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tropical north queensland

Front cover: Schooling Orange Fairy Basslets (Pseudanthias cf cheirospilos) amongst Acropora Coral decorated in yellow Crinoid Featherstars. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Above: Blue-spotted Fantail Stingray (Taeniura lymma). Found on sandy bottoms in the vicinity of coral reefs throughout the Indo-west Pacific Region including the Great Barrier Reef. Also known as Blue-spotted Lagoon Ray, Blue-spotted Ribbontail Ray, Lagoon Ray, Lesser Fantail Ray and Reef Ray. Š

advertisers Active Tropics Explorer


Mamu Tropical Skywalk


The Attic


Mission Beach Charters


Bel Cibo


Nautilus Aviation

Birdworld Kuranda


Nautilus Restaurant

25 135

Birkenstock Boutique Cairns


Nerada Tea Visitors Centre

Blazing Saddles


Ngarru Gallery



Ocean Safari


Ochre Restaurant


Bluewater Bar & Grill Brett's Outback Tasting Adventures


BTS Tours


Orchid Plaza

Bushfire Restaurant


Outback Opal Mine

Cairns Botanic Gardens


Oz About Oz

Cairns Central Shopping Centre Cairns Charts & Maps Cairns Gourmet Seafood Cairns Night Markets

67 113 120


Pandanus Gallery



Paronella Park

20, 21

206 73, 208

Premium Brands Cairns Premium Brands Lacoste

Cairns Ocean Products


QT Resort Bazaar

Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome


Quicksilver Group

Charters Towers Regional Council


Refresh City Day Spa

Churrasco Port Douglas


Regency Jewellers

Coffee Works


60, 61

4 inside back cover 210 133 38, 39 63 89

Rolex Australia

back cover

Crocodile Express


Rowe Design Gold & Silversmith


Daintree Safaris


Rusty's Markets


Diamond Gallery


Sailaway Low Isles

Down Under Cruise & Dive


Samadhi Soul Massage Therapies

27 64, 130

Dundee's Restaurant


Sandra Viden

Evert Fine Jewellery

2, 3



Snapshot Underwater Camera Hire


Evert Fine Jewellery - Swarovski The Eye Boutique

inside back cover 71, 121

Falla Reef Trips


Food Trail Tours GBR Helicopters Golden Boat Chinese Restaurant

Soda Nails


57, 166

Spirit of Cairns


23, 137

Sunlover Reef Cruises

207 26

Taste On Macrossan


Tea Lily Boutique

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures


Tha Fish Restaurant





Ian Stephens Fine Art


SpaQ - QT Resort

GSL Aviation

Hilton Mondo Restaurant


inside back cover 132 75 195

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park


Tolga Woodworks

Iyaya by Sakare


Tommy Bahama

Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours


Tshinta Swimwear



Viva Boutique

Kuranda Heritage Markets


Waterfall Wanderers

Kuranda Koala Gardens


Watergate Restaurant

Lady Douglas


Watches of Switzerland - Rolex

Marinades Indian Restaurant


Wildlife Habitat

Mason's CafĂŠ


Zinc Port Douglas

97 163

inside front cover, 119 122 79, 81 164 125 back cover 29 125

contents map 6

adventure 22



tropical north queensland map


insight into tropical north queensland


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


diamonds, opals & pearls


reef 40

health & beauty 62

art in north queensland

out & about 100

colours of the tropics


australian indigenous art


people & history

the dreaming - australia's indigenous people

rainforests 138 & 168


out & about

shopping 66

indigenous culture 94

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


diamonds, opals & pearls 84

wildlife 186


art 90

on the wild side



for the love of dining

editorial photo credits

restaurants 194

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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. 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.)

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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, 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.

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Left: Green sea turtle in the shallow waters of Green Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Cairns. © Andrea Watson Right: Napolean Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) with Remora Suckerfish (Remora remora) attached. Also known as Humphead Maori Wrasse, Giant Wrasse, Double-headed Maori Wrasse. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Classified Endangered IUCN Red List. ©

Reef, Rainforest and Outback

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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 some 21,900 individual reefs and hundreds of continental islands, reef islands and cays in an area of 348,000 square kilometres, larger than the combined total area of Ireland and the United Kingdom! The Great Barrier Reef, a national marine park, 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. 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.

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Left: Beauty in blue - Forest Kingfisher, the stunning Ulysses Butterfly, and Australia's 'big bird', the Cassowary. Š Daintree Safaris Right: Brown noddies or Common Noddies travel great distances every year to breed on Michaelmas Cay. Š Andrea Watson

Lying just off the coast of the Tropical North, Australia's Great Barrier Reef extends over 1,500 kilometres,

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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.

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. 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.

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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

Here, pockets of primitive plants have remained undisturbed for millions of years, and rare, even previously

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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 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 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.

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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

Cooktown, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander investigated the surrounding country. Their sketches

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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. 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

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Left top: The male Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera priamus) - North Queensland. Š Left bottom: Baby Saltwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) might look cute at this age, but grow up to 5.2 metres in length and live up to 70 years. Š Daintree Safaris Right: Buttress roots of a rainforest tree prevent the tree from falling over, while also gathering more nutrients near the surface. Š Andrew Watson

Between the Wooroonooran Range and the Great Dividing Range are the Tropical or Atherton

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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.

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Left: Zillie Falls, Atherton Tablelands © Andrew Watson Right: Stargazing ... North Queensland style! The photographer looking south from Clifton Beach, north of Cairns city. © Andrew Watson

stand a few metres back from the water's edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging

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Castles, tunnels, waterfalls and dreams A pleasant one and a half hour’s drive south of Cairns lands you in a fairytale, with castles, bridges, tunnels, 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. His was a long and arduous journey, but his legacy now stands testament to the determination and vision of Australia's forefathers. One of Far North Queensland’s tourist attractions for now over 80 years, Paronella Park gained National Trust listing in 1997, and has been presented with multiple tourism awards over the years. Paronella Park's five hectares of pleasure gardens continues to entertain and mesmerise other generations of visitors, just as José intended. The romantic tale of such a passionate man building his castle, complete with great staircase, movie theatre and ballroom, in the dense rainforest continues to entice social groups and weddings to the park. For day visitors to Paronella Park, the ‘Dream Continues’ tour, runs every half an hour from 9:30am to 4:30pm, and tells you the full and fascinating story of Jose Paronella and his dream. Every evening, the ‘Darkness Falls’ tour features flood lighting of many of Paronella Park's highlights, courtesy of the restored 1930's 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 the experience the dream for longer, a boutique caravan and camping site is available, or the quaint yet affordable cabins. 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.

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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 purpose-built 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

© A J Hacket Bungy

riding. You too can be a part of the fun!

Set your spirit free Headsets on! ... The heart quickens with nervous excitement as you lift gently off the ground, lean to the left, and pass effortlessly over the canefields towards the mountains! The sensation of nothing below you, no wings beside you and 180 degree view, really does take the breath away. The clenched fists are released, the inner self relaxes, and WOW! ... what a panorama. The photo opportunities

Image TTNQ © Tim Bardsley-Smith

are amazing. Those 'back home' will turn green with envy!

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Operating out of both Cairns and Port Douglas, GBR Helicopters take over 50,000 people a year to the edge of their seats with incredible scenic flights over the untouched rainforest canopies and the sparkling waters of the Great Barrier Reef. They've even had a hand in over 100 marriage proposals on breathtaking secluded coral cays – with a 100 per cent acceptance rate! With over 20 years in the business, GBR Helicopters have built great relationships with the fixed pontoon reef operators and offer fast transfers that will ensure your A-list arrival, spectacular journey home or an enticing 10-minute scenic flight. This is the ultimate way to combine your reef snorkel or dive experience with a birds-eye view of the reef that very few ever see.

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Nautilus Aviation

Take to the air for a spectacular helicopter flight over the magical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Sweep over coral gardens and sand cays, and see marine life from high above, before landing on an Outer Reef helipad. Alternatively, enjoy a scenic flight over heritage-listed rainforest and jagged North Queensland coastline before reaching the emerald Daintree. Perhaps something romantic like the thrill of flying to a pristine, secluded sand cay in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef for a gourmet picnic is on your mind. Nautilus Aviation offers all sorts of breathtaking adventures. Working in conjunction with several tour companies including both Sunlover and Down Under Dive, you can combine your trip out to the Great Barrier Reef with scenic helicopter flights out on The Reef, or take in the rainforest village of Kuranda or an ATV adventure in the morning. Other packages offered include scenic helicopter flights over Cairns, above the coastline or out west to the Gulf Savannah region with its hidden gorges, old mining towns and beautiful swimming holes. The choice is yours. Nautilus Aviation also operates out of Townsville, and caters for both private and commercial charters.

