Cairns and surrounds

September 12, 2019

….and just like that I’m back from my 4 night visit to Cairns in Far North Queensland!  The main purpose of the visit of course was to visit my daughter (let’s call her Miss M) who is now living and working there.  Secondary, was to see a few sights around the place as it’s been so long since both Mum and I have been up in those parts.  Miss M had two days off work thankfully and so was able to drive us around a bit!

Apart from a couple of visits to Hamilton Island over the last 25 or so years (once we took the kids and had a family holiday there, another time we attended the wedding of a nephew there) it has been around 28 years since I have visited Far North Queensland.  The last time being a road trip taken in 1991 (before kids) where we drove as far as Daintree and stopped at numerous places along the way.  We did stop in at Cairns but I have no memories of Cairns except making a phone call to my parents from a public phone box (yes it was back in the dark ages before mobile phones) so I think it must have been a brief visit!

This post is a quick wrap up of the trip – it’s reasonably short on words but long on iPhone photo’s and there’s a handful of short video’s, so I hope your scrolling fingers are warmed up and ready!

Where we stayed

We stayed at Riley, a Crystalbrook Resort at the recommendation of my daughter.  There was a 30% discount offer which made the 4 night stay more affordable for myself and Mum.  We had a ‘Sea View’ room with a beautiful view out across the stunning pool area to the Coral Sea.  The room was clean and very modernly appointed. The twin beds were comfy (first time I’ve slept in a single for a long time). The bathroom was gorgeous and I loved the shower.  It took us a while to work out all the switches, bells & whistles, and so forth but we got there in the end. There was an iPad that provided all the information we needed and where you could request services and make bookings. Very clever! There were a few things though that we found a bit disappointing for a 5 star hotel, mostly that the room was a bit pokey and did not have a comfortable sitting area, but I won’t dwell on the negatives!

So we arrived on Wednesday, settled into our room, and then went and had some lunch at Greenfields followed by a bit of a walk along the esplanade.  My daughter came and met up with us after she finished work and we went to dinner at Paper Crane.

Poolside at Rileys at night

View from Rocco – rooftop bar and restaurant at Riley’s.

View from Rocco – rooftop bar and restaurant at Riley’s.

On Wednesday night we went to dinner at Paper Crane with Miss M

On Thursday night we had Thai Takeaway for dinner on the balcony of our hotel room

Cairns Esplanade

I went for a walk most mornings along the esplanade, and snapped a few photos now and then.  One morning I had brekky at Muddy’s Cafe.

Breakfast at Muddy’s Cafe on the esplanade


The next day we were collected from our hotel at 8:35am and off we went on our Kuranda Scenic Railway Gold Class and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway day trip.  The bus delivered us to Freshwater Railway Station where the train would be departing. 

We were given gorgeous refreshing ‘mocktails’ on arrival and sipped on those until the train arrived and we were due for departure.  The train itself is gorgeous and gold class was well worth any extra $$’s. Our attendant for the day was a man named ‘Luke’ who was always smiling, and so attentive and friendly.  We were served food and beverages during the train trip.  On the way up to Kuranda sights included  Stoney Creek Falls, Barron Gorge and Barron Falls.

Carriage 8 – our Gold Class carriage

Kuranda Railway Station

Once we arrived at Kuranda Railway Station, thankfully there was a free shuttle that we caught to town, otherwise it’s apparently a 15 minute walk (I think it would take longer than that!).  Kuranda markets I must say I found quite disappointing. There was a lot of trashy touristy stuff and not as much hand made crafts like I had been expecting. There was some aboriginal art but that was priced well beyond my budget.  I would have liked to have gone into the Butterfly House but if we wanted to explore the town of Kuranda and markets there really wasn’t enough time as we had to be back at the bus stop at 1:15pm to catch the shuttle back in time to board the Skyrail by 1:40pm.  

The skyrail was lovely.  We had one to ourselves and it was lovely to be above the rainforest.  I thought it was a bit of a missed opportunity though that there was no commentary (even something recorded) as it would have been nice to know where we were, what we were going over, what kind of trees were beneath us, things like that. It was still enjoyable though.  

Once we arrived at Skyway Rainforest Cableway HQ in Smithfield we had a look around the gift shop, sipped on a coffee, and then boarded the bus at 3:15pm which took us back to our hotel.

