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11 Reasons Cairns Is The Perfect Mix Of YOLO/Nature For Your Squad


The perfect balance of adventure and serenity

 

When it comes to planning that once-a-year trip with your gang, it's hard to please everyone. Some might want a sun-soaked trip lounging on the beach, others, a little adventure with a stint in nature, and of course - the lazy ones who just a slow-paced escape to take in the sights and sounds of a new destination.

There’s no need for conflict because a 3-in-1 crowd pleaser destination does exist in the form of Cairns. With perfect proportions of adventure, beautiful pockets of nature in the form of world-heritage rainforests, and chill, here are 11 checklist items perfect to keep every member of your crew satisfied:

 

1. Explore an old Spanish Castle and a waterfall 

 

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Looking very much like a relic of a lost ancient civilisation, the desolate castle that sits on Paronella Park a little outside the city of Cairns is quite a sight to behold.

The Spanish castle, along with all of its 70,000 trees, was once the pride, glory and work of one man - Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant who had a vision of beauty sitting in the midst of a lush forest more than 100 years ago. 

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Kauri Avenue in Paronella Park

Not only are the grounds brimming with history and culture, the Kauri pine boulevard, its two cascading waterfalls, and the random foliage around the castle are what Instagram Wanderlust dreams are made of.

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Don’t miss this mini Kyoto near Teresa Falls

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It might only be a 47-step staircase but every single bit of it was lovingly made by hand. If you look closely, you'll even see visible fingerprints in the cement - a living reminder of the blood, sweat, and tears Jose Paronella put into this masterpiece. 

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Be sure to take the Swing Bridge above the Mena Creek Waterfall for a bird’s eye view of fall.

With day and night tours that cover the park, the Mamu Skywalk, the nocturnal activity of the wildlife that comes to life once dusk falls - we recommend signing yourselves up for a guided tour to fully cover all the beauty this park has to offer!

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Paronella Park
Address: 1671 Innisfail Japoon Rd, Mena Creek QLD 4871, Australia
Opening Hours: 9AM-7.30PM, Daily
Find out more here.

 

Food stop: Fill your tummies at Mena Creek Hotel 

 

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Exploring all 13 acres of Paronella Park can leave you famished, so we’d recommend making a food pit stop over at the vintage country pub in the vicinity - Mena Creek Hotel, just a 200-metre walk away. 

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And don’t judge the place by its dated facade, they whip up authentic Australian pub grub with classics like chicken parmigiana, rump steak, and the fish and chip in definite Australian portions. 

Recommended dishes: Beer Battered Fish and Chips (AUD $21), Golden Crumbed Fish and Chips and Rump of Beef (AUD $25).

You can even stopover for a night before you continue your journey back into town - prices are as reasonable as $70/room for a double, and $105/room for a family of 5.

Find out more here.

 

2. Wake up in a beachside resort on one of Cairns’ most unspoiled reef islands 

 

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Nothing beats falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing onto sandy shores and waking up to streams of light filtering through dozens of lush palm trees right outside your window. Come to me, island life. No trip to Cairns would be complete without a sandy stint over at Fitzroy Island, an island paradise within the calm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

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With its 99 rooms, the Fitzroy Island Resort is the island’s only accommodation, and the perfect home base for all your seaside adventures. No matter the size of your posse, you’ll fit right in here. 

Choose from a luxuriously fitted Ocean Suite, equipped with a kitchenette, separate lounge, dining area, and balcony that sleeps up to 4 persons; or a private Castaway Cottage that accommodates a part of 6 and comes with its own outdoor jacuzzi, nestled in the rainforest overlooking the bay.

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The view of the pool and pool-side bar. Source

The resort is also packed with an array of facilities such as an arcade room, a movie theatre, a spa, a play room, and an adventure centre to keep even the most restless of travellers occupied.

Find out more about the resort here

 

Food stop: Have your breakfast and dinner settled at Zephyrs Restaurant

 

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Quell your morning hunger with a all-you-can-eat continental breakfast buffet at Zephyrs Restaurant, and tuck into hearty modern Australian fare made with 100% locally-sourced ingredients with their a la carte dining at night.

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3. But jump off a trampoline right smack in the middle of the sea

 

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You’ve been to trampoline park in Singapore but I bet you’ve never tried - or even heard of - an ocean trampoline. Planted 25-30 metres away from shore, you can either kayak to it, or swim to it - but we would recommend the former as you wouldn’t want to exhaust all your energy before even getting there.

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If you’re lucky, you’ll have the trampoline all to yourself.

