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Things to See and Do in Cairns

things to see and do in cairns

It’s taken me ages to write this blog on Things to See and Do in Cairns and I’ve now come back to re-write it.

I worked out what the problem has been. I was trying to pretend it was something it wasn’t, for us.

Cairns

Cairns is supposed to be warm, sunny, beach weather with blue skies and high temperatures but that’s just not how it was for us. We had very few clear days, temps were warm but not hot and with the overcast conditions and winds, it was not really ideal for ocean exploring.

Thins to See and Do in Cairns - The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

The Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

I desperately wanted to portray the perfect image of Cairns because it really is an idyllic location, it just didn’t turn out that way for us. By trying to make it out to be something we didn’t experience I was struggling to write about it, so I’ve come back and started again.

We love Cairns and will definitely be back and hopefully next time the weather will be amazing and I can blog a slightly different story. Until then, this is our experience of Cairns.

Cairns in Winter

When winter comes calling there’s nowhere else in Queensland you’d rather be than Cairns. It’s easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and several islands plus close proximity to so many features of far North Queensland makes it a very popular winter destination for so many Aussies.

Cairns is a major tourism town and also often a final destination for International travelers. Many will hire a camper van, or “whizz bang”, as they are commonly known, in Sydney and drive the East Coast to Cairns before flying home or on to other adventures.

Cairns in winterCairns in winter

Cairns Weather

We had 3 weeks in Cairns over 2 separate occasions in June 2016. The weather wasn’t overly kind to us unfortunately. Our first visit for a week was mostly overcast and drizzling rain. Our return just 10 days later was much the same as the first few days. So when we got our first good clear day, we decided to take flight, literally, up and over the Barrier Reef, Green Island and Michaelmas Cay.

With cool weather, rain and then run off from the rain, when the sun did come out we chose not to visit any islands off the coast. Trips to Green Island and Fitzroy Island are very popular from Cairns but instead, we chose to take flight and view them from the sky.

castnetCatching prawns off the pontoon

Cairns Fishing

The fishing was challenging. We considered taking a charter however  they told us the fishing hadn’t been great lately. Matt put in plenty of hours at the nearby boat ramp with no real success. We did however meet a gentleman who showed us how he casts a perfect cast net. We were able to implement what we learnt and caught some prawns which made our plates for dinner. Winning!!

An hours drive North, South and West can bring you to many more amazing places with lots to do and see. We certainly enjoyed Cairns and North Queensland and intend to spend many more winters in the region in the future.

Here’s our best tips of Things to See and Do during your stay in Cairns


Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Scenic Railway is an experience you have to do when you visit Cairns for the first time. It is a scenic tour by Rail and Skyrail of the mountain with Rainforest, Rivers, Gorges and so much more. We chose to take the Kuranda Rail train up the mountain and come back down by the Skyrail, however you can choose to do it the opposite way to how we did.

Kuranda Scenic Raiilway - One of the must see and do things in CairnsKuranda Scenic Railway train on the famous Stoney Creek Bridge

The train takes you on a scenic tour up or down the mountain range through tunnels, over bridges, past waterfalls and all with amazing views over gorges, valleys and back to the coastline.

It’s a trip back in time as you learn the history of Kuranda rail and the incredible challenges faced in building the rail network still in use today.

It starts at Freshwater Railway Station where you read the history of the Kuranda rail and why and how it was built. It began on 10th May 1886 and opened June 1891.

During the Gold rush years it was decided to build a rail link from Cairns to Herberton. With the many tunnels and bridges built plus the use of explosives, 32 lives were lost during the process of building the railway. Much of the work was dangerous and it was built almost entirely by hand.

The train the day we traveled had 14 carriages and we were in the 9th carriage from the front of the train. We all waited in excitement as the train made its way to the station and we were allowed to board our selected carriage. With so much history and so much feedback about the trip we waited in anticipation for the adventure. All our cameras were charged and we waited for the train driver to get us started.

adele and I boarding the train

As we left the station we traveled through rail crossings, past homes where people stood in their backyard and waved to us and began to make our way up the mountain.

barron fallsWe pass Baron Falls

Barron Falls

As the mountainside cleared and we were able to see beyond the trees, views over the Valley below became apparent. We could see back to the Northern Cairns coastline and the winding rivers out to sea. The train traveled through tunnels, over bridges and past waterfalls. We stopped at several stations before we arrived at Barron Falls Station. Here we disembarked and stood on the station platform overlooking the amazing Barron Gorge with a high fast flowing waterfall into the pools below.

bridge photoCrossing Stoney Creek Bridge

Kuranda Township

Soon we arrived at Kuranda Station. It was here we stepped onto the platform and made our way to the small town of Kuranda but not before enjoying the best ever Gourmet Pie for lunch at the Kuranda Hotel.

There are lots of shops to wander around and see in Kuranda township including a spectacular art gallery. An ice cream was also on the agenda.

Kuranda Hotel

Book your tickets to Kuranda Scenic Railway

Kuranda Skyrail

The return trip by Skyrail was very exciting for Adele and Matthew, however for me it posed challenges.

I didn’t want to do it but you just have to experience it.

Kuranda Skyrail - a must thing to see and do in CairnsI kept my mind busy taking photos

My fear of heights was at its peak while completing the return trip high above the tree tops. There were strict instructions that nobody could move and every tower that we had to go over was met with fear and anxiety. The camera made it easier to deal with but my stomach churned and I felt sick the whole way. With each stop I knew I had to do it all again but I was also another section closer to terra firma.

