North East Queensland Travel Review

Australia has much to offer for both local and international explorers/tourists with its huge vastness across 7 states and territories exhibiting rather diverse landscapes and a huge array of fauna and flora with much of it unique to Australia.  North Queensland is one place we all should visit at least once in our lives as it could be considered Australia’s most diverse state with tropical rainforests to desert centres to alpine mountains to mallee scrub and everything else in between, north Queensland has it all except snow fields.

Below is just a brief summary of some of the places worth visiting in the northern part of the ‘Sunshine State’.

Known as the village in the rainforest, Kuranda is a semi sleepy little town surrounded by lush rainforest and certainly worth a visit. The people are generally friendly and the town has many shops with arts, craft and aboriginal handicrafts and other items. There are numerous areas you can go to explore the rainforest and of course the huge ‘Barron Falls’ are also next to the township and the town is well known for its coffee houses. It is situated approximately 30km from Cairns on the road to Mareeba and Atherton.

Mareeba is about 45km north of Atherton where there are substantial wetland areas which are great for bird watching and looking for frogs and dragonflies and there is dirt cheap (a donation) camping at nearby Mt. Malloy. From Mt Malloy you may also make your way either to the Daintree, Mossman, Port Douglas and other coastal towns or take the road to Cooktown via Lakelands and Shiptons Flat.

One of the most amazing landscapes you will see anywhere is ‘Black Rock Mountain’ situated about 20km south of Cooktown. It is an amazing congested structure consisting of hundreds of thousands of huge black (volcanic) boulders and pretty much nothing else. This area is home however to some quite amazing wild life including the rather rare “Black Mountain Boulder Frog” Cophixalus saxatilis found nowhere else. If you drive past here you will not be able to help yourself but to stop and take a look (probably on the way back from Cooktown would be safest) as it is simply an amazing sight which just suddenly comes into view after driving though medium height semi open forest and you will be gobbed smacked by this sudden and unexpected change of the landscape.

Just north of Black Mountain on the right is the road to Archers Point which is a rather interesting location offering not only great ocean views and an old wharf to explore but has some rather unusual rock formations towards the old lighthouse. There is also free camping here in many places. But I would avoid the lagoon area on the right hand side of the road as you drive in, as there are crocs in this area and of course also be extremely careful if you are walking near the water edge on the ocean side as salt water crocs also patrol and set ambush in the water. The crocs are not a threat as long as you do not do anything stupid. Read the “Cooktown” travel review on our website for more info on crocs.

On the road north to Cooktown from Mareeba or Atherton you drive through a place called Lakelands about 75km south of Cooktown. This is mainly scrubby cattle territory to medium height semi open forest with a number of streams in this area worth exploring and on the right hand side of the road there is an unmissable large wetland area which is home to many birds and dragonflies. This is private property so you cannot enter past the fence, but from the fence line and outside of it on the road side you can still observe many species of bird and dragonfly and other wildlife such as kangaroos, bandicoots etc.

About 70km south of Cairns is a place called Babinda made famous for its “Babinda Boulders” set in lush tropical rainforest with beautiful clear running streams and some of the most incredible rock formations one could encounter which have an interesting and dramatic Aboriginal folk tale about how these formations came about. This place is alive with wildlife including many birds, butterflies, dragonflies, lizards and turtles. There is free camping here on the right hand side of the road just before you get to the boulders car park with a limit of 2 days at a time. In the Babinda township 7km from the ‘Boulders’ are numerous shops, an Anzac memorial park, bank, RSL club, pub and a very helpful tourist information centre.

These are just a few of the many places you can visit and explore in North-East Queensland.

Rod Rice
Principal Reviewer