As we exit the airport my sunnies fog up instantly as we hit the wall of heat and humidity. Welcome to Far North Queensland. I don’t often fly domestically as I usually ride or drive, so it’s a bit disorienting as I don’t quite have a sense of how far north we really are. Cairns is 2,500km north of Canberra via the most direct route, or 2,900km if you follow the coast.
This is a quick weekend trip to visit friends who recently relocated to Cairns for work and to pinch one of his bikes to see some of the sights and ride some of the roads I’ve heard so much about.
While we really only had three and a half days in Cairns we did packed a bit in.
Sky Rail – a cable car ride from Cairns to Kurunda over the range but above the rain forest. This is a stunning ride stretching 7.5km in total with a couple of stops to check out different sights.
Crater Lake National Park – Lake Eachem is one of a couple beautiful lakes in the middle of an old crater. It appears that Lake Eacham is the most swimmer friendly as it has a nice foreshore and easy access to the water. But what you notice as you enter is that it gets deep quickly … take a few steps and the ground dissappeats very quickly. Apparently at its deepest its 200m deep.!
Curtain Fig Tree at Yungaburra some 500 years old and is just amazing. No guesses where it’s name comes from.
On Sunday we had an early start on the bikes and took the coastal road to Port Douglas, across the Mossman river ferry and into the Daintree National Park … stoping along the way to check out the lookouts, visitor centres, and beaches.
And by coincidence Deb’s brother was holidaying in Port Douglas so we also coordinated a catchup in Mossman for breakfast.
The Daintree Visitors centre is certainly worth a visit with an elevated boardwork through the forest with many information points to provide information about the forest. And if you are feeling energetic you can climb the five story observation tower to look over the canopy of the forest. Throughout the forest there is a vast array of flora and forna, and we were lucky enough to spot a Cassowary while exploring the forest.
Surrounded by all these beautiful beaches it seems terrible not to be able to just jump in, but up here there are a number of dangers lurking in the water – salt water crocs, box jelly fish, and irukandji jelly fish.
From Cape Tribulation we retraced our steps to Mossman and then headed west over the Mount Molloy range, across the top of the range and back via the Kennedy Highway.
Monday was another early morning on the bikes – up the Gillies Range Road, across to Millaa Millaa, and back down the Palmerston Highway.
The word is that the Gillies is a great bike road and it is all true, beautiful grippy surface with a seamingly endless supply of corners following the contours of the mountain range. Two-up on a a big bike is a bit of work but the grins were huge. Such a great road to ride. For our run the road was still quite damp and the traffic was fairly light but that didn’t stop us from having a great run.
After filling the bikes up and chilling in a lovely cafe in Millaa Millaa we headed out to the Millaa Millaa falls.
Then after leaving the girls to go shopping we dropped into the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum to have a look at their collection. And what a great collection it is.! This is an amazing private collection of 175 exhibits and more being added regularly. If you’re into tanks than this is a must see.!
Tuesday morning rolled around and there is time to sneak in one more quick ride up the coast to Port Douglas before we have to be at the airport at 11am. Ten minutes from Cairns and we were in the middle of a huge down pour, up here at this time of year it’s too hot to wear plastic over gear so you welcome the refreshing cooling rain. Sitting enjoying my breakfast of poached eggs at Ellis Beach we are soaking wet, jeans are drenched, my boots are squishy as they are full of water, and I’ve got pruning hands from wearing wet gloves. By the time we rolled back in the garage we only had a bit over an hour before we had to leave for the airport so there was little time to dry anything off so most of my gear is packed wet for the trip home.
That was our first taste of Cairns and Far North Queensland, while the hot humid climate isn’t our thing at all we are certainly keen to get back here and do more exploring.
But in winter.