Tag Archives: australia

5 Reasons why you have to FNQ for Cairns.

Aussies have finished holidaying within their own country….. God only knows why. People generally blame it on the flights, becoming cheaper and cheaper to fly to (somewhat and seemingly) domestically located International destinations such as Fiji and Bali; others blame the rising cost of domestic accommodation and entertainment. When I compare costs between Bali and Cairns however, I don’t note much of a difference. I should preface the fact that I am not really a drinker and so Bintangs -v- XXXXs is left out of my equation. We live in one of the best countries on Earth, get patriotic people and explore your mainland.

5 Reasons why Cairns is so good you have to FNQ for it. (I do not own this pun).

1. The Great Barrier Reef. Typical.

The name requires no explanation, does it? It’s Great – approx. 344,400km squared in fact, it provides a Barrier – my geographical guess would be to the Continental Shelf, and it’s a Reef. So you’d be right to think its large, expansive wonderland, full of an array of marine life you are not going to see anywhere else. That must be why it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981….hmmm.

I’ve snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef 5 times now and I have to say, ignore the coral bleaching hype, the Reef just keeps getting better and better. With science advancing at rapid pace, marine biologists are really beginning to understand this beautiful water world. What we thought before was bleached and dead coral, scientists now have the perhaps pessimistic view that it is in fact just laying dormant, and reincarnating – if you like. And there is evidence of this, as you snorkel you’ll pass white and brown coral, and are pleasantly surprised by the bright almost fluorescent blue and purple branching coral. And on the plus side, the white and brown corals make the clownfish more obvious too!

We travelled to the Reef in April on the ‘Calypso Catamaran’ from Port Douglas, and I can highly recommend these guys. The crew were awesome, super welcoming, and the kiwi leader was not only a babe, but was super informative. My brother and fiancé took off and dived (they’re PADI accredited) and I snorkelled, alone. I wasn’t feeling super enthused by this prospect so the crew encouraged me. As soon as I dipped my head under the biggest Maori Wrasse fish welcomed me in, practically brushing past my cheek. The included lunch was delicious, and nothing was a hassle for these guys, not even the 25-30 knots on our way out., cheers Skipper. An awesome way to see the Reef, I’ll never go with another company again.

13319972_10153534268832377_2579707431466647478_n.jpgThe boys coming back from their dive.

13307347_10153534268967377_6336357477713997058_n.jpgSnorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.

10551040_10152156282552377_5199265278703876907_n.jpg Bitch, please, nips for days.

2. The Daintree Rainforest. The last list entry that is expected.

This place is one big giant green wonderland. The Daintree Rainforest is approx. 1200 square km’s, beginning at Mossman Gorge and ending along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown. The place is one giant feast for the senses. It smells like crisp, freshly washed linen sheets, it looks all hues of vibrant dense green, and as you walk through it you’ll notice that it sounds like one of those 90s mood CDs that plays running water and whipping birds on repeat, but in the Daintree’s case, it’s real.

On our recent trip to Cairns, we travelled up as far as Cape Tribulation to experience the ‘real’ Daintree Rainforest, and stayed at ‘PK’s Jungle Village’. The accommodation gave us great access to the beach and the rainforest, and was in the centre of ‘town’. (Town being 4 shops/convenience stores.) It also housed the main pub/bar with great Aussie pub style meals, the Chicken Parmy was to die for.

13327646_10153534270687377_7051004180147582041_n.jpgThe beach 10 mins walk from our accommodation, in Cape Tribulation. Sunbake don’t swim.

13343014_10153534270032377_7934188425388398398_n.jpgSignage from our accommodation to the beach.

13321792_10153534271132377_4429082866100331355_n.jpgA local swimming hole in Cape Tribulation, in hindsight not the smartest thing we have done. 

If you can’t make the trip to Cape Tribulation, be sure to check out Mossman Gorge. By far one of the best tourist attractions in FNQ. This place is tourism done right. We scoped out Mossman Gorge about 3 years ago, after seeing a documentary about the facility aired on SBS. Mossman Gorge is a FNQ landmark of high cultural significance to the local indigenous people.

At the Mossman Gorge Tourist Centre you can pay a small entrance fee and bushwalk and swim as you like. Or you can purchase a ticket on a cultural tour, led by a local indigenous elder. We took the second option and met Rodney. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a legend Rodney is, I’d be here all day, I really do encourage you to find out for yourselves. Rodney, his pride, and his knowledge will stay with me forever. Our trip to Mossman Gorge remains completely unforgettable.

10689619_10152358431067377_5584427743707746765_n.jpgMossman Gorge – in my element.


If you are familiar with those brown road signs that state ‘SCENIC ROUTE’ in different areas across Australia, you’re in for a treat, because NONE of those routes compare to the Waterfall Circuit just outside of Cairns.