The trip back by Skyrail included 2 stops. Each time we could hop out and take a walk to experience the area. The first one took us back to Barron Gorge, this time from the opposite side. The second stop allowed us to walk through tropical rainforest where we saw massive Ferns and ancient trees that are hundreds of years old.

Kuranda Skyrail - Things to see and do in Cairns

Back onto the Skyrail and with each pylon the carriage goes over my heart would race, I would cringe with irrational fear and I would feel blessed at surviving another bump that was one closer to the finish.

As we neared the finish the “Frog” light went on and this was our signal to be ready for a photo.

Kuranda Skyrail Cable Car

Regardless of my fear, this was a truly fantastic experience and great value for money.

The cost for the 3 of us was $356

Book your ticket and get the best price for Skyrail

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon

The Cairns Esplanade is a beautiful foreshore redevelopment along the Cairns main beachfront.

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon at night - A must thing to see and do in Cairns

There are numerous features to the Esplanade including the Cairns Lagoon which is open until 9pm each night. Lifesavers are on duty at all times the Lagoon is open.

Numerous restaurants and cafes provide an opportunity to eat out for every taste bud and most have spectacular ocean views. Cairns markets are also at the Esplanade each Saturday or in the mall opposite every day.

You can safely walk the streets day or night and discover lots of amazing shops and things to see.

Amazing shops in Cairns - Night Markets


Getting High in Cairns

It was a last minute decision to do the Cairns Scenic flight. We were in the office at the Caravan Park booking another night and outside was blue sky so we were itching to make the most of it. I saw the brochure for a Cairns flight over the Reef and instantly knew we had to do it.

Boarding the Scenic Flight in Cairns - Things to see and do in Cairns

A quick phone call and yes, there was reservations available within 90 minutes. We were disappointed not to take a flight over the Whitsundays and this seemed perfect timing and the perfect location.

We met our pilot from Cairns Scenics and after a slight delay waiting for the other customers we were on the tarmac boarding the Cessna. The pilot seemed experienced and in control which immediately made me comfortable. I asked him if the water will be muddy from the recent rain and he told me he’d already been out that day and it looks fantastic. Now I really was excited.

Green Island Cairns - Things to see and do in CairnsGreen Island

In no time we were in the air, the city of Cairns was beneath us and we were then out over the bay.

Green Island and Arlington Reef

We quickly came to Green Island just 27kms from the shore. Any concerns of water clarity were alleviated, the tranquil waters below were simply stunning. Green island looked sensational, a small island surrounded by so much beauty.

We veered left and soon Arlington Reef came into view. Wow!!!

Arlington Reef has its own Heart Reef just like the Whitsundays. The large Coral mass is so spectacular.

Michaelmas CayMichaelmas Cay

Michaelmas Cay

We then flew to Michaelmas Cay where we could see boats moored just off the beautiful small beach located on this reef. They must have felt like they were in heaven.

Hastings Reef was also nearby and we passed several more as we began to make our way back towards the airport.

Cairns really showed off to us with this flight and Cairns Scenics were fabulous to fly with. It was certainly a great way to see the top end of the Great Barrier Reef.

Book your 40 minute Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight


Palm Cove

In the northern beaches of Cairns is Palm Cove, a beautiful beach location that operates a very busy market on Sundays.

There is also a large jetty which is a known fishing location, perfect for Matthew who was desperate to wet a line.

Jetty folk at Palm Cove

Palm Cove Markets

We dropped Matt off at the jetty and Adele and I went to discover what was on at the markets. We had to park the Motorhome a fair walking distance back up the street and walk back. The markets were busy and offered all the typical crafts and household items you come to expect. Only thing is, we don’t have a “home”. Motorhome living is pretty simple so we managed to escape with our only spending being a $5 burger each at the located Surf Club BBQ stand.

The markets are on the First Sunday of each month.

Palm Cove BeachPalm Cove Beach

Meanwhile the winds won the battle with Matt trying to fish and he joined us back at the markets. There were lots of fabulous resorts and restaurants along the beachfront which would make an idyllic holiday location.

Maybe next time……..

Palm Cove Markets


Fishing Museum

Just before Palm Cove we saw a sign saying Fishing Museum. It is part of the Bransford’s Tackle Shop and it looked so intriguing we had to have a look.

It’s a huge tackle shop with lots of interesting information, great fishing gear and articles, stories and Big Fish from fishing in Cairns.

Was fun to stop in to look around.

http://www.bransfords.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BransfordsTackleShop/

Fishing Museum


Cairns to Port Douglas Drive

Port Douglas is within an hour drive of Cairns along an incredibly amazing coastal road with spectacular scenery and stunning ocean views. It is often considered in the Top 2 most picturesque road trips in Australia along with Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Port Douglas Scenic Drive - Things to See and Do in Cairns

The narrow winding road takes you alongside beautiful beaches, amazing rock formations and over hilltops with outlooks as far as the eye can see.

We came across a beach section where travelers have stacked rocks on top of each other. We had to stop and check out what it was all about. Eventually we built our own little rock stack, I wonder if it has continued to survive.

Cairns on the Scenic Drive out of Cairns

Rex Lookout

We came to Rex Lookout, a hilltop where we discovered Hang Gliding happening overhead. We stopped and watched as they soared high over the treetops, the views must have been stunning.

Hang gliding at Rex Lookout

The Cairns to Port Douglas drive is mesmerizing. I recommend taking your time and stop often, there’s so many beautiful beaches and small coves to explore.

My other tip for this part of your trip is don’t be the driver, I found it very difficult to concentrate on the road.


