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Top Ten Things to do in Cairns with a Campervan

Cairns, located in tropical North Queensland offers plenty of spots to explore for those taking a campervan road trip. From Central Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef, there is a range of activities to enjoy. Take a scenic cable car ride through the Skyrail Rainforest, visit the Northern Beaches, Nudey Beach, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, or explore the Atherton Tablelands and the Daintree Rainforest. Don't miss out on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, with its stunning views of the Coral Sea and rainforest. Enjoy a memorable motorhome adventure in Cairns!

Atherton Tablelands (80 km from Cairns)

Quaint rural communities, green rolling hills and photogenic windmills lie peppered around this crisp highland region. Pop into Yungaburra to spot platypus splashing in a stream and marvel at the otherworldly Curtain Fig Tree. Crater lakes and rainforest-fringed waterfalls give cause to linger more.

Central Cairns

From munching noodles at Rusty’s Markets to swilling beer in city centre bars, Cairns offers a cosmopolitan experience sans the frantic traffic. Cool off in the Esplanade Lagoon or head west to swim in the Crystal Cascades.

Daintree Rainforest (130 km from Cairns)

The oldest rainforest on earth wows visitors with verdant canopies and unspoiled beaches. Marvel in the magic of Mossman Gorge, meander along moody boardwalks, and camp overnight on Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef.

Great Barrier Reef (80 km from Cairns)

While some sections have succumbed to coral bleaching, vast swathes are still ripe for underwater exploration. Kaleidoscopic corals and curious ocean-dwelling creatures comprise any given trip. Opt for an Outer Reef tour to optimise the experience (albeit at a higher cost).

Great Barrier Reef Drive (60 km from Cairns)

From Palm Cove to the Port Douglas turnoff, this breathtakingly beautiful section of the Captain Cook Highway is among Australia’s most scenic drives. Enjoy turquoise Coral Sea waters on one side and lush Macalister Range rainforest on the other.

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures (40 km from Cairns)

Struggling to spot a cassowary or crocodile in the wild? This well-regarded wildlife park brings you up close to all sorts of exotic Australian animals. Don’t miss the 3 pm Crocodile Attack Show—it’s one heck of a wild ride.

Millaa Millaa Circuit (100 km from Cairns)

This string of three stunning cascades is a must for any wannabe waterfall chaser. The highlight is Millaa Millaa Waterfall, a picture-perfect cataract plunging 18 metres into a refreshing swimming hole.

Northern Beaches (26 km from Cairns)

A string of golden sand beaches lies directly north of Cairns, perfect for sunbathing or frolicking in the waves. Hit Holloways Beach and Yorkeys Knob for laidback local vibes, or Trinity Beach and Palm Cove for swanky resort-style towns. At the top end, Ellis Beach is a palm-thronged paradise without a high-rise building in sight.

Nudey Beach (29 km from Cairns)

Arguably Australia’s best beach, this tropical dreamscape is Fitzroy Island’s sparkling highlight. Snorkel offshore to spot sea turtles or soak up some sun on its squeaky white sand. Just keep your kit on—contrary to its namesake, this isn’t a nude beach.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway (13 km from Cairns)

Ditch the motorhome for a day and take this scenic cable car towards Kuranda, admiring untouched rainforests and the thundering Barron Falls from above. Serene riverfront walks, intriguing wildlife sanctuaries, and hip counter-culture markets await in this forest-enshrouded town.

The Cairns Experience

Care-free Cairns is home to just 150,000 inhabitants; nothing is ever more than a 15-minute drive away.

But that’s not to say it’s a sleepy backwater. A constant influx of visitors—especially in the mild winter months—has seen the local hospitality scene flourish. Bopping bars and swanky late-night clubs lie peppered around the CBD, catering to everyone from backpackers and out-of-towners to locals.

By day, take a scenic stroll down the pedestrian-friendly Esplanade or cool off in the stinger-free Esplanade Lagoon. Culture vultures can check out a small but impressive selection of galleries and museums: the Cairns Museum, Cairns Art Gallery, and Australian Armour & Artillery Museum are the pick of the bunch.

Cairns Esplanade, Queensland

Keen to see exotic marine life without getting your feet wet? Make a beeline for the Cairns Aquarium. Foodies can frequent Rusty’s Markets by day and the Cairns Night Markets come sundown.

Cairns is best known for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. As the world’s most extensive coral system, this mind-boggling biological structure runs 2,300 km along the coast.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

But there’s more to the region than its world-famous reef. Cairns serves as the jumping-off point to explore Far North Queensland, a tropical paradise of wild luscious landscapes.

The hippy hamlet of Kuranda sits between the thick rainforest and the gushing Barrons Falls—best admired from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Venturing west leads you to the Atherton Tablelands, a lush pastoral land famed for its rolling green hills. Cute little villages, platypus-filled ponds, fabulous fig trees, and thundering falls beckon in-depth exploration.

Skyrail gondola ride in Kuranda, QLD

Beach bums will find a string of idyllic sandy stretches heading north: try Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Palm Cove, and Ellis Beach. Cruising further up the coast leads you to Port Douglas, a swanky beach resort with more Great Barrier Reef tours.

Clifton Beach, Cairns

Then you’ve got the ancient Daintree. This spell-binding 135-million-year-old rainforest (the first on earth) is home to pristine beaches, colourful cassowaries, and crocodile-infested rivers. Don’t miss the magical Mossman Gorge.

A creek in the Daintree, north of Cape Tribulation

Keen to go chasing waterfalls? Far North Queensland delivers: Millaa Millaa, Josephine, Wallaman, Windin, Stoney Creek, the Crystal Cascades… the list goes on.