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insight tropical north queensland

Front cover: Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera priamus) - male. Cairns, North Queensland, Australia Š Above: White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata); also known as Giant Tree Frog. Daintree rainforest, Queensland, Australia Š

contents welcome

map 4

adventure 20


tropical north queensland map 4 insight into tropical north queensland 6 Paronella Park - castles, tunnels & waterfalls


the quest for adventure


in depth - australia's great barrier reef


taste the tropics - on the food & wine trail


health & beauty


shopping up north


grafton street fashion precinct


opals & pearls


great barrier reef 38

health & beauty 60

art in the north

out & about 90

shopping 62

indigenous culture 84

indigenous art


people & history

the dreaming - australia's indigenous people 84

out & about


cairns - the centre of activity


palm cove & the northern beaches


port douglas - amidst rainforest & reef


reef & rainforest coast


cape york peninsula & torres straits


kuranda - village in the rainforest


tropical tablelands


the great green way


mission beach




charters towers


townsville - glow of the north


gulf savannah - outback by the sea


on the wild side


for the love of dining


rainforests 122 & 152

opals & pearls 76

wildlife 174


indigenous art 82


editorial photo credits


list of advertisers


dining out restaurants 186 Insight 1

Welcome to Queensland's Tropical North The Tropical North of Queensland, Australia, is a region internationally recognised for its world class attractions, superb natural features and friendly hospitality. Alive with charm and spirit, it is framed by two natural features of such pristine beauty and exceptional value they have been listed by the United Nations as World Heritage - the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests. Here you can swim among the bright colourful fish and coral of the Great Barrier Reef, escape to a private tropical island, walk through some of the oldest rainforests on the planet and discover adventure awaiting in every direction. Out west, behind the blues and greens of the Reef and Rainforest and in sharp contrast, are the breathtaking rustic ochres and open spaces of the outback adventureland of the Gulf Savannah and Cape York Peninsula; some areas retaining their romance and intrigue by the inaccessability. Between the coast and the outback lies the 'cool tropics' of the Atherton Tablelands, a blend of rainforests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, natural parks, and agricultural lands where settlers from all over the world share their arts, crafts, music, and talents in producing the finest wines, liqueurs, coffees and produce. Our rich tapestry of natural wonders and diverse lifestyles stretches from Townsville in the south to the north across Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Straits to the Australian/Papua New Guinea international border. Thank you for deciding to visit our part of the world, and enjoy your time in Tropical North Queensland.

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Translations available on website

Insight -Tropical North Queensland is published and distributed by Pacific Coast Publishing Group, Spring Cape Pty. Ltd. ACN 054 454 152 ABN 32 054 454 152 PO Box 763, Runaway Bay, Queensland 4216 AUSTRALIA. T +61 7 5594 7169 E Š Copyright - Pacific Coast Publishing Group ISSN 1440-2238 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Design & Layout: Judy Rutledge-Smith Advertising Sales: Tom McPartland & Craig Debnam Printing: Toppan Printing Co. (Aust.) 4 Insight

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The Tropical North Reef, rainforest and outback

Known colloquially as FNQ, Far North Queensland sits apart from the rest of Australia, and is so loved by its people. It is a pride not only born of the immense natural beauty of the region, but a pride born of struggle to become recognised in a world so focused on big cities, money markets, buildings reaching to the sky and political strife. Here tucked away in the most northerly region of eastern Australia is a rich mix of cultures and peoples, both Indigenous and with a foreign heritage, and three World Heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics Rainforests and Riversleigh Fossil Fields. It is where time slows down, we relax and appreciate a most geographically beautiful region and take pleasure in sharing this region with the many visitors. Cairns itself, as the primary gateway and jumping off point for the surrounding regions and activities, is a delightful cocktail of early twentieth century buildings and modern architecture, a laid back sleepy harbour laced with the sophistication of artistic talent, world class restaurants and theatre. To the south of Cairns, Townsville and the adjoining Thuringowa combine to claim the title of Australia's largest tropical beachside city of 150,000 people. The city is the administrative centre of North Queensland and houses the world's largest living reef aquarium, Reef HQ. From The Strand, lined with restaurants and cafes, swimming pools and water playgrounds, the sweeping views take the eye across to Magnetic Island. To the north of Cairns, the balmy town of Port Douglas, once a lazy seaside fishing village, has blossomed and now glows in the attention of visitors from around the world. In recent times this has included film and sporting stars, heads of multi-national companies and leaders of the world's most influential countries.

Left: Wallaman Falls, on Stony Creek in the Girringun National Park, is located within the World Heritage Wet Tropics region of North Queensland. The waterfall is notable for its main drop of 268 metres (879 ft), which makes it Australia's tallest single-drop waterfall. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall is 20 metres (66 ft) deep © Andrea Watson Right: Nothing surpasses a balmy tropical night under the Milky Way! - Cairns, Queensland, Australia. © Andrea Watson 6 Insight

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Lying just off the coast of the Tropical North, Australia's Great Barrier Reef extends over 2,300 kilometres, and is home to the greatest variety of flora and fauna species found in any one location in the world. The scope of the reef is magnificent, encompassing almost 3,000 individual reefs and hundreds of continental islands, reef islands and cays in an area of 344,400 square kilometres, larger than the combined total area of Ireland and the United Kingdom! While it is known mostly for its large maze of colourful reefs, its intricate architecture also provides a home for a huge number of animals and plants. Some of these, such as turtles and crocodiles, have been around since prehistoric times and have changed little over the millennia. The breathtaking array of marine creatures includes 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. The Great Barrier Reef provides the most awe inspiring recreational activities of snorkelling, diving, swimming and coral viewing. Exploring the reef is an exhilarating experience. Cruise and dive operators are highly conscious of their eco-tourism responsibilities and the sustainability of this most beautiful natural phenomenon which is threatened by global warming and increased water temperatures, as well as ocean acidification. In today's world this is a gigantic problem, as the oceans have absorbed human carbon dioxide emissions, the carbon equilibrium has been disturbed and the oceans have become more acidic. By educating visitors and helping them to understand the Reef, an appreciation and desire for preservation is founded.

Left: An aerial view of the idyllic Turtle Cove, situated between Cairns and Port Douglas. Š Andrea Watson

Right: A baby loggerhead turtle scrambles down to the sea, on it's way to surf the East Australian Current. North Queensland, Australia. Š Andrea Watson 8 Insight

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Marine biologists accompany most reef trips to interpret this natural phenomena, and all cruise company staff exhibit a special pride and respect in the Reef's ecology. Most reef trips are designed with both swimmers and non-swimmers in mind with diving, snorkelling, semi-submersible or underwater observatory viewing. Alternatively, a bird's eye view from the air of the magnificent reefs on a scenic flight in a helicopter, light aircraft or seaplane is a pleasant aspect to take. A day spent discovering the beauty and splendour of the reef is one that will stay with you forever. The rainforests of the Wet Tropics, regarded by world authorities as a living museum of flora and fauna, were World Heritage listed in 1988. The Wet Tropics covers an area of nearly 900,000 hectares of rainforest and tropical vegetation, stretching for more than 400 kilometres from just north of Townsville to just south of Cooktown. Here, pockets of primitive plants have remained undisturbed for millions of years, and rare, even previously unidentified species of birds, insects and mammals have emerged to delight biologists and nature lovers. Rainforest Aboriginal people are the original owners of the Wet Tropics rainforests and have been since time immemorial. There are more than 20 Aboriginal tribal groups with ongoing traditional connections to land in and near the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The traditional estate boundaries are different to the boundaries of the World Heritage Area. Each group has customary obligations for management of their country under Aboriginal law. To Rainforest Aboriginal people, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is a series of complex 'living' cultural landscapes. This means that natural features are interwoven with Rainforest Aboriginal people's religion, spirituality, economic use (including food, medicines, tools) and social and moral organisation.

Left: Indigenous guide at Mossman Gorge

Š Mossman Gorge Centre Photographer - Adam Bruzz

Right: Rainforest stream at Mossman Gorge in the Daintree National Park Š Andrew Watson 10 Insight

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However, the cultural landscape is more than dots on a map representing isolated heritage sites. The landscape identifies Rainforest Aboriginal peoples' place within their country and reinforces their ongoing customary laws and connection to country. The country is therefore embedded with enormous meaning and significance to its traditional owners. Captain James Cook must have had a great view of what is now the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area when he sailed up the east coast of Australia more than 200 years ago. The mist-shrouded mountains covered in rainforest would have been an awe-inspiring sight when so little was known of the mysterious great south land, Terra Australis. In fact the uncharted waters almost put an end to Cook's epic journey when the Endeavour struck a reef off the Daintree coast. While Cook and his crew repaired the ship's hull near the present site of Cooktown, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander investigated the surrounding country. Their sketches and records were destined to shape the rest of the world's early impressions of Australia and influence Britain to establish the first colonial settlement in Australia. They collected over 200 plant specimens, many of which they'd never seen before. They also described their first encounters with Australia's unique wildlife: "I have seen a devil," one of the sailors told Captain Cook. "He was as large as a one gallon keg and very like it. He had horns and wings, yet he crept so slowly through the grass that if I had not been afeared I might have touched him." He was describing the harmless, fruit-eating flying foxes, which swoop through the tropical skies at dusk and are a fascinating sight. To the south of Cairns, bordered by the sugarcane fields of the coastal lowlands, is the 79,500 hectare Wooroonooran (Bellenden Ker) National Park. This region is also home to Queensland's highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere. This Great Green Way, from Cairns south to Hinchinbrook, is one of the last great habitats of the cassowary bird, and is ideal for bushwalkers and nature lovers. Good walking tracks, cascading

Left: The Fish Sculpture at the Cairns Esplanade lagoon at twilight. Right: The Esplanade Lagoon, The Pier and Cairns Marina at dusk, Cairns. Š Andrew Watson 12 Insight

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waterfalls, fern-fringed swimming pools, swift running streams and rivers abound; and along with trekking and bushwalking, white water rafting is a spectacular way to experience the wonder of the rainforest. The nearby Eubenangee National Park is a paradise for bird lovers where over 170 different bird species have been recorded. Between the Wooroonooran Range and the Great Dividing Range are the Tropical or Atherton Tablelands. This fertile plateau contains some of the most beautiful ancient rainforests of the Wet Tropics, as well as spectacular national parks. Most of the dramatic natural features of the Tablelands resulted from tremendous volcanic activity centuries earlier, and make sightseeing around this district exceptionally interesting with deep blue crater lakes, crystal clear streams rushing over waterfalls of basalt, and a multitude of animals and birds for the avid watcher. To the west, Queensland's Gulf Savannah is world renowned for its diversity, and as Australia's great frontier land, typifies the romance of the legendary outback immortalised in Australian folklore. History is forever preserved here in outlying towns such as Normanton, Croydon and Forsayth. It is another region that bursts with wildlife and bird species. To the north, Cape York Peninsula is a sparsely populated wilderness and the northern most tip of Australia. A popular escape for those who like to escape the 'rat race', the Cape is a place to camp by a waterfall or billabong, watch the sunset, catch a barramundi or explore the ancient Aboriginal rock art galleries. Whereas the wildlife of Far North Queensland is fascinating, there are preventative measures that must be taken when out and about. Besides the marine stingers, snakes and crocodiles are potentially dangerous, so we advise that you never take unnecessary risks. Left: Wompoo fruit dove (Ptilinopus magnificus) is a fruitivore, feeding on a variety of rainforest fruits. It is identified by its large size, rich purple throat, chest and upper belly, and yellow lower belly Š Daintree Safaris Right: The white-lipped tree frog (Litoria infrafrenata), pictured here on a heliconia flower, is Australia's largest native frog growing up to 14 cm. It can range in colour from pure green to greenish-brown or pale brown, and has a brilliant white stripe that runs along its lower jaw and the side of its head. Š Andrew Watson. 14 Insight

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You are responsible for your own safety, so please obey crocodile warning signs, and never swim or stand in water where crocodiles may live, even if there is no warning sign present. When fishing, always stand a few metres back from the water's edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging the water. Do not clean fish or discard fish scraps near the water's edge, around campsites or at boat ramps. Crocodiles may be close by and may approach people and boats. Never feed crocodiles - it is illegal and dangerous. The climate of Tropical North Queensland is hard to beat with sunshine, refreshing breezes and warm seas most of the year. But 'tropical' it is and thus generally has two distinct seasons – the 'Wet' and the 'Dry'. Winter, or the 'Dry' season, from May to October is a period of warm temperatures and low rainfall offering sunshine, fresh breezes and low humidity. Summer, or the 'Wet' season, from November to April provides the more balmy temperatures and higher rainfall, and the heat of the day is refreshed with tropical downpours of an afternoon. Because of the tropical climate and warm waters, swimming in Tropical North Queensland is usually a year round activity. However, along the coastal beaches, the accepted swimming season runs between April and October. This is because from November to March Tropical North Queensland is home to the box jellyfish (known as 'stingers'), so special swimming enclosures are erected at popular beaches to protect swimmers. Seawater temperatures range from 23 degrees Celsius in July to 29 degrees Celsius in February. Tropical North Queensland's average temperatures range from 21 degrees Celcius to 30 degrees Celcius and we have an average rainfall of 2010mm (168mm per month). The warmth of the tropical climate has fostered a vigorous outdoor lifestyle and day touring in this region is so easy - there are over 600 activities and trips to choose from and the infrastructure is designed to ensure you, the visitor, will have a truly memorable holiday. Left top: Yes, it's a dragon! Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii) is one of the most remarkable residents of the Daintree Rainforest. © Daintree Safaris Left bottom: A juvenile cassowary takes a peek! © Daintree Safaris Right: Over time, travellers have created spectacular cairns of balancing rocks near Wangetti, south of Port Douglas, along the Coral Sea coast. © Andrew Watson 16 Insight

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Paronella Park The Dream Continues

A pleasant one and a half hour’s drive south of Cairns lands you in a fairytale, with castles, bridges, tunnels, gardens and waterfalls, all wrapped up in a story of human triumph. In the 1930s, a true visionary of North Queensland's pioneering heritage, Spaniard José Paronella, realised his dream by creating an incomparable wonderland set within the natural rainforests of Mena Creek. Now as one of Far North Queensland’s tourist attractions for over 80 years, Paronella Park gained Queensland Heritage listing in 1997, and has been presented with multiple tourism awards over the years. Paronella Park's five hectares of charming gardens continues to entertain and mesmerise generations of inquisitive visitors, just as José intended. The romantic tale of such a passionate man building his Park, complete with Grand Staircase, movie theatre and ballroom, in the North Queensland rainforest continues to entice people to the park; and the architecture and setting provide an amazing opportunity for professional and budding photographers. For day visitors to Paronella Park, the 'Dream Continues' tour, runs every half an hour from 9:30am to 4:30pm, and retells the full and fascinating story of Jose Paronella and his dream. For those with an inquisitive mind, the 'Hydro System Tour' provides a close look at the technology that harnesses the force of the waterfall to power the whole park and adjacent caravan park. Every evening, the 'Darkness Falls' tour features flood lighting of many of Paronella Park's highlights, courtesy of the restored hydro-electric generator. Depending on the time of year, you can spot fireflies, glowing mushrooms, nocturnal marsupials, or even the resident crocodile, Dundee. For those who wish to experience the dream for longer, a boutique caravan and camping site is available, as well as quaint yet affordable cabins; or the Mena Creek Hotel up the road provides that old style accomodation and meals that can only be found in the country. Paronella Park has a café, serving fresh food; and tickets to the Park are valid for two years. So if you are planning on re-visiting this region, you can explore Paronella Park again free of charge. This is truly one of Far North Queensland’s hidden treasures. 18 Insight

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In Search of Adventure It's time to come out and play! No doubt you've travelled a long way and it's a fair assumption that you are yearning to be a part of the action. Do you want to dive to the depths of the ocean? . . . raft a foaming river, or bungy jump in the rainforest? Have you always wished to ride a horse along a tropical beach? . . . or float over picturesque countryside at sunrise in a hot air balloon . . . or search the waterways for huge crocodiles? Does the romance of sailing the Coral Sea on a balmy tropical evening while watching the sunset, or the chance to leave footprints on a deserted sand cay grab at your heart? Those fortunate to live in Far North Queensland love the outdoors life. It is the home of the first purposebuilt bungy tower in the world; it is known world-wide as a mecca for white-water rafting and canoeing; it is the base for world renowned marathons and ironman competitions; and it is the undisputed capital of Australia for mountain bike riding; not to mention the jump off point for the best Great Barrier Reef experiences and amazing rainforest treks. You too can be a part of the fun!

The Romance of Falla Longing for the romance of days long past? Falla is the only wooden pearl lugger on the Great Barrier Reef sailing daily to The Reef. Departing from Cairns, a leisurely sail takes you out to the Great Barrier Reef where you will be overwhelmed by the pristine coral gardens teaming with a myriad of colourful tropical fish. Here you are free to swim, snorkel or dive. A tropical smorgasbord lunch is served before moving to a second shallow water location, Upolu Reef, where you can spend the afternoon exploring, stretch your legs if the sand cay is above the water, or continue with your swimming or snorkelling. The professional and experienced crew will be on hand to assist you wherever they can, and the sail home, with a good breeze and a relaxing wine in hand, completes the scene whilst listening to the seafaring tales from Capitan Doug. 20 Insight

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Down Under Cruise & Dive State of the art EVOLUTION departs Cairns daily offering a fast, comfortable and affordable cruise, with five hours spent visiting two spectacular Outer Great Barrier Reef destinations. This large luxury vessel provides a superior ride in all weather conditions, no big crowds and exclusive protected Reef locations. Professional, friendly and attentive staff ensure a safe and enjoyable fun filled experience The reef locations are carefully selected for clarity of water and the abundance and diversity of the marine life; as well as variety and bottom contours, to provide the best experience for both beginners, experienced snorkelers and children of all ages. For the beginners Down Under Dive offers one-on-one tuition on gear use and snorkeling techniques, a selection of buoyancy aids (foam noodles, life jackets and wet suits) and free snorkel guides are available all day long to guide you through the natural maze of beautiful coral and fishes. If you have never been scuba diving before and have always wanted to try it, you will be surprised how easy it is! That’s right, if you have never dived before, an Introductory dive is the perfect way to start. And to top it off, add a scenic helicopter flight for the most perfect day.

Ocean Safaris If you are staying in Port Douglas, or further north to Cape Tribulation, Ocean Safari's half day eco tour begins at Cape Tribulation beach and in just 25 thrilling minutes you can be snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. An exhilarating ride on the high powered, purpose built vessel to Mackay Reef and Undine Reef allows you two exciting hours for snorkelling the pristine coral and abundant marine life in absolute serenity. Your skipper and eco host will make sure that your time is filled with fun and appreciation of the Great Barrier Reef, seabirds and the coastal rainforest of the Daintree. Ocean Safari's vessel only takes up to 25 guests, so there's no crowds. 22 Insight

(see page 125)

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Zip it ... Jungle Surfing Jungle Surfing is the most exciting way to see the Daintree. A thrilling series of flying fox ziplines and eco-friendly tree platforms, this fully guided tour will take you to the most scenic, spectacular & seldom-accessed sections of the rainforest canopy. Jungle Surfing, operating from Cape Tribulation, is a combination of exhilaration and education for all ages from 3 to 103, and no previous experience is necessary. With breathtaking views over the treetops, down to cascading streams and out to the Great Barrier Reef, interpretive talks on each platform, and up to twelve tours daily. Jungle Surfing is fun for all the family and a unique adventure activity.

Daintree Safaris Daintree Safaris invites you to explore one of the most fascinating parts of our world in luxury and style. This excellent tour takes no more than six guests per day, travelling in the comfort of a spacious, late model Toyota Land Cruiser featuring individual air conditioning and equal leg room throughout. The day begins by crossing the Daintree River on a cable ferry to the heart the Daintree Rainforest where you will experience a rare place of exceptional beauty and biodiversity, where two World Heritage Listed sites meet as the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef touch at Cape Tribulation’s beach. Your knowledgable guide, Nicholas Fox, does not promise a cassowary sighting, but the chances are likely. (see page 124)

Crocodile Express Crocodile Express offers two exciting tours on the Daintree River - one leaving from the Daintree River Jetty and cruising the freshwater section of the river; the other leaving from near the Daintree Ferry Crossing and cruising the saltwater section of the Daintree River. Both cruises are in saltwater crocodile habitats, and give wonderful views of the native birdlife, butterflies and reptiles, as well as the magnifricent crocodiles. (see page 127) 24 Insight

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Solar Whisper Daintree River Wildlife Cruises Cruise the Daintree River spotting wildlife on a quiet, clean solar electric boat, Solar Whisper, and get closer to nature ... hear, smell & experience without the noise and fumes. Solar Whisper is a true eco tour, and has a 99% success rate for spotting crocodiles, excellent bird watching opportunities and other wildlife possibilities such as snakes, frogs and fish. Your experienced interpretive guide is accustomed to the nuances of the river and rainforest, and can spot an incredible variety of wildlife that you would not necessarily see on your own.

(see page 129)

Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome is the world’s first Challenge Ropes Course in a wildlife park, situated in the Cairns City on the rooftop of the Reef Hotel Casino. Here you can be educated about and interact with native wildlife, with daily shows and presentations. Experience adventure at varying heights and levels of difficulty on the Mid-ZOOM and Hi-ZOOM courses, with 65 elements of crossings and ziplines – including one which takes you directly over a 4 metre saltwater crocodile! The PowerJump is a free-fall adventure with a 13m drop, whilst the Dome-Climb offers spectacular views of the city, the Coral Sea and surrounding landscapes. The recently introduced Pirate Climb, Commando Climb and Slackline are designed to challenge, and are not for the faint hearted. It's as much adrenaline as you want it to be!

Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Habitat is an advanced eco-accredited immersion exhibit - an open and interactive environment for guests and animals to mingle in a spacious natural setting. With four fascinating environments over eight acres: Rainforest, Wetlands, Savannah and Woodlands, visitors can wander along scenic pathways and elevated boardwalks, observing up close a huge range of freely roaming wildlife. Special animal presentations and guided tours operate daily, visiting koalas, Lumholtz tree kangaroos, cassowaries, crocodiles, native birds and many more native species. Their 'WildNIGHT' tour offers the only nocturnal tour in Port Douglas; while the 'YOUR Wildlife Habitat' tour, provides the chance to participate in a personalised private tour with one of the knowledgeable keepers. The Wildlife Habitat boasts the world's only breeding pair of black-necked storks, one of Australia's largest ranges of kangaroos and wallabies, and the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, an iconic Wet Tropics species. 26 Insight

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Sailaway Low Isles Fifteen kilometres off Port Douglas, Low Isles is a protected coral cay with white sandy beaches and coconut palms. The reef around Low Isles comprises 150 species of hard corals,15 species of soft corals, and a large variety of reef fish including angelfish, damsel fish, anemones, giant trevally, sweetlip, fusiliers and many green turtles. The beautiful Sailaway catamarans sail from Port Douglas daily and moor in the sheltered blue lagoon of Low Isles. Here you can just relax on the island, join the guided snorkel tour, take a trip on the glass bottom boat or laze on deck. Sailaway now offers 4 luxury scheduled and private charter day sailing tours - Full Day Low Isles, Half Day Afternoon and a Sunset Sailing Cruise from Port Douglas; and now a new tour to Mackay Reef from Cape Tribulation. Steve & Katrina Edmondson, recognised as Great Barrier Reef leading and sustainable Eco Tourism Operators, and the Sailaway crew, give individual attention to the small number of guests on any one tour. . Local pick ups are included for a most memorable and relaxing day.

Mission Beach Charters If you are staying or visiting the Mission Beach region, Mission Beach Charters can arrange a wonderful day out for you and your family. Whether your wish is a scenic island cruise, go snorkelling on the reef, catch a tropical fish or two, pretend to be a castaway on a deserted island for a few nights, endulge in a romantic picnic with your partner or spot a magestic giant during whale watching season, Jason and Bec will tailor your trip to suit. An eco-adventure company, Mission Beach Charters specifically caters to small groups, families or couples wishing to have a completely personalised experience within the idyllic surrounds of the Great Barrier Reef marine park. (Advertisement page 161)

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Blazing Saddles Adventures What better way to experience the Aussie bush, rainforest and amazing views than on horseback or on an ATV tour with Blazing Saddles. Blazing Saddles Adventures is the longest established horse riding and quad bike tour company in Far North Queensland. Located just 10 minutes from both Cairns and Northern Beaches, the horse riding tour offers a safe, relaxing way to meander through rainforest pockets, mangrove wetland, sugarcane fields and native bush! With a stable of horses to suit all ages and ability, this is a perfect family adventure. The quad bikes are easy to ride and with a fleet of both 90cc and 250cc bikes, your guides will ensure the perfect balance between safety and fun! So easy to ride, anyone can do it!

Sunlover Reef Cruises Sunlover Reef Cruises operates a fast, air-conditioned catamaran to a large pontoon located at pristine Moore Reef on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, approximately 40km from Cairns. Complete with complimentary snorkel equipment, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible coral reef viewing boat, an underwater observatory, marine life touch tank, and optional extras including scuba diving, guided snorkeling safari and Seawalker Helmet Diving. Sunlover Reef Cruises offers value for money to enhance your experience, regardless of age and ability, to discover beauty and diversity of the Great Barrier Reef. Even if you cannot swim you will still enjoy a complete experience with Sunlover Reef Cruises.

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Sunlover Reef Cruises

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures Located just 40 minutes north of Cairns and 25 minutes south of Port Douglas, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is simply the best place to see crocodiles and local wildlife in Tropical North Queensland. With over 2,100 metres of timber boardwalks and pathways leading you on a journey of discovery through woodlands and rainforest, you can see an array of wildlife, including beautiful tropical birds, reptiles, insects and other native fauna. Enjoy the entertaining and educational wildlife presentations including snakes, cassowaries, koalas, crocodiles, quolls and much more. Take a boat cruise on Hartley’s Lagoon to see crocodiles and other wildlife within the melaleuca wetland; and learn more about sustainable use and conservation on the Crocodile Farm tour. Tours to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures can be combined with many options to create the perfect day to suit you and your family.

BTS Tours BTS Tours have been operating guided excursions into the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge since 1985. The full day Daintree Rainforest Tour includes a number of activities. Enjoy walking in the rainforest with our insightful guides, spotting crocodiles during a wildlife river cruise, indulging in our delicious picnic style lunch by a swimming lagoon and strolling along a rainforest fringed beach near Cape Tribulation. For those in favour of a gentler activity or with time restraints, BTS Tours also operates a one and a half hour guided rainforest walk at Mossman Gorge. This escorted tour also includes light refreshments and allows guests time to splash around in the clear water rock pools. The experienced guides are delighted for you to discover the true beauty of the rainforest in an informative, relaxing and fun way. Departures from Cairns and Port Douglas with return transfers to all holiday accommodation. 32 Insight

(Advertisement page 117)

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Nautilus Aviation Nautilus Aviation is a privately owned and operated professional luxury helicopter charter company. With fixed bases in Queensland (Cairns, Townsville and Horn Island), Northern Territory and New South Wales, Nautilus Aviation is now one of Australia's largest General Aviation helicopter companies. Departing daily, Nautilus Aviation offers a wide range of once in a lifetime experiences in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Specifically when in Queensland, guests can experience a scenic flight of world heritage Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, cast a line with HeliFish, design a custom tour, escape to a private sand cay, enjoy packages combining flying over and cruising the reef, or for the more adventurous, take the controls and fly themselves! The sky is no longer the limit, it’s now a playground! HeliFish is a fishing adventure combining impressive aircraft and spectacular landscapes to target anything from the mighty Barramundi, Mangrove Jack and Salmon to Giant Trevally, Mackerel and Coral Trout! Exclusive to Nautilus Aviation is Blue Water HeliFish from a floating pontoon in the outer Great Barrier Reef. The HeliFish product is recognised by Tourism Australia and is a part of their ‘Best of Fishing’ program.

Snorkel & Dive with Quicksilver Australia's most awarded Great Barrier Reef tour operator offers you a wide choice of wonderful day trips departing daily from both Cairns and Port Douglas. Your journey is as important as your destination, and travelling in safety and air-conditioned comfort, the technologically advanced wavepiercer catamaran ensures the smoothest journey in all weather conditions. Quicksilver's spacious activity platform is the largest on the Great Barrier Reef, and provides the best experience in all weather conditions. The platform features undercover seating upstairs and downstairs, change rooms and freshwater showers, underwater coral viewing observatory, semi-submersibles, snorkelling platforms, an introductory dive and snorkel pool, carpeted sunbaking deck and the list goes on.

So, whether your perfect adventure involves just yourself, a loved one, son, daughter, grandma, or the whole family; whatever you can imagine, chances are you can do it in Queensland's Tropical North. Our tour operators are some of the most innovative and professional in the world; and our tourism industry and infrastructure is designed to ensure you, the visitor, will have a truly memorable holiday. Book direct or online with each of the tour operators for great deals, or check with your tour desk or receptionist. Many operators pick up directly from your hotel and drop you back there at the end of the day. As with most adventures in the Far North, transfers from Port Douglas, Cairns and Cairns' Northern Beaches can be arranged. Remember: When in the Australian sun, apply sunscreen (preferably an reef-friendly one), wear a hat, and avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. 34 Insight

Nautilus Aviation

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef

by Sara Smith, B.Sc., M.Env.Sc.

From the intricate, small creature seen close-up, metres down below the surface, to the giant manta rays and huge breaching whales, or the panorama afforded from the air of coral ramparts reaching away to the horizon, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is a constant source of amazement, amusement and humbling grandeur. It is a world of incredible discovery. with so much to be found, that a day trip or even an entire lifetime can be easily filled exploring and constantly discovering new facets of The Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is not one large reef but a collection of almost 3,000 individual reefs of various sizes up to 100 square kilometres and at varying distances from the mainland. From Cape Tribulation north of Cairns, where the rainforest meets the reef, to the horizon hugging reefs sitting off the continental shelf, it comprises 618 continental islands, over 300 coral islands (cays) which support vegetation, about 150

inshore mangrove islands, and a myriad of birdlife as well as some of the world's premier island resorts. In 1975 the reef region, which extends 2,300 kilometres along the east coast of Australia from the very tip of Cape York Peninsula to the south of the Tropic of Capricorn, and is between 60 and 250 kilometres in width, was renamed the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. At 344,400 km2 and extending into the airspace above and into the seabed below, it was the largest marine park in the world when it was listed, and was the first Australian site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Our present day living reef is estimated to be about 10,000 years old, and is young in terms of the reef’s structural history. The corals you see are no more than a thin living veneer on the surface of a hard limestone foundation of dead corals and plants which are millions of years old. The massive structures which make up the Great Barrier Reef come from the humblest of origins: tiny, almost invisible, building blocks of nature. Reef coral for the most part is made up of millions of minute living creatures called polyps, which feed on the organisms suspended in the water, known as plankton. But coral polyps are unable to perform their processes of feeding and producing limestone on their own. They rely on even smaller, microscopic single-celled plants called zooxanthellae, which live within the tissue of the polyp. Like any other plant, the zooxanthellae use sunlight to power their food making 38 Insight

Left: Scuba Diver and huge yellow Gorgonian Fan Coral. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Photo Copyright: © Right: Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), typically found in tidal and sub-tidal coral and rocky reef habitats throughout tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Hawksbill turtles nest in low numbers from just north of Princess Charlotte Bay to Torres Strait, as well as in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Photo Copyright: © Michael P. O'Neill/

In Depth

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supplies up to 98 percent of the food requirements of the hosting coral polyp. This two-way process uses the carbon dioxide produced by the coral and returns oxygen and sugars to the polyp for energy. Coral polyps reproduce in two ways. One form is called asexual fragmentation: a little bit of a living coral breaks off, perhaps during a storm or some other disturbance, and quickly becomes a whole new independent colony of active polyps. The other reproductive method is the spectacular coral spawning, when polyps literally spit out a multicoloured shower of egg and sperm bundles in a coordinated and unique reproduction 'carnival'. These bundles are shot into the water column at the same time each year. Once an egg finds a sperm in the water column, this coral-to-be goes through a process of development as it spreads out on the currents before settling to form a new colony of polyps. This coral spawning event, often described as an upside-down snowstorm, is so precisely timed that scientists now accurately predict the time each year that various sections of the reef will experience this unique 'rebirth'. Visiting The Reef, the most notable animals that utilise the reef are the animals that many visitors aspire to see. Turtles, reef sharks, rays and dolphins are an incredible sight in the wild, but in recent years, much larger visitors to the reef have been observed in increasing numbers including manta rays, whale sharks, humpback whales and the curious minke whales. There are many amazing bony fish living on the reef that catch the eye and deserve mention. From the largest living bony fish, the impressive Queensland grouper, and its cousins the friendly giant cod, to the beautifully marked humphead maori wrasse, these massive creatures are a welcome sight on The Reef. The intriguing parrot fish is a lovely tasting fish sought by fishermen and natural predators; however, to protect themselves at night, parrot fish engulf themselves in a cocoon of spun mucous which disguises its smell from predators and protects it each evening while sleeping. The clown anemone fish, immortalised by Disney's Finding Nemo, are mischievous little orange fish which have evolved a unique survival technique of living within the stinging tentacles of an anemone. To any 40 Insight

Left: Coral spawning, showing suspended egg and sperm bundles. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Peter Harrison/ Right: Close up view of some hard coral and soft coral. Š Gary Bell/

process, called photosynthesis. This not only supplies the zooxanthellaes’ food requirement, but also

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a protective mucous from the anemone and becomes immune to the anemone's sting. The clown fish makes its home within the protection of the tentacles, knowing it is safe from outside predators. A pair of clown fish usually inhabits an anemone, the larger and more dominant of the two being the female clown fish. She is larger due to the demands and stress she inflicts on her mate stunting his growth, however, should she die, the male will grow larger and develop into a female ready to take on another mate and make demands on him as the previous female had done. The Reef is home to this and many other unusual relationships between animals of different species. The goby and the shrimp are and odd couple which have one of the many marriages of convenience to be found among reef animals. The shrimp is virtually blind but is very good at burrowing, creating a safe haven from marauders. The goby fish has excellent eyesight, and somehow nature has contrived for a pair of gobies to 'stand guard' at the entrance of the shrimp's burrow, retreating inside and warning their near-sighted home-builder if danger approaches. Another example of strange bedfellows is the range of cleaner shrimp and cleaner fish, the barbers and groomers of the reef population. The cleaner shrimp and the cleaner fish, of the wrasse family, spend their time eating small parasites off the skins of much larger fish, often swimming right into the mouth of their host, making a leisurely job of cleaning the teeth and jaws. By some quirk of nature, this operation makes the fish being attended to lose all predatory instincts and just hang in the water, mouth and gills gaping open for the grooming. Adding to this wonder of nature, the cleaner fish has a mimic known as the false cleaner. This imposter not only looks like the real thing, but closely imitates the movements and general habits of the cleaner wrasse. But there is one BIG difference: the false cleaner, fooling the host fish, uses its long, canine teeth to take a chunk from its unsuspecting victim before darting away. Older fish seem to get to know which is which, but young fish find it a painful learning process.

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Left: Cling Goby (Pleurosicya micheli) on a Giant Clam mantle (Tridacna sp.). Great Barrier Reef,. Š Gary Bell/ Right: Spine-cheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus) - juvenile amongst anemone tentacles. Also known as Tomato Clownfish. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Gary Bell/

other small fish the sting of the anemone is fatal; however, the clown fish gradually covers itself with

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To quote the world famous naturalist, Sir David Attenborough: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change - an increase in temperature of the ocean and in its acidity - threaten its very existence.” If we fail to act, we may lose this natural wonder within the next generation. Most recently, much of our cherished Great Barrier Reef has been a victim of a coral bleaching event caused by an underwater heatwave – with estimates that up to 50% of corals may die as a result. In 1998, the warmest year on record up to that time, the world lost around 16% of its coral reefs in the first global-scale mass coral bleaching event. On our Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching was recorded as 5% to 10% in 1998, and again in 2002. 2016 and 2017 have seen bleaching of coral reefs between Townsville and the tip of Cape York Peninsula estimated at 10% to 50% in the more northern areas. This is not just an Australian problem, it effects reefs world-wide. Scientific research has shown that it only takes a temperature increase of 1-2°C to disrupt the special relationship between corals and the marine algae or zooxanthellae that live inside their tissue, resulting in a sudden change in colour, from brown to brilliant white (bleached). These zooxanthellae supply 90% of the energy that corals require for growth and reproduction. When corals bleach, they expel the algae. If conditions stay warm for a long time, corals start to die either directly or indirectly from starvation. While rising sea temperatures are the primary cause of mass coral bleaching, strong El Niños are adding to the problem and are pushing corals to their thermal tolerance limits. As CO2 concentrations increase, sea temperatures will continue to rise – increasing the likelihood that mass coral bleaching events will become more frequent. Coral bleaching, however, is not the only consequence of warming sea temperatures and tropical cyclones are also predicted to increase in intensity. Since 2005 there have been nine destructive cyclones on The Reef of category 3 or above – more than previous decades and evidence that these predictions are already coming true and form part of our current reality. 44 Insight

Left: Scuba Diver inspecting Bleached Coral (Acropora sp.), Queensland, Australia © Gary Bell/ Right: Half under and half over water picture of Acropora Coral reef. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia © Gary Bell/


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polar ice caps melt, a lesser known fact is that these melting ice caps are totally fresh water (when water freezes, the salts are not retained). Imagine what will happen as these ice caps melt, forcing an influx of fresh water into our oceans. Our ocean currents (which also affect our weather cycles) are driven by movement of the different layers of water. The amount of salts in water determine how heavy or dense the water is. More salts in water makes it denser and thus this water will try to move deeper in the water column, whereas freshwater is less dense and tries to move to the surface of the ocean. The same goes for temperature layers, water that is warmer (closer to the surface or in warmer regions of our planet) is less dense than colder water found deeper or in the polar regions. Dramatic changes to these cyclic ocean currents will have powerful effects, not just locally, but also on our global weather patterns. Basically, these increasing temperatures of our oceans are huge a concern for an ecosystem that has developed in such a small temperature range. Very few species are likely to be able to adapt to these increasing temperatures therefore leading to a massive loss of species and biodiversity in the short term. However, as the coral itself also suffers, the habitats of even these more robust species declines, and there will soon be nowhere for even these adaptive species to live. In addition to all these issues, the excess carbon in our atmosphere produced by humans since the industrial revolution is causing what scientists are calling 'the other carbon problem', Ocean Acidification. As carbon dioxide increases in our atmosphere, much of it is absorbed by our oceans. In turn, this extra carbon dioxide is changing the chemistry of our oceans. More carbon dioxide makes our oceans more acidic. A more acidic ocean can cause huge problems to many aquatic species as they are unable to tolerate this change. Not only does their environment become less comfortable to live in, the increasing acidity also reduces the ability for animals to produce calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate makes up the hard structures (shells and exoskeletons) of all crustaceans, molluscs and most phytoplankton (the basis of all food chains) and zooplankton species in our oceans. As it becomes more difficult to calcify,

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Left: Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) living on the surface of Porites Coral. Š Gary Bell/ Right: Reef scene with schooling Orange Fairy Basslets (Pseudanthias squamipinnis) feeding on plankton drifting through the reef with crinoid feather stars. Š

The climate is changing and coral reefs are on the front line. As our Earth warms and the glaciers and

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fewer organisms are able to reproduce. Dealing solely with the plight of phytoplankton being unable to reproduce, this potentially cripples our ocean food chains from the bottom up. It is an environmental war being fought from a multitude of directions. There is a glimmer of good news. Scientists have discovered that it may be possible for the corals to actually help themselves in decreasing temperatures. Producing the sulphur based molecule called dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), marine algae and some coral polyps release this molecule during photosynthesis. DMSP increases the amount of sulphur-based gas which seeds cloud formations and therefore regulates the local climate. Cloud build up shades the reef and the region, rainfall contributes to reduced local temperatures. Corals may therefore be able to combat increasing temperatures in their own region; if they have not been killed by all the other threats. In 1975, the Australian Government moved to create a strong management agency to look after the interests of the entire ecosystem; in that year, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority came into being. The Authority recognises how vital The Reef is to the lives of thousands of people living in Queensland coastal communities, and to the growing economies of north Queensland. Historically, The Reef was an age-old source of food, materials and spiritual significance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were the only inhabitants of The Reef area for thousands of years before European settlement. A policy of multiple use has been adopted, governed by a principle of Ecologically Sustainable Use. This means that most reasonable uses of the Reef region are allowed, provided that they are ecologically sustainable. This is a zoning plan and permit system for all commercial and scientific activities, and some private recreational uses, along the entire length of The Reef. This system allows everyone - commercial fishing operators, recreational anglers, tourist operators, holidaymakers, divers, scientists and others - to use The Great Barrier Reef, while ensuring no significant or permanent damage is caused.