Sunlover Reef Cruises

Sunlover Reef Cruises operates a fast, air-conditioned catamaran to a large pontoon (floating platform) 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.

Active Tropics Explorer

See the oldest living rainforest in the world. World Heritage listed Cape Tribulation is where the rainforest meets the reef. This day tour delivers it all - coastal drives and river cruises, rainforest walks, Mossman Gorge, the Daintree Rainforest and an Indigenous 'Welcome to Country' and smoke ceremony. You have the option to extend your stay to the overnight tour which includes accommodation at a range of options in Cape Tribulation; and you may customize your own adventure with optional add-ons - jungle surfing, horse riding, sea kayak, night walk, waterfalls tour, or DO THE LOT! (Advertisement page 143)

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GSL Aviation

Get a taste of the Great Barrier Reef with scenic flight from 40 minutes over Green Island and the Great Barrier Reef, followed by views of the North Queensland coastline. Sights include Cairns, Green Island, Arlington Reef, Upolu Reef, Double Island and Palm Cove. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the amazing contrast of colours is something that’s best experienced from the air. Or you can experience the best of both worlds with a Fly and Cruise package in conjunction with Big Cat Green Island to offer an amazing full-day experience seeing the Great Barrier Reef from above and below, with a range of extras and activities included. The high-wing aircraft guarantees window seats for everyone on-board.

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 Low Isles 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 Port Douglas offers 3 luxury scheduled and private charter day sailing tours - Full Day, Afternoon and Sunset Sailing with 2 impressive and stable vessels, both "Lagoon" 500's sailed around the world from France. 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. If you have enjoyed your sail to The Reef, why not join Sailaway Sunset for the thrill of pure sailing with a twilight sail? For those on limited time, afternoon trips are available; or see The Reef and Rainforest in one day with the combination tour, which includes the Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk and the sail to beautiful Low Isles. Local pick ups are included for a most memorable and relaxing day. 26 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, so 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.

Waterfall Wanderers

For those adventurous travellers who are young at heart, and wish to experience pristine rainforest, cascading waterfalls, stunning panoramas of Queensland’s highest peaks, and maybe a glimpse of rare and unique native wildlife, the Waterfall Wanderers tour is a must. (see page 164) You will visit and be amazed by the legend of Babinda Boulders, steeped in Aboriginal history of trapped spirits and a tragic love story that will chill you to the bone. A morning swim beckons amidst the lush rainforest and cascading crystal clear waters of Josephine Falls, and a natural waterslide awaits those who wish, while the spectacular backdrop provides photo opportunities and wildlife spotting. Journey on to Australia’s most iconic waterfall Millaa Millaa Falls, where the 18m single drop waterfall lies in the heart of the Wet Tropics World Heritage listed rainforest. After a good, old-fashioned lunch, it's on to Mount Hypipamee, the Crater and Dinner Falls, before heading to the Curtain Fig Tree, a known haunt of the elusive Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. Just before the last swim spot, it's a trip to a quiet little creek to search for platypus, and then off to the last stop at the volcanic crater lake, Lake Eacham. 28 Insight

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Hartleys 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 about sustainable use and conservation on the Crocodile Farm tour.

Zip it ... Jungle Surfing

Whilst you're up The Daintree way, there’s a new species in the world’s oldest rainforest... the Jungle Surfer! Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours are unique rainforest tours where your feet don’t touch the ground. Experience the Human Hamster Wheel (a whole new meaning to alternative energy) and fly through the trees on flying fox ziplines, stopping at 6 tree platforms to take in spectacular bird’s eye views over the treetops, down to cascading streams. What a buzz! This is safe, fun, fully guided and, with no experience necessary, is an adventure activity for all ages - 3 to 103! (Advertisement page 147)

Lady Douglas River Cruises The inland waterways near Port Douglas can be explored with a river cruise on board the iconic Lady Douglas, with an entertaining commentary from your skipper as you cruise the mangrove ecosystem of Dickson Inlet with views of the mountains behind. With four daily tours running from the Port Douglas marina, there's no excuse for missing out on seeing the local wildlife. Saltwater crocodiles are often seen, particularly in the dry season. Birds of prey such as brahminy kites, ospreys and white bellied sea eagles are common sites as are mangrove herons, rainbow bee-eaters, sunbirds and kingfishers. (Ad. page 118)

Mission Beach Charters If you are staying or visiting the Mission Beach region, Mission Beach Charters can arrange a wonderful family excursion, a romantic picnic on a deserted tropical island, or a fishing trip to the best fishing spots. This ecoadventure company 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 175) 30 Insight

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Blazing Saddles Adventures

What better way to experience the Aussie bush, rainforest and spectacular 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!

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 145)

Ocean Safaris

If you are staying in Port Douglas, or 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. (see page 141)

Daintree Safaris

Daintree Safaris invites you to explore one of the most fascinating parts of our world in luxury and style. The 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. (see page 140) 32 Insight

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Wildlife Habitat

Set on eight acres off the main road into Port Douglas, the large immersion habitats allow you to get up close to a variety of North Queensland’s friendliest locals. The moment you walk in, the wildlife surrounds you with its welcoming sounds, vibrant colours and abundant presence. Wandering through the Wetlands the wildlife abounds; the Rainforest offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of life; and a venture into the Grasslands is a venture into childhood. 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.

Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

Imagine discovering the secrets, sights and sounds of rainforest wildlife – right in the heart of Cairns! The Cairns Wildlife Dome is a spectacular all-weather wildlife exhibit enclosed by a 20 metre high glass dome on top of Cairns’ Pullman Reef Hotel Casino. You’ll be immersed in a rainforest environment whilst birds such as parrots, cockatoos, herons, doves and bower birds fly freely around you. Observe curlews, frogmouths and kookaburras along with other animals such as frogs, turtles, pythons, freshwater crocodiles, lizards and adorable bettongs and gliders. And whilst there, why not test your strength and bravery with the range of ropes courses (for all ages), zip lines (flying fox) over the crocodile pond, power jumps, a walk around the inside of the glass dome at the top of the building, or ... a Dome Climb on the outside of the glass dome. It's as much adrenaline as you want it to be!

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 canoeing in a rainforest stream, 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. 34 Insight

(Advertisement page 129)

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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 Great Barrier Reef. After a leisurely sail from Cairns out to the Great Barrier Reef you will be overwhelmed by the pristine coral gardens teaming with a myriad of colourful tropical fish, where 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.

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 you 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 eco-friendly one), wear a hat, and avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. 36 Insight

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

Be it the intricate, industrious small creature seen close-up, metres down below the surface, the breaching whale, the pod of leaping dolphins, 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. This 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 and over 350 coral islands (cays) which support vegetation, 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, was renamed the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. At 344,000 square kilometres, 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, estimated to be about 10,000 years old, 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 marine 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 process, called photosynthesis, which not only supplies the zooxanthellaes’ food requirement, but also supplies up

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Left: Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. © Gary Bell/ Right: Half under and half over water picture of Acropora Coral reef. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia © Gary Bell/

Australia's Great Barrier Reef

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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, sharks and rays and even dolphins are an incredible sight in the wild and are much sought after by reef visitors. In recent years, much larger visitors to the reef have been observed in increasing numbers including manta rays, whale sharks, humpback whales and minke whales. There are many amazing bony fish living on the reef that catch the eye and certainly 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 to any of The Reef's visitors. Of the most interesting species, the 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 other

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Left: Coral spawning, showing suspended egg and sperm bundles. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. Peter Harrison/ Right: Feather Duster Worm (Protula magnifica), in Coral (Euphyllia ancora), Queensland, Australia. Š Gary Bell/

to 98 percent of the food requirements of the coral polyp which hosts them. This two-way process uses the

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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: Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) living on the surface of Porites Coral. Š Gary Bell/ Right: Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) cleaning a Coral Grouper (Cephalopholis miniata). Also known as Coral Rock Cod. Š Gary Bell/

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

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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 at the 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 has seen bleaching of coral reefs between Townsville and the tip of Cape York Peninsula estimated at 10% to 50% in the more northern areas. 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 and disease. 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 eight 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.

