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       Cairns & North

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Cairns, (pictured above) is located a little above parallel 17ºS, on a flat plain between the sea and the mountains. Despite the ocean water being very clean, the bottom is muddy. Anyway, going North or South you will find the most beautiful beaches surrounded by palm trees, white sand and thick tropical forests. Cairns has an excellent tourist infra-structure with wonderful hotels, and they are crowded with people from all over the world. In Cairns you can choose to stay quiet and calm, or pump your adrenaline in many different tourist attractions. The Great Barrier Reef in front of Cairns, is the area where the reef is closer to the shore; therefore easier to visit. Also, the mountains surrounding Cairns have many impressive beautiful places, and tours to entertain all ages. 

 One of these great tours is by cable car that crosses from Cairns up to Kuranda in the mountains. (See picture on left). The car goes flying high above the huge and dense tropical forest, crossing rivers and valleys where you can observe magnificent waterfalls. It is not cheap, but worth every cent. On the way there are 3 stations where you can stop off for a walk in the park, and than pick it up again at the next station. There is no extra cost to do so. Another option: instead of doing the round trip, go by cable car and come back by bus. We do consider this trip as a must do while in Cairns.

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Another great trip in the same area, is the train that zigzags through the valleys and canyons of the region. It passes in front of many beautiful waterfalls and makes a few stops for you to take photos. The train leaves Kuranda just beside the cable car station and does a round trip circuit also with the option to return to Cairns by bus. One great idea is to go by cable car, take the train, and come back by bus. (the road is also beautiful). Kuranda is an Aborigine Village now totally devoted to tourism. There are many souvenirs and local arts and crafts shops, great cafes, restaurants and beautiful surroundings. For adrenalin junkies, there is a radical Bungy Jump, and for those who prefer something more heart calming, there is a Butterfly Enclosure where you will meet butterflies from all over the world. It is inside a netted dome where you can walk through. 

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Leaving Cairns and traveling about 40 km north by is Port Douglas. (photo). The City is small but very inviting. It attracts tourists from all over the world not only for the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, but also because it is the exit point to the Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. Daintree National Park is a unique example of forest diversity and beauty. It is dense and receives a large amount of rain all year round. The rivers and canals that cross the Park, have amazing wildlife, fish and also salt water crocodiles. There are tours to visit the crocks in their natural habitat. Also; the Park hosts a large number of different species of birds such as parrots and rosellas. If you are visiting the Park by yourself, is advisable to use 4x4 vehicles because the road can become impassable for normal vehicles during heavy rain. If you wish, there are tours to Daintree National Park from Cairns and Port Douglas and you can overnight in the tourist lodges near the Park. 

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After Port Douglas, the road starts to diminish in wideness, getting narrower and narrower until it becomes only a gravel road especially after Cooktown. Cooktown will be one of the last places to get fuel, and groceries, on your way to Cape York (The most northern point of Australia). Cooktown is an historic town with many preserved memorials and monuments. A Captain Cook statue is located in the towns' main square. This region and further north is known to be Aboriginal land, received back from the government after being reclaimed by Aboriginals. One important thing to Know is that the betumen road goes up to Cooktown. From there North only gravel 4x4 road impassible after heavy rain.

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From there on all you are going to get is a big Challenge taking the road to Cape Tribulation and Cape York. Many creeks and rivers must be crossed and we never know if it can be done or not. Only 4x4 vehicles are able to make it and you must be self sufficient enough to know how to fix your car, and get it out of crazy situations. There are no signs to indicate if you have to turn right or left, except for an occasional mark on a tree or rock. If you get lost, it will be difficult to find your direction without a compass, because of dense forest around you. It is not advisable to leave the vehicle and tell someone when you leave your schedule to come back. Staying in your vehicle, gives you a better chance of being found by helicopter. It's also not advisable to travel there during the rainy season. (When I wrote this text, the region was completely flooded by a tropical cyclone). If you like adventures, this is a challenge for you! 

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Cape York - extreme North of Australia
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