Tropical North Queensland: 19 awesome places to visit
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The state of Queensland is the second largest in Australia, and with the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and the highest waterfall in the country all located in the Tropical North, this is definitely a region that should not be missed.
In addition to these famous landmarks, many other awesome and hidden places in the region are recommended to explore during your visit.
The state is divided into various regions, such as the Tropical North, Central Queensland, the Whitsundays, and South-East Queensland.
However, in this article, I share 19 places in Tropical North Queensland that you shouldn’t miss while traveling, along with a ton of additional tips and inspiring images from my trip.
READ ALSO: The Big Lap: the ultimate road trip around Australia in 2 years
How to get to North Queensland?
Flying into Cairns International Airport, which is often the starting point for many visitors to Australia, is the most convenient way to get here.
Flights from Europe to Cairns are not cheap, but a return ticket can already be found for around AU$ 1500 – AU$ 4000 (€1000 – 2500).
However, Domestic flights are often promoted by Jetstar and you might find some great deals for AU$ 80 to Cairns from most major cities in Australia.
The Bruce Highway, which follows the East Coast of Australia, is the most direct route if you’re coming from the south, while the Flinders Hwy is the better option if you’re starting in the Northern Territory. So that’s exactly what I did.
Where to stay?
Boutique hotels and luxury resorts can be found easily for a few hundred Australian dollars per night near bigger cities such as Townsville and Cairns.
Obviously, there are also more comfortable or luxurious places to stay in more remote regions of North Queensland but it is more common for visitors to camp out or stay in a cabin.
While a caravan will cost between AU$30 and AU$60 per night, a camping spot in a national park will cost about AU$6.
However, if you want a bit more luxury you can make your visit to the Daintree Rainforest even more memorable and stay in a wilderness lodge, a jungle cabin, or a tropical resort in Port Douglas
READ ALSO: 4WD on Fraser Island: The perfect adventure in 3 days
Places to visit in North Queensland
Australia’s most popular tourist destination, Cairns is located in Far North Queensland and is often referred to as “the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef”.
It’s also the city where your journey will most likely begin and not only in front of the Great Barrier Reef, but it is also very central for visiting almost all of the places mentioned in this article.
On the other hand, Cairns is a fun place to visit, whether it be for the city’s many points of interest, the Cairns Aquarium, or any of the countless day trips that depart from here.
Because the places that I was most interested in seeing, such as the Daintree Rainforest, the waterfall circuit, and the Wallaman Falls, were located outside of the city, I didn’t stay in Cairns for a long time.
After a day trip or visit to the city, there are certainly some nice restaurants, bars, and other places for you to enjoy if you decide to extend your stay here for a bit longer.
READ ALSO: Cairns to Brisbane: the perfect East Coast road trip in Australia
About 30km out of Cairns is the charming town of Kuranda, which is worth visiting because of the stunning views that can be seen from the top of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or from the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which travels from the picturesque village through breathtaking valleys and dense forests.
Due to the bad weather, I was unable to personally experience it, but friends and locals both advised me to do so.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, which is a world heritage site and the largest coral reef in the world, is most likely the most popular and well-liked destination mentioned in this article.
This destination should be on your bucket list if you’re traveling through Australia because it is recognized as a Unesco World Heritage site and features stunning contrasts of blue from the sky and beautiful colored corals beneath the water.
You can make your trip to the Great Barrier Reef even more memorable by going scuba diving or snorkeling, taking a scenic flight over the reef, or even spending the night there.
GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE
The Great Barrier Reef Drive is a coastal route that stretches all the way from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and connects two World Heritage Sites. It is known for its breathtaking scenery and abundance of tourist attractions such as the McAllister Lookout, the Rex Lookout, and countless beaches.
With the dense green forest on the hills on one side, the marvelous azure ocean on the other side, and many viewpoints along the way, it’s without a doubt one of the most breathtaking routes that can be traveled in Australia.
READ ALSO: The Great Ocean Road: 9 amazing viewpoints
The Daintree River is the perfect place to join a crocodile tour on the way to the Daintree Rainforest National Park because it is an awesome experience.
There are enormous crocodiles that can be seen in the water or on the shores, but you can also admire other wild animals like various bird species, snakes, and amphibians while the guide explains more information about nature and different species.
I do recommend the silent boats of the Solar Whisper tour as this is one of the best and most sustainable tours.
