Cairns - The Tropical North
Tropical far north Queensland is a magical place, a paradise for holiday makers from all over the globe who come to sample the numerous attractions and the unique lifestlye. At the centre of all the action is Cairns, the international gateway to the region and the premier regional city in the country. Cairns has long been a favourite haunt of jet-setters, backpackers and sight seers, and the city and its residents are very structured towards serving the tourism industry. This makes holidays here an absolute pleasure- because not only are there a million and one things to do, the people are friendly and the climate provides summery conditions for most of the year!

There is a buzz to the city that comes from the year-round influx of tourists, and when in Cairns you cannot helped but be swept up in the holiday atmosphere and the laid back vibe. A central 'hang out' during the day is the Esplanade Swimming Lagoon, an artificial salt water lagoon with sandy banks and grassy verges where people are able to picnic and barbeque. Then in the evenings Cairns really comes alive and the numerous restaurants, bars and night clubs fill with revellers and party goers, sharing stories and celebrating their day of fun exploring the tropics.

Possibly the chief attraction of Cairns is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The world's largest coral reef system is easily reached by boat, and there are many tours you can choose from to take you for a day or a half day of scuba diving and snorkelling. The immense and colourful array of underwater life will literally blow you away, and with visibility of 20 to 30 metres you can really explore the complexities of this amazing reef. Between dives bask on the deck of your tour boat or on the sun drenched beach of one of the reef islands!

But of course Cairns isn't just about the reef, this city is all about diversity. A few minutes drive inland lie the Atherton Tablelands, a lush, rainforest-draped range of hills that are home to quaint villages, stunning gorges and plenty of bird and wildlife. A favourite destination is Kuranda, a vibrant community and village that is famous for its outdoor markets that happen every weekend. Half the fun about Kuranda is getting there- you can substitute the windy uphill drive with a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, an hour long train trip that takes you past some amazing scenery. Alternatively you could go on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which is a ride in a gondola down the side of the mountain above the treetops! Many combine the both, going one way on the train and the other way on the Skyrail.

Close to Kuranda is the majestic Barron Gorge, a deep ravine carved by the Barron River over many centuries. In the wet season the river thunders down the side of the gorge in an impressive waterfall, dousing onlookers with a fine spray. There are a number of lookout points, and walkways follow the original routes taken by the indigenous hunters and gatherers over the years. Walking through the thick rainforest you are likely to see lots of animals and the colourful birds of the tropics, which helps attract plenty of visitors to this special gorge.

To complete your rainforest experience hop in your car and head north, driving past the resort town of Port Douglas until you reach the Daintree National Park. This rainforest is the oldest in the world, having been around for 135 million years! There is everything here the wilderness lover could ask for- amazing scenery, thick vegetation, plenty of hiking trails and lots of animals. The wide and smooth Daintree River is the perfect spot to throw out a line and try catch your dinner, or just cruise its scenic banks and try spot some of the crocodiles that call these waters home!

Whilst in the Daintree you have to visit the magnificent headland Cape Tribulation, where the reef and the rainforest meet! There is a beautiful beach here, and a small village with a range of accommodation options. You really need more than one day to truly experience Cape Trib and the rest of the park, and the village here is a great place to stay where you are likely to meet some interesting locals.

With the amazing amount of things to do in and around Cairns its no wonder the city is so popular amongst tourists. You can expect nothing less than a fun-filled holiday with excitement and adventure around every corner, and a hire car from Rent New Cars is your ticket to exploring the region in comfort and style. So why not start planning your next holiday there right now?

Gavin Wyatt

Splash Restaurant is located on the Cairns Esplanade, and is the best place to enjoy fresh seafood in Cairns.

Paronella Park heritage gardens are a must see for all visitors to North Queensland, built on 5 hectares of rainforest beside Mena Falls.