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Left: Scuba Diver inspecting Bleached Coral (Acropora sp.), Queensland, Australia © Gary Bell/ Right: Schooling Diagonal-banded Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus lineatus). 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 also totally fresh water (when water freezes, the salts are not retained in the ice crystals). 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 will determine how heavy or dense the water is. More salts in water makes it denser and therefore 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 oceans. The same goes for temperature layers, water that is warmer (generally 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 dramatic 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, however, 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

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Left: Cling Goby (Pleurosicya micheli) on a Giant Clam mantle (Tridacna sp.). Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Gary Bell/ Right: Broadclub Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) - close detail of eye. Northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Gary Bell/

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

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food chains) and zooplankton species in our oceans. As it becomes more difficult to calcify, more energy 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 like 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: Feather Duster Tubeworm (Chone sp.) detail. Also known as Fan Worm. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Gary Bell/ Right: Ring-eyed Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) amongst Acropora Coral. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia Š Gary Bell/

is required for calcification and in turn the productivity of these animals is reduced and fewer organisms

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52 Insight Colourful tropical reef scene, showing schooling Orange Fairy Basslets (Pseudanthias cf cheirospilos), feeding on plankton drifting through reef with crinoid feather stars. Typical reef scene found throughout the Great Barrier Reef Š Gary Bell/

Everyone visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park must abide by the Zoning Plan and it is best to check 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. Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, coupled with the impacts from adjacent land activities (agriculture, mining and even natural flooding events) meaning 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; 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. 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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on the food and wine trail The times are changing and, these days, 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 individual 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 ultimately to become a dynamic part of the region. 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. 54 Insight

Harvesting cocoa pods - Daintree Estates, Mossman.

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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 96 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 to Japan, Europe, Canada and the United States. 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, 56 Insight

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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 liqueurs and spirits with an emphasis on using as many local and national Australian ingredients

industry by producing some award-winning wine with an abundance of flavour and consistent 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! 58 Insight

Centre: Lychees;

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

Left top: Vanilla seed pods;

wood fired pizzas, home made desserts and over 50 teas to try and buy.

Bottom: Coffee cherries

as possible. Also on the grounds of the Mt Uncle Distillery is the Bridges Cafe serving a selection of delicious

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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 are on holidays and finally 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. 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. In Cairns, Refresh City Day Spa has been established as that place; where you may even find that after one visit to you will be wanting to return every day. And why not? Imagine snorkelling or diving out on The Great Barrier Reef for the day, walking through the rainforest, or even a day of shopping, finished off with 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! On the northern side of Cairns in a meditative environment in the heart of Edgehill village, just a short walk from the Botanic Gardens, SODA Nail Tonic Bar is where it’s done naturally - as in SODA ‌ refreshing, natural and cool. Spoil yourself ... it's time to relax. Your host at SODA is Thuy Pham, who with her family and her internationally trained staff, offer a world class spa and pedicure experience. Thuy and her husband Tuan have had many years experience in top hotels and resorts worldwide, and know the importance of focusing on each and every customer with individual care. Enjoy a refreshment, a barista made coffee or tea or even a salad delivered to while you sit back and get thoroughly spoiled. 62 Insight

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SODA's services include manicures, pedicures, natural treatments, massage, facials, eye treatments, hair removal and tanning. Easily accessible in the Edge Village precinct, SODA is a most pleasant surprise - not like any other spa or nail salon. SODA is recycled wood, stone and flowers with deep plush seating and stone footbaths. What makes the experience different is the freshly made scrubs, masks and lotions blended in-house using fresh local herbs and produce. Raw, fresh, natural and locally sourced. Made with love. "We want our customers and friends who visit us to be happy, to be calm and refreshed, and to look beautiful." - Thuy In both Palm Cove and Port Douglas, there are a number of health-oriented businesses offering experiences certain to renew, restore and revitalise your system. If you are staying in Port Douglas, you need to turn to the beautiful Samãdhi Soul Massage Therapies to find your balance and rejuvenate your soul. The name says it all - SAMÃDHI: A meditative state, a conscious experience that lies beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep; a healing state, a calm mind. Reconnect and awaken the body with a remedial massage, targeted to find the source of pain, create relief and promote healing, whilst encouraging improved overall mobility and wellbeing. Just like your mind, your body isn’t static. At spaQ within the QT Resort in Port Douglas, they get that, and so have decided to do things a little differently to fit in with your individual groove. As well as packing their menu with some serious therapeutic punch, they have made room for flexibility, customisation and individualisation. At SpaQ (see page 133) you will not be pressured to make your treatment selection in advance. Just reserve your time and then, with the help of your therapist, you can choose a treatment experience when you arrive. That way you get exactly what you need on the day. Life can be fun when we leave space for spontaneity! 64 Insight

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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 tasty 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 and Premium Brands 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.

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The Premium Brands store in 3 city locations will overwhelm you on entry. As purveyors of the world renowned Ugg Australia brand and Emu Australia, here you will find only the finest sheepskin boots, leather wear and clothing. Premium Brands have several stores with one on each of Spence Street, Shields Street and Abbott Street for all your top internationally recognised brand names (see advertisement page 5), as well as Premium Brands for Lacoste also in Cairns Square, Shields Street. (see ad. inside back cover) 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 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 and creativity. 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 Shields Street, 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. With swimming and lounging by the pool in mind, Tshinta in Port Douglas stock a full range of beachwear for ladies and children, with UPF 50+ swimmers and tops for protection from the tropical sun - a great idea for a day on The Reef. Tommy Bahama in Spence Street, Cairns and also in 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. Sandra Viden Design was established in 1991 in the tropical rainforest village of Kuranda, just to the west of Cairns. Australian Sandra Viden, Kuranda

designed and manufactured, the styles are fashioned to the highest standards using quality fabrics. Through boutique sales as

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Tea Lily

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 fit styles with clean lines in quality natural fabrics such as linen, cotton/linen, cotton voile as well as cotton blend knits. 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! 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 St. with a repair business to boot, and you can even drop off your old Birkenstock 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.

The Eye Boutique

Great design never ages... Birkenstock keep feet happy all over the world.

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farmers markets & craft markets Here in 'The North', Townsville has the largest regular market with Cotters Market held each Sunday in Flinders Street Mall; while in Cairns every day from 4.30pm the Cairns Night Markets spring to life on the Esplanade with everything from didgeridoos and akubra hats to locally grown coffee, wine, jewellery, honey and a multicultural food hall. Cairns Esplanade Markets are on every Saturday from 8am to 4pm; while the Tanks Markets are on the last Sunday of the month, April to November, in Collins Avenue, Edgehill - near the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Palm Cove has markets on the first Sunday of the month on Williams Esplanade, April to December. 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 handpainted silk scarves to the finest artwork, opal jewellery and fashions. The Kuranda Heritage Markets (9am - 3.30pm) and the Original Kuranda Rainforest Markets (9am - 3pm) 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 the Sunset Markets are at the Port Douglas Marina every Wednesday evening from 2pm to 7pm. 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). 72 Insight

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Grafton Street Fashion Precinct In times past, the attraction of shopping in smaller cities and towns was 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 high fashion finds, and local women now love to take a wander down Grafton Street for a one-stop shopping convenience where everything can be found in one charming location. Grafton St is now the upmarket fashion hub where 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. One of the longer standing traders of Grafton Street, Tea Lily is a women’s fashion store specialising in helping you feel "gorgeous, romantic and irresistible". A unique shopping experience renowned for its high level of 74 Insight

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customer service, with a dedicated team who want to help you get the look you want with a unique collection … the world of difference awaits you. Featuring many of Australia's finest designers as well as some overseas labels, Tea Lily can fit the buyer out for any event from a romantic picnic to the red carpet! Across the road from Tea Lily, Maria at Gypsett hopes that everyone who walks into their store will feel fabulous about themselves and see themselves through their eyes ... beautiful. At Gypsett labels include Camilla, Camilla kids, Camilla swimwear, Three of Something, Talulah, Auguste, Kivari, Lula Soul, Mist, Pasduscha, Noosa Amsterdam, Story Jewellery, Instict Designs Wallets, Sol Sana Shoes, Dept. of Finery Shoes, and Nicole Fendel Jewellery. You can even book in a private or group Camilla styling session with the Gypsett Angels. For a serious label hit, Viva Boutique – a fave with the fashion conscious – is the place to go. Viva offers the best in a mix of daywear and evening wear from leading Australian designers and exclusive labels from Europe, New Zealand and America. Brands include: Mela Purdie, Joseph Ribkoff, Manila Grace, Desigual, Hale Bob, Harry Who, Lauren Vidal, Lisa Brown and Morrison; and Italian label Pianurastudio, not as widely known in Australia, is one of the store’s best sellers. 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. Don't be surprised if you can only find one of something – it's probably one of a kind. 76 Insight

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Tea Lily

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 your 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 Café Fika presenting the taste of Scandinavia right here in the tropics of Australia. 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. The Swedish Shop imports unforgettable treats from Europe, while Café Fika creates - together they present the taste of

Tea Lily

Scandinavia, and welcomes everyone with a curious pallet to come and try a slice of Sweden in the tropics!