Daintree Rainforest National Park
David Attenborough describes the Daintree Rainforest National Park in North Queensland as the world’s most unique national park. Apart from being one of the world’s oldest rainforests, it is also the meeting point of two Unesco World Heritage Sites, the Daintree Rainforest National Park, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Exploring the Mossman Gorge, joining a Daintree Crocodile Tour on the Daintree River, or spotting wildlife in the dense jungle at the Madja Boardwalk are some of the best things to do during a visit to this national park.
READ ALSO: Daintree Rainforest: 13 awesome things to do from Cairns to Cape Tribulation
The Josephine Falls is a stunning waterfall with numerous levels, rock pools, and even a rockslide that can be found in the Wooroonooran National Park. Despite not having a particularly impressive drop, this waterfall is still absolutely gorgeous.
This is very a popular spot amongst the locals because you can slide over the smooth rocks into a rock pool and it only takes a few minutes to walk from the parking lot to the waterfall, but be careful and read the signs carefully, as this is a common spot for accidents due to the wet and slippery rocks.
This region is home to countless rock pools, and while I was there, I took the time to check out the Babinda Boulders because they are well truly spectacular.
You can take a walk along the river on the side of the picnic table if you start from the parking lot, which also contains restrooms. This section of the river is beautiful, but it was quite muddy when I went, so I turned around quickly.
To the other side, past the platform, you’ll find water perfect for cooling off in, or you can continue walking to the Devil’s Rocks Lookout, where you’ll find several stunning rock pools that are unfortunately inaccessible due to erosion.
If you continue on, you’ll reach the Boulders Gorge Lookout, where you can walk out onto the rocks and observe the powerful rapids that crash over the granite boulders below.
A visit to Babinda is therefore a must when you visit this area as the town is an interesting place to stay for a little while longer because there is a free camping spot right next to Rotary park.
Atherton Tablelands & the Milla Millaa Lookout
Following the journey across the outback of Queensland, I made my way directly to this location, and I stayed at the Millaa Millaa Caravan Park while I was there.
The Milla Millaa Lookout is a stunning vantage point that looks out over the enchanted landscape of rolling hills covered in lush vegetation. Imagine yourself in a scene from a Lord of the Rings film.
When you travel just a little further, you’ll reach Australia’s highest road, which features similarly breathtaking scenery.
READ ALSO: 9 Amazing Waterfalls In The Great Otway National Park
Millaa Millaa Falls
If you want to see a beautiful waterfall but don’t want to walk, the Millaa Millaa Falls is ideal because you can admire the breathtaking waterfall even if you are just standing on the parking lot.
It is also one of the most lovely places to have lunch or take a refreshing dip while you are completely surrounded by beautiful nature, a grass field, and a nearly 20 meters high waterfall in the background.
The Millaa Millaa Falls is also one of the waterfalls that can be found along the Waterfall Circuit, which includes the Zillie Falls and the Ellinjaa Falls.
The Zillie Falls is the next must-see stop on the waterfall circuit, depending on which direction you are coming from.
The parking area is located on the shoulder of the road, but to visit the waterfall, you will need to cross the road and walk a short distance through the forest. After that, you will be able to see the top of this impressive waterfall from the lookout.
To get to the base of the waterfall, however, you have to make a fairly steep descent through the forest on a dirt path to reach it. This is something that you should absolutely do if you want to see the powerful drop of the waterfall from a better angle.
You can try to climb along or over the rocks to get a better view of the Zillie Falls, but be careful because they are slippery, and during my visit, I lost my car keys from my pocket as a result.
Thankfully, I was able to find them again.
The Elinjaa waterfall, which appears to have been taken straight from a fairy tale, is the final waterfall on the waterfall circuit.
From the parking lot, it’s a 10-minute walk along a paved path through the trees to get to the stairs where you’ll have to descend a few steps before reaching the base of this enchanting place.
When you get to the bottom, you can take some stunning photographs while walking through the river on the rocks that stick out or just admire its admiring atmosphere
In my opinion, it is without a doubt one of the waterfalls that you absolutely must check out during your time in Australia.
It is possible that this is one of the most well-liked waterfalls in the area due to the picturesque path that leads up to it, the serene environment, and the fact that the majority of tourists choose to visit the more well-known Milla Milla Waterfall instead of coming here.
If you complete the loop, you will walk approximately 6 kilometers through the dense rainforest.
But I decided to take the quick, 2-kilometer back-and-forth route that passes the Silver Band Falls, travels through a few creeks, and ends at a 50-meter drop.
Truly a unique and tasty way to spend your afternoon.
Skydiving at Mission Beach, which offers the unique opportunity to land on the sand below, is widely considered to be among the most popular activities in all of Australia.
