It might be hard to believe, but those holidays in beautiful sunny locations don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Especially not when you head to Tropical Queensland in Australia!
Queensland is home to sun, sand, and beautiful sites to see. And with all the idyllic places in the sunshine state, it might be hard to believe that when it comes to holidays and it’s the perfect place for a budget friendly holiday.
Whether you’re planning a trip for one, two or a whole family, there are a lot of different places to see and activities to try, that are affordable and exciting. To help you out, we’ve put together some information of some of our favourite budget friendly places to visit and activities to try. Today, we’ve focused on attractions that are easily accessible from Cairns.
For the Animal Lovers
First up, we’ve got something that is fun for every age – Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures! This is one of the few places in Australia that you can see a crocodile up close and safely, and the only place in North Queensland that you can see them like this.
Located in Wangetti in Queensland, the drive to Hartley’s is about 40-minutes, heading north from Cairns. There are lots of things that make this place incredibly special, one of which is the efforts of reducing their environmental impact at the park, focusing on energy and water conservation. The park itself is a member of Ecotourism Australia and is also the only wildlife park in Australia that is located within a World Heritage listed forest.
So, let’s talk about the main attraction – the crocodiles! You can take a 25-minute cruise along Hartley’s lagoon to see the crocs up close. You can also see different crocodile shows during your visit, including watching a feeding and a crocodile attack show!
But it’s not only crocodiles at Hartley’s, but the place is also actually divided into 5 precincts, each one giving you a unique immersive experience. Hartley’s Lagoon where you can take the crocodile cruise is one of the precincts. The others are the Crocodile Farm, where you can take a guided tour and learn about the conservation of wild crocodiles; the Wildlife Discovery Trail, where you can see Saltwater and Freshwater crocs, as well as meet colourful birds in a walk-thru aviary, and even meet amphibians like snakes and lizards in the Gallery of Living Art; The Gondwana Gateway which will take you through the evolution of Australian animals given their unique location; and lastly the Cassowary Walk, where you can learn about these giant dinosaur like birds, and learn why they are a vital part of our rainforests. You can also see owls and kookaburras in the Predatory Bird Aviary.
Hartley’s is also open every day of the year, except Christmas, making it easy to visit when you’re in the area!
Image Credit: cairns-australia.com
For the Nature Lovers
Now of course you know Queensland for its incredible beaches, but you are probably also aware that the state has some of the most incredible and luscious rainforests in the world.
Now, of course you know Queensland has incredible beaches and near perfect weather year-round, and you probably know about the rainforests and waterfalls, but did you know that the state is home to a World Heritage Listed Rainforest? Well, it is. The Wet Tropics, one of the most unique and diverse rainforests in the world, the area covers 900,000 hectares. Part of the Wet Tropics is the Daintree Rainforest, which you’ve likely heard of before. The Daintree is one of the most biologically diverse rainforests in the world and is home to a huge percentage of the animal population of Australia. Some of the animals found in the Daintree cannot be found anywhere else in the world like the Southern Cassowary and the Boyd’s Forest Dragon.
There are many different areas to discover, but if you pressed for time, one of our favourite parts of the Daintree Rainforest is one that is often referred to as the gateway to the Daintree – Mossman Gorge.
Only 20-minute drive from Port Douglas, and about 75 minutes from Cairns, you can start your time in the area at the Mossman Gorge Centre, where you can learn about the area a bit more before you start exploring.
You can either take a guided Dreamtime Walk tour that is led by local indigenous guides, where you can learn about the traditional owners of the sacred land and how to identify bush foods. Or you can take a self-guided tour and explore to your hearts content. There are numerous walking trails, and like we mentioned earlier, incredibly unique fauna and flora for you to see with your own eyes.
It’s not only the flora and fauna that is incredible, the abundance of walking trails and tracks you adventure through is impressive. Consider packing some food and taking a break by one of the many water holes in the area, you can even have a picnic under the canopy of the rainforest above.
The diversity of the rainforest means there is so much to see, and people of all ages will be excited to see what animals and unique plants they can find!
Image Credit: https://www.mossmangorge.com.au
For the Adventure Seekers
For a budget friendly adventure filled destination in Queensland, you can’t go past the tropical island of Fitzroy Island. Located only a 45-minute fast cat ferry ride from Cairns Marina, the island is great for a day trip, and even better for a longer stay.
What makes the island perfect for adventure seekers? Well, you can take part in just about any activity you can think of. First up, you can hit the walking trails, making your way through the diverse landscape that covers the island – which is 97% national park. There are trail options for all speeds and fitness levels, so it’s a great activity for all ages. A favourite trail is the Summit track, where you can overlook the waters below, and at the right time of year, you might be able to spot whales migrating.
If spending some time on a gorgeous beach is more your speed, then take the short stroll through the rainforest to the somewhat secluded Nudey Beach. Named as Australia’s best beach in 2018, Nudey Beach is a white coral beach where many visitors love to spend the afternoon watching the world pass them by.
You might want to pack some snorkel gear if you’re going to head to Nudey Beach because just metres of the shore you’ll find some of the incredible coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef. That’s right, you can experience the Great Barrier Reef in all it’s glory right from the shores of Fitzroy Island! Take it in at your own pace, or chat with the team at the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub to discover other ways you can experience this incredible place.
Speaking of the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub, you can hire all sorts of gear for water activities from there. Snorkelling gear, sea kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are only some of the things you try out for yourself. If you’re looking for adventure, the team at the Hub is there to help you find it.
The island is even home to a turtle rehabilitation centre, where they care for injured and sick turtles. Run by volunteers, the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is an incredible way that you can see these majestic animals up close, but also see the efforts the volunteers go to, to ensure the health and well-being of these animals. It’s a truly humbling experience.
And while you’ve got adventure opportunities coming out of your ears while you’re here, the best part is that Fitzroy Island is friendly for any budget. If you want to stay a while you can choose accommodation options from Camping to Penthouse Suites, whatever your speed, whatever your style, Fitzroy Island really has something for everyone.
For Something a Little Different
Our last budget friendly suggestion is to take a day trip to Kuranda. An arts hub of sorts, Kuranda is a little village in the heart of the rainforest, about 40 minutes from Cairns. While you’re in Kuranda there are several ways you can check out the wildlife in the area, including:
- Birdworld Kuranda, which is a natural habitat with over 350 birds, even Cassowary.
- The Koala Gardens, where you can hold a koala and even feed wallabies.
- The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary which is home to more than 1500 tropical butterflies.
And while we highly recommend taking a day trip to Kuranda to see this incredible rainforest village, the journey there and back is also one of the biggest drawcards in heading there.
You see, while you can drive, you really can’t go past experiencing the journey through the heritage listed Wet Tropics rainforest on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. Built over 120 years ago, the railway weaves its way through the rainforest giving you incredible vistas of the Barron Gorge and countless waterfalls. The journey takes about two hours to complete, but with the sights you’ll see, it feels like no time at all.
For the journey back, you can shake it up and take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. The cable way takes you on a 90-minute journey where you float above the canopy of the Wet Tropics rainforest below in a gondola. A once in a lifetime experience, you can enjoy unimpeded views of the rainforest from above. And for the truly brave at heart, take the journey in a glass-bottomed gondola, that will give you an experience like no other. If you are going to head to Kuranda, you need to make sure you take the Skyrail on at least one of the legs of the journey.
Now that you know some budget friendly activities for all types of holiday makers, start planning your trip to Queensland today!