The circuit will take you through the picturesque Atherton Tablelands. And can encompass as many or as few waterfalls and waterholes that you would like, such as Millaa Millaa Falls, Pepina Falls, Mungalil Falls, Zillie Falls, Josephine Falls, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Set aside a full day to explore and swim, but be ready to share with fellow tourists during peak season, especially Millaa Millaa Falls. Don’t let it stop you, they’re all big enough to share.

A trip out to these waterfalls, holes and Tablelands is an absolute must, not only can you spend the day swimming in beautiful rainforest temperate waters, but you can feed turtles, drive through true Australian farming countryside, eat local produce and meander through cute little village shops. Some waterholes also offer other water sports such as sailing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.

Search the following hash tags through Instagram to find some of Australia’s truest natural beauty: #millaamillaafalls #josephinefalls #pepinafalls, #mungalilfalls, #zilliefalls, #josephinefalls, #lakebarrine and #lakeeacham

(I have limited pics as my phone went for a swim at the GBR and I lost them all L)

10401873_10152156268492377_6731545118557731927_n.jpgYou may recognise Millaa Millaa Falls. It was the waterfall used in the 90s Herbal Essences Promo, ah, yes, yes, oh, yes. Get your cameras ready!

4. Paronella Park – I know, you’ve never heard of it.

Paronella Park is quite literally castle ruin in a rainforest that encompasses a gigantic waterfall, that hardly anyone knows about. The best kept Australian secret, and also the most underrated poorly advertised tourist attraction ever. I can’t explain just how much love I have for this place. It is the definition of beautiful.

Located about an hours drive south of Cairns, you’ll pass through Innisfail (Bob Katter country) to get to it. Paronella Park was a mansion originally built by Jose Paronella to give to his wife. I could continue with the story but I don’t want to ruin it all for you.

It costs $44 for entry. Guided tours are conducted every 30 minutes that’ll take you around the grounds of the property, and inform you of the history as well. After that you are free to do as you please; find the crocodile (maybe don’t), feed the turtles, have lunch, run across the suspension bridge, take selfies, catch Pokémon, PLAY IN CASTLE RUINS. We spent half a day at Paronella Park, you could spend longer.


10509714_10152358407347377_3699265764007330174_n.jpgLiterally, castle ruins in a rainforest.

1016889_10152358410007377_8338613882703088931_n.jpgWith a waterfall.

5. Billionaires Row.

When billionaires embark on a tropical holiday, they pack their latest Camilla kaftan, Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt, Seafolly bikini and Aesop sun tan lotion and head to Port Douglas. But you don’t have to be a billionaire to love it here. This place is the shit.

Like a quaint little seaside village ripped out of a Country Style magazine, the main street is lined with bakeries, cafes and typical Queenslander pubs; all serving locally sourced organic produce, and locally brewed beers.

The Main Beach at Port Douglas is 100% lined with palm trees (and I’m talking the ones that sprout coconuts), 25% lined with stinger nets, and manned by lifeguards. It’s probably your safest beach to swim at in FNQ (as long as the mature coconuts have been removed – they do knock people out).

13325504_10153534269897377_7025225113781977086_n.jpgMain Beach – Port Douglas.

The shopping in Port Douglas is great too, the main street features many clothing and home ware boutiques, and it could easily take you ½ to a full day to meander through them all. Markets are held each and every Sunday at Anzac Park, and those coconuts that I was telling you about, are removed from the beach palms and sold fresh.

There are scenic walks, fishing, mangrove crocodile tours, ½ day and full day trips out to the reef and nearby islands (turtles!), mountain and road bike hire, sunset cruises, literally activities for all. I don’t know one person that wouldn’t love the place.

10704064_10152358399867377_2627606571303538535_n.jpgScenic Walk from town.

On our latest trip we stayed at the Port Douglas Motel on Davidson Street. The room was clean, the bed comfortable, within walking distance to the main street and the air conditioner working. What more could you want? We ate at the Tin Shed Combined Clubs, Star of Siam Thai Restaurant, Rattle and Hum Pub, The Little Larder Café, Dave’s Takeaway (THE BEST).

13310574_10153534268512377_7456453115091050987_n.jpgA Sunset shot taken at The Tin Shed.

If you need more encouragement to visit FNQ, flights to Cairns can usually be found for around $150 each way, departing Sydney.


Alternatively, follow the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland and have a stalk through my old holiday snaps.


CJ x



I got sick (really sick, read prior blog on GUT health and Kombucha) in Thailand whilst we were staying in a 4.5 star resort. The resort stay came with a breakfast buffet daily and an acre of beautiful pools and spas to play in. Day no.3 of bringing up my small intestine, I’d had enough of being cooped up in my room watching the Australia channel, and I forced myself out to the resort pool, found a banana lounge close to the toilet. And you wouldn’t believe it? the rest of the Resort had the same idea! and the fellow travelers had the same bout of South East Asian Norovirus! We were all eating at the same buffet breakfast, sitting at the same tables in the restaurant, wiped with the same cloth by the same waitress (I witnessed this), swimming in the same poorly chlorinated resort pools, sitting on the same pool lounges, and our rooms were being swept and mopped with the same broom/mop/water by the same housekeeper (witnessed again).


