Cairns Holiday Specialists https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog Cairns Holiday Specialists Blog & Events Thu, 19 May 2016 03:12:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Free Great Barrier Reef Tours As A Tour Specialist https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/free-great-barrier-reef-tours-as-a-tour-specialist/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/free-great-barrier-reef-tours-as-a-tour-specialist/#respond Thu, 19 May 2016 02:58:08 +0000 https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1840 outer-barrier-reef-pontoon-platform-aqerial-hero

I just simply have to have the best job in Australia!

My job full time job is as a professional Tour Specialist and on my days off I get to go on famils of all the great things there is to see and do in and around Cairns and Tropical North Queensland in Australia so I can write about it and then tell all my guests every minor detail about the tours. And guess what I get to do it all for FREE!

Recently my teenage son (who just completed his diver certificate) and I were lucky enough to travel with Quicksilver to the Outer edges of Australia’s magnificent Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas.  Having not had the opportunity to enjoy a pontoon experience before, this day was going to be a bit of an adventure for both of us!

This is my son Ezrah a.k.a Ez

And this is me…

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… dressed to impress

The weather leading up to the day was dismal to say the least but on our day of travel, Tropical Far North QLD certainly turned it on – the day was magic!  With 5 knots of gentle wind at the most, the clear blue ocean was like glass as we headed out on this magnificent piece of engineering the Wave Piercer.  From the top deck of Quicksilver VIII we could clearly see the large and harmless jelly fish, Long Toms and even a couple of sea turtles on the way out.

Quicksilver Cruises Boat - Wavepiercer

Quicksilver VIII is certainly the ideal boat for anyone looking for a comfortable and very stable journey to the Outer Barrier Reef. The wave piecer is designed to break thru any swell like a hover craft to keep its passengers comfortable in club style seating whilst travelling out to the reef.

Pre-Book Your Extras or You Will Miss Out

Boarding was smooth and well organised and we were greeted by the chipper friendly staff who were more than happy to answer all questions and make sure everyone was settled into some comfy seating and had everything they needed for the journey to the reef.

Great Crew Always Keeping An Eye On You

Great Crew Always Keeping An Eye On You

All guests were provided with a comprehensive information pamphlet on boarding to let them know more about the activities thru the day, including the chance to join a guided snorkel tour or add an introductory scuba dive or scenic helicopter flight to their adventure.

On this day there were some very disappointed guests who thought they would leave booking the extras like scuba diving or scenic helicopter flights for when they boarded the boat.

outer-barrier-reef-pontoon-platform-learn-to-dive-big-fish

BIG BIG really BIG mistake! Whatever you do you must pre-book all your extras at the time of booking your Great Barrier Reef tour do not leave it to chance when you board the boat whatever you do!

We saw people crying and some even getting angry because they had no more dive spots, helmet walking or helicopter scenic flight seats left. Don’t spoil your once in a lifetime adventure to see it all on the Great Barrier Reef just do it and just book it early.

The Cruise to the Outer Barrier Reef Pontoon 

Ezrah and I sat on the very top deck or the Eagles nest and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air as the boat raced northwards along the coastline.  Once Quicksilver was underway from Port Douglas, it was a smooth and enjoyable cruise past Low Isles, Snapper Island and the Daintree and onto Agincourt Ribbon Reef and the Quicksilver Pontoon.  As the vessel moored up, we were lucky to see several turtles again and a large number of Giant Trevallies in the area.

QS Aerial Platform_AgincourtReef1

Settle down and Set Up For the Day 

We made our way onto the huge floating pontoon and I was so impressed to see there was so much room – with seating and shade for absolutely everyone.  The crew were ready to go and getting our lycra sun suits and snorkelling equipment was quick and easy.

Within 10 minutes we were making our way into the alluring clear blue water with a myriad of fish down below awaiting our presence.  The snorkelling area is ideally set up for all experience levels with a large area of ankle deep and waist deep water to allow those who may be a little nervous to enter the water easily from the underwater metal walkways.

Snorkeller

There is a separate area to practice your snorkelling skills and there are also plenty of crew on hand to assist to show you how to snorkel and use your floatation equipment which is perfect for the non-swimmers or younger children.

Gob Smacking Underwater Views & A Huge Lunch

The coral was quite close by and Ez and I enjoyed a good 30 minutes exploring the clams, fish and a variety of corals including some impressive stag formations as we slowly snorkelled along the edge of the reef.  Of course it doesn’t take long to build up an appetite and we made our way back to the pontoon right on time for a massive hot and cold buffet luncheon.  There was something for everyone and more than enough for seconds or thirds with fresh fruit and salads, seafood and pasta and stir-fry and cold meats.

Lunch On Quicksilver Platform | Departing From Port Douglas

Great Day On The Reef And Great Food… Perfect For Hungry Teenagers

We thought it best to explore the Underwater Observatory after lunch and it was certainly worth the time spent. Being able to watch the large red bass and Giant Trevallies create underwater ballet  with such ease just outside the Perspex windows was a great experience which also gave us another experience and perspective of the reef that we had only just swam over a little while earlier was fantastic.

Glass Bottom Boat & Semi – Submersible Submarine 

To top this off we made our way to the semi-submersible submarine and enjoyed a 30 minute scenic tour over another further section of outer reef where the scuba divers go.

Semi-Submersible Submarine Tour With Quicksilver Cruises

It really is incredible to glide past the massive boulder corals and realise that the sheer size of them indicates they are thousands of years old.  The semi-submersible submarine was popular with the families travelling with younger children and the kids got a real kick out of seeing turtles and fish up close under the water. Some people have even had whales come up to the sides of the submarine and take a peek at the people inside.

Marine Bio Talk

We arrived back to the pontoon in time to watch the afternoon fish feeding which was amazing.  The GTs and red bass were coming right in close to take the pellets from the Marine Naturalists fingers as he gave a comprehensive talk on each of the species and their role on the reef.  There was plenty of room so that everyone could get a view, hear the talk and ask questions.

Book Your Extra Things To Do and Things To See On The Great Barrier Reef 

Some of the great extras you can pre-book on this Port Douglas reef trip are: Introductory scuba dives and certified dives, helmet walking under the ocean, scenic helicopter flights and snorkel tours with a marine biologist

Helmet Diving - Oceanwalker With Quicksilver Cruises

The Day Zooms by In a Flash

It is a surprise when you realise just how fast the day goes with so much to see and do on the pontoon. Ezrah really enjoyed all of the activities there and this reef tour is certainly a top pick for families with a range of ages as everything is just really easy to enjoy. We had time for another snorkel before getting ready to board the boat for our return journey to Port Douglas and young Ezrah slept nearly the whole way home!

Quicksilver really does go above and beyond to offer a safe and enjoyable day for all.    Ideal for first time visitors, families and locals alike – treat yourself to a wonderful day on the Reef with the friendly crew and top class facilities!

Now you have read my blog about my Great Barrier Reef tour follow this link here and start booking your very own Great Barrier Reef adventure now!

Author: Tan – Tropical North Queensland & Great Barrier Reef Destination Specialist

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30 Knot Winds Just A Breeze When Cruising With Ocean Spirit Reef Tours https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/30-knot-winds-just-a-breeze-when-cruising-with-ocean-spirit-reef-tours/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/30-knot-winds-just-a-breeze-when-cruising-with-ocean-spirit-reef-tours/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 04:13:11 +0000 https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1814  

Aerial View Of Michaelmas Cay

Cairns and Tropical North Queensland can on some days get a little windy with the competing trade winds pushing on each other from the tropical northern parts of the world and the southern regions, it’s just the way it is. At least the daily temperature is warm and tropical with the sun shining every day (almost…).