Since I wasn’t able to get over my fear of heights this time, I decided to just relax and take in the view of the gorgeous beach with its white sand and hanging palm trees. The palm trees on the beach are actually very pretty and would make an excellent background for a new profile picture on Instagram.
Mission beach is a great spot to chill out for a day as you can swim here without risk because there are stinger nets placed in the water, which (for the most part) gives protection.
The Wallaman Falls
The cherry on top, also known as the Pearl of Australia, the Wallaman Falls are a sight to behold! It is the highest single-drop waterfall in the country, measuring 268 meters in height, and you can appreciate its glory while driving between Cairns and Townsville in just one hour.
You can see the entire waterfall from the observation deck near the parking lot, but if you want to experience the full force of the water, you’ll have to descend the about 300 stairs and walk the 3.2km trail to the base.
It takes about an hour and a half to hike down and back up, but be sure to stop along the way to take some pictures and admire the waterfall’s beauty from different angles.
In my opinion, the best time to visit this waterfall is just before sunset, when it is still possible to stay at the campsite or drive back to Townsville.
The Jourama Falls is a waterfall that definitely belongs on this list, and even though it is an incredibly beautiful place, you will not find many other tourists here.
You can swim in the rock pools at the base of the falls or simply relax on the flat rocks by taking a short walk from the parking lot to the bottom of the falls and crossing some paths and rocks.
Unfortunately, the falls themselves are not visible from here. You’ll need to walk a roughly 2-kilometer journey to the viewing platform before you can actually see them.
However, I highly recommend walking up the platform because you can admire the beauty of the cascade waterfall from there. About three to five waterfalls are flowing down the cascades, each of which drops into a rock pool before continuing. absolutely stunning!
If you plan to stay at the nearby campsite, it is best to bring mosquito nets or come here during the cooler months because the tropical climate attracts a lot of mosquitoes and march flies.
Little Crystal Creek
The Little Crystal Creek in the Paluma Range National Park is a well-kept secret that is located close to Townsville and offers visitors the opportunity to easily spend an entire day there.
You will need to drive to Moongobullla first, as that is the best way to get there. After that, you will need to travel for another half an hour along winding roads until you reach the bridge, which is right next to this amazing location.
You can hang out by the waterfalls that create a tranquil atmosphere or jump off the rocks into various rock pools. One of the rockpools has a high cliff jump, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but for the local kids, it was their playground.
Even though you are permitted to have picnics and go swimming at this location, camping is not permitted although it is a wonderful location with pretty fresh water.
Many travelers skip this city because there aren’t many real highlights, but I enjoyed my time there. It was nice to walk along the Strand promenade, cool off in the ocean pool, or walk to the Kissing Point Fortification to see the beautiful views of Magnetic Island.
The Castle Hill Lookout, located just outside the city, offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding landscapes. You can walk or drive to the top and even though it’s a pretty steep walk, it’s undoubtedly one of the most spectacular views on my trip from Cairns to Brisbane.
After you have experienced everything that Townsville has to offer, you can take the Sea Link Ferry to Magnetic Island for a day trip or even several days to explore the island as there are some pretty awesome places.
Radical Bay and Florence Bay are definitely the most beautiful beaches on the East side of the island, but the road to get there is in very bad condition and no public transport is passing in that direction.
Most tourists visit Horseshoe Bay, which is much easier to reach, there are many shops and restaurants and it is also the location with the most stunning sunsets on the Island.
Well, the Hawkes Lookout on the West side was my favorite spot to admire the sunsets and since I stayed on Magnetic Island for 2 days, I could explore more places on the West side and look after Koalas in the high treetops.
READ ALSO: The perfect day trip to Rottnest Island (2022 guide)
Even though there are probably a lot more amazing places for you to find during your trip, it is undeniable that you should make the effort to travel to North Queensland at least once.
This state is one of the most diverse in Australia, with a tropical and rugged north and a variety of other landscapes in the rest of the state. Which makes it one of the most popular places in the country.
Have you ever visited Queensland or do you have plans to go there, let me know in the comments.
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Plan your visit to Far North Queensland with my favorite travel apps
To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly.
- Trip – Flight deals
- Skyscanner – Flight deals
- Booking.com – Hotels and accommodation
- TourRadar – Group trips
- TripAdvisor – Reviews and activities
- HostelWorld – Hostels
- GetYourGuide – Activities and excursions
- RentalCars – Car rental
- Omio – Transport
- iVisa – Travel documents
- Wise – Money transfer
- VisitorCoverage – Travel Insurance
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.