Brunch at Noa

On Friday Miss M took us to brunch at Noa, one of her favourite haunts at East Hill, a suburb of Cairns.

After brunch we went and checked out her lovely shared apartment on the Esplanade before heading off to Port Douglas.

Port Douglas

The drive to Port Douglas is a pretty one!  You pass through some lovely rainforest terrain and there’s some gorgeous beaches to your right, and the colour of the water is divine!  One thing I noticed though is how very dry the roadsides were, a reminder of the drought conditions being experienced along the east coast, and of course all the dreadful subsequent bush fires!

I have been to Port Douglas once before I think and that would have been back in around 1991.  I had a vision in my mind of a vast timber decked area with fancy cafes and shops but I never saw this vision I had in my mind. I’m not sure if it’s an accurate vision or a confused one but regardless, Port Douglas was much bigger and busier than I had been expecting!  We saw the resort where one of my sisters used to work about 28 years ago – Club Tropical, and we saw the lovely little heritage listed St Mary’s Church by the sea, and took photo’s to send her.  There was a wedding taking place at the church so we stood by for a little while and watched as the groom and his groomsmen arrived in a Kombi van.

We had a nice walk around the shops and stopped for a lovely cool refreshing drink.

Notice how dry the park is!

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

Palm Cove

On Saturday we went for a drive to Palm Cove.  It’s such a pretty spot and goes for quite a distance!   To appreciate it fully I think you’d need to be staying there or nearby and have your bathers and towel and relax on the beach or under the palm trees by the beach with a good book.  We weren’t equipped for that so had a stroll around a few shops, snapped a few piccies, and had lunch at one of the cafes along the beachfront.  This was the first time I’d ever been to Palm Cove!

Before we knew it, it was Sunday and time to fly home. It was a lovely getaway. If I visit my daughter in Cairns again, next time I might ditch the touristy approach (though I enjoyed it and needed to do it because it’s been so long since I’ve been up that way) and will relax into more of a holiday mode – lying on beaches, under palm trees, by pools etc and reading lots of books!

Farewell Cairns!

Have you been to Cairns, Kuranda, Port Douglas, or Palm Cove before?

Ciao for now,



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  • Reply Deborah September 12, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Oh Min, the resort looks lovely as does the sightseeing trips. I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve been to Kuranda (and Daintree etc) but not sure about Port Douglas and Palm Cove. It looks like a great spot to visit though…

    Must bookmark the name of your accommodation though as those views are just amazing!!! Glad you had a good time (and yes that did go quickly!)

    • Reply Min September 13, 2019 at 9:16 am

      I wish I’d got to Daintree again this trip but wasn’t enough time. I remember back in 1991 doing a river cruise along the Daintree river and seeing heaps of crocs. Also having afternoon tea in a ‘tea house’ perched up high in the rainforest. It’s a beautiful place! I’d love to visit Palm Cove again but next time less as a tourist and more as a holiday maker – relaxing on the beach and under the palm trees! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl September 12, 2019 at 8:18 am

    The Kurunda railway looks amazing!

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min September 13, 2019 at 9:17 am

      It was my most favourite part of the trip! I loved it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Natalie September 12, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Thanks, Min, for sharing your vacation recap and photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time with your mom and daughter. I haven’t been to Australia so very much enjoyed this part of the country though your lens. #lovin’lifelinky

    • Reply Min September 13, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Natalie – I’m so glad you enjoyed the glimpse at this part of our country. I hope you get to Australia one day … but gee it will be hard to choose where to go as we have so many beautiful spots all around this country! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Joanne Tracey September 12, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I’ve never been to FNQ & have been salivating over your photos. We’re looking at doing a road trip up there at some point (yep, it’s a loooooong drive) but I’ve always wanted to do the railway and the Daintree. That sky, that sea, those clear clear colours. Just glorious.

    • Reply Min September 13, 2019 at 9:20 am

      OMG – can’t believe you haven’t been to FNQ Jo! You must get there. It’s simply divine. I’d suggest avoiding the peak summer season though as it’s unbearably hot and humid. We did a road trip up there back in 1991 and it was fantastic! There are so many gorgeous places to stop in at along the way. It’s the best way to do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Laurie September 12, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Wow! So beautiful and so exotic! I am from the US and the scenery looks so different from what I typically see. That brunch looks delicious too!

