fitzroy beach restaurants where you will soak up the island atmosphere.
In the afternoon you will follow the trail to Nudey Beach – probably one of the best and most popular beaches not just on Fitzroy Island – but in all Australia! Have a swim in the emerald sea and look for beautiful coral fossils on the beach itself in the pristine white sand. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take any of the fossils back home!
If you feel like doing more activities on the island, there is a short hike (allow 45 minutes return) to the Secret Garden which is the habitat of beautiful Green Triangle Butterflies. Otherwise, visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre which cares for sick and injured sea turtles. You can take a tour for a fee.
If you want to stay overnight on Fitzroy Island, there is a comfortable island resort – as well as a campground where you stay right between the rainforest and the beach. In case you improvise a longer stay on the island, you can rent a tent there!
Fitzroy Island has an Aboriginal background and their stories of how the island was formed are today continuously being told. Still the Gurubana-Gunggandji Aboriginal people, and rangers, manage the island together with the Department of Environment and Heritage in Queensland, Australia. It is worth having this history and perspective in mind when visiting the island.
Park Regis City Quays – Self-contained apartments and hotel rooms. Features a rooftop pool. Located with the harbour foreshore, restaurants, casino and the marina nearby.
10-Day Itinerary for Queensland in Australia:
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10-day Australia itinerary