Tag Archives: traveling

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.

3. Ignore TLC and CHASE THE WATERFALLS.

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

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YOU’RE ALWAYS ON HOLIDAYS – PART V

I think I had the most fun writing this blog post, Part V of the holiday tips. So great reminiscing on the different adventures we’ve had and thinking about how we had them, and found them! There’s always so much to do and so little time to do them in when you’re holidaying. Always ALWAYS draw up a rough, if not complete, itinerary before leaving home, and do your best to stick to it. And try out these other tips…

Hashtags: I cannot get enough of searching the #hashtags of destinations on Instagram. People don’t post on Instagram when they’re having a shit time, FACT. So if you want to see awesome local sights at your destination – Instagram is the way to go. You’ll be surprised with what you find.

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Obsessed with street art – found this gem in the dusty backstreets of Tamworth, cheers Instagram. 

Tripadvisor: The only thing Tripadvisor if useful for is feedback on tours and activities, and even then I use it cautiously. If I literally have NO idea of what to do in a destination I’ll turn to Tripadvisor. Always remember that 80% of the reviews are negative, and 70% of people don’t post here because it’s time consuming – they’re usually snapping away on Instagram (see above). 

Nature: If you’re looking for natural experiences at your destination try Google searches with just the suburb and then the experience you are after, for example: Mullumbimby Waterfall. Mix it up as well – Mullumbimby Waterhole, Mullumbimby Creek, Mullumbimby River, Mullumbimby Bushwalk, etc. Whatever you find you should be able to send through Google Maps to get the directions.

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Re-enacting the 90s Herbal Essences TVC at Milla Milla Falls – FNQ.

Geocache: If you have walking children and you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to reconsider your parenting goals. To put simply, all around the world there are Pirates that bury treasure and log the treasure on an app called Geocache. The app acts as your map, and compass, using GPS to take you to the X that marks the spot. Yep, a real life TREASURE HUNT. When you find the buried treasure you log it on the app and in the treasure box, and sometimes there is a little gift for you, sometimes there is not. I cannot explain how amazing Geocaching is. The treasure is buried in both the Bush and the City – it may even be in your neighbourhood. The app is free for the first 6 months (or it used to be) and then is a small fee per month. It will give you hours of entertainment, and will get you out exploring your destination.

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A secret Geocache location on the South Coast of NSW.

Bicycles: I have to preface this with the fact that I graduated from training wheels on my 18th birthday and am in no way a cyclist. Regardless, I still believe cycling is the absolute best form of transport whilst on holidays, if you’re not in the Swiss Alps. My fiancé and I try to make a point of getting on a bicycle wherever we travel (time allowing). We’ve cycled through Melbourne, Cairns, Gold Coast, and Singapore. Some major cities – Singapore – have cycle tour companies, these are great to help you navigate and weave through the traffic. Bicycle hire is usually cheap and will get you moving quicker than walking, but still immersed in the local atmosphere.

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Melbourne, VIC.

10314484_10152358372292377_5328856913221579429_n.jpg

Cairns, QLD.

Meals: Social media is great for catching a bargain. Most local pubs and clubs have their lunch and dinner specials listed on their Facebook page. Check these out ahead of time and you’ll find the $10 steaks and perhaps even the trivia night details. And never be afraid to ask the locals – if you’re having a schooner at the local pub and you spot a local ASK THEM THEY KNOW and they’re usually happy to refer you to their favourite.

Most parks in coastal areas have BBQ facilities. Buy what you need and have a cook up! Just remember to pack the necessary utensils. And, if there aren’t any BBQs, there is always the Roast Chickens for $8.99 at Woolworths, a few salads and bread rolls! It’s all about thinking outside of the square. Fish and Chips from the local takeaway, lettuce/tomato/bread rolls from Woolworths, fish burgers on the beach for four on the cheap. Winning.

Groupon / Livingsocial: You just never know what you’ll pick up on these websites. Just change your postcode and search away. Sometimes you’ll snap up dinner for 2 or 4 for under $50, and even sometimes entry to theme parks for families at highly discounted rates.

I’m sure I could go on. But that’s all I have, for now, in the way of holiday tips!

NOTE: Whilst I’m away I try to stay on track with my lifestyle, the same as I have it at home. Travelling can be adapted to suit your lifestyle too, just plan ahead and don’t let anything stop you.

Any tips you’re willing to share? Comment below!

 

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

CJ x

YOU’RE ALWAYS ON HOLIDAYS – PART III

How to: Fly High.

Most of these tips I’m sure will be glaringly obvious to the regular traveller, but I know how easy it is to be swayed by what appears to be a ‘bargain’, which is actually a money grab! Keep it in your pockets people, with these easy tips!

Would you like fries with that? Or as my bestie ex-hostie Rohan recites, in an ever so polite NY accent, ‘Coke or Water!?’

Flights are for flying. You will not die if you do not eat for 8 hours, you may not even die if you don’t eat for 12 hours, (unless you’re diabetic and even then titrate  – kidding). Just buy your flight, don’t be tempted to purchase food or in flight entertainment pre-flight; you can purchase it on the day if you really need it. On most flights you can take on a few nibblies. The only times I have encountered problems with this was SYD to SINGAPORE – we snuck a few on, and DENPASAR to BALI – just purchased onboard.

For onboard entertainment, BYO podcasts and iPad app store movie rentals.

Carry on or Checked? Depending on your length of stay and holiday type you may get away with just your onboard carry on luggage. Trips of 4 days or less, I generally take the on-board luggage option. It’s also a good way of forcing you to plan your outfits, so you don’t take up unnecessary time staring at your suitcase saying ‘I have nothing to weaaaaarrrr.’. But please, don’t be that jerk with the ‘carry on luggage’ that is clearly oversized! Is there anything more irritating?

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Glenno and I with our carry-on luggage (kidding). Leaving for S.E. Asia.

Be cashed up. Research the visa situation and factor that into your actual cash in hand situation. Have a fair amount of local currency to get you through the flight, and the exact amount to get you through customs (if need be – here’s looking at you Bali).

If I don’t need legroom…..I’m 6ft1 and size 10-12. If I can sit in a normal sized seat, you can too. Get up and walk around and wear compression tights. Airports are runways for airplanes not wannabe models, it’s not a fashion show – leave the stilettos at home, dress for comfort and move people!

Depart Time: Generally your 0615 flights out of Sydney are cheap as chips compared to your 1115 flights, and flying domestic you’ll end up with an extra day for activities. You can sleep on the plane anyway! Overnight flights internationally are usually cheaper too, I’ve done 2, slept 1. If it’s a major price difference and you don’t intend on working the day you arrive, give it a go.

To finish: I’ve flown Jetstar Australia, Jetstar Asia, Tiger Australia, Tiger Asia, Qantas, Scoot, Virgin Australia. For domestic flights I prefer Tiger to and from Melbourne, and Virgin to and from the Gold Coast; but I still bargain hunt and go with the lowest price. Scoot is amazing! Travelled with them to Singapore and felt like I was on a party plane – the music was LOUD, the lights flashing, such a great atmosphere. There’s a video on the ‘gram if you’re interested.

12558710_220875678250394_1643239120_n-1.jpgOld mate next to us was a committed budget traveller and gave us hundreds of travel tips. He told us he spends 6 months a year traveling S.E Asia – jealous. Here we are on SCOOT.

 

Do you have any flying tips you’re willing to share? Can you recommend any carriers that I should check out? Or anything to add? Comment below kids!

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

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

CJ x