Back to paradise
Dreaming of a sunny, warm, reef and rainforest escape? SARAH BLINCO discovers now is the perfect time to head home and fall in love with Cairns – the heart of Tropical North Queensland.
THE Great Barrier Reef! It’s one of the world’s true wonders, and a destination on most travellers’ wish-lists. However in order to reach the reef, adventurers need to get to Cairns, a small but very cosmopolitan seaside city around which ‘Tropical North Queensland’ is centred. Thanks to the iconic natural reef wonderland off the north-east coast of Australia, Cairns has maintained a special place in the hearts of all who have passed through over the years. In fact, many travellers end up stopping in the city for a long while, and as time has gone by, it’s become an even easier spot to love, particularly in the Australian wintertime. Here’s ten good reasons why this time of year is perfect for discovering – or rediscovering – Cairns.
10. Winter Warmers
The region boasts literally ‘perfect weather’ in the wintertime. Warm, sunny days, very low humidity and generally a comfortable, laid-back vibe. Escape the cold and rain – wherever you may be -because it’s guaranteed to be better weather in the ‘Far North’. Sunbaking outside in winter? You betcha!
9. Annual Celebrations
Cairns Festival is on again, this year from 17 August to 2 September. The annual festival is over fifty years old and was originally known as ‘Fun in the Sun’ – which was quite an accurate description of the festivities. Visitors from far and wide descend on the city at this time to enjoy street parades, art exhibitions, theatre, markets, dance, fine food, comedy, music and so much more.
8. Onwards and Upwards
In recent years the region has been plagued by some bad luck, including cyclones and flooding. However Cairns is in the midst of a renaissance, as the city recovers from these tough times. New flights from all around the globe are being added to the schedule into Cairns each week, so keep an eye out for a good deal and pop by for a visit, support the region’s businesses, and soak up the Cairns atmosphere, warm weather and welcoming, friendly locals.
7. Study in Paradise
Fancy staying for a while? Cairns is a terrific spot to brush up on language skills, international relations and much more. The multi-cultural population means there’s something on offer for everyone, and the city is a popular study-travel destination. Additionally, for those seeking a unique tertiary experience, James Cook University is the location of some truly ground-breaking research into reef, marine and even mosquito studies rarely found elsewhere in the world.
6. Budget Bonuses
Whether you’re on a budget or seeking a premium luxury experience, you’ll find it all in Cairns. The city offers contemporary, clean backpacking options like Gilligans and YHA that won’t break the bank but also won’t make you feel like you’re ‘slumming it’. Similarly with a wide range of beautiful family-friendly hotels and resorts to stay and play at, including waterfront options like the Hilton, Shangri-La and Holiday Inn, you’re spoilt for choice on accommodation at all price points.
5. Party Central
If you’re after a good time, you’re going to find it in Cairns. Personalities and beautiful people from all over the globe congregate in the city every weekend (every night in some venues!) and party their evenings away at cool, swanky hotspots like The Salt House, Pier Bar, The Attic , Society, Reef Casino, and Gilligans nightclub. Meal deals and drink specials also mean that partying in Cairns is affordable as well as fun.
4. Experience the Arts
It’s not only about reef trips and parties in Cairns. A thriving cultural scene exists which means you can just about always find awesome theatre and live music to watch, particularly at JUTE Theatre and TANKS Arts Centre in the city. Similarly, a lively art scene in the region showcases talent from all over Queensland; most prominent is Indigenous art unique to the northern tip. Browse, buy or even watch artists in residence work at Canopy Art Space; and of course be privy to Aboriginal dance and culture at the phenomenal Tjapukai Cultural Park, celebrating 25 years in 2012!
3. Beach Bums
Winter in Cairns means the weather is ‘just right’ – not too hot and not too cold. The ocean is also an ideal temperature, and with naturally soft, sandy beaches and gorgeous winter sunshine, it’s a perfect time to spend a day at one of North Queensland’s pristine yet secluded beaches like Trinity Beach or Holloways Beach just outside of the city, or along the coastline at Palm Cove or Port Douglas.
2. On the Road
Hire a car and drive in any direction that takes your fancy. Thanks to idyllic Queensland weather at this time of year, it’s enjoyable adventuring to Cairns’ surrounding beaches, rainforest and Tablelands in the mountains, or even inland towards a true Australian Outback country town experience. A new Tropical North Queensland phone App, along with the new Taste Paradise phone App can guide you on drives throughout the area, with tips on the best places to taste-test locally grown fresh produce, wine taste, explore and photograph.
1. Reef Magic
A trip to Cairns wouldn’t be complete without a day – or more – on the reef (although, there are plenty of restaurants, spas, night spots, markets and shopping destinations to keep any reveller in the region happy)! Sunny winter days mean the ocean is pristine. The vast sparkling blue, dotted with islands around the reef is a sight to behold and experience unparalleled anywhere else. There’s a diving option suitable for all levels too, and once you’ve had a go, you’ll be addicted for life.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream holiday to Cairns and never look back!