Mossman

We based ourselves at Mossman, just a short trip to the town of Port Douglas and so close to the Mossman River and Mossman Gorge.

Being peak season our options to stay at Port Douglas with our dog MACKS were very limited and they were completely booked out. Mossman became our base and it proved a perfect place to enjoy the region.

Mossman GorgeMossman Gorge

Port Douglas

We had enjoyed a week at Port Douglas in 2005 when we stayed at the luxurious 6 star resort, Sheraton Mirage. Adele and the boys had enjoyed a great time at the beach and resort while I worked and attended a seminar. This time we discovered the other side of Port Douglas and Matt didn’t miss the opportunity to go fishing off the jetty. Adele and I went for a walk to the shops and enjoyed an ice cream while Matt tried to catch some fish.

It was here in Port Douglas we experienced our first reactions to our newly signed Motorhome. Just days before in Cairns we had photos and signage placed on the RV. As we sat inside we could hear people as they passed by commenting about our great photos. It was great to hear the reaction so soon after having the work done.

Port Douglas - Things to See and do in CairnsPort Douglas

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge was just a short drive away and there was no way we were missing the opportunity to explore by foot this amazing rainforest in our home state.

Mossman Gorge

We walked our way through an amazing landscape of amazing trees that were so old, so big, so beautiful.

We saw amazing rainforest, beautiful river streams and crossed the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge.

The Rex Creek Suspension Bridge was originally built in 1986. When design and construction costs got too high, the Australian Army was called in to assist. To preserve the environment all the equipment had to be carried by hand to the site. In 2009 the bridge was closed and the following year a new bridge was built, this time pre-fabricated off site and flown in by helicopter.

Crossing the Rex Creek Suspension BridgeCrossing the Rex Creek Suspension Bridge

Mossman River

A drive to the mouth of the Mossman River gave us another great insight to Salt Water crocodiles in the wild. As we watched from the pontoon we could see wild crocs sunning themselves on the river bank close by. As a small boat came down the river the big Salties quickly made their way into the river. They moved so fast and were invisible very quickly.

Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming there.

We had been trying so hard to catch our first Barramundi but the sneaky buggers had eluded us. Not sure if it was our lack of skill or the fact it was now off season. Despite all of our efforts we couldn’t catch one. So when we found out there was a Barra farm close by, where we could be almost guaranteed of a catch, we decided it was worth a try.

Barramundi Fishing

Hook a Barra is just north of Mossman and a really fun few hours of fishing. They went to so much effort to ensure we caught some fish, changing our lures, giving us tips and ultimately changing ponds where we began to hook up with lots of hungry Barramundi.

It was a great lesson in learning how to hook up one of these fantastic fighting fish and how to keep them on your hook. They used barbless hooks so keeping them on was an artform. When you catch a Barra these guys will fly out of the water, shake their heads violently and do everything possible to release themselves.

Adele Barra fishing at Hook a Barra
Matt Barra fishing

I quickly learnt the importance of keeping a tight line, any slack and these crafty sea creatures will unhook with amazing ease.

A fantastic day where all 3 of us caught some great fish.

Kevin Barra fishing

Cost was $55 per hour and if you want to keep any of your catch you can purchase it at $14 per kilo.

Website: http://www.hookabarra.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hookabarra/

Mossman Riverside Leisure Park

The Mossman Riverside Leisure Park where we stayed offered a huge Olympic sized 50m swimming pool which proved ironic as the Olympic games were also on at the time. Whilst the weather wasn’t hot I couldn’t resist the opportunity to swim and challenge myself to an Olympic record to challenge Thorpe and Hackett in their hey day.

Needless to say, I was a dismal failure!! Back to bat and ball sports for me.

Crossing the Daintree River on the Cable FerryCrossing the Daintree River on the Cable Ferry

Cape Tribulation and the Daintree

A day trip to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation was so exciting but unfortunately short. Our 8m Motorhome was just not suited to the narrow winding rough roads. There were limitations on where we could go, stop or park. We did however manage to make our way to Cape Tribulation and back with a few stops along the way.

Daintree Ice cream - Things to See and Do in CairnsDaintree Ice Creamery

One of our first stops was to the Daintree Ice creamery where they made a range of home made ice creams.

The Daintree remains rugged and mostly in its natural state. The beaches are beautiful and appeared pristine and raw in a way that appeared they were completely untouched. There were no highrises, no restaurants, no buildings, no lifesavers and no souvenir shops on every corner. It was like going back in time and it felt like you had the whole beach to yourself.

We made it to Cape Tribulation but with our 8m Motorhome we struggled for anywhere to park. It was clear we needed to come back another day with a 4wd.

Mantis

Fortunately, we got lucky and an opportunity to stop and park close to the beach became available and we hopped out to explore. We met another couple looking into the rainforest and taking photos so we took a look at what they had found. They explained it was a rare praying mantas like creature. It had an amazing ability to blend in with its surroundings to look almost invisible.

Thornton BeachThornton Beach

Thornton Beach

Once again we got lucky and found space to park. We stopped and had lunch at the CJ’s Bar and Grill café, Thornton Beach before strolling the beach once more. This was sadly the location where just weeks prior a woman was taken by a crocodile. This is not the region for swimming late at night.

We were completely captivated by the Daintree. We will be back!!

What has been your experience of Cairns?

Regards,
Kevin & Adele

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The new Go Pro 7 – https://amzn.to/2vyuP4X –  is an awesome piece of equipment. I use this for all underwater, action video and some general use. Buy here brand new and great value.