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Left: Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) on Gorgonian Fan Coral Š Gary Bell/ Right: Coral Grouper (Cephalopholis miniata). Also known as Coral Rock Cod and Coral Cod. Found throughout the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the Indo-West Pacific. Photo Copyright: Š

more energy is required for calcification and in turn the productivity of these animals is reduced and

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zoning information about the area prior to visiting the Marine Park for an outing, particularly if you plan to go fishing. That's as easy as a telephone call to GBRMPA on + 61 7 4750 0700 or check online at www. Our Great Barrier Reef, although protected directly by GBRMPA, is under pressure from global issues. The increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, coupled with the impacts from adjacent land activities (agriculture, mining and even natural flooding events) means that there is pressure from a number of different sources on our reef. Each individual pressure is enough for us to be concerned about damaging this natural wonder, however, with multiple pressures, it is only a matter of time before we see the straw break the proverbial camel's back. As a visitor to the reef, we must do our best to cause as little additional stress or pressure on this delicate ecosystem. When you visit, use only environmentally safe sunscreens (those not containing oxybenzone); ensure you take all your rubbish with you; make sure nothing goes overboard from the boat. If you encounter any rubbish, pick it up and take that with you too. When you get home, think about what else you can do to reduce your footprint on the planet. Recycle more; do not use products containing microbeads; create less waste by reusing or upcycling what otherwise would be waste; try to buy less - don’t buy things that you really don’t need. Endeavour to go without plastic wherever you can with reusable water bottles, coffee cups and especially shopping bags. Plastics and especially shopping bags find their way to the ocean and are mistaken by marine creatures for food - nothing will kill a turtle or whale faster than a belly full of plastic! Do your bit to protect our natural wonder so that future generations may enjoy its beauty. It's not too late to act. Once again in the words of Sir David Attenborough, “Do we really care so little about the earth upon which we live, that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviours." m

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Left: Coral on the shore of Vlassof Cay - a remote sand cay near Cairns. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, Australia © Andrew Watson Right: Vortex of schooling Big-eye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) beneath ocean surface. Also known as Horse-eye Jack. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia ©

Everyone visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park must abide by the Zoning Plan and it is best to check

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Taste the Tropics on the food and wine trail The times are changing, and we are no longer content to shop at the local supermarket. Now it is more interesting to forage by heading off to farmers' markets, hunting down artisanal cheeses, teas or chocolates, and learning how and where our food is produced; perhaps even taking in a food tour. A similar trend is shaping the way we source traditional drinks such as wines. liqueurs, rum, whisky and beer with boutique distillers, wineries and breweries now springing up all over the countryside. Here in the Tropical North, with our Coral Sea yeilding a bounty of fresh seafood, and the rich volcanic soils of the mild Tropical Tablelands producing the best in tropical fruits, vegetables, pasta, game meats, fresh flowers, nuts, spices, coffee and teas, it is no wonder that high quality chefs from around the world converge on this bountiful region, giving Cairns and Port Douglas some of the best restaurant menus in the world. Fresh seafood from the Coral Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria includes Tiger prawns, Banana prawns, King prawns and the ever populat Endeavour prawn. Mud crabs from The Gulf are the biggest and the best; while The Reef gives us Coral Trout, Red Emperor and Spanish Mackerel. But high above the ocean and the lowland sugarcane fields, Tropical North Queensland has good reason to claim the title of the 'Fruit Bowl of the World' with exotic produce being grown from Tully and Mission Beach, throughout the Atherton Tablelands and further north to The Daintree. The justification for this claim is that within the entire region of north Queensland, diverse micro-climates exist, each with different soil, rainfall and geographical conditions. This provides all the essential factors necessary for growing and producing a year-long supply of intriguing produce. In fact, more varieties of exotic and tropical fruit grow in Tropical North Queensland than almost anywhere else in the world. Besides the differing climatic regions, the diversity is in part due to the fact that earlier last century immigrants came to work in the mining, pearling and sugar cane industries of north Queensland, bringing with them their cultures from all corners of the world. Settling in the area, it was not long before the farmers recognised that tropical and exotic fruit was more suited to the tropical climate than the fruit of the southern regions of Australia and subsequently introduced many exotic plants that were to become a dynamic part of the region. 52 Insight

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Today the new breed of primary producers in the Far North realise the value of communication with chefs around the country to produce an end product suited to the demands of the educated diner. In addition to that and the diversity that has been introduced, the success of this tropical region is also dependant on the fact that there are very few politically stable tropical regions around the world with high agricultural standards of research and development, and an environmental conscience. The differing regions of the tropical north offer different tastes, with the rolling hills of the Atherton Tablelands covered in tropical fruit plantations, temperate fruit and vegetable farms, tea and coffee plantations, biodynamic dairy farms and wineries, even a bamboo farm and a smokehouse, and are a feast for the senses. It was April Fool’s Day in 1882 when four young brothers – James, Herbert, Leonard and Sidney Cutten - rowed a boat down the Tully River in North Queensland, and then up the coast for more than 30 miles to discover Bingil Bay, the place to become known as the home of Nerada Tea, Australia's largest tea grower. Nerada Tea is now available in all Australian States 100 years after the Cutten brothers had planted tea at Bingil Bay. Today there are more than 1,000 acres of tea planted near Malanda on the Atherton Tablelands, delivering 6 million kilos of fresh tea leaves to the Nerada Tea processing factory every year. The Tablelands is now also responsible for 90% of Australia's coffee production with many small coffee plantations throughout the region, and it is here in the heart of this diverse food bowl on the Atherton Tablelands that Skybury Tropical Plantation has made its mark as a quality grower and roaster of fine coffee. Today, Skybury is Australia’s largest exporter of Arabica coffee (about 50% of the Skybury crop is exported), and was the first Australian grower to export green coffee. 54 Insight

Harvesting cocoa pods - Daintree Estates, Mossman. Insight 55

Coffee Works in Mareeba is renowned for its coffee roasting with premium Arabica coffees selected from local plantations on the Cairns Highlands and from around the world, which are roasted in small batches daily. Over the years they have perfected more than 43 rich and delicious coffees, so this is an opportunity to savour and compare the very best local beans to premium coffees from around the world in the Coffee Works tasting room. Included in your Coffee World adventure is a sensory safari of unlimited all-day tastings of coffee, tea, over 50 flavours of chocolate and liqueurs . . . There are no limits to how much you enjoy! You will discover the biggest and most significant collection of coffee artefacts in the world, presented as one entire exhibition; so kick back and relax in lush tropical surrounds with fabulous BBQ lunches, sweet treats, gourmet sorbet, superb gelato and irresistible chocolate platters created in the Coffee Works boutique Chocolaterie. It’s like Willly Wonka, without the Oompa Loompas! Mt Uncle Distillery at Walkamin (nestled in the foothills of Mt Uncle between Mareeba and Atherton) is North Queensland's first and only distillery, and has built an impeccable and unrivaled reputation in producing award winning premium spirits with an emphasis now the use of local ingredients.

quality; and wineries producing both wines and liqueurs from banana, coffee, mango, lychee, jaboticaba, bush cherry, mulberry, plum, star apple, passionfruit, pineapple, black sapote, pitaya, as well as citrus and the Australian native fruits including the Davidson Plum and Lemon Aspen. But the wonderful exotic fruits of the north don't need to be found in a bottle. Keep your eye out for fresh papaya, longans, jackfruit, rambutan, ducasse, mangosteen, durian and lychees. You can visit farms producing delightful cheeses, smoked barramundi and eel. Rainforest native foods and spices abound, alongside tropical icecreams, or organic chocolate from the Daintree region. See Australia's largest mango plantation or taste the world's lowest acid, highest flavour pineapples, the 'Mareeba Gold'; and if you yearn for something a bit more exciting, you can sample the famous local freshwater crayfish or lobsters, known locally as 'red claw'. Many of these primary producers have now established restaurants and tasting centres, so a full day of gourmet treats is easy to lusciously fill. To get the best out of this delectable trail you may choose drive yourself and take your time, or better still, take a food and wine tour with someone who knows the best places! 56 Insight

Left top: Vanilla seed pods; Centre: Lychees;

wine industry by producing some award-winning wine with an abundance of flavour and consistent

Bottom: Coffee cherries

The fruit wine industry in Tropical North Queensland has gone beyond being the little cousin to the grape

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Look good ...Feel good health and beauty It is a hedonistic life that we would like to lead nowadays, and why not? We work hard, play hard, and life seems to be busier than ever before .... the neck is tense, the brow creased, fists are clenched .... OK, time to take a deep breath and relax. From time to time, a person needs solitude, space and peace to recharge one's batteries. You're on holidays and it is time to pamper yourself and be pampered - you've earned it! Besides that, it is essential for the heart and soul to go home from a holiday feeling better, looking better, and generally on top of the world! Tropical North Queensland is fast gaining a reputation as a spa centre for Australia, and well it might with an abundance of resort and day spas, health and beauty centres, where guests can enjoy their treatments in serene open-air pavilions or in the cool air-conditioned comfort of indoor treatment rooms. It's time to reconnect and awaken the body with a high performance facial or a remedial massage to improve overall mobility and wellbeing. In between your sun-filled days out on the Great Barrier Reef or trekking through the rainforests, imagine a most wonderful tropical sanctuary to relax and escape the stresses of your busy life, to be pampered and rejuvenated. Refresh City Day Spa in Cairns has been established as that place; where you may even find that after one visit, you will be wanting to return every day. And why not? Imagine the 'Touch of Bliss' - a body massage and refresh facial; or if time permits the 'Drift' - body salt glow, detox mud body wrap, body massage, refresh facial, mini pedicure, and mini manicure ... complete with refreshment. An unforgettable experience for men and women! Palm Cove and Port Douglas also host a number of health-oriented businesses offering experiences certain to renew, restore and revitalise your system. Life can be fun when we leave space for spontaneity! 60 Insight

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Shopping in the Tropics easy, relaxed and so much fun The style is relaxed and entertaining. Charming arcades, malls and markets of Tropical North Queensland stock not only the best local wares, but also the best imported goods and name brands from all over the world. The Far North itself is well known for its fine art works, quality opals, pink diamonds, South Sea pearls and handcrafted jewellery. With such friendly service and without the parking problems of the big cities, the scene is set for a most delightful day. Many of the smaller towns are home to quality art and craft galleries showcasing talents of our local artists; and weekend markets are a popular activity for primary producers to sell their fresh produce and secondary producers to sell their well made delights. Positioned in the city centre of Cairns, the shopping centres of The Pier, Orchid Plaza and Cairns Central, and retailers on The Esplanade and Grafton Street offer extended shopping hours for the convenience of visitors to the region. Fast becoming the trendy spot amongst locals in Cairns, Grafton Street reveals some amazing surprises. Both Port Douglas and Palm Cove on Cairns' northern beaches have wonderful boutiques, stores and galleries for browsing to your heart's content. Top of the line stores like Watches of Switzerland, Premium Brands and Viva Boutique bring to Cairns the world's and Australia's finest brand names. Watches of Switzerland is the foremost luxury watch supplier to the Cairns region with exclusive access to the world’s best brands and most recognisable designers of Swiss watches. Over many years as the former Princess Jewellery, they developed a reputation of providing the highest levels of attention to detail and customer service, and the multi lingual staff cater to the needs of the tourist population of Cairns. 62 Insight

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Fashions in the tropics are fun because of the climate; not to say that the clothes are all too casual. Far from it, style has not been forgotten; and the North boasts many designers who identify elegance with their style, and many

Aqua Blu, The Eye Boutique

boutiques will stun you with their creativity. Elegance and individuality are foremost, and both Cairns and Port Douglas boutiques will surprise you with their designs. Visits out to the Great Barrier Reef and lounging by the pool at your resort demand many a piece of swimwear and resort wear; and featuring the most beautiful swimwear in all sizes is The Eye Boutique, either in Cairns Central on McLeod Street, DFO Cairns or at Coconut Grove on Macrossan Street in Port Douglas. Their designs are so exclusive that you will not see someone else in town wearing the same outfit or bathing suit. Tommy Bahama in Spence Street, Cairns and also in Macrossan Street, Port Douglas, offers relaxed sportswear centred on the good life for both men and women with clothing that looks as good as it feels. Inspired by the refined, unhurried attitude to coastal life, the easy fitting pieces in comfortable, luxurious fabrics bring a sense of casual elegance to any occasion. Prints are tropical in inspiration yet sophisticated in their execution. Tommy Bahama has everything you need to make your journey a gorgeous one. It's always easy to accessorize with Tommy Bahama's unique handbags, elegantly crafted jewellery and watches. The newest in unique handbags are the handcrafted crocodile leather pieces that you will find at Croctique in Smithfield. Sandra Viden Design was established in 1991 in the tropical rainforest village of Kuranda, just to the west of Cairns. Australian designed and manufactured, the styles are fashioned to the highest standards using quality fabrics. Through boutique sales as well as mail order and online sales, Sandra Viden Design has established an international reputation for elegance and classic design that is timeless. The emphasis is on versatility and trans-seasonal design – creating easy Sandra Viden, Kuranda

fit styles with clean lines in quality natural fabrics such as linen, cotton/linen, cotton voile as well as cotton blend knits.

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The Sandra Viden Design is perfect for leisure, recreation and travel, and the experienced Kuranda Boutique staff are always available to assist you in your selection of colours and styles! (see advertisement page 143) Sun filled days with a light coastal breeze and balmy tropical nights ... it's light, it's bright, it's casual and relaxed. It's time to escape from the dismal weather left behind, or the dreary corporate life and attire. Let go! ... Have fun! ... get that light tropical feeling with your new found freedom! Are you feet feeling the effects of all this shopping? If you've never tried on a Birkenstock shoe, your feet won't know what they've been missing! This German made family tradition has a boutique shop located in Cairns' Shields Street, with a repair business to boot - you can even drop off your old Birkenstocks for repair and have the finished product sent home to you. No other part of the body is subject to so much strain during the course of a lifetime as our feet. They maintain the body's balance, absorb impacts and bear the entire weight of the body. Therefore it is essential to support the feet as well as possible with Birkenstock. With a passion for their products, an appreciation of their heritage and a genuine belief in their benefits, Birkenstock quality products are comfortable, unique, timeless and respectful of the world around us. Great design never ages... Birkenstock keep feet happy all over the world.

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Grafton Street Fashion Precinct In times past, the attraction of shopping in smaller cities and towns was predominately that they reflected the character of their people in their individual stores and streets, where time was taken to chat to customers, and you didn't feel like just a dollar sign to them. It is a pleasure now to discover that in Cairns, one such street is returning to that lovely, inviting ambience; and boutique owners are turning away from the large centres to establish themselves in an enclave of fashion, jewellery, shoes, unique gifts, great food, produce and good service. Grafton Street has a rich history, as is still evident even as new stores emerge, to make this area an equivalent of Little Chapel Street in Melbourne, or Oxford Street, Paddington, in Sydney. Once the centre of the strong Chinese community in Cairns, tribute to the early Chinese settlers has recently been constructed in Grafton Street. Cairns is a treasure trove of fashion discoveries, and local women love to take a wander down Grafton Street for a one-stop shopping convenience where everything can be found in one charming location. As the upmarket fashion hub , you can go between the best shoe shops and dress boutiques, find a special gift or something unique for the home and finish with a healthy lunch. From classic Chanel and Dior right through to the trendier labels, it’s all here - the vibe of the street is fantastic. You just have to know where to look. Mela Purdie, Viva Boutique

For a serious label hit, Viva Boutique - a fave with the fashion conscious - is the place to go. Viva offers

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the best in leading Australian designers and prestige labels from Europe, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Brands include: Mela Purdie, Joseph Ribkoff, Johnny Was, Desigual, Lisa Brown, Twinset, Transit, NYDJ, New London, Odd Molly, Loobies Story with more in store. Viva’s staff of experienced stylists take pride in personalising your shopping experience helping you to select the latest look for your wardrobe or next event.

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A couple of doors up from Viva, Sarang stocks an eclectic mix of natural garments. Women often stumble upon the boutique and find themselves drawn into an unexpected but wonderful state of delirium at the sheer pleasure of the fashion finds hidden inside. Bright and beautiful maxis and kaftans to add a splash of colour and are so versatile; and the natural cottons and linens are so suitable for the climate. Grafton Street is a wonderful alternative to the sameness you see every day in chain stores and the big shopping centres; the beauty being that these smaller boutiques are a reflection of each individual owner, who is there to help you select the look that is right for you. They take pleasure in making your shopping with them an enjoyable experience, and that is exactly as it should be. Good design however is not limited to clothing. You must have the best jewellery to perfect your outfit. Shayne at Rowe Design, is a designer and a silver and goldsmith who believes that as every person is unique, so too every piece of jewellery should be as exclusive and individual as you are. So whether it is diamonds of any colour, sapphires, or South Sea pearls, your design can be handcrafted in his studio on the premises. You deal directly with the jeweller and he will guide you through the design process from concept to completion. Need a break? Or finished shopping and ready for lunch? Two of Cairns' best bakeries, Meldrum's Pies and the Swiss Cake & Coffee Shop are located in Grafton Street, but perhaps the most exciting find here is the Swedish Shop and CafĂŠ Fika presenting the taste of Scandinavia right here in the tropics of Australia. 70 Insight

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Originally just an import business, The Swedish Shop has grown to include an international grocery store focusing on food and beverage imports and now Café Fika introducing new flavours to the café scene in Cairns. With their own pastry chef, all sweets and treats are made in-house daily, as well as seafood, meats and sandwiches they are all prepared with traditionally Swedish flavours, often with help of the imported products. As the evening draws close, you may well be drawn to The award winning Attic lounge bar. The classy, simple, yet stylish decor gives the Attic a unique feel and party goers plenty of room to enjoy themselves. Boasting private function areas and VIP booths with bottle service, the Attic offers the best of the best, all at your finger tips. Located upstairs above Gilligan's in Grafton Street, the Attic provides an ambitious selection of cocktails and service accompanied by and exotic blend of sounds from around the globe with and uplifting atmosphere. The venue is a cut above the rest so you will need to dress to impress - we can't have the venue looking better than the clientele! From Monday to Wednesday the area below Gilligan’s is deserted. A profound emptiness hangs heavily in the air. But every Thursday something special happens in the cavernous void—the phenomenon known as Rusty’s Markets.

Joseph Ribkoff, Viva Boutique

Trucks laden with quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers arrive in convoy. Bins of

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produce are quickly unloaded, trucks move off to be replaced by others, and the precession continues well into the day. Stallholders soon follow, with trolley and forklift, to collect their designated product. The organized mayhem that will now continue until late Sunday has been set in motion. Discussions, laughter, and business are conducted in many languages. Excitable Italian, sing-song Asian, European accents, and English are all equally at home in this cultural melting pot.

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At 3 am Friday morning, the market is a hive of activity as final touches are applied and pricing tickets are written up. And before the sun has risen the first customer makes a tentative appearance. From that point on, Rusty’s Market transforms into an event that goes far beyond the selling of fruit and vegetables. For three tumultuous days, stallholders and customers banter, barter, are entertained, and meet friends old and new. An integral part of the Gilligans complex, Rusty's Market has for over 35 years developed into one of the largest, most successful and best known markets in Australia & overseas. From an insignificant beginning of some six stall holders, Rusty's has grown into an enormous three day event every week with over 180 stall holders. It has become renowned for its carnival atmosphere, colourful stall holders, sumptuous displays of exotic fruit, vegetables, exotic flowers, bric-a-brac, delicatessens, specialty products and an excellent selection of food and beverage stalls. This is where the locals shop! Rusty's is named after the late Emrys 'Rusty' Rees, who developed and expanded the market into the mega event it is today. The new owners, Gilligan's Backpacker Hotel & Resort, have faithfully carried on the tradition and Rusty's continues to offer its weekly delights to shoppers & tourists alike. Rusty’s Market is now an established Cairns tourist icon and certainly worth a visit, so why not drop in any Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Rusty's is easily located between Grafton & Sheridan Streets in the Gilligan's complex, just ask any local. 74 Insight

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Australian Opals and Pearls Australia, and in particular Far North Queensland, reveals many treasures, and none are so special as Australia's National Gem, the opal; and not far behind it, the much loved Argyle pink diamonds and South Sea pearls. Retailers in Cairns, Port Douglas and Kuranda have taken these precious stones and pearls, along with the finest gold and silver, to create beautiful masterpieces. Surely the best souvenir of a holiday in North Queensland is to take home a little piece of this fine land!

South Sea Pearls Mankind has long held the fascination with the mystique and lustre of the pearl. The Australian South Sea pearl, which is the most precious of all pearls, comes to life in the pristine ocean waters of North Western Australia and also Torres Strait, north of the Queensland mainland. The miracle of nature is in its ability to never duplicate any of its creations. No two pearls are alike; and each is unique as the individual wearing them. Each pearl is judged on five special qualities. No quality,

Images Rowe Design

however, is to be considered without the others. Consideration of each makes for an informed decision. Lustre - The distinctive characteristic, or great beauty of a pearl is its lustre (or orient). Lustre is a subdued iridescence and is the most important consideration. Lustre should be bright – never dull. Size - South Sea pearls are renowned for their size. All things being equal, the larger the pearl the greater the value. Sizes range from 9mm to 16mm and rarely reach 20mm and above. Shape - South Sea pearls are varied in their form. Perfectly round pearls and perfect teardrops are extremely rare and therefore highly prized. This does not mean that other shapes do not have their own unique charm and value. Colour - South Sea pearls are highly desired for the subtle richness of their natural colours. From luminescent whites to sparkling golds. Surface - It is rare to find a pearl free from any surface blemishes – these are after all, gems created by nature. The most beautiful and valuable pearls may still have slight imperfections. These appear in the form of small pits or dimples. It is these “beauty marks” that nature bestows, which makes each pearl unique. 76 Insight

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Opals - Australia's National Gem Some Australian Aboriginal people call it 'The Rainbow Stone' , but others say it is 'Tears to the Eyes' because that is the effect that this remarkable gift of nature has on those who find it. The elusive opal was formed many years ago when liquid silica filtered down into the faults and fissures of sedimentary rock. When the water content evaporated, tiny spheres of silica remained and over time were solidified. Low grade or 'potch' opal (95% of what is found) is composed of irregularly placed spheres which produce little or no colour. But high grade opal (only 5% of what is found) has regularly placed spheres which allow light to be diffracted through them to produce the spectacular colours. The size of the spheres determines the colours, with the larger ones producing the fiery reds so sought after. There are two basic varieties of opals mined in Australia - Seam Opal and Boulder Opal. The difference being that seam opal is found unattached or free in the ground, whereas boulder opal is attached to or within

Image Evert Opals & Fine Jewellery

a host ironstone or sandstone rock. Both seam opal and boulder opal are categorized into three types: Black opal: Black referring to the dark grey, blue or black body colour that provides a striking contrast for the kaleidoscope of colour in the transparent to translucent crystals. Crystal opal: This being translucent to semi transparent without a grey or milky background and showing brilliant colours from a glossy background. Light Opal: This is more subdued with a spectrum of colours emanating from a white or light to milky background colour. The value of the opal depends on the amount and brilliance of the colour, preferably being evenly distributed across the face. The greater the spectrum of colours from red to violet the better, with crimson, reds, and orange being rarer than the greens and blues. Milkiness, cloudiness or greyness detracts from the value. There is a great deal to consider when investing in your opal, but expert advice is available from each of the long-standing Evert Opals & Fine Jewellery (see page