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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 Tea Lily

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

Tea Lily

This is where the locals shop!

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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. Further north along Grafton Street, The Cairns 24 Hour Medical Centre and the Cairns Apothecary Pharmacy are there for your convenience 7 days a week, every day of the year to focus on your health and wellbeing.

buying duty free As a bonafide traveller to Australia, you may be eligible to purchase many items tax free, so perhaps this is the time to make one of those purchases that you've longed for - perhaps some fine quality opal, diamond or pearl jewellery or a timepiece to last a lifetime; but purchasing tax free does have some rules and regulations that apply. There is the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), which enables you to claim a refund, subject to certain conditions, of the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) that you pay on goods you buy in Australia. Check with the retailer where you are purchasing to get up to date information relevant to their products or check online at 82 Insight

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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. 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, 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 when selecting a pearl. 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. Because of the thickness of the South Sea pearl nacre, pearls are found in an array of sizes and shapes. Colour - South Sea pearls are highly desired for the subtle richness of their natural colours. From luminescent

Rowe Design

whites to sparkling golds, the stunning range of natural colours of South Sea pearls must be seen to be believed.

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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.

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Diamonds - Pink, White & Chocolate There is one diamond that stands alone; one diamond that creates excitement and competition to own; one diamond that continues to command strong prices ... the Argyle pink diamond. The Argyle Diamond Mine has been the world's leading volume producer of diamonds since 1986 when its operation in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia went into full production. Each year it produces approximately 30 million carats of diamonds, which is approximately one quarter of the world's total. The diamonds mined by Argyle are found in a range of colours including white, champagne, pink and cognac or chocolate. Argyle is the world's primary source of rare pink diamonds, which have become the company's signature stone. Pink diamonds are recovered in a range of shades from light rose to full-bodied purple-reds, and are polished in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Prices are dictated by the intensity of colour and significant pink diamonds are sold with certification from the leading grading authorities. The ultimate glory of the stone comes in the cutting and polishing and the Argyle pinks are processed in Perth, Western Australia. The work of cutting and polishing is so delicate and exacting that eventually the artisan is able to tell, simply by rolling a stone in their fingers, whether or not it is perfectly rounded. The beauty and the attraction of the Argyle pinks is immediately evident and overpowering and it is easy to understand how, for some people, they become an addiction, an object of adoration. Australian Chocolate Diamonds have also been sourced from the Australian Argyle Mines in Western Australia. In recent years, new methods of diamond cutting have found a way to not only capture the colour, but to also ensure the brilliance and sparkle of the stone is maximised, even when you compare them to white diamond of the same quality the scintillation. Choosing a white diamond is about considering the finer details that make up a diamond’s brilliance, so every little detail is a big deal. These details entail knowing the importance of the 4Cs: carat weight, colour, clarity and cut.

The Diamond Gallery

While a big diamond sounds great, carat weight is by no means the main guide to value. Often a smaller diamond of greater

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brilliance is of far more value. Colour, clarity and, particularly, cut are the big influences. Slight differences in the combination of these factors can and do result in big differences in brilliance and consequently, value. The perfect white diamond is colourless, flawless and unfortunately, rare; so the cut becomes very important. Many people confuse the diamond shape with the diamond cut. Brilliant Round, Princess, Emerald and the like are shapes. Cut deals with the proportions that best reveal the brilliance and fire of the diamond.

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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. Images courtesy of The Diamond Gallery, Port Douglas Opal Centre, Evert Opals & Fine Jewellery, Regency Jewellers

When the water content evaporated, tiny spheres of silica remained and over time were solidified. Low grade or 'potch' opal

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(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 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. Basically the greater the number of colours, the more prized the gem and if these are arranged in a block pattern, more value is added. The extremes are tiny pin sized dots of colour (pinfire) to one large sheet of colour (broadflash) covering the whole stone. The elusive 'harlequin' is the ultimate in this form but is very rare. A pattern in proportion to the size of the gem is desirable and each opal is individual. If you are buying an unset opal, it is important to consider the way it will eventually be worn. For example, some opals will offer a better play of colour when worn vertically as in brooch or pendant, whereas others are best flat as in a ring setting. 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), The Diamond Gallery (page 79), and also from Regency Jewellers (opposite), for your complete pleasure and pride in an ever-inspiring piece of jewellery.

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art in North Queensland Having long drawn artists from diverse cultural backgrounds both within Australia and beyond, North Queensland has developed into a magnet for creative souls. Inspired by its richness and diversity, renowned artists such as Streeton, Drysdale and Whiteley have all sojourned here in the course of their impressive careers and produced

Kuranda Rail (in part) - Ian Stephens

significant, reflective paintings which now remain as part of their enduring legacies to the art world. Throughout the past fifty years the North has experienced a steady migration by talented, practising artists who, captivated by the people, lifestyle and surroundings of the Far North and Pacific Islands, have then settled, enriching the area culturally. Vibrance, beauty, texture and mood, and every idiosyncrasy of the local population, create an abundant feast for the artists’ palettes. A, tropical beach at sunset, the mere ripple of an incoming tide as it gently laps upon a remote, sun drenched beach, the brilliance of the clear, midday sunshine caressing dense, tropical foliage in ancient shadowed forests or perhaps unveiling to emerald translucency a secluded, pristine creek - With such inspirational, diverse and almost inexhaustible subject matter as their surroundings, it is little wonder that the artists’ canvases radiate such liveliness, being exhilarated by the lush beauty of the natural environment. The 1990's saw an artistic procession to the colourful north by established artists such as Ian Stephens, who is one of Australia’s more traditional artists and is among the minority of practising professional artists who derive their income entirely from the proceeds of their artwork. Ian's artwork has been purchased by Heads of State, American Presidents, Governor Generals, Prime Ministers, movie stars, oil companies, banks, major financial

Four Mile Beach (in part) - Ian Stephens

institutions, and private collectors.

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From Ian's younger days when his first solo exhibition in Melbourne was sold out completely, he continued with over thirty one man exhibitions throughout Australia. Ian continued to win art awards including the Royal Overseas League in 1976. His winning painting was sent to London to represent Australia in a Commonwealth exhibition opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The painting received High Commendation by the judges from the Royal Academy of Arts. The multitude of galleries scattered throughout the region generally exhibit works by local artists and craftspeople and most have their own distinctive flavour, reflecting the very essence of tropical life and natural beauty in all mediums and genres.

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Australian Indigenous art The earliest Australian Indigenous art was red ochre paintings or engravings on boulders or on the walls of rock shelters and

Ngarru Gallery, Port Douglas

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.

Sarah Napanangka Daniels, ‘Mina Mina Dreaming, - Pandanus Gallery

When acrylic paints and canvas/linen based primed surfaces became available in 1971 the Aboriginal people responded

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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 community members were authorised to participate. There is an enormous variety of coloured sands and minerals 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. What characterises the vast majority of these works is the extraordinary ability of Aboriginal artists to create paintings that appeal to contemporary Western and Eastern audiences without being sacriIegious – they reveal the emotional and spiritual inspirations behind the subject matter without conveying associated secret and sacred details. 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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Archaeologists and scholars studying Australian Aboriginal beginnings believe Australia's first people originally arrived from Asia when the two land masses were linked more than 40,000 years ago. However, 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 150 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.

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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

Australia's Indigenous People

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The interactions with the Papuans to the north, and Australian Aboriginal communities to the south, have

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 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 traditional custodians of the land, who know its resources, its stories and its sacred places. 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, and gain an understanding into the impacts of the stolen generation. The Art of My People talk will guide you through a variety of art styles as you learn about the differences between the Aboriginal clans throughout Australia. At the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park you can join the dancers in a corroboree and fire making ceremony, or gain an insight into the gathering and cooking of bush foods and the medicinal values of native plants. You might like to learn about traditional hunting methods and tribal law, or throw a spear with the help of a traditional milay spear thrower, and be shown the art of throwing a returning boomerang.

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Left: Seeds and fruits gathered from the rainforest for use as foods and medicine by the Kuku Yalangi rainforest people. Š Andrew Watson

maintained a steady cultural diffusion between the three societal groups dating back thousands of years.