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Adventurers Diary

Ocean Rafting the Great Barrier Reef in Whitsundays

If you want a great day out in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, snorkeling, visiting Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, and going on a cruise of the spectacular pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef, then the Ocean Rafting Tour is perfect for the best day in paradise.

 

You’ll have the ride of your life!!

 

Ocean Rafting Tour - The Ride of your Life

Ocean Rafting Northern Exposure Tour

We did the Northern Exposure Tour where we had great fun snorkeling with turtles, tropical fish and exploring vibrant Coral Reefs around Hook Island.

That’s just for starters!!

 

Ride, Beach, Snorkel, Bushwalk - All in one day!

The weather wasn’t perfect on our day out, it was quite overcast but there was no way that could diminish the fun.

Ocean Rafting Snorkeling

Our Ocean Rafting tour took us to 2 special sites offering uncrowded snorkeling. Even though it was the middle of winter the water wasn’t cold. A good wetsuit definitely helps. I had my own however they are provided for everyone in the right size to suit.

 

Snorkel Whitsundays

 

It wasn’t long after leaving the Marina before we were entering the water on our first swim. This is what we liked most about this tour, the fast rafts get you everywhere quick meaning more time spent having Fun!!

 

Once you’re in the water you feel like you are in another world, hovering over the beautiful coral reef and swimming alongside large Sea Turtles. It was exciting to see some clownfish, they are quick making it hard to capture a pic.

After our awesome morning of snorkeling the next part of our day out with Ocean Rafting Tours was to step straight off the boat onto the beautiful soft 98% pure silica white sand onto Whitehaven Beach.

 

Hill Inlet

Fun at Hill Inlet

Whitehaven Beach

They are the only tour company with a special permit to access the beach inside the iconic Hill Inlet Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. This is the largest of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday Island Group.

 

For the next hour or more we swam in the crystal clear water and walked along the pristine beach. Then it was time for some lunch and the assortment of food was fantastic. There was a lot of variety and food suitable for all diets.

 

Read all about Reef Sleep where we slept in a swag on a Pontoon at Hardy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef.

 

 

Lunch on board the Ocean Rafting Tour

 

We had plenty of time for lunch and chilling on the beach before the grand finale of our Ocean Rafting Northern Exposure tour. We took a guided walk up to the lookout to take in the spectacular Hill Inlet from above.

 

Hill Inlet Lookout

Hill Inlet Lookout provides the most breathtaking views over the river and is Australia’s 3rd most photographed location after the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

Hill Inlet Lookout

Ocean Rafting Tour pull into the beach at Hill Inlet

 

You could stand there for hours and watch the swirling patterns and colours change with the tide. The degree of freshwater with saltwater and ever changing tides creates a remarkable swirling effect with the sand.

 

The tours are usually organized in order to ensure you have the best views of Hill Inlet.

 

It is such an awesome sight to look down on the Inlet from the lookout above. It is a magnificent view we were more than happy to absorb.

 

Whitsunday Islands National Park

 

Whitsunday Islands National Park at Tongue Point was where we met the boat again.

 

There were lots of fast and furious riding of each other’s wake on the way back and some spins to finish the trip.

 

Thanks Paul and Dan for being great hosts on our Northern Exposure Tour. The Ocean Rafting tour from Airlie Beach is the best way to do it and is so much fun. They also took us to the best snorkeling we have done in the Whitsundays in recent years.

Read more information and Book your Tour here

 

With our guides from our Ocean Rafting Tour

 

The Great Barrier Reef is certainly one of the greatest wonders of the world!

 

Where to stay in the Whitsundays?

 

There are some great places to stay at Airlie Beach all within easy walking distance to restaurants, bars, shops and the beautiful Airlie Beach Lagoon.

Book your Hotel stay in the Whitsundays here>

 

For Caravan Park Accommodation:

Seabreeze Tourist Park Airlie Beach 
(our first ever video review)

Base Backpackers Airlie Beach

 

Enjoy reading more about Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays region here.

https://pin.it/52ggvyqo55wxkr

Mackay to Whitsundays so much to see and do

https://pin.it/sz6oigtwdyj6vr

 

Our Story

We are Kevin & Adele, originally from Brisbane in Queensland Australia.

Adele has visited 24 countries and since Feb 2016 we have been driving around Australia exploring all there is to see. Our passion is to assist you to plan your adventures.

 

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Adventurers Diary

What it REALLY costs to Travel Australia – everything you need to budget for!!

The REAL costs to Travel Australia over 24 months

We read so many Budgets online and on travel pages but we believe ours is the most accurate and fully detailed report.  It provides all of what you need to be prepared for and to know what it really costs to travel Australia. There’s more costs than just Caravan Parks, Campgrounds, Fuel and Food. You need to Budget for all the potential costs or at least be prepared for what might happen.

We detail everything that it costs to travel Australia for us over 24 months, nothing is missed. There’s also no guesses, we keep receipts for every cent we spend and record them into a spreadsheet. We rarely pay cash for anything so it’s all able to be checked against our statements. We know exactly what it costs us to the cent.

 

Ayers Rock at Sunset on Full Moon

 

About us

We were 3 adults as our son who had just turned 23 traveled with us and we paid for almost all of his costs. After 2 years, once we got back home to Brisbane, Matt moved in to his brother’s place and from now it’s just Adele and myself however for the duration of these Expenses, Matt was with us. We drive an 8m Winnebago Motorhome RV with no tow car and therefore it was our only vehicle.