    • Reply Min September 13, 2019 at 9:22 am

      It’s a beautiful part of our country Laurie and only a snippet of what is on offer up there. There are all the gorgeous islands on the Great Barrier Reef and many other beautiful spots along the coast. BTW – that brunch WAS delicious! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Donna McNicol September 18, 2019 at 8:14 am

    What amazing photos…and the view from the room, wow! Thanks for sharing. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Donna and yes, the view from the room was outstanding! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Bree September 18, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Min what a glorious 4 days you had. I love Cairns and I actually lived in the Northern Beaches for 3 years. I worked in the city of Cairns and when driving home I would glance at the airport and look at the planes landing and taking off and think to myself…”i live here how lucky am I” My partner worked at one of the main hotels in Palm Cove. He loved it. We would sometimes walk the dogs from our beach to Palm Cove and back. Would depend on the year due to the creeks and crocodiles.. One time we walked along the beach. had no idea a crocodile had been sunning itself on the beach at Palm cove . That might be why it was deserted. We saw the signs once we left the beach. If I won the lotto I would buy a house up there and stay there in the winter. Thank you for taking me back #MLSTL

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      Wow, fancy that Bree! This was my 2nd visit to Cairns and Port Douglas but first to Kuranda and Palm Cove. I’d like to go back to Palm Cove for a bit of a holiday! It’s so idyllic there! OMG – I never thought there could be a crocodile on the beach there LOL! Though I shouldn’t be surprised as I recall last time I was up that way going on a ‘river train’ ride down the Daintree river and seeing LOTS of crocs! I’m looking forward to my next visit where I hope to revisit Daintree and spend some time lying on the beaches and enjoying some swimming and reading lots of books! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Patrick Weseman September 18, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Such a beautiful and lovely place. Very nice. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      It sure is, thanks Patrick!

  • Reply Leanne | September 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Beautiful photos Min and it was all so Summery and pretty – it would have been a wonderful, warm time away and nothing beats time with your daughter (except having your Mum there too!) Glad you enjoyed your stay and got to revisit a few destinations in the process. I’ll have to extend my next Qld visit and head further north.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Leanne. Luckily it wasn’t TOO hot (though hot enough for me) as I just do not cope with extreme heat and humidity at all. It was a lovely getaway. I look forward to visiting up that way again. Yes, so many more places in Queensland for you to see yet. It’s huge!! lol xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan September 18, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Loved reading and viewing this Min. Brought back great memories for me of Palm Cove. We stayed in Port Douglas once. I did my own tours from there. A day in the Daintree which included a secluded barbie for lunch in a part of the rainforest where there was a waterway and a clearing. So much beauty up there but the humidity sure did affect us. I agree re Kuranda markets but did enjoy the view up on the sky rail and the train down.

    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Denyse #mlstl

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:28 pm

      Sounds like you had a wonderful visit up in those parts Denyse! My memories are of a road trip with hubby, where we stayed in motels and caravan parks, back in around 1991. I loved the Daintree and remember going on a ‘river cruise’ where we saw heaps of crocs and had morning or afternoon tea (I can’t remember) in a tea house on a little river island up in a high house on stilts (to be safe from crocs). It was a fabulous experience. Like you, I’m no good in the heat and humidity either, and worse at coping with it now I’m older.

  • Reply Jo September 18, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Looks like you had a lovely trip Min. I love Cairns and you’ve made me want to return. Rileys looks a lovely resort and of course Palm Cove is such a gorgeous spot. Definitely wouldn’t mind staying there a few days. I’ve Pinned a couple of images to bookmark this post for ideas for the future. #MLSTL and Shared on Pinterest

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Jo – it’s all lovely up there. There’s so much more I’d like to see. Maybe next trip but I’d also like to have a bit of beach/pool/reading/relax time too! xo

  • Reply Pamela Perrault September 19, 2019 at 12:53 am

    Good morning, Min: Thank you so much for sharing so many details of your lovely getaway. I read your post last night and again this morning. I wished it went on and on; it is a treat to read about far-off places that I’m quite sure I’ll never have the chance to visit myself. Your photographs are stunning and I think your daughter gave you perfect hotel advice. Beautiful writing and beautiful imagery. Thank you! pp

    • Reply Min September 19, 2019 at 12:32 pm

      Good Morning Pamela! It’s my pleasure to share my getaway. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the post. I love seeing photos and hearing about far away places too! It’s kinda like virtual travel. xo

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