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 cafÊ restaurant serving locally sourced produce infused with indigenous bush ingredients, as well as an art gallery showcasing the works of many Indigenous artists. The Bama Way – Aboriginal Journeys in Cape York, brings together three well established Aboriginal owned tours in a choice of flexible packages from Cairns and Port Douglas. The word Bama (pronounced Bumma) is widely used throughout Cape York to mean Aboriginal person, but in both Kuku Yalanji and Guugu Yimithirr, the word simply means 'person' regardless of nationality or race. Kuku Yalanji brothers, at Cooya Beach near Mossman, follow the tradition of the ancestors and will show how to throw a spear, hunt whilst stalking and track, and share their extensive knowledge of the area. The Walker Family Tours of Wujal Wujal (Bloomfield Falls) takes the visitor on a bush walk with a difference, giving the opportunity to listen and

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talk to the traditional custodians of the area, and receive a fascinating insight into their history, their use of plants for food, medicine and ceremonial purposes. It is an opportunity to see the Bloomfield Falls through

From Cooktown, Nugal-warra elder Willie Gordon, takes guests 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 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. The tours can be taken independently and each is an Aboriginal journey through SE Cape York sharing stories, history and culture to give the visitor a greater understanding and enjoyment of this beautiful region. 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 June 2015 and due to be held again in June 2017, the festival celebrates the indigenous culture of Cape York Peninsula, highlighting the many diverse communities, language, songs, dance, and stories, with three days of music and art amongst the beauty of 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.

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Contact details:

Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park Tel: 07 4042 9999

Mossman Gorge Centre: Tel: 07 4099 7000

The Bama Way - Tel: 07 4028 3376

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 Š Kerry Trapnell

their eyes, and to learn about the cultural significance of this area.

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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 250,000 in the next few years. The Cairns region is the traditional land of Bama Aboriginal people and continues to be home to Aboriginal is Indigenous - one of the highest populations of First People in Australia. Officially founded in 1876 and named after the State Governor of the day Sir William Wellington Cairns, 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 ciy centre complex boasts one of Australia's

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Left: Sculptures on Cairns Esplanade Š Paul Dymond Right: Aerial view of Marlin Marina and Cairns city centre. Š Andrew Watson

people from three main language groups and 15 clan groups. About nine percent of the region's population

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finest boutique Casinos, a multitude of the best dining experiences and bars. To top it off the majestic glass construction sitting atop the building is the surprising home to 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. On the other side, others can lounge on the timber decks in moderate shade. Shady trees, landscaped gardens and open spaces all 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 sees 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. 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.

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Left: The Pier and the marina, Cairns. Š Andrew Watson Right: The fishing trawler base at Portsmith, Cairns. Š Andrew Watson

contribute to the leisurely atmosphere of the lagoon surroundings, now used for many community activities

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Under the direction of the Cairns Regional Council, the overriding vision has been to deliver a bright, bold and challenging program spanning visual and performing arts, culture and entertainment while showcasing the city's key cultural precincts, and nurturing local talent. The Cairns Festival is for celebrating the cultural diversity within the region by engaging the local community, artists, and performers. To find out what is on at the time you are visiting, check the council website -

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 lakes and a boardwalk through the native lowland swamp rainforest. 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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Left top: Orchid Dendrobium Š Luke Wormald Bottom: White-lipped green tree frog (Litoria infrafrenata) on heliconia flower. Š Andrew Watson

Cairns is renowned for its fresh, exotic produce and international standard restaurants, bistros and cafes open to

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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.

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.

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Right: Mangrove trees on the beach, taken at dawn, Kewarra Beach

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

Š Andrew Watson

But, to be safe, please note that dangerous Marine Stingers can be present at North Queensland beaches

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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. Overlooking the marina you will find the Bluewater Bar & Grill, a stunning new venue, superbly located and offering fantastic dining opportunities with excellent water views. North of Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach is world renowned for its eco-friendly resort, set well back off the 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 mango trees, Ellis Beach is a long thin beach, excellent for fishing or sunbathing.

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Southern end of Trinity Beach - a favourite with the locals.

Š Trinity Beach Tourism

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. At the northern end of the beach is a long jetty, described as the

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.

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Left: Palm Cove looking towardfs Double Island Š Craig Debnam

most expensive fishing platform in the world by local politicians.

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The Village Gallery has always promoted the works of local artists, and you will find stunning paintings of local scenes by foremost Palm Cove painter, Ian Stephens. In addition to the works of local artists focusing on nature and wildlife, the Village Gallery 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 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 fruit 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 choose to 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 choice is yours and one thing is for sure - all will leave you delighted by the tastes of the tropics.

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Left: Waves lap the rocks at Pebbly Beach, between Cairns and Port Douglas Š Andrew Watson

career in the arts and Paul's business career had spanned many industries, but it is their love of Aboriginal

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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

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. 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. 114 Insight

Left: Moss covered rocks by a rainforest stream in Mossman Gorge, just north of Port Douglas. Š Paul Dymond Right: Boats moored in Dickson Inlet, Port Douglas. Š Andrew Watson

surprise that the town of Port Douglas has been attracting visitors with its tropical allure for over a hundred years.

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

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 the annual Carnivale when the region becomes a living postcard of tropical culture. It is a time when visitors and locals join in and celebrate life in the tropics, its pleasures, weather, culture, art and cuisine with 80 restaurants on standby to showcase their talents in this tropical paradise. This first Carnivale was originally a concept conceived by local identities, Mike Burgess and Moss Hunt, to stage a seven day yacht race from Port Douglas to Lizard Island with a Carnivale to be held in Port Douglas to celebrate the start of the Yacht Race. The Carnivale side of things really went forward whilst the yacht race in the original plan didn't eventuate because the winds at that time of the year were not conducive to racing north although yacht racing has become an integral part of the ongoing Carnivales. The mainstay of Carnivale and by far and away the most popular events are the Macrossan Street Party, Beach Day, Food and Wine, and Seafood Extravaganza. They have always been the crowd drawers and Carnivale will always be structured around these popular events with various events added in different years.

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Left: Mangroves at low tide along the sand banks near Port Douglas. Š Andrew Watson

Popular destinations include one of the wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef, which is essentially

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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. 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, 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. For visitors who would like to buy some real Australian attire before returning home, the store that specializes in the best Australia has to offer is Oz About Oz on the Boardwalk at The Marina. Here you can choose the very natural bamboo fibre clothing for men and women as well as the famous sheepskin ugg boots.

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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 Opals, well respected for their fine jewellery. 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 are drawn to the region, and Port Douglas has several galleries with everything from fine glass art pieces 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. 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. 120 Insight

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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. Situated in the Saltwater complex in Macrossan Street, Tshinta Port Douglas is a boutique supporting the dream of an endless summer. It is a place where women and children will discover quality collections designed to flow with their every holiday move. From laying under a palm tree with that ocean breeze flowing through their sun kissed hair, to out on the town enjoying the local hospitality with friends and family - adventuring, relaxing and living the FNQ dream. Tshinta carries a complete range of children's (0-14) and ladies’ swimwear with UPF 50+ protection, rash guards, bikinis, one pieces and Australian beach attire to suit every size and shape. Many of the pieces are interchangeable and mix-n-match. Stop by the store and see the complete collection! 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.

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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, the Reef Marina at present has its Sunset Markets held every Wednesday from 2pm until 7pm 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. The Sunset Market is brilliant for people who cannot get to the Sunday markets, and a great position to see the sun set or watch the tour boats returning from a day out on The Reef. The iconic Great Barrier Reef experience should not be missed, and Sailaway Low Isles provides a wonderful 15km off Port Douglas. It is a picturesque isle, small enough to walk around, and shallow waters to sim 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 Rainforest and Reef in one day, touring Mossman Gorge in the morning and Low Isles in the afternoon. 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 27) 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

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Sailaway catamaran on its way out to The Reef © Andrew Watson

day to remember with a reef and island sail for snorkelling and exploring Low Isles, an unspoiled coral cay just

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viewing platform and semi-sub – it’s 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. A less demanding pace is found aboard the Lady Douglas exploring the inland waterways on the calm waters of Dickson Inlet, spotting crocodiles and identifying the rarer birds and wildlife along the way. With four daily tours running from the Port Douglas marina, there's no excuse for missing out on seeing the local wildlife. Saltwater crocodiles are often seen, particularly in the dry season. Birds of prey such as brahminy kites, ospreys and white bellied sea eagles are common sites as are mangrove herons, rainbow bee-eaters, sunbirds and kingfishers. 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. The large immersion habitats allow the visitor to mingle in a spacious and natural setting with a variety of North Queensland’s friendliest locals; and the moment you walk in, the wildlife surrounds you with its welcoming sounds, vibrant colours and abundant presence. Wandering through the Wetlands the wildlife abounds, the Rainforest offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of life, and a venture into the Grasslands is a venture into childhood. 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, with the experience of passionate wildlife keepers, 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 Wetlands Restaurant can be a bright experience. The rainforest is not far away. Just a short drive north of Port Douglas through the canefields, backed by rainforest clad mountains, Mossman Gorge, adjacent to the town of Mossman, 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.