 

Fishing on Fraser Island at Sunrise

 

Kevin has run his own businesses now for 30 years and Adele did the bookkeeping for many of those years so keeping accounts and accurately recording the information is just part of our everyday life.

The difference between what we spent in the second year in comparison to the first is significant. You may be smarter and more experienced in the beginning than us and be able to keep your costs down a lot better than we did.

We are not mechanical in any way so maintaining your vehicle yourself will also save a lot on the costs we incurred to maintain ours over the 2 years.

We aren’t saying what we spent is what it will cost you, but by reviewing our Expenses you can more accurately determine how much you might need to budget for to do the Big Lap with less likelihood of running out of funds half way into your trip.

 

Aerial view of Haycock Point in Ben Boyd National Park

 

Our Trip

We spent 2 years traveling around Australia and still live in our Motorhome.

The first thing we learnt is everyone’s experience is different, no two people’s trips are the same and everyone has their own budgets and travel plans.

For us, we started out with a 2.5 year plan before going back home. We wanted to see as much as absolutely possible as we expected we wouldn’t be back.

But something happened along the way, we fell in love with the Lifestyle!!

Our Blog Indefinite Leave also grew so fast, we weren’t expecting that, and we wanted to show our followers as much of Australia as we could to inspire them to hit the road and chase their dreams. We tried to see as much as we could and present that so others could follow.

 

Stunning Hyams Beach

The cost to Travel Australia doesn't matter - we just love it!

 

Lessons we learnt

When we left Brisbane on Feb 1, 2016 we were complete and total rookies. Basically we had no idea what we were doing and just learnt along the way.

We learnt about our costs and how to manage our expenses and were able to stop staying in Caravan Parks and almost entirely Free Camp. We began catching a lot of our own food, Fish, Prawns and Squid were often filling our freezer. Eating out stopped and Pub stays, while they might be Free or low cost, you end up having a meal and some drinks and before you know it the Free Pub stay just cost $100 or more for a night. We rarely stay at Pubs or if we do, we prefer ones where we pay a small fee and there’s no expectation of having to eat or drink there.

We searched for the best value Fuel and looked to conserve fuel by reducing weight. Rather than before we left, we didn’t fill up our water tanks until we got to our destiny therefore reducing weight and better fuel economy. We continually sent back to home anything we weren’t using, clothes, tools, kitchen utensils and anything that we realised we wouldn’t need or use. If we hadn’t used it in 3-6 months the likelihood was we wouldn’t need it again.

 

Cost to Travel Australia - On Top of Australia at Mount Kosciuszko

Our Highest Costs to travel Australia

We found the Top end of Australia was the most expensive to travel for a couple of reasons.

  1. The heat had us staying in caravan parks so we could plug in to electricity for our air con.
  2. There were so many more major attractions with tours to experience. From sailing the islands off 1770, Yeppoon and Whitsundays, scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns and visiting the islands, staying at and seeing Lake Argyle, the incredible trip to Horizontal Falls from Broome and we didn’t even do places like Bungle Bungles which were on fire at the time we went past. We also spent a lot in Winton and especially Longreach, there’s so much to do there. For us, the south of Australia was easier to control the budget. Cool nights made Free camping easy and there was so much more choice for Free camping in the South. The sights to see weren’t nearly as hard on the budget except the cost to Tasmania and Kangaroo Island.

The more experienced we became the more we were able to reduce our costs. There are tours all over the country for Lighthouses and old Gaols to visit but once you’ve seen a few it’s hard to get excited about seeing another one. We didn’t visit any Zoo’s as we always planned to do Dubbo Zoo which we finally did near the end of the 2 year adventure. The budget frees up a bit as you go in this regard.

 

Costs to travel Australia - Sunset at Haycock Point in Ben Boyd National Park was Free

 

A couple of quick tips for traveling Oz

1.  Don’t have a washing machine

Two of the greatest issues you will face traveling Oz is space and weight and the washing machine effects both. It will use so much water and they are so small you need to do so many loads. I recently asked a Mum parked next to us as we discussed her washing machine in the caravan and they were a traveling family of parents and 3 children, How often do you wash? I was already expecting the answer and wasn’t surprised when she said, Every day!!

For us, we would prefer less washes in bigger machines and if we were doing road tripping Oz when our kids were younger that decision would be even more so.
The cost for us the whole trip to wash our clothes in Laundries and Caravan Parks turned out to be just $726 over 2 years. $360 a year ($1 a day) is a ridiculously small amount of our total overall budget and we don’t have all the issues of carting a washing machine around with us. I know many others love their washing machine, fair enough, but we don’t expect we would ever travel with one ourselves.

2.  Pets

It’s so hard to leave your pets behind, we couldn’t do it either, MACKS had to come with us. If it were for just 3-6 months we probably would have left her at home but for 12 months or more that’s a tougher decision.
Traveling Australia though is so much easier, cheaper and less restrictive without animals.
If you’re goal is to really explore the country and you have a good option where they could stay, then maybe best to leave them behind. If you know you are planning to go traveling and thinking of getting a dog, our advice would be wait until your trip is over and get your puppy then.

There’s no right or wrong decision here, just the right one for you.

 

Vet & Dog Sitting costs are one of the costs to travel Australia with a pet

 

If your plan is to travel long term then there are plenty of options to travel with your best friend and see everything there is to see. Here’s how we did it

3. Phone coverage

Telstra has the best coverage by far. If you rely on phone reception choose Telstra or possibly Boost. Optus and Vodafone are not going to be suitable if phone coverage is important for you. Our videos of everywhere we have stayed let you know what phone coverage was available.

