There are many things that stand out in my memories of the far northern part of Queensland: emerald green rainforests with piercing bird cries, moist earthy smells and unique wildlife; azure blue waters hiding an entire community of creatures so colourful they make Van Gogh’s paintings look dull... the colour of red earth contrasted against solid blue skies; watching Amber interact with the oldest indigenous culture in the world; letting out a side-splitting squeal as I bounced down the Tully River; standing together, triumphant on the very northern tip of Australia after two weeks of sucking up dust.
The northern part of Australia is a world of contrasts and it is this that makes it a wonderful place to explore with children. It doesn’t matter what you like to do, you can do it here. From lounging by a resort pool, to feeding a koala. From riding high above the treetops to walking on the sea floor.Watching your kids as they discover new experiences is what travelling with children is all about, and a short holiday in this region is worth a year of school book learning.
In the north, the jewels of the Torres Strait lie scattered like pearls and afford the chance to embrace island culture, which is so different from Aboriginal culture. The northern tip is wild and rugged with dangerous animals, tales of exploration and wide open spaces. Further south, Cooktown transports you to days of yore when Captain Cook holed up to fix the Endeavour.
Port Douglas and surrounding villages are a playground for the world elite, yet still accessible to all, and nearby Cape Tribulation boasts some of the most amazing beaches in the country. It is here that the rainforest meets the water and vibrant colours fuse to create a special environment to awaken your senses.
The hub of the north is Cairns, a thriving holiday centre with numerous family attractions. Unlike southern theme parks, they are more intimate, cultural, nature based, and educational. Kids will love butterflies landing on their hands, learning to throw a boomerang, or watching venom extraction from a poisonous snake. South of Cairns the wettest area in Australia, Tully, is an adventurers’ paradise. Teens will love the thrill of hurling downstream on a rafting adventure.
Perhaps the crowning glory, the Great Barrier Reef, stretches offshore from one end of this region to the other. Like an alien world it beckons, giving kids the chance to feed colourful fish and even swim in their midst.
Education and schooling are not synonymous – and if education is high on your list, North Queensland is a very large classroom.
Photo courtesy Tourism Queensland