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Left top: Eclectus parrot - male. © Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas. Left bottom: Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) © Right: The lighthouse on Low Isles, built in 1878, was the first to light the Inner Passage of the Great Barrier Reef; and is now used as a research station. © Andrew Watson

of Australia’s Continental Shelf. Dive, snorkel or stay dry and explore the stunning reef from the underwater

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The 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 a Dreamtime Walk guided by the Indigenous Kuku Yalanji people. There are several Daintree Rainforest tours to select from. BTS Tours is the longest established tour company rainforest stream, 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. 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 scenic flights in the world. GBR Helicopters can collect you from the door of your Port Douglas accommodation and take you to their helipad in the heart of town for a flight that will live long in the memory. With views to take your breath away, a flight over this beautiful seaside village before heading over the World Heritage listed rainforest, or out over the spectacular Great Barrier Reef from the air – here is the place to do it! Whether you do this at the start or end of your holiday, climb aboard for a flight that will change your perspective forever. Don’t forget your camera, you will need it! Once you've completed your exploration of the region, visited the rainforest or the wildlife sanctuary, or snorkelled The Reef for the day, or even finished your bout of retail therapy and have a hankering for a healthy dose of TLC, Port Douglas offers an ideal escape. A number of health-oriented businesses offer experiences certain to renew, restore and revitalise visitors' systems. Whether gymnasia, in-house entertainment, special catering or spa treatments appeal to your sense of relaxation, the township promises to pamper you.

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Left: Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas © Andrew Watson & St Mary's by the Sea, a most appealing little church with the main window looking over theCoral Sea.

in Port Douglas and can fulfil your sense of adventure or desire for a quiet scenic tour. Enjoy canoeing in a

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Just like your mind, your body isn’t static. At spaQ within the QT Resort they get that, and so have decided to do things a little differently to fit in with your individual groove. As well as packing their menu with some serious therapeutic punch, they have made room for flexibility, customisation and individualisation. For a start, you will not be pressured to make your treatment selection in advance. Just reserve your time and then, with the help of your therapist, you can choose a treatment experience when you arrive. That way you get exactly what you need on the day rather than something that feels so…umm, last week. Life is more fun when we leave space for spontaneity, don’t you think? In the centre of town, take time to reconnect and awaken the body with a remedial massage at the beautiful Samãdhi Soul Massage Therapies to find your balance and rejuvenate your soul. The name says it all - SAMÃDHI: A meditative state, a conscious experience that lies beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep; a healing state, a calm mind. As a qualified Remedial Therapist Luke Murray has spent over 13 years exploring techniques for pain relief and wholistic methods for identifying and correcting the source of bodily pain. Luke founded Samadhi Soul in early 2012, with the desire to offer quality, healing services at an affordable price, so that more people can receive the healing benefits of bodywork, from qualified, professional therapists.

Passionate about health, Luke

has a strong local following and regular return clients from interstate and overseas. He is Health Fund Accredited and can offer health fund receipts for rebates with all major funds within Australia.

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So as the days draws to an end, Port Douglas provides a wonderfully hedonistic environment in which to relax by the pool 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 on site. New to Macrossan Street is Taste on Macrossan – your daytime gourmet deli destination for a healthy light meal or locally sourced provisions to take back to your accommodation, including ready-made frozen meals, cheeses, patés, mustards, dips, jams, local honey, and chocolates. A delightful idea is to grab one of their gourmet picnic baskets to take on your day of adventure. The award-winning Zinc restaurant is located in the Portico building at the southern end of Macrossan Street and is not only perfect any time of day for a coffee, cake, cocktail or a snack, but the superb dinner menu, featuring fresh local seafood and produce offers something for everyone including many gluten free and vegetarian options. Zinc's relaxed lounge bar features a large range of wines by the glass, over 70 cocktails, over 110 spirits and liqueurs and a selection of cold beers on tap ... perfect for that pre-dinner drink or after-dinner nightcap. 132 Insight

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The chic resort that is QT Port Douglas is Mad Men meets the Hamptons, with a sophisticated, upmarket vibe. This unique designer resort combines an eclectic design environment with bold food and beverage offerings to create an intriguing yet relaxing dining experience. Forget what you think you know about your typical hotel restaurants, Bazaar Marketplace reinterprets the traditional hotel dining concept by marrying the infectious energy of inspired international street stalls, souks or bodegas – with the signature sophistication of QT Port Douglas and ... a 21st century twist! 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 available 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.

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. In comparison, Port's newest dining establishment is the Brazilian style Churrasco. A Churrascaria is a restaurant serving grilled meat, offering as much as one can eat. Customers pay a fixed price (preço fixo) and the waiters bring samples of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signal that they have had enough. In churrascarias or the traditional Brazilian-style steakhouse restaurants, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of quality cuts of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, chicken and sometimes exotic meats. This serving style is called espeto corrido or rodízio, and is indicative of the international flavour that is Port Douglas. 134 Insight

Picturesque Low Isles, off Port Douglas

beautiful lush tropical garden setting with palms overhead, guests enter along a hidden pathway from Macrossan

© Andrew Watson

The 60 year old Nautilus Restaurant a quintessential part of Port Douglas. Nestled into Island Point Hill amid a

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© Andrew Watson

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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 the numerous river cruises bringing nature lovers up close to a huge array of wildlife supported by the Daintree River's tidal estuary.

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Left: Boyd's Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii), usually sighted perched on the side of tree trunks, are only found in the rainforests of north eastern Queensland. © Daintree Safaris Right: Cape Tribulation - Where the rainforest meets the reef. © Dean Jewell

where the rainforest meets the reef

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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. This region is breathtakingly spectacular: a lush, centuries old rainforest teeming with wildlife and criss-crossed by freshwater streams, sweeping down to the reef fringed coast.

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

This tropical rainforest ecosystem is one of the most complex on earth; and of the 19 primitive flowering

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

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Left: The tiny Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) - also called Yellow-bellied sunbird - Š Dean Jewell Green tree python (Morelia viridis) - Š Dean Jewell

Most of the Daintree is steep, rocky, rainforest clad terrain; with the taller mountains of Thorntons Peak

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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. 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,

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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. 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 met with the Guugu Yimithirr Bama on six occasions. 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. 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: Grassy Hill Light or Cooktown Light is still an active lighthouse. Statue of Captain James Cook at Cooktown, commemorating his landing there in 1770. Thick mangrove shores of Endeavour River, Cooktown.

HMB Endeavour after she was badly damaged on the Great Barrier Reef. During their 48-day stay they

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

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 two distinct seasons marked by drought and flooding rains, the rugged mountain ranges and sweeping 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 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 150 Insight

Left: Flatback turtle on Crab Illand, near the mouth of the Jardine River, Cape York Peninsula. Š Kerry Trapnell Right: The Jardine River, Cape York largest river, flows into Endeavour Starit on the far north-western tip of the peninsula. Š Dean Jewell

Cape York Peninsula & Torres Strait

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has served as an intermediary through which innumerable people have travelled south throughout the ages. The endurance of its pristine environment, then, is testament to the unforgiving conditions of the far north. 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.

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, too, 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 lake-dotted 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. Torres Strait 'Creole' is the common language, containing Aboriginal structures with Melanesian & Papua New Guinea elements. Most islanders have kept the language of their ancestors alive. Thursday Island is the centre of administration of the Torres Strait Islands, and each year many visitors arrive by daily ferry or by airtake to explore the culture and histor. Whether you choose to travel there by air or by sea, a visit to the Torres Strait Islands is a unique Australian adventure . 152 Insight

Left: Termite mound, Lakefield National Park, Cape York Peninsula. Š Kerry Trapnell Right: The sign says it all - the most northern tip of Cape York Peninsula Š Dean Jewell

Unlike most cities born of wealthy gold strikes, Cooktown was not exclusively built of demountable buildings and

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village in the rainforest 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

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.

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Left: Red-eyed green tree frog (Litoria chloris) © Right: The wet season can bring the rains which make the Barron Falls in flood a spectacular sight. © Paul Dymond

people call the area Ngunbay – Place of Platypus; and just getting there is an experience you will cherish.

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The increasingly adventurous ascension by riding the spectacular Skyrail, the longest gondola cableway in the world, takes visitors on a birds-eye ride spanning a total distance of 7.5 kilometres over the top of the rainforest, departing from Smithfield. Seated in a Skyrail gondola, people of all ages and abilities may 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.

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Located within Kuranda Village and adjacent to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, the Kuranda Heritage Markets is an all-weather covered market nestled in the rainforest. Ninety stalls show local artists at work 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. 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 of Kuranda 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.

