Ok, so it wasn’t completely a road trip – technically it was a road trip within the state, but we sort of flew in and out of QLD because it was way too long a drive.
Before I write anything about the trip itself, I need to get this out there: It feels like quite an achievement to plan out a week-long itinerary all by myself in a foreign land (that too a budget trip for 4 people). I gotz dem skillz yo! BOOYA! *does small jig*
Ok, back to the original post.
The original plan was to go to Fiji but since my travel companions couldn’t decide on travel dates and because we had budgetary restrictions, we decided to alter our plans and try and cover as much as Queensland as possible.
Since the drive from Sydney to Cairns was impossible, considering the fact that I had left behind (in Sri Lanka) my driver’s licence and the only other capable driver was M – we decided to fly to Cairns instead. M joined us from Melbourne and the three girls flew from Sydney. We booked our flights quite late so probably spent twice as much as we should have , so make sure to book your tickets early. We had managed to make an early booking of the vehicle (we opted for a Mitsubishi SUV this time because there were 4 of us and some don’t travel too light) which we picked up from the Cairns airport. We used Europcar as it had the best deal online, and this time we made sure the quote was for unlimited mileage. Our ride was sexy and smooth – worth every penny we spent.
#1: Dougies Backpackers Resort – Port Douglas
Port Douglas is located about 1 1/2 hours from Cairns (by car). I chose to stay in Port Douglas for most of the part because it was closest to the rain forests and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. We paid $68 a night for a double/twin room ($34 p/p) which was pretty reasonable for a room with A/C, a fridge, a TV and linen. For those who have never stayed at backpacker accommodation – they do not have ensuite toilets, you will have to share with all tenants. Since the other two girls were not used to it, they weren’t too happy about this, but we managed fine. No meals are provided but you can cook your own in the share kitchen. They have a bar, and a lounge area with a pool table in case you want to just chill out. It was pretty crowded and busy but the location is pretty great and the place is reasonably priced and decent if you want to do a budget trip.
#2: Northern Greenhouse – Cairns
Our final night in Cairns was spent at Northern Greenhouse. It is by far one of the best backpacker accommodations around. The staff were so professional and the place is quiet, clean and very reasonably priced. We spent $35 per person for a 4-share family apartment. It had ensuite bathroom facilities, a kitchenette, a fridge, TV, twin beds (2 pax) and a bunk beds (2 pax). For $35 you even get free breakfast (even if it’s quite modest) and free wifi! We absolutely LOVED the place!
THINGS TO DO/SEE:
1) Cape Tribulation (2 hours from Cairns)
You like rainforests and the ocean/beach? Can’t figure out which one to visit first? Well then, go up to Cape Tribulation to visit both at the same time! Although Northern Queensland is quite tourist-y, I felt that Cape Tribulation can still be considered an “off-the-beaten-track” kinda destination. The stretch of beach is breathtaking, with an inland stream flowing to the ocean in one corner.
2) Daintree National Park
Im a jungle/forest person – always have been more interested in trees and mountains more than beaches tbh. Being an islander, I guess the beach isn’t something new and exotic for me, so when I visit a beach here in Australia, it’s more of a comfort thing as it reminds me of back home (but nothing compares to beaches back home!) We wanted to do the jungle surf activity here at Daintree but it was fully booked for a week! Nevertheless, there are plenty of places to stop at and have a look – well worth a visit!
Walu Wugirriga (Mount Alexandra lookout)
3) Daintree Ice cream Company
Ice-cream made of fresh fruits at the Daintree National Park! Nuff said.
4) Great Barrier Reef
I’ve saved the best for last. This was on my bucket list for the longest time and Ive finally crossed it off the list! (I’ll make a post about this later) Whether you like the ocean or not – JUST.DO.IT. It’s a world heritage site for a reason – the world’s largest coral reef and the only living organism that can be seen from outer space! SAY WHAAA?
We went to Low Isles (cheapest option as we were on a low-budget trip) and even the Low Isles was breath-taking! Clear blue water, lush green growth on the islands and of course, the colourful biodiversity in the reef. (Will upload underwater pics once they are developed)
5) City Centres
Port Douglas has a real 90210 feel to it so go to the city centre and browse around. The marina is close-by too and they have markets there which sell very colourful beach-y and artsy products. Cairns city centre has more of a hustle and bustle feel to it but it’s nice to get back to the city for a coffee or a quick bite after spending a few days in the wilderness :)
IN A NUTSHELL:
Port Douglas and Cairns was worth every penny I spent and more! The warm drizzle and the crazy hair days thanks to the humidity reminded me of home… If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and you don’t like colder climates, head over to QLD: the sunshine state!
Next stop: Atherton Tablelands!