I have a day off this week and I am determined to go snorkelling on the reef no matter what the weather is so for my Great Barrier Reef Cruise I will choose my reef trip boat carefully as I don’t want to risk seasickness or cancellation of the day tour due to breezy weather which some smaller boats might be susceptible.
Although Ocean Spirit Cruises brochure gives the impression that their vessel is meant for the calm weather sailing in perfect conditions, it is really one big and solid vessel ready to tackle just about any weather that Mother Nature throws at us.
Endless Open Sundeck

Ocean Spirit Large Sundeck
Well, I booked my seat and the first thing I notice when boarding the Ocean Spirit reef boat is that it really is big and spacious! There is plenty of room for everyone to sit comfortably or lay down under the sails and the sundeck is a huge bonus and just a dream come true for sun lovers like myself.
I can already picture myself there letting my hair down after a big day’s snorkelling and trying an introductory scuba dive and sipping a glass of sparkling on the way back to Cairns Marlin Marina. A glass of complimentary sparkling on the way home is just another little touch by Ocean Spirit reef cruises.
Upon boarding the boat we are welcomed by freshly baked muffins, coffee aroma and a beautiful classical music in the main saloon cabin on our entrance.

 

Ocean Spirit Interior
The catamarans newly refurbished interior looks clean and crisp and it makes you feel immediately relaxed and ready to get comfortable for your 2 hour journey to the stunning Michaelmas Cay which sits in the middle of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
And because the boat is a catamaran sailing vessel it is taking today’s trip at a bit slower pace so our cruise is not going to be the bumpiest even if there’s high winds which means no seasickness for me thankfully.
Another thing I notice about this reef tour on the Ocean Spirit boat is that they have so many bathrooms and changing facilities- 3 bathrooms for men and 3 for women. More bathrooms equals less time in the que trying to change your clothes.
Michaelmas Cay-Stunning Every Day

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Ocean Spirit’s cruises destination Michaelmas Cay seems to be always sunny and surrounded by strikingly blue waters. I have been there 3 times before on private boats and with another reef day tour operator and as you may have gathered I just can’t get enough so I am back again!
When we reach the solitary sand cay we are transported to the island on a comfortable glass bottom boat and from there everyone can either go straight to snorkelling, swimming or trying an introductory scuba dive, sunbaking or admiring the nesting birds with their newly hatched little chicks. They are just sooo gorgeous!
Surrounded by 3 Sea Turtles In One Day!

Sea Turtle On Ocean Spirit Great Barrier Reef Day Trip
We decide to jump in for a snorkel and it doesn’t take long until we get rewarded with a visit by the biggest sea turtle I have ever seen in my life. He was huge and must have been very old to be that big! He was not shy he just went about his business as we all hovered around him in awe as he nibbled at the coral below.
And luckily Ocean Spirit cruises in water photographer knows her stuff as she never seems to miss the right moment to take that perfect photo of a stingray or a sea turtle with tourists in the background. You can then view these great photos and purchase them on the cruise back to the Cairns Marlin Marina.

 

Semi Submersible Tour

After snorkelling and exploring the reef for a few hours we are heading for a semi-submersible submarine tour. This was definitely another highlight of our day as we spotted another 2 beautiful sea turtles as they gracefully rode the underwater currents and we saw the highly colourful Parrot fish, Nemo Clownfish, Dory the Blue Tang Fish and plenty of giant trevally’s and lots of corals and other cool marine life.

Finding Nemo On The Great Barrier Reef
The Michaelmas Cay region is also very famous for the enormous amount of giant clams scattered in the surrounding waters so we get to enjoy seeing plenty of those also as we navigate the waters snorkelling, diving and in the glass bottom boat and the semi-submersible submarine.
Cold & Hot Buffet Lunch… Perfect

Cold & Hot Buffet Lunch
Just when you think your reef trip can’t get any better… the buffet lunch is being served in the boats galley! There is nothing better than a cold & hot buffet lunch after you spent so much time in the water.
After lunch it’s back to all the in water activities before we begin our homeward bound journey for Cairns.

 

Time To Go Home

On the way home I spend my journey looking at all those gorgeous photos taken from our day and feeling sorry for my friends who didn’t come with us… Our day out on the Great Barrier Reef was drop dead gorgeous, it was  stunning out there and the sun shone all day as it normally does out on the reef. Precipitation is normally on the land so if you are looking out the window today from your hotel accommodation and it is raining don’t worry as the conditions out on the reef will be a total different story!

 

Author: Helen – Tropical North Queensland & Great Barrier Reef Destination Specialists

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Law Of Attraction – Finally Experienced Great Barrier Reef in Australia It Really Is Great! https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/law-of-attraction-finally-experienced-great-barrier-reef-in-australia-it-really-is-great/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/law-of-attraction-finally-experienced-great-barrier-reef-in-australia-it-really-is-great/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 02:43:44 +0000 https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1796 Quicksilver Platform Aerial View

Always wondered what the Great Barrier Reef that everyone talk about is & what is so special about this reef in Australia? Understood the reef has amazing corals, there species & house reef while working in Maldives for 5 years. Always inspired by underwater world while snorkelling in Maldives.

Always wondered how the underwater world can be so beautiful & the best thing is it can be seen by naked eyes as the water is all so clear.

All these days while living in one of the busiest cities in the world like Mumbai, India I never knew that sand can be so white & water can be so clear and beautiful. Talking about beautiful reef around island or house reef which is not more than 600 sq meters island in Maldives, I was holding my breath to see & explore the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns Queensland Australia.

I am from India and on my first adventure in Australia and this is my blog about my day on the Great Barrier Reef

Of course I did my homework & was thrilled to read the size of this Great Barrier Reef & how the Australian Government of tourism is working to preserve it to be protected as a listed World Heritage site.

Referring to the Law of attraction “is always in operation and that it brings to each person the conditions and experiences that they predominantly think about, or which they desire or expect” & I have to agree to this again, my dream & desire came true.

I got this opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef on 27 February. A tour was organised by Quicksilver group under there program called “Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Cruise”. The tour commences from Port Douglas which is 60 min scenic drive from Cairns.

The Great Barrier Reef With Quicksilver

Pick up was organised by Quicksilver and scheduled transfers are available to reach the destination from where Cruise starts.

Trust me the coach journey is also amazing & you will not fall asleep for a single minute. It is an extremely diverse route where you will have a great drive past mountains, coastal roads, rainforest, farmlands, a short drive with something that will satisfy everyone. Best way is to hire a car & drive thru the coast road yourself which will enable you to stop at few most interesting lookout points on the way.

Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef Tour

It took approx. 45 min to reach Port Douglas. Once you are off the bust the staff will point you in the direction of the Quicksilver office where you will have to get your tickets at ticket counter. Crew as usual very friendly & were waiting for me to arrive, I was given a complete brief of what to expect on board & was all ready to get going and begin my Great Barrier Reef tour.

Right from issuing ticket to boarding was super smooth & very professional. There are 2 cruises leaving at same time but I was on “Outer reef” which is supposed to be the most stunning reef on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. You board on the lower deck of the boat and attention has been given for special needs, needless to mention crew is always available & ready to help.

Perfect For Guests With A Disability

This is the perfect tour boat for guests that have any physical disabilities as they have hydraulic systems to get the guests in the water so they can also enjoy seeing the reef. So if you are in a wheel chair no matter book this boat as it is the best on the Great Barrier Reef for people with a disability.

Have a read of this page on Cairns Attractions for more information for guests with a disability who wish to book accommodation and tours in Tropical North Queensland Australia.