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Left: Cairns birdwing butterfly; The iconic Kuranda Rail train passing Stoney Creek Falls Š Image Queensland Rail

and provide an innovative range of handmade local crafts plus Australian opals, gemstones, crocodile and

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waterfalls, crater lakes, promordial forests

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 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. 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.

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Left: Nerada Tea plantation near Malanda, Atherton Tablelands Right: Picturesque Millaa Millaa Falles, Atherton Tablelands. Š Andrew Watson

richest agricultural lands and most charming small towns. This unique accident of geology spreads along

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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. The Mareeba Wetlands Reserve protects over 5,000 acres of savannas and wetlands, providing a sanctuary 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.. 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. The most delectable cafĂŠ sits within the gallery, which also showcases the collective talents of artisans who work with hand-forged iron, hammered steel, ceramics, glass and silver.

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Left: Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata). Found in mountain rainforests and neighbouring wet eucalypt forests. Wandering Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arcuata), found in the wetlands and tidal creeks Š

Another crater lake is Bromfield Swamp, a sought after destination by serious bird watchers. Thousands

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

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Nandroya Falls in Wooroonoonan National Park near Millaa Millaa. Š Andrew Watson.

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. New to the historical town of Yungaburra, is Australia's most recent war memorial. Opened in June 2013, 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 have been 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.

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Dairy cows grazing in green pastures at twilight, Millaa Millaa, Atherton Tablelands.

rugged mountain ranges to golden beaches

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

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, the summit of Mt Bartle Frere offers unparalleled views of the Great Barrier Reef to the east and the Atherton Tableland to the west. Despite the rugged terrain, walking tracks are popular with locals and visitors, and bushwalkers regularly accept the challenge to climb to the top of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland's tallest mountain, in exchange for the splendour that the view from its summit bestows upon those who scale its height. Starting at Josephine Falls, a 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 168 Insight

Left: The waterfall circuit off the Palmerston Hwy takes in the very pretty Zillie Falls Right: Wallaman Falls near Ingham, is the highest single drop waterfall in Australia.

Rainforests. Rugged mountain ranges and stands of sugar cane, tropical fruit farms and long stretches of

Š Paul Dymond

and including two World Heritage listed natural treasures in the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics

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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. 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 at 07 4046 6600 or 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

Photos courtesy of Mamu Tropical Skywalk

linking the various sections of the walkway. Here at ground level, colourful fruits litter the shady forest floor

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between massive tree trunks with impressive plank-like buttressed roots. 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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Queensland's Cassowary Coast

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

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. 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, camel and horse rides along the beach; 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;

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Right: Australia's 'big bird', the cassowary grows to 2 metres in height and can weigh 85 kilograms.

wide golden beach, a perfect base to relax and explore this unspoilt natural environment. A blend of

Š Liz Gallie

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

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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 structure 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 'gentle' digestive system which passes the seeds unharmed, into a pile of compost, many kilometres from the parent plant. It has been estimated that 70-100 species of plant depend almost entirely on the cassowary

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!

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Left: Ulysses butterfly, also known as the Dunk Island butterfly Germinating coconut washed ashore on South Mission Beach Watch for cassowaries and . . . Slow down!

to disperse their seeds.

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recreation, relaxation & repast

Townsville and the adjoining city of Thuringowa make up Australia's largest tropical, beachside city of 170,000 people, 3,000 hotel rooms, and 700 dining outlets. Boasting more than 300 sunny days each year, the diversity largest living reef aquarium, a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef or a 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. At the

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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

of experiences range from the excitement of bull-riding and 'barra' fishing, through to a tour of the world's

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

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Left: Paluma National Park Right: Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island Š iStockphoto

initially established as a result of the district's rapidly growing sugar and pastoral industries, and has continued

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Outback by the Sea The Gulf Savannah covers an area of 186,000 square kilometres from the Great Dividing Range, just west 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. 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 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 of Australia that is impossible to analyse yet so simple to define. 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. 182 Insight

Left: The Savannahlander train, also known as The Silver Bullet. Š Qld rail Right: Inside the Stephenson Cave, part of the Undara Lava Tubes National Park Š Andrew Watson

Untouched bushland and wide open spaces exhibit spectacular flora, dramatic sunsets, kangaroos, crocodiles

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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, 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 do watch out for the saltwater 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 neverending 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. Of great significance and now included in the Lawn Hill National Park are the Riversleigh Fossil fields, classified as a World Heritage region. At this stage the fossil deposits are not open to the public and there are no camping facilities in the immediate area. The Great Top Road takes in Burketown, the barramundi capital of Australia, situated 25 kilometres from the Gulf of Carpentaria on the meandering Albert River, with immense salt flats and wetlands to the north and the savannah grass plains (Plains of Promise) to the south. Access roads to Burketown have unsealed sections and creek crossings that may be dry or flowing, so check road conditions before driving in this region. 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). 184 Insight

Left: Aboriginal rock paintings in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park Right: Limestone pinnacles under a star-filled sky - Chillagoe-Mungara caves National Park. Š Andrew Watson

the Savannahlander passes amazing scenery, stopping along the way with intriguing local tales and facts,

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an introduction to just some of the tropical north's wildlife

ESTUARINE CROCODILE - Crocodylus porosus - Also known as Saltwater Crocodile

Š Photo courtesy of Daintree Safaris

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. 186 Insight

Š Photo - Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises Spectacled Flying Fox - mother and baby

Š Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

LUMHOLTZ'S TREE KANGAROO - Dendrolagus lumholtzi

SPECTACLED FLYING FOX - Pteropus conspicillatus

Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo 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.

The spectacled flying fox, 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. Insight 187

Ulysses burrerfly © Daintree Safaris

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.

Wompoo fruit dove © Dean Jewell

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.

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. The wompoo fruit dove can be seen in large flocks where food is abundant. The birds feed off fruit-bearing trees in rainforests such as figs. They also occasionally eat insects.

CASSOWARY - 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.

Cassowaries © Daintree Safaris

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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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. The female is attracted to the male's display by his raspy 'yaars' call, which becomes softer and more tuneful during the display.

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© Dean Jewell

Rainbow Bee-eater © Daintree Safaris Yellow-bellied sunbird © Daintree Safaris

RAINBOW BEE-EATER - Merops ornatus Rainbow bee-eaters are brilliantly colored birds that grow to be 19–24 cm (max 28 cm) in length, including the elongated tail feathers. The upper back and wings are green in color, and the lower back and under-tail coverts are bright blue. The undersides of the wings and primary flight feathers are red and tipped with black, and the tail is black to deep violet. The rainbow bee-eater's two central tail feathers are longer than the other tail feathers, and are longer in the male rainbow bee-eaters than in the females. Rainbow bee-eaters are a common species and can be found during the summer in forested areas in most of southern Australia excluding Tasmania. They migrate north during the winter into northern Australia, New Guinea, and some of the southern islands of Indonesia.

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. Found in north-eastern Australia, as well as Southern Asia, the Yellow-bellied Sunbird breeds between September and February. Its nests are typically long, hanging structures made from bark, leaves, feathers, grass and caterpillar droppings woven together with spider webs, and are often found above porches or verandahs. Nests can also found suspended above water sources and in tree canopies.

Gouldian finch © Wildlife Habitat

GOULDIAN FINCH - Erythrura gouldiae

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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. Throughout its range the species inhabits the edges of mangroves and thickets, and savannas.

Sacred Kingfisher, having crab for dinner! © Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

© Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

BOYD'S FOREST DRAGON - Hypsilurus boydii

SACRED KINGFISHER - Todiramphus sanctus - Juvenile

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.

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. Insight 191

Cairns birdwing butterfly © Daintree Safaris

CAIRNS BIRDWING BUTTERFLY - Ornithoptera priamus - female. 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.

Green tree python

© Dean Jewell

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.

GREEN TREE PYTHON - Morelia viridis The Green Tree Python, or as it is known in the herpetoculture hobby, chondro (due to its former classification in the genus Chondropython.) 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.

FOREST KINGFISHER - Todiramphus macleayii Also known as the Macleay's or Blue kingfisher, the Forest kingfisher is a member of the Halcyonidae family, also known as tree kingfishers. It is a predominantly blue and white bird. It is found in Indonesia, New Guinea and coastal eastern and northern Australia.

Forest kingfisher © Daintree Safaris

Like many other kingfishers, the forest kingfisher hunts invertebrates, such as bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and worms, as well as small frogs and lizards. It often kills prey by hitting it against a branch after catching it.

