About Tropical Queensland
These three words demonstrate why we think this is the most diverse and exciting area in Australia. In one visit, you can dive the Great Barrier Reef, explore lush tropical rainforests, and visit beautiful rugged outback regions, all within a short distance of an international airport.
There are an incredible number of activities here, from full adrenaline to full relaxation, all in some of the most scenic locations in Australia. There are a variety of places to stay, from four-star resort to youth hostel. The gentle tropical climate makes for the perfect holiday, and helps makes nearly any activity enjoyable. This area has something to offer everyone.
About the Great Barrier Reef
By far the worlds largest coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef consists of over 3,000 reefs and 900 islands clustered along Australias eastern coast. It covers an area greater than the state of Britain and Victoria. About half the size of Texas, for you Yanks!
The astounding diversity of life on the Great Barrier Reef includes:
- Over 400 species of corals
- Over 4000 species of mollusks
- Over 1500 species of fish
Tens of thousands of other species of animals, including sea stars, urchins, crustaceans, tunicates, sea snakes, turtles and marine mammals live on the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is a dynamic, ever changing ecosystem. We return to dive sites because the abundance and type of species vary due to time of day, tides, and seasons. Every dive is full of surprises!
The Great Barrier Reef remains largely unexplored. Every month, scientists and divers find new species. Are you ready to discover the Great Barrier Reef on your own? Visit our comprehensive listing of trips. There are trips for scuba divers, snorkelers, families; just about anyone. With 4 large dive schools in the area, the Cairns region is a great place to learn to scuba dive.
Now protected as a marine park, the Great Barrier Reef falls under the supervision of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, an agency of the Australian Government. Regardless, the reef continues to face the same threats as any marine ecosystem. We urge you to protect and respect the worlds oceans.
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About the Rainforest
Nowhere else in the world can you find a place like the Australian tropical rainforest.
Millions of years old, the Australian tropical rainforests are home to hundreds of plant species including trees and orchids, and a bewildering variety of insects, birds and animals.
Here you will find kangaroos that live in trees, huge pythons, exotic birds, even platypus and echidna, the only two species of egg-laying mammals. Isolated from other continents for so long, they have evolved uniquely, and include many primitive plants and animals that have vanished elsewhere.
Like tropical rainforests worldwide, most Australian tropical rainforests are gone, cleared early in the century for timber harvest and sugar cane farming. Remaining forests are now protected as World Heritage sites by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Within a two hours drive of Cairns, you can visit the two most popular areas, Cape Tribulation and Daintree National Parks. Want to plan your own visit to the rainforest? Check out our listing of operators who visit the rainforest. Not enough time? At least make sure to take the 5-minute taxi drive out of Cairns to the Mt. Whitfield Environmental Park, and take a walk in the forest.
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Heading west from Cairns, across the Great Dividing Range, the country transitions quickly to the dry, open land of the outback.
Settled sparsely, the outback countryside is scattered here and there with small towns. Most of these settlements date from the mining boom of the late 1800s and retain a rural pioneer feeling. These towns still serve as social centers and supply stations for travelers and the surrounding cattle stations.
Surprisingly, wildlife abounds in this arid region. A keen eye at dusk or dawn may be rewarded by kangaroo, wallaby, and emu sightings. Youll also see amazing views and interesting geological features like the Undarra lava tubes, limestone caverns, extinct volcanoes, gemstone fields, and hot springs.
Weve taken a lot of extended adventures in the outback. We love the wide-open spaces, the starry skies, and the pioneer spirit of the people who live here. A visit to Australia is not complete without at least a short trip out bush. Options range from day trips, to overnight guided safaris, and include four-wheel drive rental to explore on your own. Ready to plan your outback adventure? Check our listing of outback trips.
There are two main outback regions within range of Cairns and Port Douglas. To the Northwest lies the Cape York Peninsula, an extensive network of National Parks, cattle stations, and Aboriginal reserves. A network of large rivers drains far-ranging forests and grassy plains, with great camping along their sandy banks.
Due West of Cairns is the Gulf and Savannah region. Here forests are less abundant, and grasslands, savannahs, and salt plains make for open and expansive views. Like Cape York, this region is a network of stations, reserves and parks, with quiet campsites where the nearest person is miles away.
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