On Board The Wave Piercer

It is tropical thus standing out can be hot & humid, however the moment you get in the cabin you feel it’s worth waiting, warm welcome from the special crew at the door & genuine smile makes your day. Crew briefs you about welcome drink on board which is usually a chilled ice tea, water, coffee & biscuits. If you have sea sickness, don’t worry at all, they have ginger tablets on the counter & I see relief on the faces who are prone to seasickness.

All crew has special coloured jackets for each of the day’s activities such as the helicopter crew in orange the dive crew in blue so you can easily identify them.

Just remember to pre-book your extra activities as you may get overwhelmed by the options available on board and the spaces may already be booked out.

Wavepiercer Cruise Boat

A little Indian boys tip:- As you are boarding an early morning cruise in the tropics sitting on the left hand side of the cruise boat is perfect so you avoid the hot sun staring at you for 45 min.

If you are lucky some of the following options may still be available to book – scuba dive, guided snorkelling, sea walker, guided marine talk which is free & submarine ride of 30 min & the best is GBR scenic helicopter ride, you don’t want to miss this on board. I was the luckiest to get this ride & best is seat is in the cockpit with the pilot.

I suggest you plan your day thru the experts from The Tour Specialists.

What Was An Indian Boy To Expect?

Reached the Agincourt Outer Barrier Reef in 45 min with the stylish wavepiercer cruise boat, you will be flattered by its beauty, the speed & options available. If you are a photo freak, step on the tip on the cruise where you have a stunning view of the ocean & feel like a captain. You can have a pic with your partner with Titanic pose, don’t worry about Ice Mountain hitting your boat as you are cruising in the tropics!!

You reach a stunning secure floating platform that is anchored to the reef with different points, floor plan is available on board to understand where to go for which in water activity.

Quicksilver Platform

What To Do And What To See On The Really Great Barrier Reef

There are 4 points, Scuba point, scenic helicopter flight point, Marine point & Centre where food is served; don’t worry you will not get lost at all as you don’t have options to run around & you will be busy doing in water activities.

Since I had pre-booked guided Snorkelling and a scenic helicopter ride I was given time & points for every event. It was 12 noon & I was at point 2 where a small boat will take you to a Helicopter landing point, 5 min over ocean with a crew who will explain you the do’s & don’ts & make sure you have safety gear while boarding helicopter.

Helicopter Scenic Flight From Quicksilver Platform

As said earlier, I was lucky to sit in the cockpit with the pilot who is extremely knowledgable about the reef systems and they will be your guide for 30 min while taking a low level flight on the outer edges of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It was an out of the world experience while you take off & see a reef under your feet oooo la la words are not enough to define majestic great barrier reef.

Helicopter Scenic Flight Over The Great Barrier Reef | North Queensland

Eating Out On the Great Barrier Reef

Back on the cruise deck in 30 min all surprised & I guess unforgettable view of reef you will ever see in your life “The Great Barrier Reef”. Once back on board was all ready for lunch which is served at the centre of the platform called platform 1, don’t get confused if seats are all occupied make yourself comfortable at one place as most of the passengers will leave there bags on seats & are either snorkelling for hours as they are in love “with reef” or on Helicopter. Food is delicious consisting of cold cuts, salad & main which is usually a combination of meat & vegetable so vegetarians don’t worry about food at all. If you are allergic to something make sure you inform crew in advance if possible.

Lunch On Quicksilver Platform | Departing From Port Douglas

Had a fantastic lunch & was all ready for guided snorkelling & was wanting to overrule my experience in Maldives. Since it’s the green season thus reef may potentially have some jelly fish crew will update you for the same & to protect yourself from sunburn and any stings you can always hire a lycra suit which is available on board. All snorkelling equipment is included in your tour ticket price.

Could not wait to jump into the water & it was 30 degrees when I dipped myself in the ocean I went straight into a different world, what a magnificent reef with variety of corals & colourful, astonishing creatures & as friendly as the people in Australia, I bet you don’t want to come out of water once my Indian brothers and sisters see it for themselves.

While all my schedule events are done, I still had an opportunity to attend the semi-submersible submarine ride which is free of cost if you miss it don’t worry, on board there is something called under water observatory where you can walk thru & experience underwater world without touching water & is available on board all the time.

Semi-Submersible Submarine

 

Time was not enough to think & go another time in water & it was 3.30 a honk from the cruise boat was an indication of a mama asking to come back we have to go!! & myself a kid who never wanted to go away from water. But mama wins always. Back on a board & ready to move back to Port Douglas. That ride back to Port Douglas went remembering the sight of beautiful reef & friend fishes & was like a dream. Could not imagine I did it at last, the magnificent Great Barrier Reef with Quick Silver Cruises.

Read about the Port Douglas boat tour here and make sure you do this Great Barrier Reef tour when you visit Australia.

Kiran Sonawane – Cairns Holiday Specialists

Kiran

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Yes, You Can Have an Amazing Day Out On The Great Barrier Reef In The Rain! https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/yes-you-can-have-an-amazing-day-out-on-the-great-barrier-reef-in-the-rain/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/yes-you-can-have-an-amazing-day-out-on-the-great-barrier-reef-in-the-rain/#respond Fri, 11 Mar 2016 01:27:00 +0000 https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1772  

What ToDo On The Great Barrier Reef When It's Raining

Cairns tropical climate is a bit unpredictable at times but as a local I know better and will assure you that it will not stop you from enjoying a day out on the reef.

My Great Barrier Reef trip was scheduled on a day when tropical ex-cyclone Winston was still influencing the coastal waters off Cairns and bringing along heavy monsoonal rainfall. But we are going to get wet anyway-right? Besides, tropical rain is nice and warm and the clouds will keep you from getting sunburnt and it never last very long anyway.

Bread Goes Flying on Green Island

In my job as a Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Destination Specialist, I am lucky enough to spend my leisure time as a guest experiencing all of the day tours and attractions in the region and today I have been invited to experience the very popular 2 in 1 Great Barrier Reef tour combination that gives you 2 hours on Green Island and then 3 hours on the outer edges of the reef on the Great Adventures Moore Reef platform. I chose this reef tour because when I finally find time to spend a day on the reef I want to see and experience as much of it as possible. It is also my job as a Tour Specialist to know all the differences and little details between all tours in Cairns region.

Green Island Off Cairns Tropical North Queensland

As we departed for our journey, which only takes 45 minutes to reach beautiful Green Islandwhen the rain started to get heavier. The colours in the water and in the sky were looking awesome; the water around this lush tropical island was bright and turquoise but the clouds above it were dark and threatening.

Then a sudden gust of wind blew a bag of bread rolls into the ocean from the catering trolley that just got off the transfer vessel, leaving the trolley driver scratching his head how he should retrieve the precious goodies. Although curious, I did not stay back long enough to see if the bread got rescued before the fish below have the opportunistic meal of the day.

Snorkel or Pat a Baby Crocodile- That’s the Question!

Some of our 7 people famil group opted for snorkelling in the tropical rain; I decided to focus on crocodile feeding in Marineland Melanesia because I know that I will have the chance to do plenty of snorkelling later on the outer Barrier Reef coral gardens.

Marineland Melanesia offers excellent wet weather activities whilst some people are parasailing and doing Seawalker helmet dives and nobody seems to be bothered by Mother Nature’s tricks.

Seawalker Helmet Diving On The Great Barrier Reef

 

Marineland Melanesia is this mystical wildlife park decorated with thousands of Polynesian and Papua New-Guinean wood artefacts. There is a small aquarium and a gallery of gore which displays all those incredible newspaper articles and pictures of crocodile attacks around the world. You will also see about 5 huge crocodiles being fed and learn a lot about these menacing pre-historical beasts.

