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Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands, Australia

Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands, Australia


When I originally left for Australia the plan was to fly to Brisbane. But let’s be honest, travel never goes as planned and that’s all part of the excitement.  Being open to anything happening and embracing those changes is so important and makes for amazing adventures and travel stories.  Instead of ending up in Brisbane, I landed in Cairns and it was such a great experience.  Cairns  (pronounced Cannes) is at the top of Queensland in the north and the climate is tropical and humid.  It’s also home to the Great Barrier Reef, lush rain forests, waterfalls and crocodiles.

After days of literal anticipation to arrive in Australia, the minute the plane hit ground on Australian soil my heart jumped a beat and my inner self was dancing. I couldn’t wait to be down under, especially after 6 months of eagerly waiting to finish work and begin a new life of travel.

The flight landed in Cairns in the early hours of the morning.  After arriving at the hostel in I wanted to see the sunrise on what I thought was going to be a beautiful ocean.  To my dismay, Cairns has a waterfront lagoon, not a waterfront beach.  Still quite pretty, but not what you expect when you think of the portal town to the Great Barrier Reef.



The sunrise was still amazing to see and I knew I was finally in Australia, where I was meant to be at the time.  Let the real adventure begin!  Cairns was a stop over before heading to Brisbane so I only spent 4 days there and what a wild 4 days it was.

The hostel I stayed at was Gilligan’s Hostel which is considered as THE party hostel in town.  I figured, why not, let’s have a few nights of party fun to begin the real trip.  And party hostel it was!  The place was fully set-up with a bar/club, pool and all.  I stayed in a mixed dorm room and that was my first time ever doing that.  Traveling, you meet people of all different age groups and from all over the world. Mixed dorms sometimes tend to be male dominated from my experience and I was the only girl in an 8 bed dorm.  People tend to party a lot in these types of hostels so there wasn’t much sleep happening which I was not thrilled about. There happened to be some guys in the room who were spending their last few days in Australia going hard. Picture small, cheap bunk beds and young drunk people partying in the early hours of the morning.  The overall experience of Gilligan’s was good and just know if you go there it’s a party hostel and expect just that. The beds are clean and the bar was really fun.  It’s more like a hotel with a pool and night club if anything else.

Since I was only in Cairns for a few days, the amount of excursions were limited.  I had been aching to do the The Atherton Tablelands tour where you can see beautiful waterfalls,  crater formations and swim in clear natural water holes.  For $109 AUD this trip is completely worth it! I booked though Waterfall Wanderers and our tour guide was great!  The day began at 7 am where the tour bus picks you up from your hostel.  From there, you drive for a bit through breathtaking rain forest country side filled with green lush rolling hills before stopping for biscuits, coffee and tea. Then we ventured to our first destination, Josephine Falls.  Normally this is an unbelievable watering hole with a natural rock water slide you can go down!  Unlucky for us, it was raining a lot over the past few days so flash flooding was in high risk and the water slide was closed off.   Luckily there was still lots to do and see throughout the tour. Next stop was Millaa Millaa Falls. This is where they filmed the famous hair toss Herbal Essences commercial. The tour guides encourage everyone to do a hair flip while they snap photos.  It’s hilarious to see and very fun to do.


Millaa Millaa Falls


After Millaa Millaa, we stopped for lunch and proceeded to head to Dinner Falls and Crater Falls. This location has 3 great spots to see,  A huge volcanic watering hole which is 61 metres in diameter and can be viewed from 58 metres up on a lookout point.  After the impressive volcanic crater, there are two more waterfalls.  Dinner Falls and Crater Falls. Both offer amazing swimming locations with cool, fresh water which is a welcoming break from the dense tropical humidity.


Dinner Falls


Volcanic Crater


After Crater Falls and Dinner Falls we went to the famous Curtain Fig Tree. The tree is hundreds of years old and its aerial roots drop down 15 metres from the canopy to the ground creating a gigantic curtain which is not only huge but incredible to see.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  It looks like something from Fern Gully or Avatar.


Curtain Fig Tree


Fig Tree branches up close


The last stop on the tour is Lake Eacham which is a beautiful volcanic crater lake home to fresh water fish.  The water fares around 23 C and is roughly 65 metres deep.  There are signs for fresh water crocs but we never saw any and no one seemed to mind as swimming is highly recommended.

Lake Eacham


Overall for four days in Cairns it was an amazing experience and I know I only touched the surface. There are so many other excursions and sights to see including the Great Barrier Reef which is on my bucket list for another trip to Australia one day.  One thing I love most about Australia is no matter where you go, every place and experience is different. No view is more beautiful than the last. It really is a breathtaking country.



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