Cairns national parks & outdoors

a family experiencing an Aboriginal smoking ceremony at the Daintree's Rainforest Station Nature Park

Experience an Aboriginal smoking ceremony at the Daintree's Rainforest Station Nature Park. Photo: Tourism & Events QLD

  • A must-see is the world-heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on earth. The Daintree is home to the largest variety of plant and animal species in Australia. There are many ways to experience the magic of the rainforest including:

    • a guided tour with one of the local Indigenous guides – the Kuku Yalanji people

    • gliding over the Daintree in the Skyrail cable car

    • boarding the Kuranda Scenic Railway and travelling through beautiful waterfalls and into the Barron Gorge

    • make a day of it, and combine a Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Kuranda Scenic Railway and a Kuranda Village visit where you can cuddle a koala at the Kuranda Koala Gardens. Other things to do in Kuranda include a rainforest cruise or white water rafting on the Baron river or a visit to the daily Kuranda markets.

a group of people white water rafting on the Barron River.
Go white water rafting on the Barron River. Photo: Tourism & Events QLD

  • Cape Tribulation (is part of the Daintree National Park) and is where the rainforest meets the coral sea. Take a tour or put the car on the Daintree Ferry. When you hit the other side of the riverbank a mystical place awaits. There's scenic lookouts and you may even see a cassowary in its natural environment. Why not hike the Mount Sorrow ridge trail, zip line high above the ancient rainforest canopy, or take a walking tour of Cape Tribulation.

  • Take a hike through the ancient Mossman Gorge, which is a 1.5 hour drive north of Cairns. Take a dream time walk with an Aboriginal guide, and walk across the suspension bridge that takes you over the gorge. 

  • Just 30 minutes south of Cairns, walk the challenging Walsh’s Pyramid which has a 12km granite core.

  • 60 km drive south of Cairns is the quaint little town of Babinda and leads you to the gorgeous natural Babinda Boulders and Josephine Falls. Babinda Boulders is a standout watering hole in the tropics if you’re up for a swim. Josephine Falls is the starting point for the challenging Bartle Frere and Broken Nose hiking tracks. 

  • Nature lovers must visit the Cassowary Coast which is south of Cairns, and is perfect for fishing, birdwatching and bushwalking.

A couple at Wrights Lookout in Cairns
Wrights Lookout is one of Cairns' many fabulous places to explore. Photo: Tourism & Events QLD

  • There are countless national park bushwalks and campgrounds in the surrounding Cairns area. Some local favourite national parks include Barron Gorge, Speewah, Davies Creek and Lake Tinaroo Dam. Download maps and resources here.

  • If you're chasing a bit of slightly strenuous exercise close to town, heads to the Cairns Botanical Gardens and tackle one of the Red/Yellow/Green/Blue arrow bush walks up Mount Whitfield National Park. Take plenty of water.   

  • Crystal Cascade is 20 minutes from town. This hidden gem has a 1,500 metre paved walk that takes you past waterfalls, rapids and water holes that you can have a swim on those hot tropical days. This is the starting point if you plan to hike up to the scenic Copperlode Dam area and back.  Public BBQs and toilets are on site.