Far North Queensland - Naturally
A Far North Queensland Expedition
An immersement in it's Culture, History & Nature
13 Days Tour
AUD 9,960 p.p Twin Share
Single Supplement AUD 1,250
Price includes all meals, accommodation, guides and entry fees to all activities. All land, river and sea transport plus Cape York and Torres Strait Islands - return flight ex Cooktown.
Thursday 8th to Tuesday 20th June 2023
Departing north from Cairns along the picturesque coastline to Cooya Beach where you will learn traditional aboriginal practices and knowledge on a Kuku Yalanji cultural habitat tour and be primed for your Far North Queensland Expedition ! Become immersed in the jungles, rivers and beaches of the wet tropics where they meet the reef. Walk the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest, the earth’s oldest at 180 million years old. Cruise the Daintree River observing wildlife including crocodiles, tree snakes, pythons, and birdlife and learning about the mangrove eco-system.
Traverse the iconic 4WD Bloomfield Track to Cooktown to view spectacular and stunning scenery. Learn of this frontier land's history and about the main players in the many layers of Australia's past.
Continue from Cooktown flying up the Cape York Peninsula and along the Great Barrier Reef viewing all it's glory on the "World’s Longest Scenic Flight". Land on the idyllic islands of the Torres Strait for an intriguing land tour with locals and view Australia's northern most point before the return flight over the Cape's rivers and forests.
Back in Quinkan country, you will explore rarely seen Aboriginal rock art galleries with a renowned traditional owner interpreting their songlines and learn about traditional bush tucker and medicine. The Atherton Tablelands host ancient crater lakes, gigantic trees, wonderous waterfalls and an abundance of birdlife and unique wildlife including platypus, tree kangaroos and cassowarries. Visit the historic towns of Herberton and Irvinebank and the art deco drenched architecture of Innisfail. View the rainforest canopy from the Mamu Skywalk and ramble around the enchanting Paronella Park. Wander around the picturesque Dunk and Beddara Islands and snorkel and scuba dive the outer Great barrier Reef. Taste sweet delights on “paddock to plate” experiences including coffee and tea plantations. Ride the iconic Savannahlander train as it meanders through the Gulf Savannah following the path of the original Wheelbarrow Way. At Chillagoe explore all things subterranean in the depths of Australia's most beautiful of Limestone Caves. Interesting elics remain of a range of mining enterprises at Chillagoe with only zinc and marbel mining remaining active. Above ground star gaze across the dark skys from the observatory. Riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Kuranda Scenic Railway will provide unsurpassed views of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. In Cairns enjoy the best of dining and views from it's most luxurious hotel and on your final morning explore the Cairns Botanic Gardens, a tropical paradise, renowned as one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia.
Day By Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Lets Go Troppo
Depart Cairns by private bus travelling along the picturesque coastline to Cooya Beach to learn traditional aboriginal practices and knowledge on a Kuku Yalanji cultural habitat tour. Observe cultural medicine and food plants while assisting the daily spear fishing and food gathering in the mangroves and on the mudflats. Crossing the Daintree River by barge our bus enters the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest, the earth’s oldest at 180 million years old. Sample the flavours of local and exotic fruit ice cream at The daintree Ice Cream Company. Srolling along Cape Tribulation Beach and the Kulki Boardwalk will have you primed for your Far North Queensland Adventure!
The Daintree Rainforest is internationally recognised as one of Australia's premier birdwatching locations, with over 430 bird species recorded. Cruise the Daintree River by boat observing wildlife including crocodiles, tree snakes, pythons, and birdlife and learning about the natural history and mangrove eco-system. Walk the Jindalba Boardwalk and the Mardja Botanical Rainforest Boardwalk with a picnic lunch enjoyed on a secluded Beach. This evening, after dinner, you will explore the fascinating nocturnal world of the Daintree with a knowledgeable guide as the animals stir and the jungle comes to life.
Day 2: A Daintree Dalliance
Day 3: Taking a Captain’s Cook
We head north along the iconic Bloomfield Track taking in the scenery at Cowie Beach and along the Bloomfield River. A pristine rainforest rockpool is the picnic venue in the Cedar Bay National Park followed by a stop at the legendary Lions Den Hotel. View the fascinating Black Mountain,, Cooktown’s Botanic Gardens, the James Cook Museum and the renowned local Vera Scarth-Johnson’s artworks. Ascend the Grassy Hill Lookout and Lighthouse for spectacular 360 degree panoramic views at sunset.