4. Wifi

Matt managed to find lots of Free Wifi all around the country. Maccas, Cafes, Bunnings, Info centres and more.

When Caravan Parks say they have Free Wifi, it’s a miracle if it’s anything useful. Usually it’s terribly slow, very limited in the amount you can use and that’s assuming it actually works. Don’t rely on Caravan park Wifi, many of them should be ashamed of their claims of having Free Wifi.

 

Ok, let’s look at all our costs of traveling Australia over 24 months

 

What it really costs to travel Australia - Includes visits to Kimberley Rum Factory in Swan Valley

 

Groceries 🍞🍉🥪🧀

$21,999.65
That’s $916.65 per month or $211.54 per week
The last 3 months without Matt it is $1539.68 per month or $118.45 per week.

This suggests it costs $60pw each for Adele and I.

 

Takeaways 🍟🍕🌭

$3,561.61

We didn’t tend to do a lot of takeaway, we preferred to create our own meals. We would rather spend our budget on places to see.

This equates to an overall cost of $34pw for takeaway.

 

Dining Out 🍽️🍸

$6,391.69
Last 6 months $162

Like Takeaway, we didn’t dine out very often. In the last 6 months our weekly budget for Dining out was just $6.23pw.

Overall our total Dining Out expense was $61.46pw

 

Accommodation 🚎🎪♨️

$13,453.63
$18.98 Average per night

$6880.70 First 6 months
$4572.83 Second 6 months
$1310.10 Third 6 months
$690 Last 6 months. This equates to $3.79 per night 🤣🤑😴

This involved almost exclusively Free camping and staying with friends and relatives where we traveled.

As you can see, there’s considerable savings to be had on our budget by way of reduced costs in Accommodation. We could no doubt reduce our first 12 months by $3000 – $5000 now if we did it again but our budget will always be higher in the north than it is in the south.

 

Fuel is just one of the costs to travel Australia

 

Our Website and YouTube channel has 230+ videos of every Free Camp, Campground, Caravan Park, Pub Stay, Station Stay and RV Parks we stayed in across Australia.

 

Fuel

$13,163.72   58570.3
Most expensive was Kings Creek Station at Kings Canyon @ 199.9c
Uluru was 190.9c and Barkleys Homestead 179.9c
We have found United Fuel to be consistently the cheapest and almost always use them. Metro in some areas is great also.
We use the Fuel Map app to find the cheapest fuel.

Our fuel costs were probably higher than for someone towing a caravan as we always had to drive the Motorhome as opposed to being able to explore and run around town in a Car.

Our fuel costs over 2 years averages out to $126.57pw. We did approx. 55,000 kms during those 2 years.

 

Winnebago

Costs related to the Motorhome part of our vehicle was:
$5,226.39

Some of the big costs were:
$699 for a new Waeco 40L fridge that we keep in the Motorhome for our drinks
$680 for 2 new house batteries

 

Iveco

This is the Costs related to the mechanical part of the Motorhome.
$6,594.44

This includes
3 Services
8 new tyres
1 new windscreen and 1 repair
1 Radiator

Our biggest unexpected Bill shock was $2,882.80 for new Radiator, Coolant Hose and Windscreen in Perth

 

Entertainment 🏊‍♂️🎣⛰️🏝️🚁🚡

$18,429.31

We wanted to see as much of Australia as we could, have lots of fun and experience adventures so we did do quite a few tours.

First 6 months

$8,258.40 – Brisbane to Cooktown to Katherine. Included 3 fishing charters, Hummer 4wd on Fraser Island, 1770, Lady Musgrave Island, Keppel Island, Whitsundays and Cairns Scenic Flights, Kuranda Railway & Skyway and Katherine Gorge were just some of the adventures.

Sleeping in a Swag on the Great Barrier reef
13 Must do in Airlie Beach and Whitsundays
Best Things to See in Cairns

Second 6 months

$5,733.90 – Darwin to WA to Tasmania. Included Horizontal Falls, Swimming with Humpback Whales, Broome Fishing Charter, Rottnest Island
Best of Broome
Things to See and do in Darwin

Third 6 months

$2,113 – Tasmania to Great Ocean Road to Uluru to Darwin to Mt Isa. This also Includes Tasman Island Cruise and Bruny Island Cruise plus Gordon River Cruise
The Very Best Things to See and Do in Tasmania
https://youtu.be/sWDhpoK7U3A

Fourth 6 months

$2324 – Karumba to Cairns to Longreach to Murray River to Gold Coast. Incl Fishing Charter, Cobbold Gorge, Qantas Museum, Stockmans Hall of Fame, Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience and Thompson River Cruise.

Our Highest Entertainment Costs

Our biggest adventure costs were:

$1,707 for Adele and I to go to Horizontal Falls.

$1,366 for the three of us to do Reefsleep in the Whitsundays

 

Your costs for these tours and adventures is going to be dependent upon your budget and what your plans are that you want to experience. For us these were incredible experiences that we will never forget, but they do cost money and often don’t come cheap.

 

This is our second largest expense of our adventure after food.

 

Readers who enjoyed this also read:

Our Best Free Camps

The Best Campgrounds we stayed

Our Favourite Experiences around Australia

Cost to go to Kangaroo Island

Day Trip to Fitzroy Island in Cairns

FishCosts to travel Australia included Fishing Charters in our Entertainment Expenses

Horizontal Falls was the highest tour cost while traveling Australia

 

Gas

$897
Such a small part of the budget.
We have 2 x 4kg bottles.

