Forever chasing the sun, deciding to fly north after a week in Sydney was a good move. Cairns is a relaxed beach town with a whole heap of excursions to keep you entertained. Think the Great Barrier Reef, waterfalls, wildlife and rainforests galore.
After searching the travel agents for affordable options, the owner of our hostel recommended ‘On The Wallaby’ Waterfalls and Rainforest Tour Cairns. At $99 dollars for a full 12 hour trip (other companies were offering around $140), it promises a day filled with fun and adventure.
Our 7am wakeup call came around far too quickly and when the bus pulled up, our guide Bart greeted us with incredible enthusiasm for the early hour. Introducing us to the group – and impressively remembering everybody’s names straight away – we began the winding journey into the Atherton Tablelands. We were still giggling at his anecdotes when we pulled up to the first stop of the day.The 500-year-old Cathedral Fig Tree is located in the Danbulla Rainforest just outside Yungaburra. This species of fig tree germinate on top of another tree and grows roots down to the ground, eventually killing the host tree. This means that the tree we see today is actually completely made up of roots and branches – no trunk!
It’s a little surreal to look at and a pretty cool first stop. Although, I did step away hastily when we came across a small red bellied black snake nesting in its base.
Next stop: Volcanic Crater Lake Barrine. As we trekked around the surrounding rainforest, Bart wowed us with facts about the local wildlife and nature. Learning to spot dangerous plants and swinging from natural vine swings is all part of a days work for him!
By this time, our stomachs were growling so we took up residence near Lake Eacham for a spot of lunch. Of course, I quickly gained a reputation when I was the first to eagerly go back for seconds of the tasty meal.
Afterwards, the lake was calling so we spent an hour gazing into the water in delight at the turtles swimming below us.Next up, it was time for a swim. Millaa Millaa waterfall is one of the most famous in Australia and for good reason. As one of the locations for the Mysterious Girl music video (yep, Peter Andre himself) and many adverts, it is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Now the day wasn’t so warm. In fact, icy could definitely describe how the fresh water felt. But chancing a swim was essential for one must-do thing: the Herbal Essences hair flip! It’s harder than it looks but the clumsy stumbles were worth it for the money shot.
We warmed up by nibbling on chocolate before reaching our final destination. Mt Hypipamee National Park is another stunning rainforest and the perfect place for warming up after our dip earlier. After gazing down into a spectacular 70 metre deep crater lake, we trekked through to the Dinner Falls. By that time, the thought of swimming again wasn’t quite as appealing but Bart had spotted something special.
Perched on the other side of the falls, across a slippery and raging river, was a rare tree kangaroo. We tentatively made our way across to watch as the tree kangaroo balanced precariously on a branch sticking out high over the water. What a way to finish the day.
You can reach all these attractions alone if you have a car but if you are looking for a wealth of knowledge and the chance to meet fellow travellers, this is for you. We actually met three awesome girls who we ended up travelling with for the next week! Considering we chose the tour as a budget option, it didnt feel that way at all! I couldn’t recommend On The Wallaby tours any more highly.
Have you explored Far North Queensland? Comment below with your recommendations!