It’s always exciting arriving in a city that’s totally new to you. A place you don’t know a great deal about, but have heard all good things. That for us, was Cairns. We have heard so much, but yet to explore it for ourselves.
Our first stop was Palm Cove, just 30 mins north of Cairns, we had booked in here for 3 nights (ended up staying for 5) and didn’t quite know what to expect. We just loved it! What a beautiful, little place. There is only one caravan park there so we suggest pre-booking, we were lucky we arrived in a quiet time.
After spending our first day setting up, exploring the Palm Cove coast line, small boutiques and letting the kids play for an hour at the park it was time to set out for an adventure. We headed north, making our way to Mossman Gorge via Port Douglas. We have heard so many amazing things about the Gorge so it was exciting to get there and see it for ourselves. Once we arrived at the centre, we booked our tickets for the bus to take us to the top, no way were we walking up that hill carrying our littles!
The kids usually set the pace for the day and today they were off and running, full of energy and keen to stretch their legs so we opted to walk the boardwalks on our own terms. The scenery was stunning and changed throughout the walk. Our favourite, being the dense rainforest. The path also changed, from dirt, to board walk to the most amazing suspension bridge. Lucky our kids are fearless because Tom took the opportunity when the bridge was empty to rock it, unlucky for him, it was fairly stable and didn’t move a great deal. Sometimes we have 3 kids in the family. Swimming conditions were not ideal on the day of our visit, so taking a dip was not an option. We didn’t mind too much, it just goes on the list to do when we come back. The Gorge was amazing. The kids held hands the entire way around. We were ending our day out, on a high.
After a big day out yesterday, we were taking today easy and simply hanging out at some local parks and beaches. One of our favourites was Clifton Beach. A hidden gem, with perfectly bent palm trees hanging over the sand. This just screamed “ climb me!!” so we tried. Tom made it almost to the top, Claire just failed!
At the end of Clifton, there’s a great playground. With both of us needing to make some business calls, we set ourselves up where we could watch the kids and stayed there for a few hours. Happy kids = happy parents.
Weekends for us are like every other day really, except for this one. Today is Tom’s birthday! We welcomed the morning with a trip into Cairns to check out the markets which were filled with hand made products and produce. These markets are situated right on the lagoon in Cairns, so after walking them, we couldn’t resist a dip. The lagoon is just picture perfect. Crystal blue water, surrounded by sand and decking, fish sculptures and a few small water fountains. We had to fight the kids to head home for a sleep.
After a lazy afternoon, we dressed up a little more than usual and headed out for dinner to celebrate Tom’s birthday. The local surf club catered to the kids with a kid’s menu, drawing and games. We enjoyed a few cocktails and a fantastic meal. Our day was done.
6am alarm went off and Tom was up and preparing for his day out on a boat. Claire and the kids had bought him a full day snorkelling and diving out on the reef. This was Tom’s first time to the outer reef, with clearer water and larger fish floating around, he saw his fair share of sealife. With two reef stops, two dives and hours of snorkelling, Tom came home one happy and exhausted man. Getting older doesn’t always suck.
Surprising Tom with a dive trip couldn’t have been possible without the help of the two young managers at Palm Cove. They had so much local knowledge and knew the dive boats personally, their recommendations were spot on. This made Tom’s experience so much more enjoyable. So what did Claire do while Tom was out diving? Hit up the local Palm Cove markets. Filled with treats, clothing, jewellery and more. With Halen in the pram and Varli in the carrier it was easy to navigate the crowds and head down the street.
We moved from Palm Cove to Cairns Coconut Resort. It was time to spoil the kids with the ultimate kid friendly caravan park. Filled with swimming pools, playgrounds, bike tracks, jumping pillows, splash pools and more. We spent a few days relaxing and reorganising the van while the kids ran wild. Being so kid friendly, it was no doubt we would run into some other travelling families. Well, night 1, we met six other travelling families. Night 2, Claire had a ladies night in the adults only spa with an amazing 9 other travelling mums. We knew from that point, Cairns Coconut was going to be our ultimate social park.
Visiting Kuranda is one of the most popular things to do while in Cairns, so of course we planned our trip there. This time, instead of driving we opted for the scenic train up and the skyrail down. We were booked in for a 9:30am train along with 2 other families from coconut, so we followed each other to our starting point ready for some exploring. A short bus ride took us to the train, we grabbed a quick coffee, then found our seats onboard. It’s an older style train, beautiful and detailed. The windows are mostly opened so the view is undisturbed.
After about 1.5 hours we arrived at the small quirky town of Kuranda. We walked the streets checking out the local stores, then the pub caught our eye. It was time for lunch. Barron Falls Hotel did not disappoint, cheap lunch, kids menu and cold beer. We were set to keep going.
Walking further up the hill, we were hunting for the market place, then out of nowhere it pops up. A massive permanent market place filled with small gifts, home made goodies and everything you could possibly imagine. It felt like the entire town of Kuranda was crammed into this tiny space. It was exciting, so much to look at but Claire could see straight away where she was going… The Fudge Shop. Adults only fudge, we had never seen adults only fudge. Of course we had to try them and of course we had to go home with a stash.
It was sky rail time. We headed down hill this time (thank god, pushing a stroller up hill sucks) towards the sky rail. We were lucky enough to have a gondola all to ourselves. Half an hour of unspoilt views, right over the tree tops. The kids were just amazed and were pressing their faces against the glass to get a closer look. We jumped off at Red Peak to walk the board walk and so glad we did, it was beautiful to walk through another section of rainforest. Arriving at the base, we found our car and headed back to coconut. We were tired.
Taking a drive to Yorkey’s Knob to check out another little beach, we discovered two massive playgrounds at either end of the Yorkey’s stretch. Straight to the swings the kids went and we knew instantly we were going to be there a while so Tom and I took it in turns of having a look at the beach and watching the kids. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and jumped back in the car. Driving back towards coconut we stumbled upon Cattana Wetlands. Not really sure what to expect we decided to take a chance and head in. Wow, what a place. We have easily put it on the must-do list around Cairns. Filled with lakes, creeks, boardwalks and so much wildlife, we didn’t know where to look. We were the only ones there (maybe because it was raining?) so it was the perfect chance to let the kids run along the board walk and explore the sites on their own terms. We spotted an eel and plenty of birds but unfortunately no crocs. Halen and Varli finally ran out of energy for the day, we didn’t think it was possible!
Cairns was both big action packed days, as well as days filled with relaxing. We took time to sort our van out, do a touch of work and just feel settled after our first few months of full time travel.
We are happy to say, Cairns is pretty perfect.