A beginner’s guide to Far North Queensland
We seem to be living through one of those periods where nothing really seems to make sense. It’s hard to know who to believe, and the accepted order of how things get done or how we live our lives no longer seems to apply.
It’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the hopelessness of it all, but it’s also a salient reminder that no matter how crazy the world around us gets, that we need to make the most of the time we have now – the opportunities that shouldn’t be put off, the moments of pleasure that are brief but have to be grasped before they slip away.
In that spirit, I recently blew the budget and booked a vacation to Far North Queensland in Australia.
The best access point to this region is to fly into Cairns. This is an international airport so you can fly in direct from most hub airports in Asia and the Middle East.
You’ll need to pick up a car from the airport, as you’ll find it much easier to explore the region if you can drive yourself to where you need to get to.
When to go
I don’t really understand how anyone who lives in tropical areas actually does any work. This is the kind of weather where you really just want to be sitting by a pool, working on your tan, sipping on a mojito or five.
The best time to visit this region is between April and October. Primarily this is because it’s the dry season in this part of the world, so you’ll get hot sunny weather and not much rain. The other reason to go at this time of year is because you’ll avoid the box jellyfish that swarm into the coastal waters during the wet season. The sting of a box jellyfish is incredibly painful, and can be fatal.
What to do
Tropical north Queensland is all about the Great Barrier Reef, and Port Douglas is one of the best access points to launch your Great Barrier Reef expedition – there are a huge range of cruises and tours that operate from here. Quicksilver is the big operator, with trips out to the Low Isles or a specially built pontoon secured on the outer reef.
One of the best ways to experience the reef is scuba diving – even if you don’t have your certification you can still do an introductory dive which is breathtaking. Everyone can snorkel, and this is a surprisingly good way to come face-to-face to the spectacular sights and colours of one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Where to stay
On my most recent visit to Far North Queensland, I stayed a few days at Thala Beach Lodge. This is grown-up kind of resort, built on a private headland just off the Captain Cook Highway, between Cairns and Port Douglas. It’s hard to believe that this magical corner of the world used to be a sugar cane plantation – it’s been lovingly restored to coastal forest with it’s eco-friendly bungalows nestled within the tree-lined coast, with wallabies for neighbours and stunning coastal views all around.