2 & 3),

and also from Regency Jewellers, for your

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farmers markets & craft markets Here in 'The North', Townsville Cotters Market is North Queensland's largest arts and crafts market, with over 150 stalls offering an amazing selection or arts, craft, food and fun for the kids. Cotters Market is held each Sunday in Flinders Mall from 8.30am to 1pm. Every Saturday, between 8am and 4pm, the Cairns Esplanade Markets showcase local, quality made products from jewellery, leather work and homewares to pottery, clothes and skincare. If you need a gift or souvenir you are sure to find it here. Held against the scenic backdrop of the Cairns waterfront, you can follow your market shopping with a swim in the lagoon or take advantage of the free barbecues and children's playgrounds. The first Sunday of the month, April to December, the Palm Cove markets on Williams Esplanade showcase local, quality handmade products from contemporary jewellery, leather work, pottery, clothes, skincare, plants and produce, wellness stalls and food. The markets have great family including free crazy golf and a free jumping castle. If you really want to experience the Far North Queensland local's lifestyle, Rusty's Market located in the centre of Cairns between Grafton Street and Sheridan Street, has been a fixture on the Cairns landscape for many years, where locals come on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to buy their fresh fruit and vegetables from the Tablelands, coffee, breads, flowers, cookies, as well as arts and crafts. Up above the coast, Kuranda's main street is a plethora of the unexpected with anything from hand-painted silk scarves to the finest artwork, opal jewellery and fashions. The Kuranda Heritage Markets are on every day and are very popular, especially when combined with travel by Skyrail or Kuranda Rail. A courtesy bus runs from the station to the markets at regular intervals. Port Douglas Markets are on at Anzac Park every Sunday 8am to 1.30pm, with the beautiful backdrop of Dickson Inlet, and with a large choice of fresh local produce, gifts, arts and crafts including beautiful woodwork and metalwork. The Markets has been trading there in locally made handmade goods for almost 20 years; and now an additional mid-week market at the Port Douglas Reef Marina is on every Wednesday evening from 12pm to 6pm. So if you are not in 'Port' on a Sunday, you can still experience the market ambience. Cooktown's markets are every Saturday morning at the Lions Park. Up on the Tablelands, Yungaburra Markets is the most popular market, on the 4th Saturday of each month, with over 300 regular stallholders while other markets are held in Atherton (1st Sat. of month), Malanda (3rd Sat. of month), Mareeba (2nd Sat. of month), Tolga (1st Sunday of month), and Ravenshoe (4th Sunday of month). 80 Insight

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Portrayed through time Australian Indigenous art The earliest Australian Indigenous art was red ochre paintings or engravings on boulders or on the walls of rock shelters and caves some 30,000 years ago in northern and central Australia. Indigenous people relate these very old images to the actions of Dreaming beings. The images are sacred because they show a continuing ancestral presence. Indigenous art all over Australia has taken a contemporary turn since the early days as artists use new mediums and modern materials. But Indigenous art is much more than just paintings and didgeridoos; with artists working with glass, clay, wood carving and other material, often combining some traditional materials and ideas in new and interesting ways to produce exciting and very beautiful contemporary expressions of art. The majority of contemporary Aboriginal artworks, that Pandanus Gallery in Palm Cove and Ngarru Gallery in Port Douglas present, come from Aboriginal artists who are based in remote communities across the continent, and who, at least partially, still live a tribal life in the bush, and sometimes on their traditional country. When acrylic paints and canvas/linen based primed surfaces became available in 1971 the Aboriginal people responded immediately and began utilising the full spectrum of the available colour field. They could now paint in colours with which they were deeply familiar – particularly in the dawn and dusk periods of their day to day life – for the first time. Few people are aware of the significant role that the full spectrum of colour – beyond the reds, yellows and blacks of natural pigments in traditional Aboriginal art – have played in Aboriginal life over tens of thousands of years. This took place regularly in sacred ceremonies at important times in the form of sand, or ground paintings. These depicted the important aspects of the sacred subject matter of the ceremony; and in which only the properly initiated Aboriginal

Ngarru Gallery, Port Douglas

community members were authorised to participate. There is an enormous variety of coloured sands and minerals

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in the natural Australian landscape, plus coloured flowers, bird feathers, animal fur and plant matter that were used to create brilliant ‘paintings’ in the sand and in personal ‘paint-up’ for ceremony. These works can be absolutely extraordinary in their complexity and colour and deeply evocative for those non-Aboriginal people who have been privileged to witness them. Progressively, the art world has become infatuated, and equally inspired by Australian Indigenous art, in what has been aptly labled one of the greatest art movements of the 20th Century. Thanks to Paul La Fontaine of Pandanus Gallery for his assistance with this editorial.

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The Dreaming Australia's Indigenous People

Archaeologists and scholars studying Australian Aboriginal beginnings believe Australia's first people Aboriginal people believe they came from the land on which they live in the time they call The Dreaming, the time of creation. It is the belief of the Australian Aborigines that the same spiritual forces which brought them into being also shaped the land. A high mountain peak may represent an ancestor who stood up to look around; many significant rocks are said to be people of the dreamtime; lines of sand dunes may represent paths taken by the ancestors; watercourses or dry creek beds could be paths left by water serpents. Similarly lakes or claypans can represent activities that took place there. The stories from the dreamtime are many and are not restricted to the land and its features, but also explain the celestial bodies in the night sky with entrancing myths and legends. As the last of Australia's regions to be explored, settled or developed, Queensland's tropical north is home to Australia's highest proportion of indigenous Australians, and possesses a great diversity of cultures. Until 200 years ago, this unique paradise was known only to its indigenous inhabitants and remains one of great beauty, defying the onset of civilization. The landscape is one of contrasts and surprises: of rainforest, outback, mountain ranges, wide open plains, hilltop savannah, wetlands, spectacular dune formations and tropical islands. Over 60% of Cape York's inhabitants are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, with a staggering cultural diversity born of the landscape. The Torres Strait Islanders, Melanesian peoples related to the Papuans of adjoining New Guinea, are seafaring people with their own distinct culture and long-standing history. The interactions with the Papuans to the north, and Australian Aboriginal communities to the south, have maintained a steady cultural diffusion between the three societal groups dating back thousands of years. Aboriginal history on The Cape dates back tens of thousands of years and, at the time of European settlement, the region consisted of forty-three tribal nations, each with its own language and traditional 84 Insight

Left and right: Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks are conducted by the local Indigenous people at Mossman Gorge, where they share their stories and legends from a long time ago in local Kuku Yalanji language. Images courtesy of Mossman Gorge Centre Š Adam Bruzz

originally arrived from Asia when the two land masses were linked more than 60,000 years ago. However,

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practices. Although many of the languages have now been lost, traditional owners still exist for the whole of The Cape, and an estimated ten languages and hundreds of dialects continue to be spoken. The tribes are made up of family groups, each with their own clan estates, and their distinct culture, bush foods, medicine and history.

These are the people you will find who want to share their knowledge of the land, their stories and their culture. In the Kuranda region, the secrets of the rainforest and savannah people can be discovered with the Djabugay and Bulwai people, who will take you back to the time before time with visits to sites of ancient rock art and sacred cultural ceremonies. You may learn how they survived in the rainforests or in the dry land, what they ate, how they hunted and made weapons. On the northern outskirts of Cairns at the base of the Kuranda Range, the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park has been established to give you an authentic insight into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Here you can witness the ancient dreamtime story of the Tjapukai people's belief in the creation of the world through live performance and the world's most technologically advanced visual effects. A little further to the north, the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, conducted by the local Kuku Yalanji people from the Mossman Gorge Centre, will take you on a journey steeped in heritage, ancient culture and traditions. Ngadiku means stories or legends from a long time ago; and the walks will take you along secluded nature trails, visiting culturally significant sites, traditional bark shelters, and past cool rainforest streams. Indigenous guides give you an intimate look into the culture of the Kuku Yalanji people, sharing legends, secrets of bush food and their ceremonies. Mossman Gorge is just 20km north of Port Douglas, and the Mossman Gorge Centre boasts a contemporary cafĂŠ restaurant serving locally sourced produce infused with indigenous bush ingredients, as well as an art gallery showcasing the works of many Indigenous artists. From Cooktown, Nugal-warra elder Willie Gordon, takes guests on his Rainbow Serpent Tour to his ancestral rock art sites, in stunning countryside high above Hope Vale. Here he shares the stories behind the art - stories which can only be told by Elders of the Nugal clan - and explains how the paintings speak of the essence of life and the lores of his people. With his great smile and infectious laugh, Willie gives 86 Insight

Left: Seeds and fruits gathered from the rainforest for use as foods and medicine by the Kuku Yalangi rainforest people. Right: Young dancers perform at the Laura Dance Festival. Š Andrew Watson

These are the traditional custodians of the land, who know its resources, its stories and its sacred places.

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you an amazing insight into Aboriginal society and will have you thinking about your own relationship with the land and how the lores of his people can apply to us all. For a once in a lifetime experience, visitors to Cape York can witness an explosion of traditional aboriginal culture at the biennial Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Last held in July 2017 and due to be held again in June 2019, the festival celebrates the indigenous culture of Cape York Peninsula, highlighting the many diverse the ancient Laura landscape, 4 hours north west of Cairns. The Festival is about passing on culture across the generations, along with showcasing the strength, pride and uniqueness of Aboriginal people; and is open to visitors who can camp on site at the traditional Bora ground for the three days. Over 5,000 people travel to Laura from across the nation to enjoy this Festival for three days; over 20 Communities participate across the region, with up to 500 performers. There are so many opportunities and adventures just waiting, so many stories to be told and so much to learn and comprehend; perhaps it is time to take your own journey of discovery.

Timeless Experiences As part of Tourism Tropical North Queensland's 'Timeless Experiences' program, members are working together to provide personally enriching and authentic Australian indigenous tourism experiences. The focus is on travellers, who are thinking people, looking for depth and understanding of the cultures, places and people of our land. Pandanus Aboriginal Art Gallery is an inaugural member of this exciting new program, and offers a dynamic, interactive meeting place - “Where the Ancient and Modern Meet” - a unique experiential opportunity through magnificent examples of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal Art, to personally discover important aspects of traditional Aboriginal life, lore, leadership and culture. This is an informative and inspiring experience of Aboriginal artworks – both from Far North Queensland and important regions around Australia. It is designed to complement the tour experiences provided by our partners where you meet with local Aboriginal and/or Torres Straits Islander people who generously share personal insights into their traditional lives and cultures. To be a part of the program you can book directly with the gallery. Helpful contact details: 88 Insight

Pandanus Gallery - 07 4059 2300 or online bookings at: Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park Tel: 07 4042 9999 Mossman Gorge Centre: Tel: 07 4099 7000 Laura Dance Festival -

Left and right: Young dancers performing and preparing for their turn at the Laura Dance Festival, Laura, Queensland Images courtesy of Laura Dance Festival © Kerry Trapnell

communities, language, songs, dance, and stories, with three days of music and art amongst the beauty of

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Out and About An appreciation of Far North Queensland's natural beauty does not stop with a quick visit to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest . . . the further one reaches out, the more there is to inspire the heart. But, please remember - should you be driving to sparsely populated areas or going bushwalking, advise someone (a friend, relative or hotel concierge) where you are going and your expected time of return. Take sufficient clothing for a change in the weather, sufficient petrol and carry drinking water.

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Andrew, the photographer, Trinity Bay Š Andrew Watson Insight 91

City of Cairns the centre of activity Queensland's most northerly city of Cairns, framed by a backdrop of rainforest clad mountains and fringed by the Coral Sea, is the heart of the Tropical North and an ideal base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforests. Both of these most fascinating ecosystems are World Heritage listed, and there are very few places on earth where two such treasures rest side by side, and so easily accessible to visitors. Named Australia's most liveable regional centre, which is reflected in its growing population of some 160,000 residents from all corners of the globe and expected to rise to 200,000 in the next few years. The Cairns region is the traditional land of Bama Aboriginal people and continues to be home to Aboriginal people from three main language groups and 15 clan groups. About nine percent of the region's population is Indigenous - one of the highest populations of First People in Australia.

it was not until 1903 that Cairns was formally declared a town with a registered population of 3,500. Initial white settlement in the region in the 1860s was driven by beche de mer fishing, however it was the discovery of gold to the north in the Palmer River region and in the Hodgkinson River area of the Atherton Tableland, that saw the population begin to climb. Throughout the 1870s and early 1880s European and Chinese settlers opened up the region to agriculture generating a large enough population base for the borough of Cairns to be declared a municipality and for the alderman to elect the first mayor, R.A. Kingsford, in 1885. These immigrants went on to establish the sugarcane industry, predominantly in the low lands, and extensive fruit orchards on the cooler tableland. The balmy climate dictates the leisurely, laid back lifestyle, focused on outdoor activities, and several large-scale projects have re-shaped the city in recent years. The multi-million dollar City Centre Alive redevelopment is bringing new life into the Cairns city heart through improved access and substantial streetscape enhancements with tropical urban design. The Pullman Reef Casino Hotel in the city centre 92 Insight

Right: Marlin Marina, Cairns at twilight. Š Andrew Watson

Officially founded in 1876 and named after the State Governor of the day Sir William Wellington Cairns,

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complex boasts one of Australia's finest boutique Casinos, a multitude of the best dining experiences Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome - a fantastic ropes and climbing facility intertwined with a wildlife exhibit. The Reef Fleet Terminal and the Esplanade Project, have transformed the waterfront into an area where recreation and relaxation make the most of the tropical climate. The 4,800 sq metre saltwater swimming lagoon offers locals and visitors an all year safe swimming location, set on the Cairns foreshore overlooking the Great Barrier Reef and Trinity Inlet. Saltwater is pumped from the inlet and filtered through a state of the art filtration system, to meet the high Australian standards. Children can enjoy the sandy edges, build sand castles and play in shallow water, whilst others can lounge on the timber decks in moderate shade. Shady trees, landscaped gardens and open spaces all contribute to the leisurely atmosphere of the lagoon surroundings, now used for many community activities from musical concerts to exercise and martial arts classes, workshops, competitions and festivals. Further along the Esplanade, Muddy's Playground is a delight for the little ones with a maze of water slides, playhouses, climbing nets and water jets. Along with the skatebowl and beach volleyball courts, the area attracts many locals and tourists alike. Beyond the amazing Cairns Esplanade, the mudflats attract a multitude of seabirds, and hence birdwatchers from around the world. As well as the regular flock of pelicans and spoonbills, the summer months see the arrival of sandpipers, knots, godwits, whimbrels, tattlers and turnstones, as well as the rarer beach stone curlew. Telescopes are provided on The Esplanade for a little birdwatching, and interpretive display shelters tell tales of many a legendary character of times long gone. The traditional Queenslander homes sit side by side with the modern high rises and innovative family dwellings of the suburbs, and all architectural styles blend together along the tree lined streets.

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Left: The Pier and the Marlin Marina, Cairns. Š Andrew Watson Right: A morning rainstorm created these stunning blue hues at the Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns Š Andrew Watson

and bars. To top it off the majestic glass construction sitting atop the building is the surprising home to

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Each year in August, the Cairns Festival is a time to stop and celebrate the spirit and lifestyle of the tropical north while shining a spotlight on the region as a destination for domestic and international visitors. Under the direction of the Cairns Regional Council, this is a celebration of tropical lifestyle with 10 days of performances, exhibitions, film and the ever-popular Grand Parade and Carnival on Colllins. For more information, check the website - Cairns is renowned for its fresh, exotic produce and international standard restaurants, bistros and cafes open to late evening, with menus ranging from genuine Australian bush tucker to the tastes of home for overseas visitors. Art galleries, cinemas and quality nightclubs are located within the city centre; while live theatre and music take centre stage at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Cairns Civic Theatre and Cairns Convention Centre. On the city’s northern fringe is the century-old Cairns Botanic Gardens containing the Flecker Gardens, Tanks Arts Centre, Centenary Lakes, Rainforest Boardwalk and the Mt Whitfield Conservation Park. The approach to the Botanic Gardens in Collins Avenue is a sight in itself, with the most majestic tropical rainforest trees forming a canopy overhead. Visitors to the Botanic Gardens are greeted with extravagant colours from the plethora of exotic and showy blooms such as the Flame of the Forest vine from New Guinea or the equally exotic blue green Jade vine from the Philippines. Gingers and Heliconias conjure up visions of far away steamy paradises with names like Hot Rio Nights, Chocolate Dancer and Barbados Flat. The Gardens has a range of natural environments and ecosystems from mangroves, fresh and saltwater Š Cairns Botanic Gardens

lakes and a boardwalk through the native lowland swamp rainforest.

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Further north of Cairns city, the landscape merges into a coastal strip bordered by rainforest clad mountains of the Northern Beaches, a sweep of golden sands, blue waters and palm trees, as the highway takes one of the most scenic trips in the country following the coastline for much of the way towards Port Douglas.

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Beside the Coral Sea Cairns' Northern Beaches & Palm Cove A 26 kilometre sweep of golden sands, blue waters and palm trees, and with the Great Barrier Reef providing a natural barrier from dangerous surf so common to many beaches, Cairns' Northern Beaches are considered to have the best beach and bathing conditions in the region. Add to that warm seas and a backdrop of rainforest clad mountains and one could be forgiven for believing this is paradise. But, to be safe, please note that dangerous Marine Stingers can be present at North Queensland beaches at Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach. Machans Beach, closest to Cairns, and Holloways Beach have a definite funky atmosphere, and are favourites with the locals more so than the tourists. Yorkeys Knob features an excellent marina, yacht club and golf course, and is separated from Holloways Beach by a narrow channel and a large sand bar. Many of Cairns residents call Yorkeys home, but with the adjacent marina, the waterfront is now developing into a favourite spot with the tourists as its location is so convenient, being just 15 minutes drive into Cairns, 5 minutes from Skyrail and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, and a short walk to world-class golf courses. The estuarine creek at the southern end of the beach is great for fishing, while it is also a favourite spot for water sports such as jet skiing; and the southeasterly winds can be perfect for wind surfing and kite surfing. Trinity Beach is a palm fringed banana-shaped cove framed by twin headlands and offers excellent holiday apartments by the sea, with the road along the beachfront entirely dedicated to tourist resorts, restaurants and cafes. Trinity Beach is a favourite with both locals and tourists for its relaxed ambience rarely found elsewhere. The beach is lined with picnic tables and barbeques that are free to use, and the palm trees for shade make Trinity Beach the perfect place for a family outing. Sitting between Yorkeys Knob and Trinity Beach is Trinity Park, a relatively new community with a variety of parkland, rainforest and waterfront home sites, combined with a world class 108 berth marina.

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Right: Tropical sunrise pastels at Palm Cove looking across to Double Island Š Andrew Watson

from October to June, and 'stinger' resistant enclosures are recommended for swimming and are in use

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highway, and is predominantly reserved for the locals - not because it is not as worthy as its rivals such as Palm Cove and Trinity Beach, or difficult to access. To the contrary, Cairns locals have bought all the property at this beach because it is so private and idyllic, leaving very little room for tourism development. Kewarra is at the southern end of a large stretch of sand that takes in Clifton Beach and Palm Cove. Clifton Beach is rapidly developing as a prime residential suburb and is sought after by the locals; whereas Palm Cove has proved to be very popular amongst those who appreciate the laid back, tropical village ambience. To the north of Palm Cove, separated by the rocky headland of Buchan Point, Ellis Beach has all the beauty and charm that Palm Cove offers, but it is totally undeveloped and more suited to those who want to escape. Reached through a magnificent canopy of cassia and mango trees, Ellis Beach is a long thin beach, excellent for fishing or sunbathing. Palm Cove, an inaugural winner of Australia's Cleanest Beach, is a palm-fringed golden sandy shore lined with majestic melaleuca trees standing tall against a striking backdrop of magnificent rainforest covered mountains; and looking out past Double Island and Haycock Island (known locally as Scout Hat Island) to the Coral Sea. Once called Palm Beach, it was a popular weekend destination for families from Cairns or the Atherton Tablelands. However, the 1980s brought international travel agents to the region and soon Palm Cove became the much sought after beach location it is today, just 27 kilometres from Cairns and 30 minutes from the Cairns International Airport. The wildlife is abundant with lizards, tree frogs, butterflies and native birds such as the rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, cockatoos, doves, sunbirds, and finches. Casual yet sophisticated, Palm Cove is a magical destination rivaling the ever popular world renowned Long Beach or Venice Beach in California. The charming tropical village has come quietly of age with award-winning restaurants and superb holiday accommodation options. The beach is arguably the most pristine of all Cairns' Northern Beaches. 100 Insight

Left: Palm Cove palms, looking south towards Kewarra Beach Right: Twilight on Haycock Island, known colloquially as Scout Hat Island, with the Milky Way hiding behind some ethereal looking cloud Š Andrew Watson

North of Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach is world renowned for its eco-friendly resort, set well back off the

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During the last few years Palm Cove has emerged as the number one destination in Australia for weddings and also for health spas with a plethora of internationally recognised spas offering a truly refreshing experience in indoor and outdoor pavilions overlooking the water. You will not find any of the big national stores in Palm Cove, but a selection of charming boutiques, galleries and themed restaurants. The village ambience and the amazing natural beauty of Palm Cove has been a magnet for a plethora of artists for many years, and at the far northern end of the esplanade is the The Village Gallery, set in an idyllic location overlooking the beach and Double Island, the gallery displays the cream of local art work, and seeks out the best of Australian wildlife art. Within the Beach Club Resort on Williams Esplanade, Anna & Paul La Fontaine have established Pandanus Gallery and have combined their deep interest and knowledge in Aboriginal art with a 'sea change' where they can gaze across the road to the beach out to the Coral Sea. Anna has had an extensive career in the arts and Paul's business career had spanned many industries, but it is their love of Aboriginal art and an avid interest in the indigenous culture that has seen them want to expand strong relationships with remote Aboriginal art communities throughout Australia. But, when the shopping is done and it is time to come in out of the sun, Palm Cove offers a superb selection of dining options, with fine restaurants, bistros, cocktail bars and cafes competing to produce the finest cuisine, using Australia's best seafood and meat, with the freshest locally sourced tropical fruits and vegetables. From a renovated 1950s beach house with a view overlooking the Coral Sea, to the most luxurious 5 star resorts you will find fresh and healthy cuisine, and and tastes to astound the palate from all corners of the globe, prepared by passionate chefs. So whether you dine al fresco under the stars, treat yourself to a sizzling seafood buffet, take in a delectable Ă la carte experience on the waterfront, a cosy cafe, or just go for fish and chips on the beach, the choices are there, and one thing is for sure - all will leave you delighted by the tastes of the tropics. 102 Insight

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Port Douglas amidst the rainforest and the reef

Closer than any other Australian town to the Great Barrier Reef and nearer the Equator than Fiji or Tahiti, it is no surprise that the town of Port Douglas has been attracting visitors with its tropical allure for over

Once a tiny fishing village, Port Douglas is a picturesque township characterised by old fashioned charm amidst wide shady streets. These streets house a wide choice of visitor accommodation, restaurants that range from sidewalk cafes to the five star award-winning experiences, art galleries, quaint shops and a teeming Sunday market. A world away from the everyday, Port Douglas has no traffic lights, no parking meters and no plans to install either. Situated just 70 kilometres north of Cairns along what could be described as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country, the little fishing village has come of age to cater for the world's political leaders and film stars who crave this idyllic corner of Australia to relax and unwind. First established in 1877 after the discovery of gold at Hodgkinson River, Port Douglas grew quickly, and at its peak had a population of 12,000 residents and 27 hotels; and thrived on tin, silver, sugarcane and logging of cedar trees. The dray teams and stage coaches that serviced the goldfields made their way from the port, down the beach (now Four Mile Beach) to the 'Four Mile' mark which is now called Craiglee. From there they continued over 'The Bump' and then onto the goldfields (now The Bump Track is a well known adventure trail). It was the primary port for Mossman sugar mill to ship its sugar to the southern cities. The town had a series of names from its early beginnings - known as Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury; it was finally named Port Douglas in honour of former Queensland premier John Douglas.

