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7 Amazing Things to do Near Cairns

After experiencing winter in Victoria for nearly four months, my boyfriend and I decided it was time to try something new! We flew up to Cairns, rented a van and spent the next 6 weeks driving from Cairns down to Sydney. It was my first time in Cairns and I will be honest and say it’s not my favorite city but I absolutely loved everything we did outside of Cairns. A lot of people explore the Great Barrier Reef while in Cairns and we already had plans to do that later on in our trip so instead, we found beautiful waterfalls, nice hiking and some of the most incredible views of the coast. There were a lot of amazing things we read about and didn’t have time to do so I’ll have to save those for next time!

Visit Port Douglas. About an hour north of Cairns is Port Douglas, the perfect town for a day trip or even a weekend stay! You can enjoy a beach day, go shopping in town, relax with a drink by the water and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Depending on what day you’re there you can also visit the Port Douglas Market that’s right on the water. Port Douglas is very popular so keep that in mind as you plan your visit. We only stayed one night but enjoyed it so much we wish we stayed a second!

Head to Barron Gorge National Park and see Barron Falls. It’s a popular waterfall so you will definitely see a lot of other people here but there’s multiple lookouts so we weren’t bothered! If you’re limited on time you can stop at the first viewpoint but if you walk an extra 10 minutes you can get a bit of a closer view, the farther viewpoint is 1.2k return. The path to the lookouts is all boardwalk and well maintained so you don’t need to worry about proper hiking shoes.

Make a quick stop at Henry Ross Lookout. As you head up into the mountains there’s a turn off on the side of the road for the lookout and you can get an absolutely beautiful of the water and the surrounding mountains. It’s the perfect spot to get a good photo and there’s a little map to show you exactly what you’re looking at!

Visit Old Weir Falls. After a 20-25 minute hike through the woods you’ll find Old Weir Falls, absolutely freezing but still perfect for a swim! The hike and the waterfall are both pretty shady so it’s great for a really hot day. This was the first place I saw a sign before starting a hike that said be careful of plants that can inject you with neurotoxins. I saw this sign and was reminded I’m currently living in Australia and you really never know what you’re going to find here!

Relax in the sun at Clamshell Falls. The walk to get to the waterfall is 6.5k return, out and back. I call it a walk because you’re on a service road the whole time so it’s not much of a hike, the road is pretty hilly so you’ll definitely want to go for a swim at the end! We went in the morning and didn’t see a lot of other people but there is plenty of space to relax if you do run into people. In my opinion the view of the waterfall is the best from in the water but be warned the water is very cold!

See the natural phenomenon Walsh’s Pyramid; it’s completely natural and almost a perfect pyramid! You can hike to the peak but it takes a few hours; we unfortunately didn’t have time to do it when we were there. We stopped on our way out of Clamshell Falls and the road wasn’t busy so we pulled off and took a few photos and then had to continue on.

Marvel at the beauty of Babinda Boulders. There’s an area right near the parking lot that isn’t full of rocks that’s safe to swim in. This is a popular spot especially with families so you definitely won’t be alone here! About 10 minutes walk from the parking lot will be Devil’s Pool and the Boulders Gorge Lookout and the current here is too strong so you can’t swim in this area. You can see how the current of the water has eroded and changed the rocks, it’s amazing. If you have time stop in Babinda on your way there, there’s some cute cafes and shops to see. We stopped here on the way to Babinda Boulders and had a great lunch!

If you’re looking to explore more or want to disconnect for a couple days, head to Cape Tribulation! You can find beautiful beaches, amazing stargazing and very few other people. The reception isn’t great so it’s the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

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