Green Island Marineland Melanesia

But there is something else that I have been looking forward to do: hold a baby crocodile… Although she is looking all tough and mean she is very soft and cuddly to touch. I will get some great photos of me and a crocodile girl – time well spent!

Outer Reef – Here We Come!

2 hours on Green Island is up before we know it and at about 11:20am it is time to hop on our big vessel Reef King to travel another 50 minutes to the outer barrier reef. There are plenty of seats to choose from and having a sweet tooth I indulge what seems like a mountain of complimentary carrot and mud cakes on the way.

For those who decide to do introductory or certified scuba diving, briefing takes place by their instructor on the way to the platform.

Decisions, Decisions…

When we arrive at the pontoon on beautiful Moore reef by 12:20pm our first job is to choose where to start: take the semi-submersible submarine tour, go snorkelling or check out the underwater observatory. I choose to take a walk in the underwater observatory as it is the first time for me to see one.

It is kind of like a huge aquarium but way cooler because fish and marine creatures are changing constantly. I see giant trevallies, huge Maori wrasse’s, damsel fish, clownfish, jellyfish, giant clams and so much more. You can also see the introductory divers and people who are powering past on their Scuba Doo underwater scooters.

Clown Fish On The Great Barrier Reef

Moderation has Never Been the Virtue of Mine

At 1:00pm there is a big buffet lunch being served for the hungry ones with choices of delicious potato bake, pasta salad, beef and chicken curries, rice, different cold meat cuts, bread and garden salad varieties. Tea, coffee and cakes are also offered for a dessert.

As I am not holding back with food I decide to take the semi-submersible submarine tour next to settle down my stomach contents.

Relaxing and informative the semi-submarine tour is offering amazing views to the reef and surrounding marine life. I spot 2 sea turtles within first 10 minutes into our tour and the coral gardens are just breathtaking everywhere I look. I could spend several hours down in the semi-submarine just admiring my surroundings. Great Adventures has got a unique semi-submersible submarine where you can walk around easily and have 360 degree views to the reef.

Sea Turtle On The Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling, Scenic Helicopter Flights and Diving- All Equally Popular

There is so much else to do!!! Once back on the platform I still have plenty of time to jump in to snorkel and get some more one-on-one time with big blue Maori Wrasses Wally and Wendy.

It is amazing that these fish are not scared of me at all, if anything, appearing as curious about me as I am about them and eager for a pat and photo bomb.

Scenic helicopter flights are popular, many people scuba-dive and also take the advantage of Scuba-Doo underwater scooters. You don’t even have to know how to swim to ride a scooter 6 meters under water, close to the ocean floor.

Bye, Bye Wally and Wendy

At 3:20pm we were given a signal by boat horn that it is time to say goodbye to our playful fishy friends Wally, Wendy and all the sea turtles we encountered today and head back towards the boat which will take us back to Green Island to deliver and pick up other island guests. This time only for a short 10 minute stop to pick up some more passengers and take them back to Cairns with us.

Moari Wrasse On The Great Barrier Reef

We might not have had the best of weather that Tropical North Queensland normally has on offer but it didn’t matter because the only thing we couldn’t do was sunbaking and that is not a great loss as you can do it back at your hotel by the pool or in a park but there is only few places where you can experience the wonders of Great Barrier Reef.

 

Author: Helen – A Cairns Destination Tour Specialist

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Where is Sir David Attenborough’s Most Favourite Place in the World? https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/where-is-sir-david-attenboroughs-most-favourite-place-in-the-world/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/where-is-sir-david-attenboroughs-most-favourite-place-in-the-world/#respond Wed, 23 Dec 2015 02:07:06 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1748 The Great Barrier Reef & the Daintree Cape Tribulation Rainforests in North Queensland in Australia of Course!

The Great Barrier In Tropical North QueenslandComing from a man who has explored just about every nook and cranny in this amazing world of ours naming the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest which is our home as his favourite places on earth really means that Far North Queensland in Australia really really is a magical place.

Not that he would need any introduction, Sir David Attenborough is a British writer, presenter, narrator, broadcaster and naturalist who has had an awe-inspiring 70 year long career.

His latest documentary series premiered in London earlier this month and attracted immense media attention all over the world.

60 Year Long Love Affair

Sir David Attenborough visited the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree rainforest first time in 1957 so nearly 60 years have passed since he first fell in love with these now World Heritage Listed natural wonders.

In 2015, Attenborough spent 3 weeks filming The Great Barrier Reef- Lady Elliot, Orpheus, Magnetic, Lizard and Heron Islands, Osprey Reef, Ribbon Reefs and Daintree rainforest.

According to him, the second time in Tropical Far North Queensland has only strengthened his love towards the wonderful nature in this region.

You Too Can Have an Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Experience

Ribbon Reefs are easily accessible from Port Douglas by Silversonic or Poseidon which are both fast and modern vessels taking you to 3 different amazing Outer Barrier Reef sites in one day. Between June-August spectacular Dwarf Minke whale and Giant Humpback whale encounters occur in the area.

Lizard Island is also within the reach from Cairns by private chartered flight and even just one day snorkelling trips to the island are possible.

Daintree Rainforest Has Never Been So Accessible

Tropical North Queensland Where The Rainforest Meet The Great Barrier Reef

 

Besides the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is also known for the world’s oldest rainforest Daintree.  And Attenborough takes us to the journey through Far North Queensland, revealing us the secrets of the world’s oldest rainforest.

Daintree rainforest should be on top of your to-do-list when visiting Cairns. One of the most comfortable and educational tours to the Cape Tribulation and Daintree rainforest is a Billy Tea Safaris daytrip where you can enjoy 1 hour Daintree river cruise with wild crocodile spotting, guided boardwalks into the stunning rainforest, freshwater swim in the secret waterhole and handfeed the wallabies.

Zip-Lining Thought the World’s Oldest Rainforest

Zip Lining Through The Rainforest

If you are looking an alternative to boardwalks then jungle surfing could be your favourite way of experiencing the Daintree rainforest. Jungle Tours is offering a daytrip from Cairns and Port Douglas to the oldest part of Daintree rainforest where you can gracefully glide through the rainforest by zip-line.

Make Your Dreams Come True

If you want to experience first-hand Sir David Attenborough’s favourite place on earth then wait no more and book your accommodation and tours with Cairns Holiday Specialists today. Paradise is just a click or a phone call away.

Author: Helen – Tour Specialist

 

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Took a Day Off From Being a Cairns Tour Specialist and Headed to The Great Barrier Reef with Kate From Great Adventures! https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/took-a-day-off-from-being-a-cairns-tour-specialist-and-headed-to-the-great-barrier-reef-with-kate-from-great-adventures/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/took-a-day-off-from-being-a-cairns-tour-specialist-and-headed-to-the-great-barrier-reef-with-kate-from-great-adventures/#respond Mon, 07 Dec 2015 01:38:17 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1739 Green Island Great Barrier Reef With Great Adventures

2 in 1 Great Barrier Reef Adventure Deal

No I did not throw a sickie I would never do that to my bosses as I love and value my job too much, instead as one of the perks of being a Cairns Tour Specialist I get to go out to the Great Barrier Reef for free famils all year round so I can increase my product knowledge and tell all of our lovely guests about the intrical details of the day and night tours and all the things to see and things to do in and around Cairns.

A group of other tour agents and myself decided to accept the kind invitation from Kate and treat ourselves to a day out with Great Adventures on their 2 in 1 Great Adventure Deal  where we got to spend some time on beautiful Green Island and then board the boat again and head to the outer Barrier Reef to the multi-level platforms where all the water toys were awaiting us to come and play.

