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Top Family Friendly Activities in Cairns and Far North Queensland

Thursday 21st June 2018
By Dave Eddy
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By Dave Eddy
Blog written by Adventure Mumma

It’s easy to see why families are attracted to Tropical North Queensland, aka my backyard. The Great Barrier Reef lies straight off our shores, World Heritage Rainforest shrouds our surrounding mountains and freshwater creeks and waterfalls literally spring from every nook and cranny. Living here seriously feels like you are in a BIG tropical playground for kids of all ages. I hope this list tempts you enough to come and play for a while...


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1: Visit an Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

I’m guessing that most of you are thinking the Great Barrier Reef is a fairly obvious choice BUT, is it truly Family Friendly? What parent would want to drag their children away from the relative safety of a pool environment to risk the impossibilities of the open sea?

I’ve been taking my own children to the reef since they were in nappies and I believe the best place to start their reef adventures is from an island. Here they can happily play in the sand and start putting their face in the water (with goggles) with their feet firmly planted on ‘land’. Once they see the fishes they will be squealing with delight and you may even get them snorkelling in the shallows straight up.


2: Discover Dinosaurs in the Rainforest

Dinosaurs in the Daintree

Exploring an environment where dinosaurs once roamed is a pretty special thing to do with your kids BUT getting your kids to appreciate how unique this environment is sometimes a little difficult. Even if you have a broad knowledge of plant life you may find it hard to get your little ones to share your enthusiasm (I know I struggle with this).

I suggest you opt for an interactive tour if you want your children to get excited over the rainforest. Any place with an Interpretive Centre, where kids can touch, hold and interact with interesting elements of the rainforest is always good. Boardwalks are fantastic for keeping feet and legs dry and leech free, and it’s a bonus if you can get up high and hangout in the rainforest canopy. This is an absolute favourite for our family because this is seriously where all the action is.

The good thing about Tropical North Queensland is the operators have got it sorted when exploring the rainforest. Glide across the canopy on a gondola via Skyrail and alighten at their interactive boardwalks that help interpret this medley of green. Or hang from a zipline and zoom at light-speed through the trees with Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours in the Daintree. You can even check out moving dinosaurs at the Daintree Discovery Centre which will thrill any budding palaeontologist in your family.


3: Refresh at a Freshwater Escape

Freshwater Spa

Waterfall - Emerald Creek

Cooling off in natural freshwater creeks is one of the main reasons we adore living in the Tropical North. It’s our refuge during the hot and sticky months and a must for anyone who visits during our summer months.

There are so many things to love about these refreshing waters. For the parents it will be the waterfalls, the deep pools and the natural spas and tranquillity of the rainforest setting. For the kids it’s often the rock-slides and the rope swings. Don’t forget to take a mask, so you can pop your head underwater and take a look. The visibility is generally stunning and there’s an amazing array of wildlife (yabbies, fish, eels) swimming around underneath.

Cruise the Atherton Tablelands and explore the waterfall circuit which is full of picture perfect cascades of water to pose and chill next to. Don’t forget to pull in at the volcanic lakes, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham where you can take a cruise, enjoy tea and scones or just pull out a lilo and do some relaxing on the lake’s surface.


4: Camp on a Tropical Beach

Ellis Beach - Camping

Why would you want to spend a chilly winter down in the southern states when the Far North has coconut palms, balmy winter temperatures and beaches that stretch for miles along its coastline? It’s where we (the locals) all head during the winter period. The sea temperatures are just right, the sun is not too hot and the breezes (particularly in the morning) are spot on.

Tropical North Queensland’s beaches are perfect for little ones learning to swim and you’ll find all the main spots are patrolled (look for the lifesaver hut and the red and yellow flags).

It surprises many but BIG waves are pretty much non-existent along the Far Northern coastline thanks to the Great BARRIER Reef blocking those big oceanic swells. And because of the lack of real surf you won’t find any of those other scary bonuses, such as strong rip currents that occur along the southern coastline of Australia. The good news is that the waves that do occur in TNQ are the perfect size for loads of body boarding fun.


5: Hug a Koala and Spot a Cassowary

Koala Hugs

Cassowary on the beach

What small child doesn’t want to cuddle a koala. Did you know that although most Zoos in Australia have koalas, not everyone is allowed to hold them? Lucky for us Queensland is one of the few states that does! The good news is that koala hugs are monitored closely by the wildlife keepers, and the animals are kept on a strict rotational basis so they don’t get ‘cuddled’ out.

As wonderful and wild as our rainforest and surrounds are, you have a much better chance of seeing an iconic Tropical North Queensland animal if you visit a zoo. Unless you have some inside knowledge (and really know what you are looking for) crocodiles, cassowaries and tree kangaroos are notoriously hard to spot in the Far North wilderness and you can lower the odds by booking a tour or cruise, or visiting one of the many native habitats in the Far North.


6: Hit the Road

As much as I love my home base of Cairns there are some seriously GOOD adventures awaiting anyone that wants to head out of town on a road trip. To the North lies the Daintree Rainforest, Cooktown and Cape York. To the West lies the lush farming country of the Atherton Tablelands, the Savannah and the real Outback, and to the South lies one of the lushest, wettest parts of Australia. Whichever way you decide to head, you will encounter plenty more things to see and do.

The true beauty of this list is that many of these activities can be done for little or no cost (making them even more family friendly) and although I’ve managed to restrict MY list to just ‘six’ things to do, there’s plenty more on Adventure Mumma's Blog here:


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