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And don’t stop there, take to the seas and explore the perimeter of the island on a kayak. If you’re not planning to cover Great Barrier Reef, you’ll have all the opportunity to snorkel here! The Dive & Adventure Centre also offers introductory courses on Scuba Diving, glass bottom boat tours, and paddle board rental.

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Find out more here.

 

4. Hike through Fitzroy National Park and visit a Turtle Conservation Centre

 

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The 339 hectares of mangroves, open woodland, tropical pristine rainforest and coral beaches will be the delight of nature lovers. We recommend the 2.5 hour hiking to the summit of the Fitzroy National Park to catch the sunrise or sunset. 

Tip: You might want to check the time of the sunrise/sunset on your phone’s weather app before you set off on your journey.

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And if you consider yourself one with nature, you’ll also want to make a trip to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island. Started in 2000, the centre is a non-profit organisation that takes in sick and injured turtles, and nurses them back to the pink of health.

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The turtles brought down from Cape York usually suffer horrendous injuries from being caught up in fishing nets (a.k.a ghost nets)

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Once fully recovered, these turtles are sent back to the Cape to be released! Educational tours are held daily, so if you’re keen, you can make a small group booking through the resort. But do remember to book early as they only accept small groups of no more than 15 per tour to keep the stress level of the turtles as low as possible!

Find out more here

 

5. Cuddle a Koala and hand feed a Wallaby 

 

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There’s no way you can leave Aussie with taking a mandatory shot with this little furry guy!

Discover Kuranda, a quaint village surrounded by World Heritage rainforests, where you’ll find an abundance of wildlife experiences and their famous arts and crafts market. Kuranda has a community of native animals, snakes, butterflies, bees and reptiles for you to interact with and say hi to. Pop into the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Queensland’s newest wildlife attraction and see all of Australia’s unique animals in the flesh.

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Here’s our first time meeting and feeding a wallaby!

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The red-legged pademelon is also another marsupial you won’t want to miss

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Kuranda Koala Gardens
Address: P O Box 214, Clifton Beach, Queensland 4879
Opening Hours: 10AM-4PM, Daily
Find out more here.

 

6. Meet and feed the endangered Cassowary

 

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We actually met and hand fed the endangered cassowary!

Get up close with free flying birds in Birdworld Kuranda. With over 60 species of birds roaming around freely in a beautiful rainforest habitat, don’t be surprise if they land on your shoulders. These little feathered friends here are really friendly and they might most probably be the one approaching you before you do. 

Fun fact: Did you know, for a cassowary, rearing a chick is the father’s job? During this period, an expectant father never leaves the nest, not even to eat or drink. #muchdedication #boyfriendgoals

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This is what we mean by getting up close

Birdworld Kuranda
Address: P O Box 214, Clifton Beach, Queensland 4879
Opening Hours: 9AM-4PM, Daily (Closed on Christmas Day, and open on ANZAC Day from 1.30PM-4PM)
Find out more here.

 

Food stop: Load up on crocodile curry at Frogs Restaurant

 

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I know what you’re thinking, but no, Frogs Restaurant does not serve up frog dishes or offer a dining experience with frogs. We were told by locals that their curries were a must-try, and taking the heed of locals has never left us disappointed.

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Recommended dishes: Crocodile Curry (AUD $9.50), Chicken Curry (AUD $9.50), Slow-cooked Mutton (AUD $9.50), Chickpea and Spinach (AUD $9.50).

All their curries are made with spices and herbs grown on their own premise, and are packed with an extra kick that’ll have you reaching for more. And if you’ve got a penchant for exotic meats, then do give their Roc-Croc-Emu skewers (AUD $25.50) a go!

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Frogs Restaurant & Catering
Address: 2/4 Rob Veivers Drive, Kuranda, Queensland 4881
Find out more here.

 

7. Unleash the Cinderella in you at the Butterfly Sanctuary 

 

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Similar to the Birdworld, the Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda lets you traverse the rainforest aviary with over 2,000 free flying tropical butterflies. Learn about the butterfly’s life cycle and behaviour as the knowledgeable guide talk you through your experience. Don’t be afraid to unleash the Cinderella in you in an attempt to get them to land on your palms.

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Tip: Butterflies are attracted to vibrant colours, so be sure to wear something bright to attract these beautiful, brilliantly coloured creatures.

 

Food stop: End your meal on a sweet note at The Petit Cafe 

 

Recommended dishes:

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Pan-fried Banana, Homemade Dark Belgian Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Ice-cream & Toasted Almond Flakes (AUD$14.50)

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Homemade Salted Caramel, Cinnamon, Roasted Walnuts & Vanilla Ice-cream (AUD$14.50)

 

8. Dance with the indigenous rainforest people in a ‘Night Fire’

 

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And what is a trip without a little dose of culture? Only a 15-minute drive away from Kuranda, is the Tjapukai Cultural Park - where you’ll be taken on a journey to discover the early beginnings of Australia with the Tjapukais, a.k.a ‘People of The Rainforest’. It was really fascinating to meet a tribe that’s been able to retain so much of their culture despite the modernisation they’re experiencing.