Kate our Great Adventures host certainly gave us a day to remember. Boarding the 8:30am boat we cruised over to the ancient island called Green Island in style and comfort. A couple of travel agents in our group decided they wanted to scuba-dive and Helmet dive to see what was swimming amongst the coral today.  They were given the introductory dive safety briefing and filled out their medical forms to see if they were fit and able to dive, while the remainder of us took photos of the majestic rainforest mountains and the two magnificent rainbows that covered the marina as we moved on out towards Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

We tucked into some morning tea, before arriving 45 minutes later at the pretty little island. The day was certainly beginning to happen on the island with dive and snorkel shops, cafes, restaurants, bar and swimming pool all opening for business to greet all the day tour guests to the island and to kit them out for the adventures that lay ahead of them.

We decided we wanted to stretch our legs and go for a beach walk and rainforest stroll, so off we went to explore this lush green island. As we walked along the sandy beach the water was crystal clear despite the high wind knots that were forecast for the day. People were already popping on their snorkels and flippers and making their way into the water to check out some colourful fringing coral that surrounds the cay. We walked on to have a look at the beautiful moss rocks that were submerged out of the water and take some memorable post card worthy photos.

Marineland Melanesia

Green Island Marineland Melanesia Map

Before long we decided to venture in and watch the crocodile feeding show at Marineland Melanesia. This marine park is filled with interesting artefacts, marine life and of course some of the most ferocious captive crocodiles in the world, including a guy called Cassius, the oldest and the largest captive crocodile in the world at 5.48-metres who was caught in the Finniss River in the Northern Territory of Australia in the 1980s.  The Marineland Melanesia tour guide gave everyone the opportunity to hold a baby saltwater crocodile, which in actual fact seemed to actually enjoy all the attention funnily enough!

Meet Cassius On Green Island, the oldest and largest captive crocodile in the world

Scenic Flight over the Great Barrier Coral Reef System

We went to the café and grabbed ourselves some coffees and a snack before making our way to the Helicopter pad. Yes, we were in for a treat, a scenic flight over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – yay! Instead of taking the boat to the outer Barrier Reef pontoon with all of the other day tour guests we were taken in rock star style by helicopter and it was just simply stunning! As the helicopter took off the views stretched out over the ancient sand cay Green Island and all its surrounding coral. We made our way over another sand cay that offered vibrant aqua blue coral colours and a sunny white sand beach. We had our eyes peeled for ocean spray as it is that special time of year again when the giant Humpback and Dwarf Minke Whales a moving about our local waters, however on this occasion we were not serenaded with a dancing whale show. Just before we were due to land on the outer reef platform a blanket of white cloud and water spray covered our helicopter, this was really amazing to be within this rain cloud so far up.

Scenic Flight From Green Island

Outer Barrier Reef

Once on the stable platform we had a variety of water activities to choose from to begin with. We decided to have lunch first filling our plates with fresh salads, seafood’s, curry, vegie and potato bakes and much more. We were then eager to enter the water and start our own snorkelling adventure. Once our masks hit the water we were introduced to an underwater biosphere of tropical fish, pretty coral and an entire living natural world of beauty. The shallow coral beds offered striking yellows, blues, purples and even some red coral, while the deeper coral displayed cooler colours. The Great Barrier Reef is Home to over 1500 different species of tropical fish and other species and Kate and I were eager to see as much of it as possible. We swam out to discover some large cliff face coral with Butterfly, Clown Fish, schools of Groupers and Cods, as well as colourful Parrotfish feeding amongst the vegetation. The underwater photographer was making his rounds and taking photos of all the swimmers, including Kate and I. Along beside him swam ‘Wally’ the giant Maori Wrasse fish as seen posing in the photo with Kate and I. Wally has to be one of the most photographed fish in the world as he is a famous photo bomber. We spotted some Scuba-Doo riders and thought we would say hello, and it just so happened to be our fellow travel agent friends. We also spotted our other travel companions deep down below us in amongst the coral experiencing an introductory scuba dive – awesome everyone was having so much fun.

Once everyone was done with the in-water activities we decided to dry off and jump on board the semi-submersible submarine.

We entered a spacious air-conditioned cabin with 360 degrees of glass window. In the middle of the cabin was a large ottoman that everyone sat on whilst on the tour. The guide provided commentary of the reef and pointed out some amazing soft and hard corals as well as even more reef fish that we hadn’t found while swimming. This tour is not only ideal for people who want to learn as much as they can about the reef but also for those who are non-swimmers and want to experience the underwater Great Barrier Reef and stay dry.

Semi-Submersible Submarine Tour Great For Non Swimmers

Our trip home was comfortable and relaxing. We checked out all our photos that the underwater photographer had taken of us and tucked in to a delicious ice-cream. Tea and coffee was served and cheese and crackers brought around to everyone.

This was by far one of the most amazing Great Barrier Reef day tours that I have encountered in many years. Thank you to the fantastic company Quicksilver and the endless activities on offer and I will be sure to recommend this to my clients, family and friends for the years to come. Thanks to Kate and the Great Adventures team for a day to remember you guys are simply amazing and have thought of absolutely everything!

This Great Barrier Reef tour is fantastic for professional scuba divers, introductory divers, families with babies and tennagers, total non-swimmers, snorkelling beginners and advanced swimmers.

There is so much to see and do on this day tour it is the best value Great Barrier Reef tour in Cairns guaranteed

For Bookings and in enquiries about this tour please contact The Tour Specialists, Click Here.

***The Cairns Tour Specialists Tip***

Perfect for those on a time schedule, however still want to see it all and do it all on the Great Barrier Reef. Visit a beautiful tropical island and then see the awesome outer Barrier Reef all in one day at a great price!

Author: Madeleine Lovey – Cairns Holiday Specialists Tour Specialist

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Happy 30th Birthday to Me- Skydiving Over Great Barrier Reef https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/happy-30th-birthday-to-me-skydiving-over-great-barrier-reef/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/happy-30th-birthday-to-me-skydiving-over-great-barrier-reef/#respond Wed, 02 Dec 2015 22:51:40 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1728 Tandem Cairns 1

Few weeks ago I met a Japanese girl who had just done her first skydive with Tandem Cairns and she had the biggest smile that I had ever seen.

I was thinking that “If this is what skydiving does to you then I must try it out” and made a booking for myself and my husband on the very same evening. It was also a good excuse not to have a party for my 30th birthday and to do something really memorable to celebrate that milestone.

Australia’s Highest Skydive

Although I am terrified of heights and can’t even take off in a plane without getting sweaty palms I thought I will give skydiving a go because I am jumping from such heights that it is impossible to get the so called “ground rush”- an optical illusion that the ground is abruptly rushing up to meet you.

I am booking for a 15 000ft (approximately 4.5km highest possible skydive in Australia) and the beach landing on picturesque Etty Bay which is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) by road from the township of Innisfail, 20 minutes’ drive from Paronella Park and about 1.5h drive South from Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Guard Your Picnic Basket from Cassowaries

Etty Bay is known as the place where you can often see the endangered Cassowary (Australia’s largest flightless bird) walking on the beach and raiding through holidaymakers picnic baskets, looking to add some variety to its everyday diet. Estuarine crocodiles and monitor lizards are also sometimes seen near the bay.

Cassowary

Going All Out

Although it is possible to jump from as low as 10 000ft and land on a paddock, I am thinking that in case I only do this once I may as well go all out and make the most of my experience. After all- I couldn’t imagine a better place for skydiving than jumping out over the Great Barrier Reef and landing on a beautiful tropical secluded beach.

I am making sure I will get the video and photo package to savour some memories and to have the opportunity to brag of course, I know I would regret it forever if I didn’t.