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Right: A moody sunset over Sugar Wharf, Dickson Inlet, Port Douglas. Š Andrew Watson

a hundred years.

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When the Kuranda Railway from Cairns to Kuranda was completed in 1891, the importance of Port Douglas dwindled along with its population. A cyclone in 1911 demolished all but two buildings in the town, and by 1960 the town, then little more than a fishing village, had a a population of 100. In the mid-1980s, tourism boomed in the region with the aid of the late Christopher Skase, who was a bold investor who financed the construction of the world-class Sheraton Mirage and what was Marina Mirage (now Reef Marina) shopping precinct and marina. Today the township's relaxed seaside village ambience blends harmoniously with vibrant tropical style and sophistication. It is this laid back quality that has captured the heart of many an international traveller. Five star or three star, the appeal does not discriminate, and 'Port', as it is affectionately known,

More than 100 tours depart from Port Douglas, ranging from cruises on the largest and most luxurious catamarans and coaches to the very personal experience of travelling in smaller diving, fishing and four-wheel drive adventure treks. Popular destinations include one of the wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef, which is essentially a giant living organism - home to thousands of species of fish, coral, molluscs and sponges - and the World Heritage listed rainforests of the Daintree and Cape Tribulation. The splendour of Bloomfield Falls, Mossman Gorge, the Tropical Tablelands and Cooktown are accessible on day trips from Port Douglas. In May each year, the iconic tropical port celebrates with a Carnivale when the region becomes a living postcard of tropical culture. Port Douglas Carnivale was originally held to mark the start of the sugar cane harvesting season, and celebrated with a yacht race held by local identities, but is now considered the official opening of the tourism season.

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Left: Indigenous guide, Mossman Gorge Š Mossman Gorge Centre.

has become a popular base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforests.

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Now in its 23rd year, Carnivale celebrates the best of Tropical North Queensland from the bounty of the sea, abundant fresh produce and world class wines, with such delights as 'Port on a Fork' and 'The Longest Lunch'. Talented local artists, musicians and performers are celebrated with a music festival, a songwriters' competition, and a photographic competition; while the mainstays of Carnivale are the Macrossan Street Parade & Party, and the Family Beach Day. The cosmopolitan nature of Port Douglas makes the town a bountiful shopping venue, where local artwork, fashion, iconic Australian clothing, opals, pearls and fine jewellery are all available in abundance, and reaching the shopping district takes just minutes from any of the resorts. Set beside the tranquil waters of Dickson Inlet with spectacular views to the Mossman Ranges, the waterfront retail complex of the Reef Marina combines exclusive shopping and fine dining in true Queensland tropical style and is home to award winning tenants including Port’s newest and only boutique brewery. Amongst the tenants here on the boardwalk is Oz About Oz, catering to visitors who would like to buy some real Australian attire and souvenirs before returning home. The store specializes in the very natural bamboo fibre clothing for men and women as well as the famous sheepskin ugg boots. The Reef Marina is at present under redevelopment to improve facilities and cater for more of the superyachts visiting the north. A 14m wide timber boardwalk surrounds the shops and restaurants on one side, 108 Insight

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and overlooks the marina on the other. The marina is the departure point for many of the diving and snorkelling cruises to Low Isles just off the coast or to the Ribbon Reefs, Outer Great Barrier Reef and islands to the north of Port Douglas. Across Wharf Street from the marina, the Courthouse Retail precinct, at the northern end of Macrossan Street, boasts an upmarket tropical ambience where the old Courthouse Hotel once stood, and it is here that you will find Evert Fine Jewellery & Opals, well respected for their fine jewellery with brands like Thomas Sabo, Ice Watch, Skagen and Pandora. The Evert Family have been mining, designing and creating beautiful pieces of opal jewellery for two generations now and are well regarded amongst their peers as leaders in the opal industry in Australia. The vibrant colours and relaxed lifestyle of North Queensland has long held an attraction for artists who to Australian Indigenous art. Ngarru Aboriginal Art Gallery, the premier gallery for indigenous art in Port Douglas. Nicola and Roberta at Ngarru specialize in contemporary works in a selection of Australia's most collectable investment Indigenous artists, and also showcases a variety of up and coming Aboriginal artists, both from the desert and urban regions. The gallery is modern and spacious to display many artworks to their full advantage. To appreciate the diversity of Aboriginal fine art and culture, and to experience Australia’s Indigenous heritage, the Ngarru Gallery also features a diverse selection of artifacts, including Maningrida spirit figures, Tiwi Island sculpture, and a range of authentic termite hollowed didgeridoos. In fact the main street of the town, Macrossan Street, is shopping with a tropical twist - an eclectic mix of galleries, boutiques, stores and restaurants. Like its spectacular surroundings, Port Douglas has so much to offer and a stroll down the main street could take hours or in fact days! It is a very different world to the southern cities of Australia, and similarly the fashions of Port Douglas reflect the casual but elegant style of the town. It is a locale where preferred styles reflect the same sense of fun and relaxation as guests are likely to experience while moving about town. 110 Insight

Left: Sailaway catamaran on its way out to The Reef Š Andrew Watson

are drawn to the region, and Port Douglas has several galleries with everything from fine glass art pieces

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What started as just a few stores and the Dickson inlet end of Macrossan Street, now extends from the marina in Wharf Street, the full length of Macrossan Street and nearly to Four Mile Beach. In Macrossan Street, Tommy Bahama offers relaxed sportswear centred on the good life for both men and women with clothing that looks as good as it feels. Inspired by the refined, unhurried attitude to coastal life, the easy fitting pieces in comfortable, luxurious fabrics bring a sense of casual elegance to any occasion. Prints are tropical in inspiration yet sophisticated in their execution. Tommy Bahama has everything you need to make your journey a gorgeous one. Ladies visiting 'Port' are also catered for with The Eye Boutique standing out amongst others, and stocking world renowned Australian labels in swimwear, casual and more formal designs. The Eye Boutique is known for their individual swimwear pieces in sizes from the very small to the larger woman, as well as some of the most beautiful resort wear styles unique to Queensland. Should you be in 'Port' on a Sunday, then the seaside Sunday markets, at the northern end of town beside the famous St Mary's Church and with a picturesque backdrop of Dickson Inlet, are a relaxed and quaint way to meet the locals whilst enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and natural surrounds. Established over 20 years ago, the markets operate from 8am to 1.30pm. Try mangoes or lychees fresh from the farm, sip on freshly crushed sugar cane juice, or take home some fragrant vanilla pods grown on the outskirts of town. However, if you are not in 'Port' on a Sunday, 'Markets at the Reef Marina' are held every Wednesday from 12pm until 6pm on the waterfront overlooking the marina and will have stall holders from the Sunday markets and across the region presenting local art, craft, souvenirs and fresh produce. This market is brilliant for people who cannot get to the Sunday markets, and a great positionfor those returning from a day out on The Reef.

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The iconic Great Barrier Reef experience should not be missed, and Sailaway Low Isles provides a wonderful day to remember with a reef and island sail for snorkelling and exploring Low Isles, an unspoiled coral cay just 15km off Port Douglas. It is a picturesque isle, small enough to walk around, and shallow waters to swim safely. Low isles is known for its green turtles and an abundance of colourful fish; and with only 1 of 4 reef tour licences to moor at Low Isles there is limited access. Your enjoyment is ensured with small number of guests, excellent service and the choice of what time of day suits you best. Now offered by Sailaway, and perfect for those with less time to spare, is a complete experience of The options are endless with a tropical sunset sail also part of the Sailaway collection, giving you views over the Coral Sea and rainforest clad mountains while enjoying a drink and canapés as the day comes to an end. (see Sailaway ad page 25) Entering the dramatic beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is an extraordinary experience. It’s a day that engages all your senses, lifts your spirit and takes you into another realm. Quicksilver has a wide range of Great Barrier Reef experiences from the smaller dive and snorkelling Outer Reef or Low Isles cruises, to the larger experience of a lifetime incorporating the use of a spacious and exclusive activity platform at the renowned Agincourt Reef, known for its clear waters and colourful corals, on the edge of Australia’s Continental Shelf. Dive, snorkel or stay dry and explore the stunning reef from the underwater viewing platform and semi-submersible. It’s could be your personal reef discovery in an underwater world filled with a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour and brilliance. Whichever way you choose, you’ll bring home a lifetime of memories from this living natural wonder of the world.

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Left: Low Isles off Port Douglas © Andrew Watson Right: Green sea turtle swimming amongst the seagrass beds. © Andrew Watson

Rainforest and Reef in one day, touring Mossman Gorge in the morning and Low Isles in the afternoon.

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Set on eight acres on the southern side of town beyond the avenue of African oil palms, the award winning Wildlife Habitat is a chance to observe a huge range of flora and fauna in close proximity. Wildlife Habitat is an advanced eco-accredited immersion exhibit - an open and interactive environment over spacious expanse: Rainforest, Wetlands, Savannah and Woodlands, visitors can wander along scenic pathways and elevated boardwalks, observing a huge range of freely roaming wildlife up close. Special animal presentations and guided tours operate daily, visiting koalas, Lumholtz tree kangaroos, cassowaries, crocodiles, native birds and many more native species. The 'WildNIGHT' tour offers the only nocturnal tour in Port Douglas; and the 'YOUR Wildlife Habitat' tour, provides the chance to participate in a personalised private tour with one of the knowledgeable keepers. The Wildlife Habitat boasts the world's only breeding pair of black-necked storks, one of Australia's largest ranges of kangaroos and wallabies, and the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, an iconic Wet Tropics species. The sanctuary provides an experience found nowhere else, that can be an educational precursor or complement to your visit to the rainforest. For the ultimate way to start the day, the original 'Breakfast with the Birds' or the later 'Lunch with the Lorikeets' in the Curlew CafÊ and Bar within the Wetlands environment can be a bright experience. The rainforest is not far away. There are several Daintree Rainforest tours to select from. BTS Tours is the longest established tour company in Port Douglas and can fulfil your sense of adventure or desire for a quiet scenic tour. Enjoy walking in the rainforest with the insightful guides, spotting crocodiles during a wildlife river cruise, indulging in our delicious tropical lunch by a swimming lagoon or strolling along a rainforest fringed beach near Cape Tribulation. BTS Tours also provide a regular bus service between Cairns and Port Douglas, and transport to Skyrail, Kuranda scenic train, Kuranda village, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures and Mossman Gorge.

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Left: Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae) and the Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), sometimes called the Jabiru. Photos courtesy of Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas.

for guests and animals to mingle in a spacious natural setting. With four fascinating environments

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There are so many excursions to be planned which depart from Port Douglas - it is a destination like no other and is home to some of the best operators in the world. So as the days draws to an end, Port Douglas provides a wonderfully hedonistic environment in which to relax by the pool, head for a relaxing day spa, or to enjoy exotic cocktails on a balmy tropical evening while dining on a delicious meal at one of the area's many fine restaurants. Port Douglas is very fortunate to have attracted some of the finest chefs in the country who have decided to make this paradise their home. Whilst it may have been a 'sea change' for them, it is a most wonderful treat for the visitor to be able to experience these taste sensations for the palate. Dining is alfresco at many of the fine establishments, or in air-conditioned comfort, or .... even in the rainforest! Andrew Gray at 'bel cibo' is one such chef, drawn to the charms of Port Douglas after cooking and creating alongside some of the country's best known masters. After 2 years as Matt Moran’s Sous Chef at acclaimed Sydney restaurant 'ARIA', Andy led local icon 2 Fish to award fame for 5 years before going alone and opening 'bel cibo'. Dishes are sublime yet simple with a deep family based love of food, and a dedication to using only the best produce - the seafood is from the Great Barrier Reef, the beautiful pasta is all hand made.

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Down a flame lit path from Macrossan Street at the corner of Grant Street, the Watergate Restaurant & Lounge Bar is a favourite of celebrities and offers both indoor and outdoor dining. Watergate's cuisine is modern Australian, and executive chef Lee Neate sources fresh, seasonal produce to prepare innovative dishes, that reflect contemporary trends in Australian cooking. Watergate also has a well appointed bar, ideal for a cocktail as the sun sets, or maybe a light meal from the lounge menu with a bottle of wine. The lounge menu is available through the day until late. Watergate is also available for a pre-dinner drink, or desserts and coffee at the end of the night. The 60 year old Nautilus Restaurant is a quintessential part of Port Douglas. Nestled into Island Point Hill amidst a beautiful lush tropical garden setting with palms overhead, guests enter along a hidden pathway from Macrossan Street, to discover an awesome restaurant that is like stepping into another world. Nautilus Restaurant is truly one of a kind. It combines the elements of a tropical paradise with modern Australian style, with influences of Asia and Europe, creating a wonderful outdoor dining experience. Classified as 'elegant dining' they do not pretend to tick all the boxes of a truly fine dining establishment - they are unique unto themselves. This is indicative of the international flavour that is Port Douglas.

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A 20km drive north of Port Douglas through the canefields, backed by rainforest clad mountains, the town of Mossman and the adjacent Mossman Gorge, is the closest point of entry to the Daintree National Park. Here easy tracks and boardwalks give way to wonderful experiences within the age old, pristine rainforest - the perfect place to cool off on a hot day. At the entrance to Mossman Gorge, the Mossman Gorge Centre is an Indigenous eco tourism development where you will find an array of services to help you organise your adventure through the Gorge or an interpretive walk guided by the Indigenous Kuku Yalanji people. This is one of the few places in the country that visitors can gain an insight into the lives, culture and beliefs of Australia’s Indigenous population and their connection to the natural environment. Join a guided Dreamtime Walk tour to get a deeper Yalanii culture. Many visitors make the trip to Mossman Gorge every year to take in the beauty of its pristine rainforest, cool streams, towering mountains, the dramatic Gorge, and rainforest vegetation. So here between the world's oldest Wet Tropics rainforest and Great Barrier Reef is the self-evident site selected to establish a new botanic gardens. A 20 hectare site has been chosen on the edge of town, beside Mossman's magnificent raintrees, and a theme of 'The Garden of Origins' has been adopted to highlight the fact that Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforests, with the greatest number of living primitive flowering plant families anywhere in the world, will be displayed and represented at the garden. Make sure to include a visit to this region of Far North Queensland as part of your itinerary this time, and again in the future, to discover for yourself the beauty of the Mossman and Mossman Gorge.

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Left: Mossman Gorge Š Mossman Gorge Centre Right: Milky Way over Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas Š Andrew Watson

insight into the ancient flora and fauna of the rainforest, and learn about traditional plant uses and Kuku

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Reef & Rainforest Coast Stretching from the north of Port Douglas and through to Cooktown, the Reef and Rainforest Coast is the only place in the world where two most complex ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage tropical rainforest known in this part as 'The Daintree', meet at high tide mark. It is a spectacular stretch of coastline that has become a magnetic destination for travellers from around the world. To reach the Daintree National Park, the road travels north from Port Douglas to the town of Mossman, through green sugar cane farms, and backed by magnificent mountains clad in lush green rainforest and often capped in mist. Mossman Gorge, only five minutes out of town, is the edge of the Daintree Rainforest and the nearest and most accessible pristine rainforest to Port Douglas. Fresh from the mountain, the water in the Mossman River tumbles over granite boulders, between lush green forests to cool, clear swimming holes between the rapids. The Mossman Gorge Centre is an Indigenous eco tourism development for visitors to the Mossman Gorge World Heritage site, and is the perfect option for visitors looking for a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia. The Centre was established to ensure the protection of this beautiful landmark for future generations, and has become central hub for all things Mossman Gorge, being staffed by local residents with a breadth of knowledge on the area. At the Centre you will find a welcome area, a contemporary café, art gallery, and gift shop. A low-emission shuttle bus service operates from the Centre, and is one of the crucial steps taken to ensure sustainability. Passing through the township of Mossman, under a magnificent canopy of fern covered rain trees and past fruit and coffee plantations, nestled in a bend of the Daintree River, Daintree Village was once the heart of a thriving timber industry based around the prized red cedar. It is now the departure point for

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Left: The white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is revered by indigenous people, and is the subject of many folk tales © David White, Solar Whisper Right: Cape Tribulation - Where the rainforest meets the reef. © Dean Jewell

where the rainforest meets the reef

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the numerous river cruises bringing nature lovers up close to a huge array of wildlife supported by the Daintree River's tidal estuary. Tour boats depart daily from the Daintree village and take the intrepid traveller away from the crowds and deep into the Daintree, cruising the mangrove-lined creeks inhabited by a myriad of birdlife, colourful butterflies, green tree frogs and reptiles including the saltwater crocodile. 'Over the river', as the locals call it, and just a car ferry trip away, a whole new world of rainforest magic opens to you. Being largely untouched wilderness due to its remoteness, the high rainfall of the area averages four metres annually, so vegetation can virtually grow before your eyes. With the sealing of the road from the Daintree River ferry to Cape Tribulation, this magnificent area is no longer restricted to only 4WD vehicles. Now an all-vehicle road from the ferry crossing winds its way beneath the forest canopy, through dappled sunlight and crystal clear air pierced with sounds of the rainforest, over the Alexandria Range and follows the coast to Cape Tribulation.

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crossed by freshwater streams, sweeping down to the reef fringed coast. The diversity of life in 'the Daintree', or more correctly Cape Tribulation National Park, is such that the forests of North Queensland, covering only one quarter of one percent of Australia, contains roughly half the continent's species of animals and plants. The Daintree rainforest itself is ancient, and thought to be 200 to 300 million years old, making it the oldest intact rainforest in the world. At just 7 million years, the Amazon rainforest is quite young in comparison. This tropical rainforest ecosystem is one of the most complex on earth; and of the 19 primitive flowering plant species in the world, 13 are represented in the Daintree. This World Heritage region has become the last remaining refuge for some species dating back 110 million years; and as world renowned naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, remarked "It is a living museum". To give a brief natural history lesson, approximately 130 million years ago Australia, Antarctica, South America, India, Africa, Madagascar, New Caledonia, New Guinea and New Zealand were all joined in a massive supercontinent called Gondwanaland. At this time the world's climate was warm enough that moist tropical rainforest covered much of this continent's surface. But gradually the continents began splitting up to eventually take up their present positions and climatic conditions began altering. As a consequence, much of Gondwanaland flora became extinct or evolved in the face of these new pressures to become many of the tropical plants that we are familiar with today. Australia was the oddity. As conditions worldwide cooled heralding the beginning of the Ice Ages, Australia was rafting northwards into the tropics, and so maintained the necessary conditions for much of the original Gondwana flora to survive. From a moist continent dominated by inland seas, Australia then began drying out with the Pleistocene Ice Ages to become more like the Australia we know today. Only in tropical North Queensland have

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Left: The tiny Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) - also called Yellow-bellied sunbird - Š David White, Solar Whisper Green tree python (Morelia viridis) can reach 2 metres in length and 1.6 kg in weight - Š Dean Jewell

This region is breathtakingly spectacular: a lush, centuries old rainforest teeming with wildlife and criss-

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conditions remained stable enough for some of the Gondwana flora to flourish, and the Daintree rainforest is the largest tract of forest with the highest percentage of these 'green dinosaurs' in the world. The Daintree area is not large - approximately 1,200 square kilometres - about half the area of Sydney. Most of the Daintree is steep, rocky, rainforest clad terrain; with the taller mountains of Thorntons Peak this is what has prevented the area from being well documented and understood; but also prevented it from being too exploited. The Daintree does not have a long societal history, but it certainly has been eventful. The place names reflect some of the area's turbulent history: Mount Misery, Mount Sorrow, Cape Tribulation, Weary Bay, Pauls Luck, Darkies Downfall. The origin of some of these names is obscure, but all point to a colourful past. The first pioneers into the Daintree were the cedar cutters. Lured by reports of massive groves of cedar on the Mossman and Daintree Rivers. One of the first cedar cutters, a Jamaican named Dan Hart, went on to become the first person to realise the potential of sugar cane, and Mossman now stands on the site of his original holdings. When the cedar diminished, the wealth of the Daintree was found in its alluvial soils, and the Daintree River valley became the dairying centre for the region. The Daintree rainforests will not be able to throw off the mantle of being an area of controversial decisions and poor management.; and in all approximately 25% of the forest has been lost as a direct result of European mining, timber cutting, and agriculture. Few people realise that the rainforests bordering the Daintree River and adjacent mountain areas were only declared National Park in 1967. Only the nomination and acceptance of the entire Wet Tropics under the guidelines of the World Heritage Convention in 1988 has finally preserved the remaining Daintree rainforests for future generations.