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WHITE-LIPPED GREEN TREE FROG - Litoria infrafrenata - also known as the GIANT GREEN TREE FROG The White-lipped green tree frog is the world's largest tree frog (the Cuban tree frog reaches a similar maximum size), and is native to the coastal areas of Cape York Peninsula and the wet tropics of north-eastern Queensland, as well as New Guinea, the Bismarck Islands, and the Admiralty Islands. It lives in rainforests, cultivated areas, and around houses in coastal areas, and is restricted to areas below 1200 m in altitude. It has a loud, barking call, but when distressed, it makes a cat-like "mew" sound. Males call during spring and summer after rain. Its diet is mainly insects and other arthropods; and it can live to over 10 years in the wild.

White-lipped green tree frog

Š Photo courtesy of Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

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As diverse as the multicultural population, the culinary treasures that may be dicovered and experienced in Far North Queensland are as good a reason to visit the region 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.

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 a la carte menu. Seating is outside overlooking the marina, or inside in air conditioned comfort. 194 Insight

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bel cibo 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. New Zealand born chef/owner Andy Gray made the 'sea change' after a couple of years as Matt Morans Sous Chef at acclaimed Sydney restaurant 'ARIA'. In Port, Andy led local icon 2 Fish to award fame for 5 years before going alone and opening Bel Cibo. Andy is fussy about using only the best produce, the seafood is from the Great Barrier Reef, the beautiful pasta is all hand made on site. (See page 123)

Spirit of Cairns A Cairns Dinner Cruise is the perfect way to end the perfect day in paradise. Set sail aboard the newly 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.

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 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 so good! 196 Insight

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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 award winning 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.

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, to create 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. (see page 135)

Bluewater Bar & Grill On the northern side of Cairns, between Yorkeys Knob and Trinity Beach, the relatively new community of Trinity Park sits alongside a world class 108 berth marina. Overlooking the marina you will find the Bluewater Bar & Grill, a great new venue, offering fantastic dining opportunities with stunning water views. Guests can relax and enjoy drinks and tapas alfresco on the deck while soaking in the water views or dine in air-conditioned comfort. The open plan restaurant specialises in a contemporary approach to classic cuisine, showcasing the best local ingredients, served alongside luxury items such as crayfish and perfectly aged beef. A courtesy bus operates to all Cairns'Northern Beaches accommodation. (see page 108) 198 Insight

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Ochre Restaurant The multiple award-winning Ochre Restaurant has recently moved to 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; and its range of produce made in-house under the 'Tropic Spirit' brand, such as sauces, chutneys and pestos, guarantees diners the freshest and highest quality food. Ochre Restaurant is recognised both nationally and internationally as one of the most innovative modern Australian restaurants not only in Cairns, but Australia.

Zinc Port Douglas

Zinc in Port Douglas is more than just a restaurant. Casual by day; a restaurant and lounge bar by night allowing you to enjoy the ambience of the lounge bar until late. You will find Zinc open from 9am. . . call in for coffee, cakes, desserts or tapas at any time during opening hours or enjoy dinner from 5pm Zinc's relaxed lounge bar also features a large range of wines by the glass, over 70 cocktails, over 110 spirits and liqueurs and a selection of cold beers on tap . . . perfect for that pre-dinner drink or after-dinner nightcap, even if you have chosen to dine elsewhere. (See page 125) Zinc is centrally located in the Portico building on the corner of Macrossan and Davidson Streets, at the Four Mile Beach end of the main street. The restaurant is conveniently close to many of Port's apartment complexes.

Watergate Port Douglas

The Watergate Restaurant & Lounge Bar is located in the heart of Port Douglas, at the corner of Grant and Macrossan Street, 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. (See page 125) 200 Insight

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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.

Kickstart New to the Cairns waterfrant, Kickstart at Dundee's is exactly as the name describes - a great kick start for your day! It offers hearty and healthy breakfast and brunch options in the morning, including freshly made cold-pressed juices, and delectable pastries; and then turns into a cocktail lounge in the afternoon, although you can get cocktails from 10am to really kick start your day. Located directly under Harbour Lights, Kickstart has free-wifi and is open from 6am until late, 7 days a week. 202 Insight

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Mondo at the Hilton The award-winning Mondo Café Bar and Grill at the Hilton Cairns hotel offers a unique alfresco dining experience on the waterfront of Trinity Inlet. With stunning views by day or night, relax beneath the shade of the giant Poinciana tree and indulge in Mondo's extensive menu offering flavors from around the world and signature dishes such as the hanging Mondo barbecue and sizzling fajitas. Enjoy weekly specials and events with a family night on Tuesdays, and the best local talent with 'blues on the waterfront' on Thursdays.

QT Bazaar - Port Douglas Forget what you think you know about your typical hotel restaurants, Bazaar Marketplace reinterprets the traditional hotel dining concept by marrying the infectious energy of inspired international street stalls, souks or bodegas – with the signature sophistication of QT Port Douglas and ... a 21st century twist! Imagine a mosaic of foods as diverse as the cultures they came from; cured meats hang from high ceilings adjacent to strings of garlic and chilli; fresh king prawns and sand crabs sit chilled on ice, whilst wood-fired pizzas and mouth-watering rotisserie meats tempt, combining the eclectic design environment with bold food and beverage offerings to create an intriguing yet relaxing dining experience. (See page 129)

Mason's Café

Should 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. (see page 146)

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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 a 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. "Early Bird" prices for the Churrasco Experience are offered when your order is placed before 6pm and table vacated by 7pm.

Churrasco Port Douglas Port Douglas' newest dining establishment is also in the popular style of the Brazilian Churrasco. The Churrascaria is a restaurant serving grilled meat - offering as much as one can eat. In this churrascarias or the traditional Brazilian-style steakhouse restaurants, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of quality cuts of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, chicken and sometimes exotic meats. Customers pay a fixed price (preço fixo) and the waiters offer food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signal that they have had enough. This serving style is called espeto corrido or rodízio, and is indicative of the international flavour that is Port Douglas. (see page 135)

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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 style in true fashion. 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. 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 here or experiment in your holiday apartment with the tastes of the region, outlets like Cairns Ocean Products (see page 55), Cairns Gourmet Seafoods (this page) and

the iconic Rusty's Markets (page 83) offer tastes to delight the

most discerning palate.


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 dĂŠcor 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 206 Insight

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photo credits front cover

Oceanwide Images -

page 142

Dean Jewell -

half title

Oceanwide Images -

page 144

Dean Jewell -

page 8

Andrew Watson -

page 148

TTNQ; Craig Debnam; Paul Dymond

page 9

Oceanwide Images -

page 149

Dean Jewell -

page 10

Daintree Safaris -

page 150

Kerry Trapnell -

page 11

Andrew Watson -

page 151

Dean Jewell -

page 12

Mossman Gorge Centre - photographer Adam Bruzz

page 152

Kerry Trapnell -

page 13, 14, 15

Andrew Watson -

page 153

Dean Jewell -

page 16

Oceanwide Images / Daintree Safaris

page 154

Oceanwide Images -

page 17, 18, 19

Andrew Watson -

page 155

Paul Dymond -

pages 40- 52

Oceanwide Images -

page 158

John Tröst / Queensland Rail

page 55

Daintree Estates -

page 160, 161

Andrew Watson -

page 94, 95

Mossman Gorge Centre - Adam Bruzz

page 162

Oceanwide Images -

page 96

Andrew Watson -

page 165, 167

Andrew Watson -

page 98, 99

Laura Dance Festival - Kerry Trapnell

page 168, 169

Paul Dymond -

page 100

Paul Dymond -

page 170

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

page 101-103

Andrew Watson -

page 172

Oceanwide Images -

page 104

Luke Wormald / Andrew Watson

page 173

Liz Gallie -

page 107

Andrew Watson -

page 174

Daintree Safaris / John Tröst / Paul Dymond

page 109

Trinity Beach Tourism

page 176

Charters Towers Regional Council

page 110

Craig Debnam

pages 178-181

page 112

Andrew Watson -

page 182

Queensland Rail

page 114

Paul Dymond -

page 183-185

Andrew Watson -

page 115, 116

Andrew Watson -

page 186

Daintree Safaris -

page 124

Andrew Watson -

page 187

Wildlife Habitat -

page 126

Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas / Oceanwide Images

Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

page 127

Andrew Watson -

page 188

Daintree Safaris / Dean Jewell

page 128

Andrew Watson / J Rutledge-Smith

page 189

Dean Jewell -

page 134

Andrew Watson -

page 190

Daintree Safaris / Wildlife Habitat

page 136

Andrew Watson -

page 191

Wildlife Habitat / Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

page 138

Daintree Safaris -

page 192

Daintree Safaris / Dean Jewell

page 139

Dean Jewell -

page 193

Solar Whisper Daintree Cruises

© 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.

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Insight - Tropical North Queensland  
Insight - Tropical North Queensland