8000 Jumps and Counting

Although the transfers from Cairns CBD are included, I opt for a self-drive to Innisfail (Mundoo) airport to have the flexibility to stay in Etty Bay and catch up with some friends after my jump.

Once we check-in (weighing, filling in some forms) it is time to meet our instructors and put our harness and safety glasses on. My instructor Damo has done more than 8000 skydives and has got more than 15 years of experience so I feel really safe. Damo looks really relaxed and that puts me at ease. He is happy to answer all my questions and gives me really thorough safety briefing. I will slide into harness, get the goggles (to be able to keep my eyes open whilst freefalling) and inflatable life jacket (required for beach landing only). There are about 8 other daredevils’ getting in the plane with us and they all look super excited.

8001 Jumps

No Real Door on That Plane!

As the plane is taking off I keep looking at the hole where we are supposed to jump out when it gets covered with a flimsy looking plastic roller-door. Now I am really getting terrified but still committed to do the jump no matter what. Besides rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms I am feeling surprisingly well. At 10 000ft the roller door comes up for the first time and two girls are jumping out but the ascent continues for the rest of us, 15 000ft jumpers.

Striving for the Perfect Banana Shape

Once the roller door comes up for the second time I know it is my turn. I don’t even fight the instructor when he starts to nudge me closer to the door once about half of the jumpers disappear through the hole in the planes body. I decide that I am a tough woman and will thoroughly embrace the experience no matter what.

“Hang your feet out of the plane” must be one of the most unnatural things to hear and obey to when you are at 4.5km high in the skies but nevertheless that is exactly what I am doing, trying to gain the perfect banana shape- legs under the plane belly, arms crossed on my chest and head tilted back on my instructors shoulder.

I Am Free, Free Falling…

There really isn’t much time to hesitate or think-things happen and they happen fast. Before I know I am in a thrilling free fall and screaming on top of my lungs. I just catch myself thinking that I am screaming but weirdly I can’t hear any of it because the whizzing winds around us.

Free Falling

I am also thinking that this doesn’t feel like bungy jump at all- there really is that air cushion underneath me and I am not getting that queasy feeling that I was scared of.

Once I feel the tap on my shoulder from the instructor I open my arms and relax for a bit. I am having this out of body experience- flying at 200kmph and trying to take a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef.

Gliding Over The Great Barrier Reef

It takes about a minute of this amazing freefalling until our parachute opens and everything slows down. We are gliding through the skies and it is now quiet enough to have a chat with the instructor and enjoy the most magnificent views imaginable. I am seeing different reef formations, presumably Dunk and Frankland Islands, rainforest and Far North Queensland’s coastline.

Gliding Over The Great Barrier Reef

My instructor Damo tries to make me as comfortable as possible, loosening the harness, asking me to change my body position and telling me to take off my glasses. It is a sensational feeling to gently glide through the air for about 5 minutes towards the picturesque Etty Bay Beach.

I Am Still in One Piece

Landing on the sand is gentle and I choose to lie down for a moment to take in all the emotions that have surfaced. I am really proud of myself.

Still In One Piece

So why do people throw them out of the perfectly good aeroplane? To feel free, happy, excited, overwhelmed and invincible all at once I think.

Make lasting memories by booking Skydive when visiting Cairns and Far North Queensland- you will never feel as alive and free as flying over the Great Barrier Reef.

Come on don’t be a pussy book your Cairns Skydive Adventure now!

Author: Helen – Tour Specialist

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Sailing on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – Cairns Tropical North Queensland https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/luxury-sailing-on-australias-great-barrier-reef-cairns-tropical-north-queensland/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/luxury-sailing-on-australias-great-barrier-reef-cairns-tropical-north-queensland/#respond Thu, 26 Nov 2015 23:43:26 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1717 Hero Shot (low-res)

Coming up to the weekend my son and I were wondering what we should see or what “fun thing” we should do together. This is what we ended up doing…

From my diary notes

Last weekend I was lucky enough to take a reef trip from Cairns in Queensland Australia to Michaelmas Cay with the luxury sailing vessel Ocean Spirit Cruises.

Right up from the moment of check in, it was really nice to meet smiling & friendly staff members early in the morning.  We were welcomed at the Quicksilver desk within the Reef Fleet Terminal at the Marlin Marina on Spence Street Cairns and then we had enough time to enjoy a juice at the nearby cafe before making our way to board our luxury sailing boat for the day.

On boarding we were welcomed and had our picture taken before going and making ourselves comfortable on the boat.  The first staff member was there to welcome us again and provide us with a sheet full of information about the vessel as well as an itinerary of our day and information on Michaelmas Cay, the migratory bird life and marine environment there.

We made our way to the top deck of the boat where there was plenty of seating available to enjoy the fresh sea breezes.  My son enjoyed his complimentary cake, biscuits and muffins and within 10 minutes we were underway on our journey out to snorkel Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

On Our Way for A Great Barrier Reef Adventure

 Once the boat was on the move out of the harbour, we were given an entertaining safety talk by the crew and a cheery welcome aboard and then advised on how the day’s activities would be run.  We were invited to see crew members to organise some of the fantastic extras such as guided snorkel tours and introductory scuba diving lessons and also invited to head down to the galley to choose a departure time to enjoy our included semi-submersible submarine tour.

SUBMARINE

My advice would be to get down quick and put your names down quick as the early departure goes fast!  There is a choice of an early, mid and afternoon departure.  We decided to book the late afternoon tour so we could go after enjoying our buffet lunch.

Once out of the leads, the main sail was unfurled and although expecting a day of up to 25 knots, the trip was surprisingly calm aboard this catamaran. The boat was large and spacious and people were enjoying the big open foredeck in the sunshine as it was coming thru the clouds.

Within 90 minutes we had fantastic views of Green Island as we headed past and in the next 25 minutes we came to our destination of Michaelmas Cay.  There was only one boat there and it was quite a nice day with the sun starting to show through.  

Things To Do & Things To See on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Once we were moored, the fish feeding presentation begun.  The fish must be well trained or be able to tell the time as they were ready and waiting. The crew point out the varying species such as Giant Trevally, Fusiliers, Bat Fish and Emperor to name a few.  A very informative talk was given and everyone had plenty of space to get a great view.

Whilst we were distracted with the fish feeding, the other crew members took the time to prepare the snorkel and dive gear which is laid out in lockers on the lower back deck… There is plenty of room to make your way around and find the right size.  Everything is clearly labled and colour coded and there was no pushing and shoving to be seen.  Wetsuits were available for hire from the bar if you think you need one.

Guests are not allowed to enter the water from the Ocean Spirit cruises boat itself and instead are ferried to the solitary sand cay by a glass bottom boat which is exciting in itself.  The glass bottom boat shuttle runs every 15 minutes and it is only a 2 minute ride to the beach.  By the time guests have selected their snorkel gear and are ready to go – the Ocean Spirit Cruises guests have Michaelas Cay all to themselves.  Once at the sand cay you simply find a spot on the beach and then head into the water to don your mask & fins and get snorkelling.  The fish life is very prominent and we began seeing fish and sting rays as soon as we put our face in the water.  Soft corals, giant clams & plenty of Nemo’s were also easily sighted.  Whilst we missed out, one of the other guests was lucky enough to swim with a sea turtle.  The photographer was in the water with everyone and she caught some great snaps of this and other underwater action throughout the day.

Glass Bottom Boat Shuttle Low Res

Even though there was a slight current, the snorkelling was really good.  If you aren’t the strongest swimmer there are flotation devices provided on the boat and there is a crew member in a fast dingy constantly patrolling and keeping a firm eye on those in the water.

If you have had enough of the snorkelling, you can head back to the Cay and view the migratory bird life on Michaelmas.  We were there outside of nesting season but there was still an abundance of birdlife to photograph.