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Left: Graceful tree frog; Hairy Pittosporum; Bridal veil fungi - Daintree Rainforest Š Dean Jewell

and Pieters Botte often shrouded in cloud. Few people have ventured into the heart of the Daintree, and

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The coastal area of the Daintree near Cape Tribulation is where these two World Heritage ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropcs rainforest, meet at the high tide mark. Named 'Kulki' by the local Kuku Yulanji people, it is possible in some places to walk less than ten metres from the rainforest and be walking on the reef. The combination of reef, rainforest and beach is stunning in its beauty. Resorts and hostels nestle amongst the rainforests, but it is a place to spend time to appreciate the beauty to the full extent. For those choosing to travel further north beyond Cape Tribulation, four-wheel drive vehicles are able to traverse the Bloomfield Track to the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community, the Bloomfield River and Cooktown. This road is not suitable for two wheel drive cars as there are several creek crossings and very steep inclines. Driving into Cooktown, the road passes the mysterious looking Black Mountain, site of many legends. Cooktown is the last township before reaching the sparsely populated wilderness of Cape York Peninsula, with its pioneering past still evident in the character of the town of old buildings telling the tale of a very affluent past. Cooktown is so named after Lieutenant James Cook's stopover to repair his ship whilst sailing north along the Australian coastline, Cooktown has a few statues: one of Captain Cook, a statue for the miners in the 1873 gold rush and a Chinese statue. Presently the community is trying to raise money to erect a statue to one of its most important historical figures: The Little Old Man.

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Rainforest canopy of nature's pinwheels ... evergreen Licuala fan palms (Licuala ramsayi), Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park Š Andrew Watson

The Little Old (Aboriginal) Man instigated the first reconciliation in Australia’s recorded history. The project will highlight the shared history of the Waymbuurr Indigenous people and the Europeans who landed at Waalumbaal Birri (Endeavour River) 246 years ago. Lieutenant James Cook arrived at the Endeavour River in Far North Queensland on 17 June 1770 with his crew of 86 men, to repair his ship HMB Endeavour after she was badly damaged on the Great Barrier Reef. During their 48-day stay they met with the Guugu

The Europeans recorded the Aboriginal language, allowed them to inspect their white skin and the first recorded reconciliation in Australia's history took place after an altercation over ownership of a turtle. The Europeans unwittingly broke many Aboriginal laws and customs during their stay and took a lot of food which was vital to the existence of the Aborigines. A Little Old Aboriginal Man, obviously a elder of his people, came forward with a spear with its tip broken off, signifying that he came in peace and meant no harm to these strangers. Cook returned some spears he had picked up to The Little Old Man, and wrote in his journal "which reconciled everything." The Cooktown Re-enactment Association want to honour the Little Old Man who instigated the first reconciliation in Australian history, by erecting a life-size bronze statue at Reconciliation Rocks, the place where they believe this reconciliation took place. His ancestors continue to reside in the Endeavour River region in Far North Queensland today. The community prides itself in their social and cultural integration with the mantra “Two cultures - one people.” Cooktown, with its historical charm and tranquility, has today become a departure point for those intrepid adventurers and well equipped safaris to trek to the 'Far, Far North' following the old packhorse trails and telegraph lines to explore Australia's last frontier, Cape York Peninsula.

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Left top: Grassy Hill Light or Cooktown Light is still an active lighthouse. Centre: Statue of Captain James Cook at Cooktown, commemorating his landing there in 1770. Bottom: The Queensland state floral emblem, the Cooktown Orchid (Dendrobium bigibbum).

Yimithirr Bama on six occasions.

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Myall Beach during a morning rain storm, Cape Tribulation Š Andrew Watson

The far, far north Cape York Peninsula & Torres Strait

At just two percent of the area of Australia (about half the size of Victoria), the Far North's Cape York Peninsula is the very epitome of Dorothea Mackellar's classic romantic ode to wild Australia. Home to fertile plains that make up the peninsula are as glorious in their beauty as they are remote from the realities of city life. The region has, in fact, been dubbed 'a country within a country' in response to the strange exotic purity of its unfathomable wilderness, which occasionally seems out of place in the driest country on Earth. The experiences, the environment and the expressive cultures of Far North Queensland also set the region aside as a distinctly different destination. With a population of only 18,000 people, 60% of whom are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, Cape York Peninsula is not only culturally important, but also ecologically, economically and strategically. Home to a geography that appears to be stretching out to the world, it is little surprise that the indigenous culture of Cape York presents a blend of regional cultures, infused with international elements. The area is home to a diverse collection of Aboriginal communities, ranging from the most traditional to the multicultural people of Thursday Island, where the presence of colonial-inspired architecture and reggae rhythms played through the picturesque island's radio station seem more Caribbean in nature than Australian. The Northern Peninsula Area, or the NPA as it is known locally, the southern shores of the Torres Strait, has the same distinct personality. It is here that a colloquial language, Cape York Creole, is spoken and where the name 'Jardine' provokes hostile and bitter memories of an unsuccessful and tumultuous initial contact with representatives of the British Raj, the Jardines. Between the emerald green walls of the tropical jungle, known as the Lockerby Scrub, and the turquoise waters of Albany Passage and the Great Barrier Reef, lays the remnants of the initial colonial occupation at the old town site of Somerset. This is one of the cornerstones of modern Cape York history. It is an 134 Insight

Left: Termite mounds on the Normanby floodplain, north-east Cape York Peninsula. Š Kerry Trapnell Right: Serpentine River, Mitchell River Delta, Cape York Peninsula Š Kerry Trapnell

two distinct seasons marked by drought and flooding rains, the rugged mountain ranges and sweeping

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almost unbelievable history of convict pirates, an imperial garrison, Spanish treasure, cattle drives, gold rushes, pearling fleets and a fort to repel the Russian invasion. As the geographic gateway to Australia's fertile and prosperous east coast, this region has served as an intermediary through which innumerable

While the names of several towns and settlements still remain on maps of the region, many of these exist now as little more than ghost towns, some converted to tourist attractions that are the legacy of the boom and bust of the gold rush days of last century. It was in this environment that the Palmer River gold fever was cultured. As a direct result of this fever, Cooktown almost miraculously became an instant international metropolis on the edge of the British Empire where every nation of substance established an embassy. Unlike most cities born of wealthy gold strikes, Cooktown was not exclusively built of demountable buildings and removable material. Consequently, contemporary Cooktown has a legacy of a great many charming structures from the last century that would likely prove economically prohibitive to duplicate today. These fringe the legendary site at which Captain James Cook repaired his vessel during his voyage of discovery that introduced Australia to the Western world more than two hundred years ago. Outside of the south-east corner of The Cape, roads are rare. Bitumen tracks end a few hundred kilometres from Cairns, giving way to dusty bush trails. The road from Cairns to Cape York presents visitors with the opportunity to move through one of the longest unbroken stretches of wilderness in Australia. The narrow track, some 1030 kilometres in length, offers the exploratory motorist continuous adventure as it exposes rainforests, winding mountain roads, narrow river crossings, swampy environments rich in wildlife and lakedotted plains existing far from human habitation. This is an adventurer’s getaway in every sense of the word. Beyond the tip of Cape York, the Torres Strait Islands number more than 100 and most are surrounded by fringing coral platforms, satellite reefs and picturesque sand cays. Seventeen of these islands are populated, but the origins of their ancestors remains a mystery. Some archeological studies reveal early settlement that dates back to at least 4,000 years. Thursday Island is the centre of administration of the Torres Strait Islands, and each year many visitors arrive by daily ferry or by air to explore the culture and history. Whether you choose to travel there by air or by sea, a visit to the Torres Strait Islands is a unique Australian adventure . 136 Insight

Left: Waterbirds, Aurukun Wetlands, on the western side of Cape York Peninsula. Š Kerry Trapnell Right: Fruit Bat Falls, Eliot Creek, Cape York Peninsula is a popular swimming stop on the way to 'The Top'.

to the unforgiving conditions of the far north.

Š Kerry Trapnell

people have travelled south throughout the ages. The endurance of its pristine environment is testament

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Kuranda Once a gateway to the rich goldfields further inland, the cultural rainforest village of Kuranda is nestled high within the World Heritage listed rainforests of the Great Dividing Range. The local Djabuguy aboriginal people call the area Ngunbay – Place of Platypus; and just getting there is an experience you will cherish. At an altitude of 380 metres above sea level and situated on top of the range 25km northwest from Cairns, the picturesque Kuranda village is a relaxed little township founded in 1876, and reputed as a cool mountain retreat surrounded by World Heritage Rainforest, which due to its elevation has temperatures, is several degrees cooler and less humid than on the coast. Tourism came to the area in the early 1900s and Kuranda, with its famous untamed Barron Falls, was a big attraction for honeymooners. In the 1960s the hippie generation found it a most desirable location, and the Kuranda Markets soon followed selling their arts and crafts and home-grown produce. The Kuranda township may be reached by road via the Kennedy Highway from Cairns, stopping on the way to enjoy the magnificent view of the Coral Sea from the Henry Ross Lookout. Buses travel daily from both Port Douglas


and Cairns (

Alternatively, the ascent may be made by way of the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway with its quaint old carriages, or by the environmentally friendly Skyrail skimming the rainforest canopy. Many visitors make the choice to combine both of these experiences. Each trip takes in a multitude of sceneries, charting the transition from the rich earthy tones of the region's cane fields to the cool embrace of the rainforest clad mountains. Working its way through lush green canopies, past deep gorges and beside rugged mountains, before reaching the breathtaking Barron Falls, the Kuranda Railway trip presents a range of unforgettable imagery throughout its 90 minute passage. This is a view that was originally captured more than a century ago by teams of railway pioneers, armed only with picks and shovels. Today, that 34km track still winds its way through 15 hand made tunnels up to Kuranda Station - a station which looks more like a beautiful botanical garden. 138 Insight

Left top: The environmentally friendly Skyrail Rainforest Cableway takes you over World Heritage listed tropical rainforest canopy. Bottom: The very green Kuranda Railway station. © Image Queensland Rail Right: Kuranda Railway traversing Stoney Creek Falls on the climb up the Kuranda Range. © Andrew Watson

village in the rainforest

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The increasingly adventurous ascension by riding the spectacular Skyrail, the longest gondola cableway in the world, gives travellers a birds-eye view as it spans a total distance of 7.5 kilometres over the top of the rainforest, from Smithfield. This is a way for all ages to experience a tropical rainforest at close quarters without impacting on the fragile environment, gliding silently just metres above the treetops of the World Heritage Barron Falls National Park. As with the Kuranda Railway passage, Skyrail ventures past the spectacular Barron Falls as it progresses up the MacAlister Range. While aboard the Skyrail, passengers are presented with revealing views of the Coral Sea and Cairns city. Easy access walkways at the Barron Falls Station lead you to three lookouts. Here you can witness breathtaking views of the Barron River, Gorge and Falls. In the wet season, the Barron Falls in flood can be the most magnificent sight. The rainforest setting of Kuranda, with its postcard village of old timber houses under shady rainforest trees, has long remained a source of inspiration for countless artists. Since the 1960s, the township has attracted some of the world's best painters, potters, photographers, glass and wood workers to reside in or near the village alongside the Djabugay people; and today it is a haven for those drawn from all corners of the globe with art, music and mutual respect being a unifying force. The stroll up from the train station or Skyrail station will bring you to fine art galleries, locally designed clothing stores, some lovely little restaurants, and giftshops within the quaint shopping village. Located within Kuranda Village and adjacent to the Australian 140 Insight

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While at the Markets, you may also like to experience the renowned Birdworld Kuranda and Kuranda Koala Gardens, where besides koalas to cuddle, you may also encounter freshwater crocodiles, meet some monitors, wombats and a variety of wallabies. Kuranda Birdworld is the largest collection of free-flying birds in Australia with a huge flight aviary, superbly landscaped with lakes, ponds and waterfalls. There are more than 45 species of native birds, including Regent bowerbirds, parrots and the increasingly rare cassowary. There are international species too, from the earth's vanishing rainforests, including the dazzling and outrageously plumaged macaw from South America. Hand feeding opportunities are available, and your camera is a must! Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is an enchanting experience with Australia's largest live butterfly display. Here, in a vast, lushly landscaped enclosure, literally hundreds of brilliantly coloured butterflies will surround you, including the flashing, dancing electric-blue Ulysses, regarded by many as the unofficial emblem of Tropical North Queensland. Wear something bright (either red, pink or white) and entice the butterflies to land on you! Easily accessible from the village centre are a range of rainforest and riverside walks, which introduce visitors to the dwarfing majesty of Kuranda's wilderness from another perspective altogether. Kuranda's elevation ensures temperatures several degrees cooler than the coast, and makes an escape to the tree-lined streets a pleasure any day of the week. This will be a time to relax, to wander at leisure and to absorb an atmosphere rich in culture and pure in natural elegance. Time spent in the fresh, clear air of Kuranda brings a sense of calming regeneration of body and mind, as does enjoyment of an alternate lifestyle high above the coast, in the rainforest of Tropical North Queensland. 142 Insight

Left top: The stunning blue Ulysses butterfly (Papilio ulysses) has a wing span between 100 and 130 mm Centre: The small Cruiser butterfly (Vindula arsine) lay their eggs in clusters on the tendrils of wild passionfruit vines. Bottom: Cairns birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera euphorion) is the largest of all Australian butterflies, Photos Š Daintree Safaris

Butterfly Sanctuary, the Kuranda Heritage Markets is an all-weather covered market nestled in the rainforest. Ninety stalls show local artists at work and provide an innovative range of handmade local crafts plus Australian opals, gemstones, crocodile and kangaroo leather goods, Aboriginal arts and crafts, and clothing. The Markets are open 9.30am - 3.30pm and a shuttle bus makes it easy to get to and from the train or Skyrail station.

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The tropical tablelands The Tropical Tablelands is a region of unsurpassed natural beauty where lush World Heritage rainforests laced with sparkling mountain streams and mist-shrouded waterfalls embrace and protect a substantial proportion of Australia's plant and animal species. Covering less that one thousandth of the Australian continent, the Tropical Tablelands is home to 62% of Australian butterfly species, 30% of Australian frog species, 60% of Australian bat species, plus incredible numbers of bird, reptile, marsupial, plant and fern species. A combination of ecology and lifestyle at its finest, the Tropical Tablelands blend a number of the best inland attractions of the tropics, connecting people not only with natural marvels, but some of Australia's richest agricultural lands and most charming small towns. This unique accident of geology spreads along a rich, fertile plateau 600 metres above sea level between the Great Dividing Range to the west and the Bellenden Ker Range which juts up from the coastal plain and includes Queensland's highest peak, Mt Bartle Frere at 1622 metres. Climbing through one of the four main access routes which wind their way from the canefields and lowland forests, the visitor enters a truly different world. This sub-tropical haven in the tropics, only an hour's drive from the coastal humidity and heat of Cairns, is quieter, degrees cooler, and quite simply spectacular. One notable experience when visiting the region is to take the 'waterfall circuit', which should include a visit to Australia's widest waterfall - Millstream Falls near Raveneshoe - that has been measured in full flood at an incredible 150 metres width. The 'Tropical Tablelands' label actually refers to the Atherton Tablelands and often includes the slightly higher, Evelyn Tablelands, all of which resulted from dramatic block faulting of the earth's crust, an estimated 50 million years ago, and volcanic upheaval as recently as 10,000 years ago. A legacy of this action is the rich soil and the beautiful crater lakes, Eacham, Barrine and Euramoo, set amid the rainforest. 144 Insight

Left: The red-backed fairywren (Malurus melanocephalus), Atherton Tablelands, Queensland Š The northern dwarf tree frog, (Litoria bicolor) Š David White, Solar Whisper Daintree Right: Nandroya Falls from the air, surrounded by pristine rainforest, Wooroonooran National Park, Queensland Š Andrew Watson.

waterfalls, crater lakes, primordial forests

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The lakes are easily accessible with Lake Barrine famous not only for its forest walks surrounding the lake and rainforest cruises on the lake, but also its Devonshire teas at the iconic teahouse on the shore. Another crater lake is Bromfield Swamp, a sought after destination by serious bird watchers. Thousands of magpie geese are joined by the brolgas and sarus cranes which, with their long, long legs extended behind them and their peculiar calls filling the air, make their annual journey from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

for much of tropical Australia's savanna and wetland flora and fauna, and cultural heritage. Just outside Mareeba, Granite Gorge is a delightful spot where rock wallabies can be seen most of the day, and where acres of granite boulders give rise to a maze of walking tracks and safe swimming holes. The colourful and statuesque cassowary, Victoria's rifle bird, golden and satin bower birds, wompoo pigeons, king parrots, kingfishers and many other beautiful and unusual birds are all found in this region. The creeks are frequented by platypus while the tree-climbing kangaroos, sugar-gliders, green possums and a diverse spectrum of other mammal species each occupy a niche in the unique and delicate cycle of life in these habitats. Against this primordial backdrop of forests, volcanic cinder cones and tranquil crater lakes this rich fertile plateau, known as the 'food bowl' of the tropical north, yeilds a constant supply of tropical fruit such as papaws, mangoes, avocados, macadamia nuts (a Queensland native) and lychees, in addition to tea and coffee plantations close by temperate orchards of stone fruit and citrus. Amid these are fields crisscrossed with crops of peanuts, potatoes, maize, and fodder for beef and dairy cattle. Located between Mareeba and Atherton, the Mt Uncle Distillery was established by Mt. Uncle Grazing Co. at the turn of the 21st century. The distillery has slowly and surely built an impeccable & incomparable reputation for crafting fine, award winning spirits and liqueurs using only the finest 100% natural, pure and preservative free ingredients.. 146 Insight

Left: Nerada Tea plantation near Malanda, Atherton Tablelands Š Andrew Watson Right: Everybody say "cheese"! Millaa Millaa, Queensland, Australia. Š Andrew Watson

The Mareeba Wetlands Reserve protects over 5,000 acres of savannas and wetlands, providing a sanctuary

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Just north of Atherton, in the tiny town of Tolga, craftsmen and woodworkers of Tolga Woodworks create the most stunning artwork and furniture using Australia's unique timbers. Flowing timber waves panels, delicate lace bowls, exquisite jewellery boxes are all made using local timbers. Visitors to the Tablelands, mindful of the strange geological features of the region, are sometimes drawn to the Main Street of Atherton to experience the Crystal Caves, an experience described as adventurous, educational, fun, interactive and maybe a little bizarre! Taking pride of place at the Crystal Caves is one of the world's biggest amethyst geodes - The 'Empress of Uruguay'. Atherton's history has a strong Chinese influence as can be seen at the Hou Wang Chinese Temple and Museum; and the Tablelands Regional Gallery showcases contemporary works by artists of this region. Situated in one of the wettest areas of the Atherton Tablelands, Malanda is surrounded by pockets of rainforest and rolling hills covered with lush green grass where dairy cows graze. Freshwater creeks snake their way through the hills, culminating in waterfalls that cascade into refreshing swimming holes. It is here that the Tropical North Queensland's dairy industry is centred and one of the world's largest dairy factories is supported by over 190 local dairy farmers. The dairy products sourced from this town travel along the longest milk run in the world, reaching south to Townsville, west to Alice Springs, north to Darwin and overseas to New Guinea and South East Asia.

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Sunrise overlooking the sea of turbines at at Windy Hill, Ravenshoe, Queensland Š Andrew Watson

Millaa’s main attraction are the falls of the same name which are surrounded by lush rainforest and cascade perfectly to a pristine waterhole below where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the cool water; and if you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a platypus. The name Millaa Millaa is meant to mean 'lots of water' in the Indigenous language of the area. The township is the centre of the Waterfall Circuit which includes Mungalli Falls, Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls. Millaa Millaa Falls. A regular journey by locals and visitors alike takes in the many village markets that are periodically held throughout The Tablelands. The oldest is in the historic precinct of Yungaburra where turn-of-the-century buildings provide a charming backdrop for the quaint art and craft activities and monthly markets (4th Saturday of the month). Only minutes from Yungaburra is the famous Curtain Fig Tree, one of the best known attractions on the Tablelands. The tree stands 50 metres tall and spreads to 39 metres wide at the base and is over 800 years old. Near to the historical town of Yungaburra, is Australia's most recent war memorial. The Avenue of Honour has been constructed beside Lake Tinaroo, against a backdrop of calm water and mountains, to honour the 39 Australian diggers who were killed in Afghanistan. Seventy flame trees have been planted and in years to come, they will flower for three or four months of the year, specifically around November Remembrance Day. For visitors, the Tropical Tablelands present so many opportunities for appreciating the arts and crafts, tasting the tropical produce of the region and marvelling at the geographical diversity. Birdwatching, wildlife river cruises, horse riding, ballooning, watersports and fishing are all enjoyed, as are the spectacular scenic drives. Winding roads lead to panoramic lookouts, bushwalks and tours of waterfalls and scenery so stunning and ancient in origin as to put mankind's humble experience on the planet into perspective. 150 Insight

© Left: Wandering Whistling ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata), found in the wetlands and tidal creeks of northern Australia Right: Picturesque Millaa Millaa Falles, Atherton Tablelands. © Andrew Watson

About 15km south of Malanda is the picturesque village of Millaa Millaa. A former timber town, Millaa

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The great green way rugged mountain ranges to golden beaches

and including two World Heritage listed natural treasures in the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests. Rugged mountain ranges and stands of sugar cane, tropical fruit farms and long stretches of golden beaches offer stunning views and photo opportunities. The area has over 25 tropical islands off its coast, the most famous of which are Dunk, Bedarra and one of the world's largest island national parks, Hinchinbrook. A quick turn off the Bruce Highway presents access to such fantastic locations as Bramston Beach, Ella Bay, Flying Fish Point, Etty Bay, Cowley Beach, Kurramine Beach, Bingal Bay, Mission Beach, Tully Heads and Cardwell. Each features seemingly endless stretches of clean golden sands, with many fringed exquisitely by rainforest greenery. Towering 1622 metres above the coastal lowlands, is Queensland's highest mountain, Mt Bartle Frere (Chooreechillum). Beneath the towering mountain near the township of Babinda is a popular swimming area - The Boulders - named for a series of huge outcrops of granite boulders found along Babinda Creek. With an exceedingly high average annual rainfall of 4614mm, the surge of cascading mountain water in the creek as it thunders through the Boulders adds to the wild beauty of the region. Legend has it that long ago, when the Yidinji tribe lived in the Babinda Valley, there was a very beautiful young girl, Oolana, who was given in marriage to a very old, respected elder, Waroonoo. Some time later, a wandering tribe came through the valley, and as was the friendly custom of the Yidinji, they made the strangers welcome, inviting them to stay. In the visiting tribe was Dyga, a very handsome young man. At first sight, Dyga and Oolana fell in love. So great was their strong attraction for each other they arranged to meet secretly and run away. They journeyed well up into the valley; spending wonderful happy days together camped under Chooreechillum, near the water’s edge. 152 Insight

Left: Rainforest green, Mt Lewis National Park © Andrew Watson Right: The Boulders, Babinda Creek, 57 km south of Cairns, sits in the southern foothills of the spectaculat Mt Bellenden Ker. © J Rutledge-Smith

The Great Green Way is an area of outstanding natural beauty stretching between Townsville and Cairns

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The wandering tribesmen seized Dyga, forcing him away, never to return. The Yidinjis had taken hold of Oolana who broke away and violently flung herself forward into the waters of the creek, as she called for Dyga to return to her. At the very instant Oolana struck the water, a tremendous upheaval occurred; the land shook with terror and sorrow as Oolana cried for her lost lover. Suddenly rushing water came cascading over the whole area; huge boulders were thrown up and she disappeared into them. Oolana seemed to become part of the stones as if to guard the very spot where it all happened. So to this very day, her spirit remains. Some say that at times her anguished calls cry out for her lover to return – and that wandering travellers should take care lest Oolana calls them too close to the waters. Up to 17 lives have been lost at the Babinda Boulders, most of them young men; so heed the warning signs, and keep to the clearly marked swimming areas. Despite the rugged terrain, walking tracks are popular today with locals and visitors, and bushwalkers regularly accept the challenge to climb to the top of Mt Bartle Frere, in exchange for the splendour that the view from its summit bestows upon those who scale its height. Starting at Josephine Falls, another well known swimming spot about 50 kilometres south of Cairns, the climb is a tough 7.5 kilometre haul which should only be attempted by fit, well equipped hikers. Mt Bellenden Ker, at 1593 metres, falls just short of its highest neighbour in terms of height, but it is home to just as diverse a range of natural features. The Bellenden Ker National Park encompasses 79,500 hectares of wild mountain range, making it the largest rainforest park in Queensland and an outstanding feature of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Due to dramatic changes in altitude and soil density created by a range of geological phenomena, the mountain is clothed in several disparate types of rainforest. From tall, large-leaved forest on the foothills, the vegetation changes to a smaller-leaf, lower canopy on the wind swept peaks above 1500 metres. The summit is a wild, boulder-strewn environment that can cloud over without warning. 154 Insight

Right: Joshephine Falls, Wooroonooran National Park, is fed by rains falling on Queensland’s highest peak, Mt Bartle Frere © Andrew Watson.

