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Backpacker's guide to Tropical North Queensland

Backpacker's guide to Tropical North Queensland

How to enjoy the delights of Tropical North Queensland on a budget


By Jessica Wilkinson & Katrina Lobley

We’ll forgive you for thinking that Tropical North Queensland and its postcard-perfect islands and beaches are out of reach, but it's time to think again friends. It’s time to think again. You don’t have to be loaded with cash to find affordable day trips to the reef, clear swimming holes tucked within magnificent rainforests, free thrills along the Cairns waterfront and koalas aplenty on an island just off Townsville.

 

Go Chill on Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Whitehaven Beach
Why: Seven kilometres of pure white sand and total tropical bliss
Where: Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Take a Day Trip to Green Island

Green Island, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Green Island
Why: The winning trifecta of rainforest, reef and white sandy beaches.
Where: Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Hang with the Koalas on Magnetic Island

Koala, Magnetic Island, near Townsville, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Magnetic Island
Why: Koalas. It’s estimated there are at least 800 koalas in the island’s gum trees. The Forts walk, in the island's east, offers the best chance of spotting koalas.
Where: Magnetic Island, near Townsville, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Explore the Region's Biggest City

Rambutan backpackers hostel, Townsville, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Rambutan
Why: It’s a backpackers but better. Kind of like a “glampacker” resort with a rooftop pool and bar along with dormitories, hotel rooms and self-contained villas. All for cheap!
Where: Townsville, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Take the Leap in Cairns

AJ Hackett bungy jumping centre, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: AJ Hackett
Why: Take the plunge from a purpose-built, 50 metre (55 yard) high tower tucked into the rainforest just north of Cairns. The bungy jump offers 16 jump styles – take your pick from the Swan Dive, Water Touch, Handstand, Forward Flip and more
Where: Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Relax at a Man-Made Beach

Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Cairns Esplanade Swimming Lagoon
Why: Sometimes the best things in life are free.The saltwater lagoon pool features sandy shores, underwater benches and lifeguards.
Where: Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Swim in a Rainforest

Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest, Cairns region, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Mossman Gorge
Why: This section of rainforest is hectically beautiful. Pack your swimming costume and jump in the water with the smooth granite boulders. Keep an eye out for the cassowary – a native Australian bird that can grow to be as tall as a human.
Where: Daintree Rainforest, Cairns region, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

 

Take Time Out in Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Coast, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

What: Airlie Beach
Why: white sand, clear blue water and if you’re into this kind of thing, a tonne of birds (emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos and buff-breasted paradise kingfishers).
Where: Whitsunday Coast, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

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