We made use of the next shuttle to head back to the sailing boat and enjoy a simple but very nice buffet lunch.  There were menu options for everyone including vegetarian and vegan options.

We had time to enjoy our lunch before boarding our semi-submersible submarine for a tour of the Great Barrier Reef around Michaelmas Cay.  We were given a fantastic interpretive talk with the on board crew member explaining the makeup of the reef and the history of some of the large corals.  We saw many soft and hard corals, huge boulder coral, plate & stag coral, a beautiful sea turtle, Nemo clownfish were everywhere and much more.

If you are keen you can even try out your diving skills with an introductory scuba dive whilst on Michaelmas Cay and it is a very popular thing to do as you can calmly walk backwards (easier backwards with flippers) into the water and be a lot more comfortable than just taking a jump into the deep blue from the back of a boat. Just a note though, you do have to pre-book the introductory scuba dives as they can only allow a certain number for the day and the minimum age is 12.

Sailing Back to Cairns

Once back aboard the main vessel, fruit & afternoon tea was served and we spent some time enjoying the space to relax on board.  Ocean Spirit is very well presented.  There were 65 guests on board and we all had plenty of space to relax.  The toilets were clean at all times and the crew did a great job of keeping all areas of the boat neat and tidy.

Once in sight of Yorkeys Knob we celebrated a fantastic day on the reef with a complimentary sparkling wine & some cheese and biscuits – a great end to a lovely day.

I can’t wait to speak with some of our guests who choose to enjoy the hospitality of Ocean Spirit Cruises while visiting Cairns & Tropical Far North Queensland.

This fantastic vessel & friendly crew are definitely worth spending a day with.

Author: Tanith Barrie – Cairns Holiday Specialists

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Cairns Rainforest Tours – Kuranda Full Day & Half Day Tours https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/cairns-rainforest-tours-kuranda-full-day-half-day-tours/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/cairns-rainforest-tours-kuranda-full-day-half-day-tours/#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2015 23:36:42 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1687 An Amazing Day: Kuranda Scenic Railway, Butterfly Sanctuary, Koala Gardens, Kuranda Markets, Djabugay, Skyrail Gondola… and SO MUCH MORE!

Kuranda Scenic Rail Trip To Kuranda

Myself & my 11 year old son Ezrah were lucky enough to travel with Kuranda Scenic Railway & Skyrail gondola up to the quaint little village of Kuranda recently.

Tan Kuranda Rail at Barron Falls 2

We booked the 8:50am Kuranda Scenic Train departing from Freshwater Station, making sure we were there by 8:10am – to ensure an early check in, good parking, and also some time to visit Red Lynch’s cottage and the historical museum at the Southern end of the platform.  It was a fantastic introduction to the day and the amazing engineering feat that went into the construction of this iconic rail journey up the mountain.  It set the scene for the journey ahead and gave my son plenty of landmarks and points of interest along the way to keep his eye out for thru the trains open windows.

The Kuranda train was right on time and we boarded our carriage, making sure we checked the carriage number to see if it was one of the three oldest carriages still in operation that we had read about at Lynch’s cottage.  Whilst we weren’t in the oldest of the carriages, we were in a beautifully restored carriage with comfortable seats right at the front of the train which was fantastic as we could see the rest of the train as we wound our way around the bends making for great photography opportunities .

It may have been a wet June day, but this certainly did not take away from our train journey at all.  After we went past the historical Redlynch Station, we were ready for the first big point of interest, Horseshoe Bend.  As we rounded the bend and began our climb up the range, we were able to get some fantastic photos of the carriages following behind.

The on board commentary along the way kept us informed of each point of significance both cultural & historical and provided plenty of warning for the great photo opportunities coming up ahead.
Stoney Creek Falls was one such opportunity with the beautiful waterfalls to our left and the view from one of the most unique rail bridges in the world out over the valley to our right.

Glacier Rock 2

As we went past Glacier Rock & Red Bluff, the cameras were clicking over time as even in the dry season the view is simply breathtaking.  We continued past the incredible Robb’s monument and stopped at Barron Falls Station to disembark for some great photos.  I can’t wait till the green season at the end of the year as I will be boarding the train again to see the amazing Barron Falls in full flight.  The dry is just as incredible as you can truly see the incredible volumes of water which must flow over those cliffs during the mighty wet.

Things to See Things To Do In Kuranda Village

 Not long after our stop, we pulled into Kuranda Village Station.  The gardens here  and the little station is worth the time to view and visit.  The walk to the village of Kuranda was an easy one – with the added plus of the first shop being a provider of free samples of fresh Spanish Doughnuts.  They certainly have their methods right because we only made it another two steps before my Son decided he was going back for morning tea and got to watch his doughnut created from start to finish!

Tan Butterfly Sanctury 2

We made our way to the Butterfly Sanctuary first.  Just past the Heritage Markets, on a rainy day it was lovely to walk into the warm environment and the peacefulness of the hundreds of tropical butterflies.  The first point of interest is the sign identifying the butterflies within and their characteristics and lifespans.  Regular tours run from this point onwards and you can join as you arrive, or walk through and return to catch the next one.  Whilst not a huge area, we found we easily spent 45 minutes walking through, marvelling at the beautiful butterflies.  If you wear a red, pink or white shirt, they really will be attracted to you, particularly the Cairns Birdwings.  Make sure you visit the breeding area as we were lucky enough to see the Hercules moth emerge from it’s cocoon.  Unique to Tropical Far North Queensland, these huge moths live only 72 hours and they do not eat, rather they live off their own body fats.

Tan Koala Gardens 2

We left the Butterfly sanctuary and continued to the Koala Gardens where you can have your photo taken cuddling a koala.  Walking through the Herritage Markets, there is time to stop and browse or grab a coffee.  We entered the Koala Gardens and immediately spotted the Freshwater Crocodile pond below the walkway.  This was a big surprise and a great vantage point, even with the cooler weather.  We then headed past the turtles and lizards and onto the sleepy Koalas, with their Pottaroo friends below.  The opportunity is there to stop for a cuddle and a photo and definitely worth the experience.  The wombat feeding takes place at 2:30 pm so we were a bit early, but did get some cute pictures of them asleep in their logs.  The wallabies were happy to see us for breakfast and very friendly.  The surprise was the opportunity to walk through the next enclosures with the variety of snakes – one or two free to roam as they pleased!  Whilst I couldn’t get quite close enough to pat the amazing python, it was fantastic to watch as they slid around freely.

Ezrah with Parrot at Birdworld 2

We exited the Koala Gardens and continued on to Birdworld.  The staff were quick to point out that it is best to remove expensive jewellery and to remind us as we grabbed a bag of bird feed that the Macaws were mating and could be a little naughty.  But – do not miss this!  An Eclectus parrot claimed my son as soon as we walked in and bravely fought off any usurpers.  Not interested as much in the food as it was in muttering sweet nothings to Ezrah, it planted itself on his shoulder for the remainder of our visit.  The birds approach fearlessly – ringnecks, conures, black cockatoos, eclectus parrots & the naughty macaws.  Once we left the main area (Eclectus firmly attached) we walked down to visit the ducks and swans and the Cassowary – and his new lady friend which was very exciting.  I can easily say we spent an hour or more here, feeding the birds and laughing at their antics as each wave of visitors arrived.