The two tribes had been searching for them, and it was at this spot, they came upon the two lovers.

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Sudden rainstorms are common and temperatures drop rapidly at night throughout the year. This relatively untouched wilderness remains the wettest region in Australia, with annual rainfalls exceeding 10 metres historically commonplace. As a result, rivers, streams and waterfalls (including the breathtaking 350m Wallaman Falls) cascade through lush rainforest on their way to the ocean below. Within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area bounded by Tully, Mena Creek, Innisfail, Millaa Millaa and Ravenshoe is the Gambil Yalgay Misty Mountains, a 130km network of short and distance walking tracks and roads. The Misty Mountains trails have been constructed on old logging tracks which originally followed Aboriginal walking tracks. These trails cross the Walter Hill Range and the Cardwell Range, extending from the coastal plain to the tablelands. The area is recognised for its diversity of rainforest types, plant species and outstanding landscape features. (Info online at Just 90 minutes from Cairns, the Mamu Tropical Skywalk is set in the rugged gorge country of the Mamu Aboriginal people, halfway between Innisfail and Millaa Millaa. The walkway is designed to allow visitors to experience the rainforest at every level while having minimal impact on the fragile environment. More than 1100 metres of walking tracks (suitable for wheelchairs and prams) meander through the forest linking the various sections of the walkway. Here at ground level, colourful fruits litter the shady

Photos courtesy of Mamu Tropical Skywalk

forest floor between massive tree trunks with impressive plank-like buttressed roots.

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The walkway itself is a sturdy structure of galvanised steel and recycled plastic decking which takes advantage of the valley slope to lead the visitor effortlessly from ground level to vantage points among the trees. The cantilever is a short elevated section, the last 10 metres of which extends beyond the last supporting tower, allowing visitors to feel as if they are floating in the rainforest canopy. Built on the brink of the North Johnstone River gorge, it provides glimpses of the river snaking through the valley below. At the end of the walkway, a massive 37m high observation tower looms above the tallest trees. The walkway is on the edge of Wooroonooran National Park. Visitors wishing to explore the rainforest further will find more walking tracks, leading to scenic waterfalls, just a few more kilometres further up the Palmerston Highway.

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Mission Beach Queensland's Cassowary Coast

wide golden beach, a perfect base to relax and explore this unspoilt natural environment. A blend of sophisticated eateries, boutiques and art galleries nestle against lush tropical rainforest; Mission Beach reminds us of how beautiful little beachside towns can be, blending vibrant art and culture with unique tourism attractions and an artisan market, held on the first and third and last Sunday of each month for most of the year, showcasing local produce, clothing, and arts and crafts. South Mission Beach has glorious views across to Dunk Island, Bedarra, the Family Group and the largest National Park Island in Australia, Hinchinbrook Island. Drive ten minutes north to Wongaling Beach for shopping facilities and the water taxi or charter boat to Dunk Island. Alternatively, charter a boat and design your own picnic day or fishing expedition in these beautiful tropical waters, or venture to any of the unspoilt islands and beaches in the region. Exploring the region can be an adventure with crocodile spotting mangrove cruises by day or by night, fishing and hiking opportubities; and for those looking for a physical challenge, this area is also home to some of the finest and most adventurous recreational activities such as white water rafting down the untouched Tully River, or perhaps skydiving, water skiing, sailing or sea kayaking. However Mission Beach is much more than beaches, sea views and unique village atmosphere it also has some of the most beautiful rainforest walks in Tropical North Queensland. This rare lowland mesophyll rainforest is the habitat to 60 percent of Australia's butterflies (the most famous being the electric blue Ulysses butterfly), over 200 bird species, and 52 mammals. It is possible to encounter the endangered cassowary, Australia's largest bird on a rainforest pathway. The Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is a colourful creature with its brilliant blue and purple head and neck, and red wattle. However, many of the flightless birds or ratites around the world have become extinct; and there are now fewer than 1,500 cassowaries remaining in north Queensland; 158 Insight

Left: Coconut germinating on the beach. Š Right: Australia's 'big bird', the cassowary grows to 2 metres in height and can weigh 85 kilograms.

Townsville and Cairns. Mission Beach is made up of four beach villages linked by 14 kilometres of

Š Liz Gallie

At the heart of the Great Green Way lies beautiful Mission Beach, a natural mid way point between

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so it is imperative that care is taken especially driving along the roads leading into and around Mission Beach, as vehicle strike is the main threat facing cassowaries after habitat destruction and fragmentation. The name cassowary comes from two Papuan words, kasu, which means ‘horned’ and weri, which means ‘head’. This refers to the bony-looking casque on the heads of all adult birds. However, this casque is neither horn nor bone but a tough skin covering a core of firm, cellular foam-like material (similar in texture to Styrofoam). The naked skin on the cassowary's neck is bright blue and red, a pair of red wattles hanging down at the front; and the intensity of the colour changes according to the mood of the bird. They feed mainly on forest fruits and are sometimes referred to as the gardeners of the forest because they play such an important part in dispersing rainforest seeds. Unlike many other fruit-eating birds which use grit in their digestive systems to break up the seeds as well as the flesh, cassowaries have a from the parent plant. It has been estimated that 70-100 species of plant depend almost entirely on the cassowary to disperse their seeds. Unfortunately, many cassowaries are killed by misplaced 'kindness'. Please do not feed cassowaries. Individuals which become accustomed to being fed from cars are attracted to roads, often with fatal result, while others run the risk of dog attack when attracted to urban areas. Tame cassowaries also pose a danger to humans. The birds are equipped with long dagger-like toes, up to 120mm in length. These are used as weapons, the bird jumping up and kicking forward with both feet at once. Cassowaries which have become used to being fed can be demanding and unpredictable and it is these birds which have been responsible for the majority of attacks on people. For the sake of our endangered Wet Tropics emblem, and for your own safety, if you are lucky enough to encounter a cassowary in the wild please resist that photo opportunity and do not be tempted to feed the bird. Please watch out for cassowaries and slow down on the roads around Mission Beach! 160 Insight

Left: Ulysses butterfly, also known as the Dunk Island butterfly. Sunrise over Dunk Island, seen from Mission Beach

'gentle' digestive system which passes the seeds unharmed, into a pile of compost, many kilometres

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Cardwell by the Sea Driving from Townsville to the south, or from Cairns to the north, Cardwell comes as a most pleasant surprise as the highway emerges right beside the sea, with magnificent views out to Hinchinbrook Island - the world's largest island National Park, with a jagged chain of mountains forming its backbone. Cardwell is the gateway to the Hinchinbrook experience of untamed wilderness, superb beaches, deserted islands, coral reefs and what is without doubt, the best boating, fishing and wilderness locality along the North Queensland coast. The township of Cardwell was devstated by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011, but has bounced back with exceptional vigour and enthusiasm for life.; and is the perfect host for a range of activities and experiences. A visit to the Rainforest & Reef Interpretive & Information Centre located on the ocean front provides the perfect guide to the region, with staff willing to show you which seashore or rainforest walking trails or drives are the most interesting or scenic, and where to find the best swimming holes and picnic areas. At Girringun, an Aboriginal cultural centre, you will discover facts about the local aboriginal people, their past and customs. The Cardwell Jetty located in the centre of town provides land based anglers with an excellent fishing facility. For the boat owner, Cardwell’s Port Hinchinbrook provides state of the art marina, public boat ramp and repairs and maintenance facilities; and it is widely acknowledged that Cardwell is ranked second to none when it comes to all weather and all tide boating & fishing. Hinchinbrook Passage is an idylic part of the world for fishing, a maze of mangrove-lined creeks teeming with fish such as barramundi and mangrove jack not to mention the abundance of oversized mud crabs. Charter operators and guided cruises to Hinchinbrook Channel and Hinchinbrook Island operate daily or on demand and there are also boats for hire for those wishing to go it alone. Cardwell is steeped in rich history and glorious scenery, and is the perfect destination to linger longer.

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Images ©

Charters Towers Experience the Great Aussie Outback

When you leave the beautiful Atherton Tablelands heading south on the Great Inland Way, there is a whole different world that lies ahead where you can see the outback, feel the history and live Australia’s story. Situated on the crossroads of the Great Inland Way and the Overlander’s Way (Flinders Highway) about five hours drive from the Atherton region and 90 minutes inland from Townsville, Charters Towers, ‘The World’ as it’s affectionately known, is a scenic gold mining city that’s alive with history and character. From a chance discovery of gold in 1872 by a young Aboriginal horse boy, Jupiter Mosman, Charters Towers soon turned into a bustling metropolis which, in its heyday, was Queensland’s second largest city. At the height of the gold rush the city included 11 crushing mills, 65 hotels and one of the very first regional Stock Exchanges in Australia, which still stands proudly in the town centre. With a population now of around 9,000 in the town and 3,000 in surrounding areas, life here is a little less hectic, with visitors able to explore the rich heritage of Charters Towers at their own pace. The Visitor Information Centre is staffed with local volunteers who are more than happy to point you towards the many man-made historical structures, stunning examples of very special architecture beautifully preserved from the wealthy days of the gold rush, and the natural attractions that abound in the area. A leisurely guided walking tour, self-drive audio tour or a bird’s eye view from the air in a glider or helicopter will reveal the authentic, historical and raw natural beauty of the Charters Towers region. For something completely different, try a visit to the largest herd of Texas Longhorns in Australia at Leahton Park, on the outskirts of town, where you’ll enjoy a special wagon tour and traditional chuck-wagon smoko. There is also a designated fossicking area in Charters Towers so why not try your luck fossicking for gold? Although mining continues to be an important part of life in the region and the old fashioned crushers have long laid silent, links to the glory days of mining life can still be explored at the Venus Gold Battery, The Miner’s Cottage, Zara Clark Museum, Towers Hill and the Stock Exchange Arcade. Guided bus and walking tours will take you to places most people will miss and the night-time guided ghost tour will take you to corners that some say characters of the past still frequent! Tour schedules change through the seasons but your ' outback mates' at the information centre will be your best source of reference. 164 Insight

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Townsville recreation, relaxation & repast Townsville and the adjoining city of Thuringowa make up Australia's largest tropical, beachside city of nearly 170,000 people, 3,000 hotel rooms, and 700 dining outlets. Boasting more than 300 sunny days each year, the diversity of experiences range from the excitement of bull-riding and 'barra' fishing, visit to the stunning rainforest covering the nearby Paluma Ranges. The region is an eclectic mix of rainforest, reef, sandy beaches, and outback. In the heart of Townsville city, The Strand is 2.5km of beachfront boulevard lined with restaurants, cafes, bars, picnic areas, swimming enclosures and pools, sporting and recreational facilities, walking paths and water playground - all with sweeping views across Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island. Just 25 minutes from the city centre by fast catamaran ferry across Cleveland Bay, or 35 minutes by car ferry, is Magnetic Island. So named by Captain James Cook in 1770 as he sailed the Endeavour north, this island of beautiful beaches, rocky outcrops and secluded coves is World Heritage listed. 'Maggie', as locals affectionately know it, is a residential island with a true village atmosphere. Located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and with over two thirds of the island national park, it is home to more than 2,500 people. Maggie is also home to Australia's largest colony of koalas in the wild. An hour's drive south of Townsville, 'The Burdekin', with its twin towns of Ayr and Home Hill linked by the iconic Burdekin Bridge, is known as the sugar capital of Australia, a fishing mecca, birdwatching paradise and traditional homeland of the Bindal and Juru Aboriginal people. It is famous for its rich flat farmlands, amazing waterways and scenic beauty; and along the coast you will find Alva Beach, a popular launching spot for dive boats heading out to the S.S. Yongala shipwreck. The shipwreck is known as one of the top wreck dives in the world because of its abundant marine life and corals. West 135 kilometres from Townsville is the heritage centre of Charters Towers, a city of history and charm that boomed following the 1872 discovery of gold in the area by an Aboriginal boy, Jupiter Mosman. 166 Insight

Left: Looking to Castle Hill from the marina. Right; The Wulguru Kaba people believe the ancient granite Castle Hill, towering over much of Townsville, is a spirit nurturing the people, wildlife and the sparkling Coral Sea. Š iStockphoto

through to a tour of the world's largest living reef aquarium, a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef or a

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At the height of the gold rush in 1880, Charters Towers was turned into a bustling metropolis, which in its heyday, boasted being the second largest city in Queensland. At the time, the city was believed to have everything a person could ever want and soon became known as 'The World'. Today it is the perfect example of 'real Australia' where the outback meets life in the tropics. Charters Towers is a scenic gold mining city that is big on history and character, boasting brilliantly coloured including a magnificent theatre hosting live performances, cinemas, great restaurants and a host of tours. North of Townsville, are the city's five northern beaches of Bushland, Saunders, Toolakea, Toomulla and Balgal shelter many beachside hideaways. Crystal Creek and Paluma lie further to the north and are ideal swimming holes to cool off in the summer months. Paluma Village, at 1,000 feet above sea level and often in the clouds, is located within the Mount Spec National Park. This is the southernmost part of what is known as The Wet Tropics. Further north, Ingham is the commercial centre of the Hinchinbrook Shire. A relatively small town, Ingham was initially established as a result of the district's rapidly growing sugar and pastoral industries, and has continued to develop both economically and socially due to the expansion of these and many other industries. The Ingham community is rich in cultural heritage and has a strong Italian influence as almost sixty percent of the town's population is of Italian descent. The district's overwhelming Italian heritage is also the foundation for one of the town's most well known festivals - the Australian-Italian Festival, celebrated in May. The Ingham Cemetery has become one of the town's many attractions due to the vast array of intricate tile mausoleums which depict the strong Mediterranean influences within the region. Lucinda, the sleepy little coastal village at the southern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel, one of the best fishing spots in all of Queensland and is also home to the world's largest bulk sugar loading jetty, which is 5.76 kilometres long. The jetty enables Lucinda to receive the largest ships used in the raw sugar trade. A boat ramp on the beach gives access to the nearby Great Barrier Reef and islands of the Hinchinbrook region. 168 Insight

Left: Paluma National Park Right: Always an amazing experience to see koalas in the wild... this beauty was found on the Forts Walk. Magnetic Island, Townsville Š Andrew Watson

sunsets, cattle stations, wonderful heritage architecture and complemented by many modern facilities

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The Gulf Savannah Outback by the Sea

of Cairns, to the Gulf of Carpentaria and on to the Northern Territory border and contrasts starkly with the coral reefs, bright lights and lushness of the coast. A vast expanse of tree studded grasslands, meandering rivers, waterfalls and remote salt pans merging with wetlands, the Gulf Savannah's wildly dramatic landscape is steeped in history and culture. Untouched bushland and wide open spaces exhibit spectacular flora, dramatic sunsets, kangaroos, crocodiles and a myriad of birdlife, with World Heritage fossil fields, aboriginal rock art, gemstones, gold, and some of the best fishing in the world. To top that off there are the natural phenomena of hot springs, deep gorges full of wildlife and the once in a lifetime experience, the Undara Lava Tubes. More than 190,000 years ago, the volcano Undara erupted. As lava spilled over the countryside and into the dry river beds, the surface solidified leaving the molten lava inside still flowing. This molten lava continued to flow through the solidified lava, like a snake through a hollow log, until the tubes were drained out, leaving empty tunnels behind. The largest of these flows travelled some 160km leaving what is now the longest lava tube in the world. Over thousands of years, portions of the tunnels collapsed making sheltered depressions which in turn supported pockets of rainforest - now home to creatures which are unique to this environment, like the insects that have lost their pigmentation and sometimes sight, due to the unusual environment in which they live. Many of the plants found in these rainforest pockets have evolved from hundreds of millions of years ago, and contrast sharply with the surrounding wooded savannah land. Cobbold Gorge is another spectacular geographical formation, but is accessible by tour only. Three hour tours include a boat ride along the gorge and a short walk up the escarpment. Scenic helicopter flights are also available. As with Undara Lava Tubes, Cobbold Gorge is a Savannah Guides Station, with accredited guides 170 Insight

Left: Undara Lava Tubes Š Tourism Queensland Right: Watching a brilliant sunrise over the Gulf savannah from Undara, Mount Surprise. Š Andrew Watson

The Gulf Savannah covers an area of 186,000 square kilometres from the Great Dividing Range, just west

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The niches and beauty of this land encourage contemplation, the clear night skies are perfect for stargazing, the wildlife is enchanting and the people of the Gulf are touched by the quintessential spirit

To get there, take the Savannah Way; the road linking Cairns with Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton and Karumba, before it crossing into the Northern Territory, to end in Broome on the northwest coast of Western Australia. Alternatively, two of the great rail journeys showing you this fascinating country are The Savannahlander, affectionately known as the Silver Bullet, and the Gulflander, also known as the Tin Hare. Departing Cairns, the Savannahlander passes amazing scenery, stopping along the way with intriguing local tales and facts, on your way to Forsayth, the middle of Gulf country. The award-winning 125 year old Gulflander follows the never-connected line between Normanton and Croydon, and is sometimes the only thing moving in a place where time almost seems to stand still. For more details visit Croydon was one the richest goldfields in Queensland, and in the late 1800s became the fourth largest town in Queensland. Following the downturn in mining, Croydon has continued as a centre for the cattle industry. Known world wide for its fishing, Karumba is the centre of the Gulf's prawning industry and boasts the most awe inspiring sunsets especially from the beach at Karumba Point. The amazing wetlands which extend 30 km inland from Karumba are home to cranes and brolgas, and of course, crocodiles! South of Normanton, in the region where the ill-fated Burke and Wills explorers passed through on their search for the Gulf of Carpentaria, the cool waters of Lawn Hill Gorge beckon. Part of the Lawn Hill National Park, this area has been inhabited by aborigines for over 35,000 years, due to the abundance of wildlife and the never-ending supply of crystal clear water from the springs at the base of the majestic sandstone cliffs. Evidence of this culture is clear in the art, painted and etched on rock shelters within the park. Further west is the Aboriginal settlement of Doomadgee and then on to Hell's Gate which is as far as the Mounted Native Police would guarantee safety for early settlers heading to the Northern Territory. Even today, this is a remote part of Australia with spectacular Gulf Savannah scenery; and the best time to discover it for yourself is from April to November (the dry season). 172 Insight

Left: The Savannahlander train, also known as The Silver Bullet. Š Queensland Rail Right: A battered pickup truck is part of an amazing collection of old Fords, some renovated, some left to the elements, on the outskirts of Chillagoe. Š Andrew Watson

of Australia that is impossible to analyse yet so simple to define.