We find BCF works best for us, they are in most places and the cost is consistent at mostly $13.99 for our 4kg bottles.
Otherwise we check the website at https://gasbottlerefills.com/ for the cheapest local retailer.

 

Alcohol 🍾🍷🥃🍻🍸

$4,926.90

It is what it is, we do enjoy Happy Hour but aren’t big drinkers. We drink often but not a lot.
When I see Bundy Rum on special I tend to buy a few bottles and I buy Cider by the carton. Adele is happy drinking the $5 bottles of wine.

Cost is $47.37pw

 

MACKS, our dog  

$3,373.04 in vet and medications etc

Sadly we had to let her go 14th June 2017 so no costs since then.
She did make it for 16 months of our trip.

 

Dog Sitting

$959

We used Dog Sitters wherever possible to allow us to visit National Parks and do tours wherever we wanted to go.

Read about travelling Australia with a dog
Read my tribute to MACKS

 

Gorge Tours were part of our Entertainment Cost to Travel Australia

 

Adele’s Nails

$959

Some things a girl just has to do lol

 

Clothes

$2,488.41

We bought some new clothes along the way as we needed. We took very little winter gear with us as we spent the first 12 months in hot conditions but Tasmania quickly meant some winter shopping was required.

$23.93pw was spent on clothing

 

Fishing

New rods, tackle, bait and gear
$1,452.90

$13.97 pw was spent of fishing.

 

Laundry

$726
This is such a small cost. We started with a washing machine, never used it, found it way too small to wash our clothes yet takes space and becomes a weight issue. Also commits you to staying at places that cost money to access so much water. We use Laundries and find it easy to do.

Our laundry costs were $6.98pw

 

National Parks

$250
Such a minuscule cost. Don’t worry about the cost for Kakadu, just do it, it’s amazing and a very small amount when looking at your total expenses to travel.

 

Medical

$1,401.05

It’s inevitable that you will need some medical supplies along the way. There was also a Dentist visit for a toothache. This includes Adele’s regular prescription medication.

$13.47pw is our cost for medical attention along the way over the 2 years.

 

Miscellaneous

$2,909.52

This is the lots of little things you buy along the way. On their own they don’t cost much but then they all add up. Batteries, presents, sunscreen, insect sprays, a new camp chair, bits of hardware and the list goes on.

This is an expense of $27.98pw

 

Adele under the Adels Grove Sign

 

Hair & Beauty

$370.90

Adele looks after her own hair so no extravagant costs there and Kevin has no hair, definitely no contribution from him!!

 

Our Total Costs to travel Australia

Total amount = $109,534.16

Total average per week = $1,053.21

 

How to reduce your costs to travel Australia

In summary, could you do it cheaper, Absolutely!! Your costs to travel Australia could be much lower!

 

As mentioned, we could probably shave $3000-5000 off our first 12 months accommodation if we did it now.

With more mechanical and handyman skills than I have you could save a lot of what I spent on servicing and repairs.

You could choose not to do the tours and fishing charters but most of them were our greatest highlights of the adventure so far. So many memories.

If you don’t have a dog you would save almost $4500 on our costs.

You may save a little on us in fuel if you are towing a caravan or camper trailer as you would have your vehicle to drive around in. If you’re in a Campervan (Whizzbang) you’d likely save a lot more than us in fuel.

 

There it is, our complete guide on what expenses are involved. We hope this helps you in your research and planning of your trip.

Safe travels and please say Hello if you see us on the road.

Our Story

We are Kevin & Adele, originally from Brisbane in Queensland Australia.

Adele has visited 24 countries and since Feb 2016 we have been driving around Australia exploring all there is to see. Our passion is to assist you to plan your adventures.

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Photography

Our camera equipment we use for all our photos and videos are:

Canon 800d – https://amzn.to/2vGuQUt – the latest DSLR Canon 24mp camera, buy here to save.
Canon 50mm lens – https://amzn.to/2Llh4BD. This is the lens I use the least, ideal for still, close up shots.
Canon 24-105mm lens – https://amzn.to/2vAtF9b. This is my all round, every day use, zoom lens. Amazing quality, great price.
Canon 70-300mm lens – https://amzn.to/2vAuxKZ. I use this one a lot for long range shots.
Sigma 10-20mm lens – https://amzn.to/2JcLDqn. My wide angle lens for all my inside photos & video plus lots more, love this lens.

The new Go Pro 7 – https://amzn.to/2vyuP4X –  is an awesome piece of equipment. I use this for all underwater, action video and some general use. Buy here brand new and great value.
Mavic Pro Platinum Drone – https://amzn.to/2URtUXG. This is an absolute ripper of a drone. The Fly More Combo will provide you with everything you will need. I use this for all my aerial footage and this price is well below other retail stores. _______________________________________________________________________

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Adventurers Diary

A Day Trip to Fitzroy Island in Cairns

While staying in the beautiful North Queensland city of Cairns, Fitzroy Island is the idyllic Tropical Island paradise for a Day Trip.  We were celebrating our anniversary, the August weather was perfect and it’s just a short boat ride and a great day trip from Cairns Harbour. Perfect!!

Fitzroy Island – A perfect Day Trip from Cairns

The idea of a fun day snorkeling and swimming on the Great Barrier Reef while enjoying cocktails and a great lunch at Foxy’s Bar was exactly what we were looking for. Adele had a Mango Weiss Bar cocktail while I enjoyed an Expresso Martini. Our friend Denise enjoyed an Echo Gecko!

Green Island Vs Fitzroy Island

We tossed up between Green Island vs Fitzroy Island and finally decided Fitzroy offered more for us and we are so glad we did. The island is a registered National Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is metres from the beach providing an amazing snorkeling opportunity.