Macaws 2

Skyrail Gondola Ride

 After a brief walk through the old and new market sites, and several bites of lunch (the surprise of the day was German Tucker Kuranda – getting an amazing vegan feed for me and an awesome Crocodile sausage for Ezrah), we made our way via the Candy Shop to the Skyrail Station and boarded our gondola for the return journey.  I watched with envy as the Diamond Class passengers boarded through their dedicated gate and hopped into their special gondolas with see through perspex floors, but was more than satisfied with the view from our standard gondola.  The climb to the Kuranda side of the Barron was fun and then the view as we crossed is breathtaking!  The bird life and rainforest flora is beautiful.  Seeing it all from upon high is unbeatable!

Tan Skyrail 2

We arrived at the Barron Falls Station with time to disembark and enjoy the boardwalks.  We then made our way to the Interpretive Centre to view the exhibits and history of Gondwanaland.  The microscope exhibit was of great interest to Ezrah.

Tree Ferns 2

We met Aaron, our guide for the Djabugay Guided Walk – without doubt a highlight of our day!  The walk through the rainforest is unpaved but of reasonable ease.  Aaron had bug spray at hand, and was quick to introduce us to the traditional plants the Djabugay people historically used and still do.  As we made our way into the rainforest we were introduced to the use of the traditional plants for both food and medicine.  We were shown the tradition rainforest hut, and the day to day tools used by the Aboriginal people.  Aaron was at ease and quick to point out the way that nature became the peoples’ calendar and guide.  He answered all questions from young and old and his sense of humour and dedication to the introduction of Djabugay culture to the world was wonderful.

As we shook hands and left Aaron to meet his next group (or eat the last of the raspberries), we boarded our gondola and headed on to Red Peak.  At this stop it is necessary to stop and ‘change lines’ and I would highly recommend the walk for photos and to see the incredible Kauri Pine.

We stretched our legs and boarded again for the final part of our journey.  As we crossed the Kuranda range, the view of the Coral Sea and Northern Beaches was breathtaking.  We had time for plenty of photos and to view the birds and butterflies from up high.

Looking over Northern Beaches 2

Once we arrived at Caravonica, we made our way through the gift shop and to our coach waiting at the front to transfer us back to Freshwater train Station.  Absolutely an incredible day!  Charge your phone or camera or BOTH before your go and be sure to pack a long sleeve shirt or jumper as Kuranda was a bit chilly.  All in all a must do rainforest tour whilst in Cairns and a fantastic way to get incredible views and a better understanding of the local culture, flora & fauna.

Ask The Tour Specialists team about the best Kuranda full day or half day tour to suit call them on 07 4059 59 59 or select a tour on-line.

Author: Tanith – Cairns Holiday Specialists

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Whale Watching Tours Cairns – Swim With Whales https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/whale-watching-tours-cairns-swim-with-whales/ https://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/whale-watching-tours-cairns-swim-with-whales/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 23:14:11 +0000 http://www.cairnsholidayspecialists.com.au/blog/?p=1678 Silversonic Dive and Snorkel - Minke Whale

Every year around the beginning of June, the Great Barrier Reef tour boat skippers start acting a little strange. They become a little twitchy, a little jumpy. They are extra alert, their eyes a little wild as they scan every inch of the oceans horizon. There is something they are searching for, something they have been waiting 10 months to arrive. They are searching for a sign. And it is finally here!

The Dwarf Minke Whales & the mighty Humpback Whales

The Dwarf Minke whales and the Humpback whales visit the Great Barrier Reef every year during Cairns winter months, bringing with them their comedic antics and curious natures. The boat crews love this time of year because it gives their passengers an experience that cannot be found anywhere else; they get to swim with the Minke whales.  That is exactly the rare experience visitors got to enjoy when the first Dwarf Minke whales for the season appeared recently at Castle Rock, located on the Agincourt Ribbon Reef from Port Douglas. Lucky snorkelers aboard Silversonic were supplied with a guide rope in the water to hold onto (10 persons at a time), and though they are not legally allowed to approach the whales, the curiosity nearly always gets the better of the Dwarf Minke Whales and they swim over to investigate these strange limbed land dwellers invading their waters. These gentle whales normally hang around the boats really enjoying the human interaction and they begin to show off and do spy hopping, tail slapping and breaching in front of their captured audience. They swim up so close to the people and look you right in the eye as is to try and see into your mind to understand what you are thinking. It’s like they are trying to communicate with you.

Minke Whales migrate to Cairns Tropical North Queensland each year during winter months

Minke Whales migrate to Cairns Tropical North Queensland each year during winter months

There are two boats in Port Douglas Queensland Australia the Silversonic Dive & Snorkel and Poseidon Reef Trip vessels that hold two of only three permits allowing snorkelers to get in the water with these majestic mammals, an experience enjoyed by only a lucky few hundred people every year. Nobody really knows why the Dwarf Minke Whales come to the Great Barrier Reef in particular, for it has not always been the case. Scientists have not yet found out where they come from, or where they go to at the end of their migration. These mysterious animals can weigh up to 14 tonnes and are extremely rare, having only been discovered in the past 14 years.

To interact with them up close is an amazing experience, whether or not you have the chance to swim with the whales you will have the memory of them forever in your minds as one of the most amazing Great Barrier Reef experiences of your life!

Please note book early in the season as it is normally the juvenile whales that are more interested in human interaction as the one’s with really young calves are in more of a protection mode and not too keen to get too close.

The juveniles migrate northwards to the Great Barrier Reef ahead of the heavily pregnant females and are ready to play.

Book either Silversonic Cruises or Poseidon Cruises and you will be guaranteed a whale of an adventure

Cairns Whale Watching Tours – The Humpback Whales

As if swimming with the Dwarf Minke Whales wasn’t enough, between June and September the larger Humpback whales also pay us a visit. They come up from the freezing Antarctic waters to mate and give birth, taking advantage of our comparatively warm Coral Sea where they can be protected from predators in amongst the coral bombies. Sightings of these enormous creatures are quite frequent from July to September, and it is not unheard of for a vessel to sight both Minke and Humpback whales on the same day.

Humpback Cairns

The mighty Humpback Whale

This whale species has an extremely well developed communication system that involves the use of blowing bubbles, high pitch noises and body language. While scientists have not yet deciphered this secret language, it does make for an amazing show for spectators who are lucky enough to spot them. The Humpback Whales perform some spectacular aquatics such as:

  • Breaching – This is when the whale jumps almost entirely out of the water, letting its body crash onto the surface of the ocean with a mighty splash
  • Spy Hopping – The whale will stick its head vertically out of the water, giving the impression it is eyeballing you!
  • The Blow – When a whale expels the vapour from its lungs using its blowhole on the top of its head. Often, this is the first sign of a visiting whale
  • Tail Slapping – More often than not, this is an aggressive display or a lobtail feeding behaviour as the whale slaps its tail on the surface of the water making the fish band together more tightly enabling the group of whales to feed more easily

Come To Cairns and Watch the Whales for Yourself

There is only one whale watching tour operating in Cairns during the whale migration season of July to September and you have to ensure you pre-book to board this day tour as it is extremely popular especially for the families.

Normally there is only one whale watching tour that departs from the Cairns Marlin Marina daily but if the weather is favourable and there are lots of whales around and lots of demand a second afternoon tour may just proceed.

As these animals are wild the reef tour operators cannot guarantee a sighting but they do their utmost best to ensure they do find some by keeping in contact with the aircraft above such as the Scenic Helicopter Flights Over The Great Barrier Reefpilots and scenic fixed wing tour operators.

In the rare event the boat does not seeing Humpback Whales on that trip they will offer you the chance to travel with them again on the same ticket on the next available tour

Book your seat now on a Cairns Whale Watching Tour from Cairns today!

Our tip is if you have a real desire to either swim with whales or wish to go on a whale watching tour in Cairns then do not leave it till the last minute to book as it is limited numbers for a limited season.

Author: Emilie – Cairns Holiday Specialists

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