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On the Wild Side

Above left: LUMHOLTZ'S TREE KANGAROO - Dendrolagus lumholtzi - is a heavy-bodied tree-kangaroo found in rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands Region. It lives in small groups of three to five, consisting of a male and female mates. Each kangaroo maintains a 'home range' and will be hostile towards a member of the same gender that enters it. Above right: GREEN TREE PYTHON - Morelia viridis - is a species of python found in New Guinea, islands in Indonesia, and Cape York Peninsula in Australia. Its main habitat is typically in or near rainforest, and is primarily arboreal, residing in trees, shrubs and bushes. Occasionally it is seen on the ground. The diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as rodents, and sometimes reptiles. Prey is captured by holding onto a branch using the prehensile tail and striking out from an s-shaped position and constricting the prey. Right: A young ESTUARINE CROCODILE - Crocodylus porosus - Also known as Saltwater Crocodile. The Estuarine Crocodile has a broad snout that is less than twice as long (from tip to midpoint between the eyes) as the width of the head. Adults typically have a heavy build and range in colour from golden tan to grey to black, with irregular darker mottling. Average total length for adults is 3-5m, with males typically growing much larger than females. The species can be found in a wide range of habitats, including rivers, estuaries, creeks, swamps, lagoons and billabongs. They can tolerate salinities ranging from 0% (freshwater) to 35% in full strength sea water. Estuarine Crocodiles are mostly nocturnal but will also hunt during the day should an opportunity arise. 174 Insight

Š Dean Jewell

Š Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

an introduction to the tropical north's wildlife

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© Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

Above right: DWARF TREE FROG - Litoria bicolor - looking absolutely adorable. This is a small species of tree frog, commonly called sedge frogs, native to northern Australia, from the Kimberly region of Western Australia to Bowen, Queensland, and Aru Islands of Indonesia. Opposite page: MALE CASSOWARY and CHICK - Casuarius casuarius. Reaching two metres in height and weighing up to 85 kilograms, the cassowary is a rainforest ratite – the family of flightless birds which includes the kiwi, ostrich and rhea as well as the more familiar emu. The name cassowary comes from two Papuan words, kasu, which means ‘horned’and weri, which means ‘head’. This refers to the bony-looking casque on the heads of all adult birds. The naked skin on the cassowary's neck is bright blue and red wattles hang down at the front. The intensity of the colour changes according to the mood of the bird.

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© Daintree Safaris Above left: COXEN'S FIG-PARROT, double-eyed fig-parrot - Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni - The double-eyed fig parrot generally forages for figs, berries, seeds, nectar, and the grubs of wood-boring insects. This foraging is done in pairs or in a flock of only a few individuals. It tends to fly in a quick and direct manner. It produces a short and shrill call.

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© Dean Jewell

Above right and opposite page: SPECTACLED FLYING FOX - Pteropus conspicillatus - The spectacled flying fox (above with baby), also known as the spectacled fruit bat, is a megabat that lives in north-eastern Queensland. They can be found in rain forests, mangroves, and paperbark and eucalypt forests. The spectacled flying fox was listed as a threatened species due to a significant decline in numbers as a result of loss of their prime feeding habitat.

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Š Daintree Safaris Above left: BOYD'S FOREST DRAGON - Hypsilurus boydii - Boyd's Forest Dragon is a species of arboreal agamid lizard found in rainforests and their margins in the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland. They spend the majority of their time perched on the trunks of trees, usually at around head height, although daily movements can exceed 100 m (330 ft) on the ground. Unlike most other lizards, Boyd's forest dragons don't bask in the sun, instead letting their body temperature fluctuate.

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Above right: CAIRNS BIRDWING BUTTERFLY - Ornithoptera priamus - The largest endemic butterfly in Australia, the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly has a wingspan of up to 18cm. Conspicuous traits include its vivid colouration, particularly in the male, who’s wings contain vibrant splashes of emerald green. It has a slower, more relaxed flight than the Ulysses. After mating the female begins a long search for the correct food for her caterpillars - she flies through the rainforest, testing leaves with chemical receptors on her forelegs. Opposite page: YELLOW-BELLIED SUNBIRD also known as OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD - Nectarinia jugularis (male pictured) Adorned with a metallic blue chest and throat, and a bright plumage true to its name, the male Yellow-bellied Sunbird possesses a long curved beak, which it uses to hunt spiders from their homes and extract nectar from flowers.

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© Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises Above left: SACRED KINGFISHER - Todiramphus sanctus - Juvenile. The Sacred kingfisher is a medium-sized woodland kingfisher found in mangroves, woodlands, forests, and river valleys in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the western Pacific. It is called “sacred” for it was said to be a holy bird for Polynesians, who believed it to have control over the waves. Likewise, the local subspecies of collared kingfisher and other kingfishers in the southwestern Pacific were ascribed venerable power over the ocean.

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VICTORIA'S RIFLEBIRD - Ptiloris victoriae - also known as the duwuduwu to the Yidinji people. The Victoria’s riflebird is a bird-of-paradise endemic to northeastern Queensland, in particular the Atherton Tablelands, where it resides year-round. As well as insects, they eat fruits from the trees, some which they peel by holding the fruit with one foot and removing the skin with their beak. When the male begins to display, he erects the feathers of his throat and sides to accentuate the colours of his plumage in the shafts of sunlight. He curves his rounded wings above his body and tilts his head back to expose his chin and throat to the light, and then moves from side to side in a fashion that looks almost mechanical. Opposite page: AZURE KINGFISHER - Ceyx azureus - The Azure Kingfisher is a small kingfisher with a long slender black bill and a short tail. The head, neck, upper parts and breast sides are deep azure blue with a violet (purplish) sheen. The Azure Kingfisher plunges from overhanging perches into water to catch prey. Prey items include: fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects and other invertebrates, and, sometimes, frogs. They will often bash their prey against the perch before swallowing it head first.

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© Dean Jewell

© Daintree Safaris WOMPOO FRUIT DOVE - Ptilinopus magnificus - Also known as wompoo pigeon, this is one of the larger fruit doves native to New Guinea and Australia. It has purple plumage around its neck, chest and upper belly. Its lower belly is yellow and it has green underparts. The sexes are similar and the juveniles have a duller and greener plumage compared to adults. Notwithstanding their bright plumage, they are hard to see amongst the forest canopy, thanks to their unobtrusive, quiet habits.

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Above right: GOULDIAN FINCH - Erythrura gouldiae - Gouldian Finches are Australia's most spectacularly coloured grassfinches, and are perhaps the most spectacularly coloured of all Australian birds. They are small birds, with a bright green back, yellow belly and a purple breast. The facial colour is usually black, and is found in about 75% of the birds. Red-faced forms make up about 25% of the population, and rare, yellow-faced birds occur from time to time. As with most other grassfinch species, the Gouldian Finch is seldom found far from water, and needs to drink several times during the day. Opposite page: CATTLE EGRET - Ardea ibis - is a small member of the Ardeidae family. Since Cattle Egrets were first recorded in Australia in 1948, their range has expanded to include eastern and northern Australia, and also along major inland river systems. Their breeding colonies are often shared with other species of waterbirds, especially herons, ibis and other egrets.

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Š Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

Š Daintree Safaris Above left: ULYSSES BUTTERFLY - Papilio ulysses - As an emblem for Queensland tourism, the Ulysses Butterfly varies in size, but generally has a wingspan of about 14 cm (5.5 in). The upperside of the wings are an iridescent electric blue; the underside is a more subdued black and brown. The colours are produced by the microscopic structure of the scales, a phenomenon called structural coloration. When the butterfly is perched the intense blue of its wings is hidden by the plainer brown under side of its wings, but in flight, the butterfly can be seen hundreds of metres away as sudden bright blue flashes.

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For the love of dining As diverse as the multicultural population, the culinary treasures that may be discovered and experienced in Far North Queensland are nearly as good a reason to visit as are the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforests. The tastes of the tropics have never been more enticing. Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and the Tropical Tablelands have in recent years undergone a culinary renaissance. Top chefs in the region are winning national awards, while others are moving into the region to establish city-slick eateries, serving fabulous food using fresh local produce of the tropics. The Tropical Tablelands area is literally a food bowl of locally grown fruit and vegetables and more species of edible natives are being discovered, adding to the ingredients of Australia's own bush tucker. Coffee, teas, dairy products, seafood, Asian spices, liqueurs and wines produced on the Tablelands are all showing their popularity with locals and visitors. North Queensland's seafood has long been famous throughout the country and is in big demand overseas. Where better to sample the delicacies of 'the deep' than close to the reef and rivers where they are caught? Compared with southern Australia, Europe, America and Japan, even mudcrabs, lobsters, large prawns and premium fish such as coral trout and barramundi are excellent value and the dishes created by our chefs are innovative and exciting.

Marinades - Indian For the lover of curries or the vegetarian, there is an establishment in Cairns where the delectable balance of flavours is consistently good. The well regarded Marinades Indian Restaurant in Spence Street is deliciously different - the tandoori prawns really are a taste to remember, and your host Dev will ensure that your Indian experience is 186 Insight

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unforgettable, as you taste the magic of Indian cuisine originating from a variety of regions, evolved with time. These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, each time being perfected just that little bit more. Every visit to Marinades is a wonderful experience. Never has Indian cuisine looked and tasted this good!

Spirit of Cairns A Cairns Dinner Cruise is the perfect way to end the perfect day in paradise. Set sail aboard the refurbished 26-metre catamaran on the calm waters of Trinity Inlet, for an evening of dining, entertainment, and panoramic mountain and city views. The ultimate in waterfront dining, your cruise includes a gourmet buffet style dinner, complimentary beverage on arrival, live entertainment, and (optional!) dancing after dinner. A selection of beverages and cocktails are also available for purchase from the fully licensed bar. Throughout the evening you will cruise the waterways of Cairns, exploring the beauty of the natural harbour. Watch the day transcend to night, against a backdrop of rainforest-clad hills, as the twinkling lights of the city appear.

Tha Fish Seafood Restaurant How can you possibly visit the home of coral trout, barramundi and mud crabs without trying the ultimately fresh fare at Tha Fish at The Pier? From the mild to the wild dining experience, for seafood beginners to connoisseurs, Tha Fish serves the taste sensation for you. Take a look at the daily fish list on the menu to see their signature of choosing a fresh fish fillet sourced locally and from around the country and then match it with one of their 6 unique cooking styles. Not a fish lover? . . . then feast your eyes through the extensive Ă la carte menu. Seating is outside overlooking the marina, or inside in air conditioned comfort. 188 Insight

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Bayleaf - Balinese Dining out in Bali is not a social custom, therefore unless the visitor is invited into a Balinese home, or sample festive favourites during a ceremony, it is not likely to experience real Balinese food. At Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant, chef Made (trained by Heinz von Holzen at the Bumbu Bali Restaurant & Cooking School) and his team, will entice you with the culinary secrets from the 'island of gods'. It is recommended to order several main dishes - for a good sampler, definitely try the Balinese rijsttafel. Make sure you allow room for a delicious Balinese dessert best enjoyed with Bali Kopi, coffee from highlands of Bali.

Dundee's Restaurant Overlooking Trinity Inlet at the Waterfront Harbour Lights, Dundee's Restaurant captures the three ingredients of success at its best - great food, great location and perfect ambience. Dundee's has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere in which couples, parties and families can all feel welcome at any time of day. But Dundee’s is renowned for its evening dining with the sheer magic of its views from every vantage point of its layout. The menu offers fresh local produce with an extensive selection of creative flair, prepared by Executive Chef James Wort and his team. Specialising in Australian beef, fresh seafood, pasta and salads, there is a dish to cater for every tastebud. Try the Oz Beef Rock - steak sizzling on hot volcanic rock, the Smoked Crocodile Salad, or the Chilli Mussels. The highest quality fresh local seafood and Australian prime grain fed beef is delivered daily, and for the culinary adventurous we suggest you try the crocodile, kangaroo, buffalo or emu. 190 Insight

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Nautilus Restaurant The legendary 63 year old Nautilus Restaurant is a quintessential part of Port Douglas. Nestled into Island Point Hill amid a beautiful lush tropical garden setting with palms overhead, guests enter along a hidden pathway from Macrossan Street, to discover an awesome restaurant that is like stepping into another world. Nautilus Restaurant is truly one of a kind. It combines the elements of a tropical paradise with modern Australian style, with influences of Asia and Europe. Classified as 'elegant dining' they do not pretend to tick all the boxes of a truly fine dining establishment - they are unique unto themselves.

Ochre Restaurant The multiple award-winning Ochre Restaurant is located in the enviable new premises at Harbour Lights, overlooking Trinity Bay and the Cairns Marina. Dining at Ochre is like a virtual tour through the culinary delights of Australia. Craig Squire is one of the most dynamic chefs in the north, and to quote World Traveller publication, Simply the Best - "Craig Squire is a genius and his menu selection is like no other". With a dedication to local produce and experience in crafting native ingredients into modern exciting cuisine, Ochre Restaurant offers a range of exquisite dishes, specialising in sustainable Australian regional produce, for tourists and locals alike. The restaurant is styled to reflect the outback, with natural timber, and featuring a 4 metre artwork by local Indigenous artist Shane “Woodinda� Wallace capitulating the essence of contemporary Australia. Stocking an eclectic variety of limited and new style wines and premium beers, the potential for serious food and wine matching is limitless. Ochre Restaurant is recognised both nationally and internationally as one of the most innovative modern Australian restaurants not only in Cairns, but Australia. 192 Insight

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Watergate Port Douglas The Watergate Restaurant & Lounge Bar is located in the heart of Port Douglas, at the corner of Grant and Macrossan Streets, behind the Rotary Park. Enter down the flame lit path from Macrossan Street for a choice of indoor or outdoor dining. Watergate's cuisine is modern Australian. Executive Chef Lee Neate sources fresh, seasonal produce to prepare innovative dishes, that reflect contemporary trends in Australian cooking. Watergate also has a well appointed bar, ideal for a cocktail as the sun sets, or maybe a light meal from the lounge menu with a bottle of wine. Watergate is also available for a pre-dinner drink, or desserts and coffee at the end of the night.

Iyara by Sakare Above the crowds of the Cairns Esplanade, in an upstairs vantage point for the most spectacular views, Iyara by Sakare presents the most exquisite Thai cuisine in The North. Their menu is 100% authentic Thai, made with the freshest ingredients sourced locally. Sakare takes great pride in preparing traditional and modern dishes that can be spiced to your individual taste. From the richly flavoured caramelised crispy pork hock to the boned fried whole barramundi with a hot, sour sweet sauce, the tastes and imaginative presentation surpass what you will have been served before. Iyara is fully licensed, and bookings are recommended for the romantic view over Trinity Bay and the Coral Sea.

bel cibo - Italian The Mediterranean creations of award winning chef, Andy Gray at Bel Cibo, is a temptation not to be resisted. Bel Cibo offers a classic Italian menu with modern influences and outstanding service, strongly confirming its position as Port Douglas' leading Italian restaurant. Chef/owner Andy Gray made the 'sea change' after a couple of years as Matt Morans Sous Chef at acclaimed Sydney restaurant 'ARIA'. Andy is fussy about using only the best produce, the seafood is from the Great Barrier Reef. 194 Insight

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Bushfire Flame Grill Bushfire Flame Grill brings the theatre of the kitchen right to your table. Capturing the experience called the 'Thrill of the Grill', skewers of meats are slow roasted on a triple decker open flame churrasco grill. Carvers will circle your table offering seasoned and marinated selections of meats including the best beef available from cattle stations around Australia, served with fresh local tropical fruits, herbs and market garden vegetables. Bushfire also offers an exciting selection of à la carte menu options. Enjoy hotrock steaks brought sizzling to your table on a volcanic stone or a choice of delicious local seafood. Vegetarian options are also available.

The Chambers The Chambers is new to the Cairns’ dining scene and has an emphasis on exciting food, flavour and the feelings behind the tastes. Start the day at the verdant laneway café Tattle, with alfresco dining and a cheeky brunch menu to match; or settle in at SoMa, a restaurant experience rich with traditional tastes made modern. When the sun sets, recline at Esters, a wine bar and kitchen for intimate tapas style cuisine amid bold wines and cocktails. Located in the heart of Cairns, The Chambers welcomes you back with but one request - What are you in the mood for?

Golden Boat - Chinese Dining on Peking Duck at the Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant is the closest you will come to eating in Hong Kong or China without travelling anywhere else. The restaurant has highly skilled chefs, including specialty professionals from Hong Kong to emulate a traditional Asian meal in true method. Chinese cuisine has strong and distinct flavours, and the Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant in the heart of the city offers a wide range of sumptuous sauces and fresh produce in this style. It also has a range of unique Cantonese dishes and its ever popular traditional Chinese menu. 198 Insight

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Dinner or lunch at the Golden Boat is the epitome of a Chinese dining experience, with a selection of live seafood from the viewing tanks, or a variety of Yum Cha options for lunch to a banquet style meal for large bookings. Owner and chef Ken Deng has more than 30 years experience in serving up mouth watering selections for diners around the world. For those of you wishing to take home some of the delights experienced at Golden Boat, or experiment in your holiday apartment with the new and varied tastes of China, Cairns Gourmet Seafoods offer tastes to delight.

Mason's Café If you are out of the major towns, and the hunger pangs arrive whist travelling in the Cape Tribulation area, you will be surprised to discover that good taste and flavour have not been forgotten at Mason's Cafe at Cape Tribulation. Kangaroo and crocodile have always been popular culinary options for tourists, but when Mason’s Cafe introduced emu, buffalo, camel and wild boar burgers to its menu last year, business really soared. The tasting plates are the most popular, and come in a variety of sizes: three sliders of the local animals (emu, kangaroo and crocdile), three sliders of introduced meats (buffalo, boar and camel) and a plate with all six types.


As you can see, eating your way around Far North Queensland is like travelling the world; and along the coast from Port Douglas to Townsville and inland from the Tablelands to the Gulf you will find traditional and unusual eating places from open timber eyries or candlelit gazebos in the rainforest, restored railway carriages, and classic country pubs where the décor hasn't changed for decades. There are city pavements and esplanade walkways, balconies, verandahs, tropical gardens, wildlife parks or lakes to dine beside; or even riverboats or a cruising catamaran at sunset. Whatever your mood .....Bon Apetit! Enjoy the tastes of the tropics! Q 200 Insight

photo credits front cover

Oceanwide Images -

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David White -

half title

David White -

Dean Jewell -

page 1

Andrew Watson -

page 128

Dean Jewell -

page 6,7,8,9

Andrew Watson -

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Andrew Watson -

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Mossman Gorge Centre - photographer Adam Bruzz

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Andrew Watson -

page 11, 12, 13

Andrew Watson -

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Kerry Trapnell -

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Daintree Safaris -

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Andrew Watson -

page 15

Andrew Watson -

page 142

Daintree Safaris -

page 16

Daintree Safaris - & David White - solarwhisper.

page 17

Andrew Watson -

page 144 com

pages 38- 51

Oceanwide Images -

page 145

Andrew Watson -

page 55

Daintree Estates -

page 57

Tourism Tropical North Queensland

page 81

page 84, 85

Mossman Gorge Centre - Adam Bruzz

page 86,87

Andrew Watson -

page 88, 89

Laura Dance Festival - Kerry Trapnell

page 90,91

Andrew Watson -

page 93, 94,95

Andrew Watson -

page 99

Andrew Watson -

page 100,101

Andrew Watson -

page 105

Andrew Watson -

page 106

Mossman Gorge Centre - Adam Bruzz

page 110,114,115 Andrew Watson - page 120

Mossman Gorge Centre - Adam Bruzz

page 121

Andrew Watson -

page 122

David White -

page 123

Dean Jewell -

page 146,147,149 Andrew Watson - page 150

Oceanwide Images -

page 151, 152

Andrew Watson -

page 153,154

J Rutledge-Smith

page 155

Andrew Watson -

page 158

Oceanwide Images -

page 159

Liz Gallie -

page 160

Daintree Safaris -

page 162,163

pages 166,167,168 page 169

Andrew Watson -

page 171,173

Andrew Watson -

pages 174 - 185

Wildlife images contributed as individually marked:

Dean Jewell -

David White, Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

Wildlife Habitat -

Daintree Safaris -

Š Copyright - Individual photographers and Pacific Coast Publishing Group ISSN 1440-2238 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Insight 201

advertisers Avis Australia The Attic Bayleaf Balinese Restaurant Bel Cibo Birdworld Kuranda


Mason's CafĂŠ

130, 200


Mamu Tropical Skywalk



Mission Beach Charters


113, 196 140

Nautilus Aviation


Nautilus Restaurant


Birkenstock Boutique Cairns


Nerada Tea Visitors Centre

Blazing Saddles


Ngarru Gallery


Ocean Safari


Ochre Restaurant


Brett's Outback Tasting Adventures BTS Tours Budget Car and Truck Rentals Bushfire Restaurant

55, 148 117 5

Orchid Plaza



Oz About Oz


Cairns Botanic Gardens


Cairns Gourmet Seafood


Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome



Pandanus Gallery

83, 103

Paronella Park

18, 19

Quicksilver Group

36, 37

The Chambers


Refresh City Day Spa


Charters Towers Regional Council


Regency Jewellers


Coffee Works Crocodile Express Croctique Daintree Safaris Down Under Cruise & Dive

58, 59 127 66 124 23

Rolex Australia

back cover

Rowe Design Gold & Silversmith


Rusty's Markets


Sailaway Low Isles


Sandra Viden


Dundee's Restaurant


Sassi Shoe Boutique

Evert Fine Jewellery

2, 3

Solar Whisper Daintree River Cruises


Spirit of Cairns


Evert Fine Jewellery - Swarovski The Eye Boutique Falla Reef Trips Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant Hartley's Crocodile Adventures Iyaya by Sakare Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours

inside back cover 65, 111 21 199 33 195 25, 129

Sunlover Reef Cruises Swarovski Tha Fish Restaurant Tommy Bahama Viva Boutique Watergate Restaurant

Kuranda Heritage Markets


Watches of Switzerland - Rolex

Kuranda Koala Gardens


Wildlife Habitat

Marinades Indian Restaurant



30 inside back cover 189 inside front cover, 109 89, 73 119, 194 back cover 27

Insight - Tropical North Queensland  

'Insight - Tropical North Queensland' is an annual hardcover publication showcasing the region's impressive natural beauty, including the fr...

Insight - Tropical North Queensland  

'Insight - Tropical North Queensland' is an annual hardcover publication showcasing the region's impressive natural beauty, including the fr...