Australia - Far North Queensland
The Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef of Far North Queensland (FNQ)
Our journey to Far North Queensland, Australia, was our first international trip together! I was both excited and nervous. Excited to explore a new country, and nervous about driving on the "wrong side" of the road. lol
We began our journey by flying in to Cairns, Queensland. From our base camp there, we took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to Kuranda Village. The rainforest stops along the cableway were amazing! Lush green cloud rainforest and large Barron Falls, which we stopped at on a train ride back to Cairns. One of the highlights of Kuranda was the Kuranda Koala Gardens, where we had the opportunity to feed and pet kangaroos and actually hold a koala!* They're very soft, and smell like menthol. We also enjoyed Birdworld, where my husband made many flying friends, and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, where we spotted the beautiful indigenous birdwing butterfly. The beaches near Cairns were also amazing!
We spent the night in the green zone (the outer zone) of the Great Barrier Reef onboard Coral Sea Dreaming, an intimate 12 passenger sailing vessel. Waking up and jumping in for a sunrise snorkel was amazing! We saw the nocturnal fish mixed with the diurnal ones as well, which made for an entire wall of bright, tropical fish! The colors of the reef were amazing, and our visibility was up to 100 feet. I believe we visited Miller and Milln Reefs.
After the reef we proceeded to Mossman, where we stayed at the highly recommended Mossman Gorge Bed & Breakfast. Tropical birds awake you on the veranda, and tropical fruits await you at breakfast. Mandy, the owner, took great care of us. She made restaurant reservations on our behalf, helped us with our itinerary, and never tired from our barrage of questions about life in Australia.
We explored the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat and the lush Daintree rainforest, enjoyed the Port Douglas and Mossman farmers markets (grab some fresh macadamia nuts and sugar cane juice), and a very education cultural rainforest walk with local indigenous people at Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks. During the walk, you'll learn about the native relationship with the forest, their foods and shelter, and their ceremonies. We also enjoyed a river cruise to spot salties (salt water crocodiles) and other wildlife on an intimate solar-powered vessel with Solar Whisper. We recommend cruising at low tide, when the crocodiles are out of the water and sunning themselves along the banks of the river.
If you're looking for outdoor adventure, rugged beauty, and a land with no language barriers, Australia may just be the place for you. So grab your bag and go, mate!
* Note: I've since learned that holding wildlife and posing for photographs is not a good idea, since it removes them from their otherwise natural habitat.