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Have your face painted in a tradition-sharing session that’ll link you to their traditional land, and be treated to complimentary sparkling wine and canapes inspired by bush tucker foods as you admire the authentic indigenous art along in their Canopy Breezeway.

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Expect to be treated to a display of their culture with a ceremonious didgeridoo welcome, and get your dancing shoes on for a outdoor pit fire celebration. We got to learn about the Tjapukai people’s beliefs and the ancient tale of the creation of the world.

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Thereafter, you’ll be treated to a tropical buffet of exotic local produce and a medley of indigenous flavours. Think Australian meats like kangaroo and crocodile and local seafood grilled on the spot, alongside a spread of starters and desserts that’ll fill any remaining stomach space you’ll have.

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End your night with a photo taking session with the Tjapukais!

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Address: Cairns Western Arterial Road, Caravonica, Queensland 4878
Opening Hours: 9AM-9.30PM, Daily
Find out more here.

 

9. Feast on Churrasco skewers featuring 5 different kinds of meat at Bushfire Flame Grill

 

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Think Carnivore, expect at the Bushfire Flame Grill, they’ll be serving over 5 different kinds of fresh barbequed meat - Kangaroo Rump, Pork, Lamb, Beef Picanha and Cuban Style Mojo Chicken.

My favourite meat has got to be the pork. Marinated in plum and sweet chilli, it was robust in flavour and extremely succulent for a lean cut. And for those who’ve never tasted Kangaroo meat before, you’ll be surprised to find that it’s not that different from beef, except slightly leaner. The 

Don’t skip the kangaroo meat either, it’s rump marinated in harissa, a North African hot chilli pepper paste, made to complement the natural rustic taste of the meat. 

Bushfire Flame Grill
Address: 43 Esplanade, Cairns City, Queensland 4870
Opening Hours: 5.30-9.30PM
Find out more here

 

10. Soak up the rays in the locals’ favourite city pool

 

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To fully immerse yourself in the Aussie experience, you’ll have take a stroll down Esplanade Lagoon, a favourite summer haunt of locals in the city. Looking like a hybrid cross of a beach and a pool, you’ll find silky white sand on the shore, and a swimming pool complete with fountains and play areas as you venture further out.

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The lagoon can accommodate up to 1,000 with built-in underwater seating

Esplanade Lagoon
Address: 52-54 The Esplanade, Cairns City, Queensland 4870
Find out more here.

 

11. Indulge in a luxurious seafood spread by the ocean

 

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If you're looking for a solid Australian surf and turf meal to end the trip on a high note, head over to Dundee's Restaurant - one of the best waterfront dining spots in Cairns. You’ll be tucking into the finest steaks from the grill, seafood, pasta and Australian speciality foods whilst enjoying the panoramic view of the Great Barrier Reef.

We had the Hot & Cold Seafood Platter For Two (M.P) consisting of a chilled whole mud crab, yabbies, prawns, oysters, half a lobster, bug tails, mussels, crispy calamari, barramundi strips, crumbed scallops and fries, paired with Dundee’s homemade sauces. I dare say this is the best seafood spread I’ve ever had in my 23 years of existence.

Find out more about Dundee’s Restaurant here.

 

Cairns - your best team adventure yet

 

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If you’re looking for a new destination for you and your squad to plant your tracks on and explore, then this gateway city to the world’s natural wonders will be just the place to clear your mind of the stresses of the concrete jungle and leave revitalised. With lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, excellent food, and rich cultural history, it has just about every thing you want for that slow, yet power-packed trip of the year.

 

SilkAir - Your fastest way to Cairns

 

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The easiest way to get you and all your crew to Cairns is on SilkAir’s direct flight from Singapore for just $779 (All-in 2-to-go' fare). Flights run three times a week and will get you there in no more than 6 hours, and give you a baggage allowance of a generous 30kg for all ridiculously heavy female necessities like hair straighteners and all the products used in your skincare routine.

And you’ll want to hold onto your boarding pass even after getting to your destination because with SilkAir’s Boarding Pass Privileges, you’ll be able to score discounts for everything from attractions to food and beverage options. View the entire list of participating partners in Cairns here.

That means the extra savings can be channelled into bringing back those packets of coveted nougat and Tim Tams. 

Book your 'All-in 2-to-go' tickets to Cairns on SilkAir from $779!


This post was brought to you by SilkAir.

 

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