What’s new in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

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With a range of new tours and attractions, food and beverage options, and a hotel opening, Tropical North Queensland is a must-visit destination for summer and the upcoming holiday season.

Tours and Attractions

For the thrill-seekers, Skypark Cairns have launched their new product, Walk the Plank to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of AJ Hackett. Walk the Plank allows guests to stand on a beam 140m above sea level for a view of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding World Heritage rainforest that is not for the faint-hearted!

Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas has launched their “Swim with the Salties” experience in the new CrocArena, giving you the opportunity to safely swim with saltwater crocodiles. Guests can swim centimetres away from the crocs in 180-degree clear underwater, viewing the salties at a depth of 2.3 metres.

Live the life of superyacht luxury with YOTSPACE on a six-night snorkel adventure on the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island. Book a cabin on Phoenix One for five-star cuisine and beverages plus a range of water toys including a sea scooter and water skis for some daytime fun before you wind down in the upper deck jacuzzi.

Travellers can combine the adventure of diving with marine conservation. No Limit Adventures have teamed up with a Cairns dive operator to offer a unique marine conservation volunteering opportunity. Participants undertake a certified diver’s course during the 12-day program before diving on the Great Barrier Reef and participating in reef monitoring surveys.

Explore the world’s oldest rainforest on a stand-up paddleboard gliding upstream through the Daintree Rainforest. Your Windswell guide will take you on a low-impact adventure in the tranquil surroundings of the World Heritage Area.

Avid golfers will feel like a VIP with Nautilus Aviation’s HeliGolf experience. Take off over Cairns city and experience the natural beauty of the region’s spectacular World Heritage rainforest by helicopter before landing at the Sheraton Mirage Country Club for 18 holes of golf followed by lunch.

Spirit of Freedom returns to the water from 2 December for Great Barrier Reef liveaboard dive expeditions from Cairns. Experience shark dives, potato cod feeding, sheer walls laced with massive soft corals, manta rays, and healthy tropical reefs, rich with marine biodiversity on trips from three to seven days.

Play in nature’s theme park with Foaming Fury’s new Half Day River Tubing adventure on the Mulgrave River. This fun and exciting tour is suitable for the whole family with calm water drifting, small rapids, and some beautiful scenery.

Explore the Atherton Tablelands on foot with a four-day Nature’s Plate and Pilates tour incorporating pilates, stretching sessions, and a full-day tasting tour. Getaway Trekking & Adventures also has a one-day Barron Falls Hike in Kuranda.

Accommodation

Silky Oaks Lodge is set to reopen on December 15, 2021, after a $15 million refurbishment. The lodge will feature 40 luxury treehouses with views of the Mossman River and the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest.

Previously operating as the Rydges Plaza Hotel, The Benson Hotel has been reimagined and reinvigorated as an exciting new 4-star boutique property. Opened in July 2021, renovations revealed a modernised look, with a newly refurbished reception area, The Benson Bar & Restaurant, a stylish poolside oasis, and 56 soft refurbished accommodation rooms.

Launched in June 2021, Talaroo Hot Springs opened its new campground and caravan park, located 360km west of Cairns on the Savannah Way in the outback of Tropical North Queensland. Talaroo’s outback campground and caravan park features more than 30 landscaped sites and offers a modern camp kitchen, new amenities block, reception, gift shop, and café.

Island diving has returned to Fitzroy Island Resort with the opening of the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub (FISH) and its dedicated dive pool. The newly refurbished glass bottom boat takes divers to stunning fringing reef sites sheltered by the island. Introductory and refresher dive courses are on offer, while experienced divers can hire equipment. Residential dive courses start in November with a range of accommodation from camping to a contemporary Island Suite overlooking the Coral Sea.

Restaurants and Bars

Sunlover Reef Cruises have partnered with Nick Holloway, executive chef at Nu Nu restaurant in Palm Cove to curate an onboard menu inspired by Tropical North Queensland. Showcasing the tropical flavours of the region with sticky ginger caramel chicken, Coral Sea prawns, fresh tropical salads, and fruits, your serve-yourself lunch is just as colourful as the Great Barrier Reef.

Harbourside Bar & Kitchen has introduced a new wine list with more than 500 organic and ecologically sustainable wines, with the most extensive natural wine list in the region. HB&K’s wine list has been carefully curated to match Executive Chef Marcel Stammeire’s divine Cairns Cuisine.

The $28 million redeveloped Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct features a modified and extended alfresco dining area with a variety of new restaurants for visitors to enjoy. There are also new contemporary awnings, providing better weather protection and a modified and gently curving road alignment with extra footpaths to improve pedestrian connectivity. 

Whiskey and Wine have opened on Level 2 at Crystalbrook Flynn as the hotel’s third on-premises venue. Set on the hotel rooftop, visitors can enjoy a drink and soak up the chic atmosphere and views across the Coral Sea. The bar features award-winning cocktails with more than 80 local and imported whiskeys.

Hook-a-Barra has launched a new Gourmet Farm Tour. Go behind the scenes of their multi-award-winning Daintree Saltwater Barramundi Farm on a journey that takes the iconic barramundi from fingerling to finger food.

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