Here is me and my brave face at the Resort in Phuket.

NOTE: I’m not saying this attributed to me being sick, but I can’t see how it would have helped. And watching this happen around me didn’t make me feel better either, nor did it justify the resort price tags that went with the stay.

Lesson learnt.

And so, I give to you: CJ’s Accommodation Booking Rules.

Rule 1: Accommodation is for sleeping and showering. If you can do both safely, then it’s a yes from me. Unless you’re intending to sit by the pool and read, AND your destination is in the desert, there is no need to waste money on swim up bars and cabana boys. Sitting beachside should always be 100% preferred, you get the breeze, the people watching, the waves and the salt water, and it generally wont cost you a cent. For road trip holidays, question whether accommodation is necessary, and if so what type. Sleeping in the car is my favourite option for 1 night away – my fiancé does not agree but in winter I absolutely love it. If taking this option, or a camping equivalent think about the necessities. For me, it’s a toilet, power and usually a shower. As per older blogs I suffer from a mild self diagnosed form of IBS and when I need the toilet it is all ‘Move bitch get out tha way!’. I can’t live without my phone – o power to charge is a must, and generally so is a shower – depends on an array of circumstances. Remember sometimes accommodation is for parking your car too. On a recent trip to Newcastle we were researching accommodation on Air Bnb and ALL, I kid you not – ALL, available accommodation came WITHOUT car parking. We would have had to park our car KM’s away. Research this and filter it in your accommodation search if need be.


Sleeping in the car at the Snow in 2014 –  I forced Glenno to play ‘Resuscitation!’ with me on the Ipad until we fell asleep.

Rule 2: If you don’t eat Breakfast like a king at home, you probably don’t need to while you are away. Woolworths and Coles exist outside of your own hometown! – grab a Chobani and make use of the in room tea/coffee facilities. Don’t forget to sample some of the local cafes for breakfast too. Accommodation breakfasts are generally priced above $22/pp, whilst breakfast at a local cafe can cost between $12 – $20 and the food is (generally) turned over quicker. And, there are no fellow travellers coughing their way through the buffet line, picking up the cereal spoon with their ecoli-ridden hands.


Salmon Rye at The Dip Cafe in Byron Bay on our Bluesfest trip- delicious!

Rule 3: Bedbugs are just bad luck. Don’t read Trip Advisor reviews that whinge about bed bugs and take the review as a true statement. Scabies – probably a different story, and yes they are different insects! Bedbugs can travel between hotels and hostels in luggage, sleeping bags and even on fellow travelers. If you check into your accommodation and start to think you’re under attack, and you’ve got another couple of nights to go, speak to the hotel reception – they may be happy to move you or bomb the room for you once housekeeping has attended. Otherwise – Woolworths (crazy I know!), and leave the do not disturb sign hanging so you don’t kill the housekeepers.

Bedbugs will leave 3, that’s THREE, small bites close together – sometimes in a row – and I’ve had them mostly on my chest. Be sure to bomb your possessions before taking them back into your own house, and, if it’s too late for that, bomb your house. They’re generally no biggie once dealt with appropriately.

Rule 4: Check the Location. Do your research and find out how far away your hotel is from the action. Google maps is great for this – put your hotel name in and map to supermarkets, pubs, shops, beaches, etc. Remember to change the transport mode around from walking to public transport, and if you go with that accommodation, store your maps for when you get there. And DON’T be an idiot and rely on Taxis! In some parts of AUS there are NO taxis – Sydneysiders I know this idea is foreign to you but trust me, no Ubers either! Don’t get stuck, blind, in the middle of nowhere, with no transport, you may have to sleep it off in the gutter – witnessed on South Coast.


The Kam Leng Hotel in Singapore – loved the location of this place, even though it was out of the tourist hubs it was super fun feeling like an expat Singaporean local.

Rule 5: If you are going to a small Australian town call the local pub – and call them at a reasonably quiet time, say Tuesday morning. Most small locally run pubs and hotels in Australia are NOT advertised on Expedia / Quickbeds / Last Minute, etc. and most still have the same affordable price tag on their rooms. You can research them all you like on the Internet, but I strongly advise you to pick up the phone and have a chat, even if you’re not sure if accommodation is offered at said pub they may be able to point you in the right budget traveller direction!


The Middle Pub in Mullumbimby where we stayed for Bluesfest 2016. Clean rooms, a $15 menu and we came back from Bluesfest early one night and a live blues band was playing with a piano accordion! 

That’s it.

Have you had bedbugs? Have you been stranded in the ‘country’? Can you recommend any sweet café’s to try for breakfast whilst holidaying?

Comment and let me know.


> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Booking Flights <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x