Day 4: World’s Longest Scenic Flight
On a full day activity from Cooktown, fly at low level along the outer Barrier Reef. See the big river estuaries and World Heritage rainforests. View the beaches and massive wetlands. Enjoy incredible vistas of the Great Barrier Reef’s islands. Fly over the Australian mainland’s northernmost point, Thursday Island and land on Horn Island in the Torres Strait for lunch and an informative land tour. Take in more stunning scenery on the return flight to Cooktown where we will head out to Keatings Lagoon Conservation Park for some late afternoon birdwatching before the enjoying another sunset on the Endeavour River back in town.
Day 5: Ancient Art and Lonely Landscapes
Today you will explore rarely seen Aboriginal rock art galleries with traditional owner, the renowned Willie Gordon interpreting their songlines. The paintings depict everyday events as well as myths and legends. Quinkan art is rated as one of the greatest art styles of Aboriginal Australia. Learn about traditional bush tucker, medicine and the impacts of first contact including Captain James Cook's time interacting with Willie's ancestors. View the mesmerising dune formations of the Coloured Sands at Elim Beach and take a dip in croc free Isabella Falls before we depart Cooktown for the lush rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands. After dinner at the eco-lodge's illuminated viewing platform you can view Sugar Gliders, Striped Possums, Uromys, Bandicoots, Melomys and Antechinusin.
Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tablelands
Day 6: Critters, Craters & Scenic Vistas
Spot playful Platypuses from stream banks and some of the 300 species of birds that make the Atherton Tablelands one of the worlds hot spots for birding, including it's thirteen endemic species. Enjoy a boat cruise on an ancient crater lake, fringed by waterfalls and forests that host giant trees like the Twin Kauri Trees, the Cathedral and Curtain Fig Trees and the Giant Red Cedar Tree. Walk on ancient trails through lush rainforest and traverse a farming landscape of an amazing range of produce including Australia's largest tea plantation that is home to a colony of rare Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroos. View a diatreme (volcanic pipe) at Mount Hipipamee National Park. We will enjoy drinks at sunset in the two storey bird hide at Hasties Swamp, a prime birdwatching site.
Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tablelands
Day 7: The suprising Savannahlander and the Bat-tastic
Kick off the day with a Jaques Family Coffee Plantation's premium tour before boarding the iconic Savannahlander train at Mareeba for a journey to Almaden on the edge of the rugged Gulf country. Re-boarding the 4WD tour bus we meander through the historic mining towns of Irvinebank and at Herberton experience living history at one of Australia’s top museums before enjoying an intriguing insight into the world of bats at the Bat Hospital Visitor Centre. Dining in the quaint village of Yungaburra will be followed by another evening of illuminated wildlife viewing at the eco-lodge.
Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tablelands
Day 8: Iconic Waterfalls, Art Deco Dreams and Idyllic Islands
Departing the Tablelands you visit the iconic Millaa Millaa Falls before meandering through the sugar plantations to the Cassowary Coast to view Cassowaries at Etty Bay. Enjoy brunch amongst the art deco architecture of Innisfail and enter the dreamworld of the iconic Paronella Park’s castle.
A short boat ride will enable you to explore, walk the jungles paths and swim the sandy coves of Dunk and Bedarra Islands before returning to Mission Beach to dine and sleep in an eco-lodge in rainforest on the beachfront.
Day 9: Great Barrier Reef Discovery
An early morning rainforest walk will be followed by a full day on the spectacular Outer Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel and scuba diving at two separate world class locations that offer some of the healthiest coral and teeming fish life on the Queensland Coast. It will be a fun filled day in an aquatic wonderland. Back on the mainland enjoy a beach stroll at sunset and dinner amongst the rainforest.
