What’s New in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Summer lives on in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef as things are heating up this Autumn with a range of new tours and attractions, accommodation renovations and events, giving you plenty of reasons to plan an escape to the region.
Tours and attractions
Launched at the end of April, the Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour offers a guided journey around Wunyami, Green Island, an ancient coral cay with an equally fascinating ancient cultural history. Led by Indigenous guides, guests will hear how the island is connected to an ancient journey of two ancestorial story-time beings, learn about the cultural ceremonies of the GuruGulu Gungganji and Gimuy Yidinji tribes and discover the connectivity of this iconic island to the ancient seascape.
Cairns Luxury Car Hire has added the first electric vehicle for hire to its fleet. The ruby red 2022 Tesla model 3 offers a luxurious, eco-friendly experience alongside cutting-edge technology and safety. With a range of up to 400km/charge and free charging stations already available around the region at major tourist attractions such as Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Mossman Gorge Centre, drivers never need to worry about a flat battery.
Visit the Torres Strait in just one day on a flight from Cairns or stay longer and discover Ailan (island) life, history and culture. Strait Experience curates small group tours of Thursday Island and visits other Torres Strait islands that lie between the northern-most tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Exploring Cape York is now easier with Far North Escapes, specialising in premium private and small 4×4 group tours. Offering half day, full day and multiday customisable itineraries covering a range of locations, guests can choose from experiences such as the bucket-list trip to The Tip, crocodile tours, horse-riding tours and even helicopter tours.
Snorkellers and divers are exploring the Great Barrier Reef from the new Reef Magic pontoon, which uses the wind and sun for power and has a dedicated laboratory for marine scientists. Reef Magic worked closely with local Traditional Owner groups to incorporate their culture and knowledge of the reef into their site stewardship.
Cow Cuddling Co., a cow therapy farm located in Goldsborough, South of Cairns, offers people living with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and anyone wishing to support their own mental health a chance to meet and cuddle with hand-raised therapy cows. A community-focused social enterprise with six cows on the farm, cow cuddling is a legitimate therapeutic service and a fun recreational activity suitable for the whole family.
The $1.2 million Gateway to Cape York has opened at Lakeland with a traveller information centre, rest stop and interactive sculpture park showcasing Cape York communities. Welcoming visitors to Cape York, the tourism infrastructure showcases the history and ecology of Cape York and 16 artworks created by communities from across Cape York Peninsula.
Paparazzi king Darryn Lyons has opened a Lyons Gallery at DFS Galleria in Cairns showcasing prints from the likes of Helmut Newton and Banksy and his famous photo of Princess Diana on her last yachting holiday before her death. Located above iconic brands including Prada and Marc Jacobs, the gallery is on the same block as the Cairns Gallery Precinct which will link a new purpose-built gallery to the existing Cairns Art Gallery and the Court House gallery.
100% Indigenous owned and operated, Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours, has launched its first scheduled tours for independent travellers. The tours, taking place on Mandingalbay Yidinji Country, a short 15-minute boat ride from Cairns CBD, include experiences such as an eco-cultural walk, camping on country and a monthly Full Moon Dinner.
Tourism Port Douglas Daintree have released their new Discover Paradise brochure, covering all the great things to see and do in the region. Showcasing local restaurants, shops, tours, and events, the brochure also contains suggested holiday itineraries to make the most of your trip up north.
Food and Beverage
Forget your waistline, watching your footprint is the modern way to tackle your meals. Crystalbrook has launched Climate Calories so customers at their restaurants and bars can see if the meal and drinks are sourced locally, use ethical meats, minimise waste and are culturally considered.
Wolf Lane Distillery has two exciting new releases on offer at their Abbott Street cellar door. Annee’s Caphê Sua Da Vietnamese Coffee Liqueur, a collaboration between Wolf Lane and Annee’s Caphê Sua Da, Australia’s original Vietnamese iced coffee bar, and Pineapple Island Gin, a refreshing tropical gin infused with pineapple and coconut.
Cairns has its first alcohol-free bar with popular live music venue Elixir Music Bar switching to herbal elixirs like Fresh Fruit Fassionola and Spiced Coconut Falernum. Limited BYO drinks will be allowed with a corkage fee during the transition phase, with the same great music on the weekends.
Billycart Brewing Co is serving local brews in their taproom at Atherton on the Tablelands. The locally owned and independent brewery brings in a food van on Friday nights and weekends so you can sit back and enjoy a selection of beers.
Pullman Cairns International have completed stage one of their $10 million rejuvenation program. Incorporating all guest rooms from levels 3 to 11, the modern design features custom designed furnishings while paying respect to the historic Cairns architectural style. The light-filled spacious rooms feature stunning artworks from a hand-crafted selection of the most talented artists in the region.
Talaroo Hot Springs will soon introduce two new eco tents to its campgrounds. Sleeping two people with access to Talaroo’s purpose-built amenities and camp kitchen, the tents are set just 300 metres from the beautiful Einasleigh River. Campers are invited to partake in exclusive guided tours led by the Ewamian Traditional Owners, experience the healing waters of the hot springs, and join in a traditional Yarning Circle of an evening.
Silky Oaks Lodge has been named on Travel + Leisure’s 2022 It List. The annual list, in its 17th year, recognises the 100 best new and reimagined properties in 35 countries around the world. Set in the world’s oldest living rainforest, Silky Oaks Lodge offers guests a stylish rainforest escape, with a range of experiences, a luxury spa and fine dining restaurant.
Crankworx, the world’s most watched mountain bike event, has announced that Cairns will be added to its World Tour in 2022. Smithfield Mountain Bike Park will become the fourth stop for the 2022 Crankworx World Tour bringing 1200 athletes, 220 volunteers and an expected 34,000 spectators across the five days to the rainforest trails on October 5-9.
The Red-Hot Summer Tour makes its way to Cairns on 14 May. Concert goers can watch the likes of Hunters and Collectors, The Living End and Killing Heidi perform all afternoon and evening at the Cairns Showgrounds.
Get ready for a big weekend! The Port Douglas Carnivale will be held on the 20th to 22nd of May. Events taking place include the Tropic and Exotic Street Parade, a Family Beach Day, a Seafood Extravaganza and the Wonderland Spiegeltent will be home to an array of entertainment, from the adults-only circus performers Rouge to Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows.
EcoFiesta Cairns will be held at the Martin Munro Parklands on 29 May. Celebrate the natural environment and sustainable living in Tropical North Queensland with hands-on workshops, green-tech, local street eats, and ecotourism prizes.
Get your wheelbarrows ready for the Great Wheelbarrow Race. Taking place on the 20th to 22nd of May, the race will see competitors push a wheelbarrow between Mareeba and Chillagoe in three stages, raising funds for charities and local clubs.
For more information go to cairnsgreatbarrierreef.com