Day 10: Feathered Friends of the Wet Tropics
Enjoy a morning of birdwatching and strolling in coastal rainforests before viewing the rainforest canopy from the Mamu Skywalk and immerse yourself in the Tully Gorge National Park, which forms part of the Wooroonooran Important Bird Area that supports populations of a range of bird species endemic to Queensland's Wet Tropics. You will visit the Millstream Falls and can take a dip in the Innot hot mineral springs before heading to the vastly different landscape of the historic mining town of Chillagoe, home to the Chillagoe Mungana Caves National Park. The day will end visiting the Wullumba Aboriginal rock art site and enjoying a chilled beveridge whilst viewing the setting sun from the Balancing Rock.
Day 11: Marble Mines and Labyrinths of Limestone
You will meander through a labyrinth of passages and the 11 lofty caverns of the Royal Arch limestone cave on the ranger guided tour. Explore the historic mine smelter, Police Museum, authentically restored Railway Station. and marble mines strewn throughout the Chillagoe landscape. A local's prized Ford car collection awaits the motoring enthusiasts amongst the group. Chillagoe is an interesting bird watching region, with over 75 species recorded. Marvel at beautiful columns, calcite crystals and a cave decoration in the form of the Madonna on the ranger guided tour of the renowned Donna limestone cave. Expansive clear dark skys offer the perfect location for an astronomy session at the Chillagoe Observatory after dinner.
Day 12: Coastal Cairns & Wheelbarrow Way
Wind your way back along the Wheelbarrow Way in the 4WD tour bus to descend from the Tablelands to commence a truly unique perspective of this ancient landscape with unsurpassed panoramic views of Barron Gorge and Australia’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area on the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Glide metres above the pristine jungle canopy, exploring the rainforest close up at Red Peak and Barron Falls. Be enthralled at Birdworld Kuranda, home to one of Australia's largest collection of free-flying birds and Kuranda Village with it's fascinating mix of quirky surprises and colourful characters. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, towering waterfalls and deep ravines on the Kuranda Scenic Railway as it winds its way through 15 hand-made tunnels and over 55 bridges to its destination on the coast. In Cairns you can relax and enjoy the sea port city's best dining experience and views from the most luxurious hotel on the tours final night together.
Day 13: A Final Fling - Naturally Tropical
As the sun rises on the final morning enjoy an early stroll in the Cairns Botanic Gardens, a tropical paradise, renowned as one of the best exhibitions of tropical plants in Australia. Explore the beauty of tropical plants, relax in stunning surroundings and learn about tropical flora and horticulture. Your North Queensland Adventure has come to an end as you make your way to the airport for your departure home.
Did You Know ?
Famous for its Aboriginal rock art, Quinkan Country, on the southern rim of Queensland’s rugged Laura sandstone basin in Cape York Peninsula contains a large and dramatic body of prehistoric rock paintings. These galleries have been identified as being at least 15000 to 30000 years old and have been included on the Australian Heritage Estate and listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock art sites in the world.
One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet, so big it’s visible from space. At 348,000 Km2 , the World Heritage Listed area, is slightly more than the 344,400 km2 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park because it also includes some 980 islands, internal waters, intertidal areas and other state waters. 7% of the World Heritage area is made up of coral reefs. The rest is an extraordinary variety of marine habitats ranging from shallow inshore areas – such as seagrass, mangroves, sand, algal and sponge gardens, and inter – reefal communities – to deep oceanic areas more than 250 km offshore. The Great Barrier Reef is home to 1625 species of fish – 10% of the world’s fish species, 600 plus types of hard and soft corals, 215 species of birds, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, 30 species of whales and dolphins, 14 species of sea snakes, 6 of 7 of the world's species of marine turtle, in all , 25% of all known marine species.
The Daintree Rainforest is estimated to be 180 million years old which is tens of millions of years older than the Amazon Rainforest. It encompasses an area of approximately 1,200 square kilometres, from the Daintree River north to Cooktown and west to the Great Divide, representing the single largest block of tropical rainforest in Australia. North of the Daintree River, the coastline is also lined with tropical rainforest that grows right down to the sea’s edge. This natural wonder is home to thousands of species of birds and other wildlife including 30% of Australia’s frog, reptile and marsupial species in Australia, 65% of the country’s bat and butterfly species as well as 18% of all bird species. 12,000 insect species can also be found in the Daintree Rainforest.