 

Indefinite Leave on Fitzroy Island

Indefinite Leave on Fitzroy Island for the day

Fitzroy Island Ferry

We booked and paid for our full day trip to Fitzroy Island plus our friends joined us for the fun day of vitamin D and Sea. The full day trip starts with a 45 minute ride on the Fitzroy Island Ferry which allows you around 5 hours of free time to enjoy your day on Fitzroy Island before the return trip to Cairns.

Fitzroy Island Glass Bottom Boat

Our friends also chose the Glass Bottom Boat as part of their day trip package but we had just done a Scenic Flight tour so were keen to go snorkeling for the day. It turned out we were glad they did as they provided us some great snorkeling information.

 

A day Trip to Fizroy Island

Leaving behind Cairns and our wake

Foxy’s Bar and Nudey Beach

Once you arrive on the jetty you have the choice to go left or right. We went right and given it was our anniversary we started out with a celebratory Cocktail at Foxy’s Bar. What better way is there to start a great day right?

Next we made our way along the walking path through the rainforest looking for Nudey Beach. Despite its name Nudey Beach is not clothing optional but it is voted as one of Australia’s most spectacular beaches. Our first look at the beach was a massive wow moment.

 

Cocktails on our Day Trip to Fitzroy Island

Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island

Cocktails first then it was on to Nudey Beach

Fitzroy Island Snorkeling

It didn’t take me long to begin snorkeling and enjoying the clear turquoise waters of this pristine location. The others simply relaxed on the beach and enjoyed the tranquility.

 

Adele relaxing on Nudey Beach

Adele relaxing on Nudey Beach

Once we finished swimming we both took a walk along the beach. We were in awe of this spectacular beach with the stunning views.

Fitzroy Island Turtles

Remember I mentioned our friends gave us some great snorkeling information. They had spotted Green Sea Turtles close to shore so we had lunch and ventured up for a look. We walked back past the Jetty to the other side and to the end of the beach where we jumped straight in for another snorkel and it didn’t take long to see what they had in the Glass Bottom Boat.

 

Turtle spotting

Turtle spotting on Fitzroy Island

There were numerous big Turtles in the water just metres from the beach. It was a thrill to encounter them and enjoy time watching them feeding and swimming in the shallow waters.

Fitzroy Island is also home to the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre which officially opened in early 2013 and this world-class facility has raised the success rate for the rehabilitation of the turtles from 30% – 80%. Educational Tours are held on Fitzroy Island every day at 1pm except Fridays when the Vet visits.

 

 

As the day began to fade we spent time on the beach, playing on the swing under the trees, walking across the rock ledge and absorbing an amazing time on another gorgeous Queensland day.

 

Swinging for our Anniversary

 

How long does it take to get there?

The Ferry trip over was 45 minutes, cruising out of the Cairns Marina, along the Cairns coastline and past various beaches and boats to Fitzroy Island. We had great weather, smooth ride over and a mostly calm ride back in the afternoon.

 

Plenty of place to relax

Tropical Island Paradise

Plenty of places to relax on Fitzroy Island

What is there to do on Fitzroy Island?

  • Take the walking tracks for a hike across the island
  • You can hire a canoe or kayak or have a try at Stand Up Paddle boarding
  • Go snorkeling and swimming on the many beaches
  • Play on the ocean trampoline out in the middle of the water
  • Swim with the turtles just metres from the beach
  • Enjoy nature within the National Park
  • Sunbake on the beach or just relax on your towel
  • As an optional extra ride in the Glass Bottom Boat
  • Visit the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre – Educational tours daily at 1pm (except Friday)

We can also recommend Foxy’s Bar for some drinks and food to eat.

 

Our friends brought their 4yo daughter who had a fantastic time, so it’s a great day for children too.

 

Beautiful turquoise waters on Fitzroy Island

Beautiful turquoise waters on Fitzroy Island

How much does it cost and where can I book?

For the cost to do our day trip to Fitzroy Island simply follow this link and book your day on the Ferry to the island plus all the adventures you would like to enjoy. We found the Ferry times gave us more time on the island which suited us.

 

Some of the activities on the island are an extra cost such as hiring the Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayaks and Canoes. We were there in mid winter and therefore didn’t need my wetsuit but for most of the year it is very advisable to wear one. You can hire them there along with snorkeling gear if you don’t have your own.

 

Kev & Adele on the boat after the awesome Day Trip to Fitzroy Island

How to get there?

Cairns is in Far North Queensland and is approximately 1680 kms from Brisbane.

Flights are available from most of the major airlines and it is about a 2 and a half hour flight from Queensland’s capital city.

 

Where to stay in Cairns?

There are some great places to stay along the Cairns waterfront within easy walking distance to restaurants, bars, markets, shops and the fabulous Cairns Esplanade Lagoon.

Book your Hotel stay here

 

Cairns Caravan Park Accommodation

When looking for Caravan Park accommodation, we have stayed at a number of parks in Cairns during each of our stays. Simply click on the link to check out our video review on each.

Cool Waters Holiday Park

First City Caravilla Caravan Park

Lake Placid Tourist Park

Cairns Holiday Park

Plus the Babinda Rotary Park Rest Area  just near Cairns is a great free camp!

 

Things to See and Do in Cairns

There are so many things to see and do in Cairns. We can highly recommend these tours and attractions in and around Cairns but these are just three of the many tour options available:

So if you are looking for more information on Cairns and if you are doing the drive from Townsville to Cairns, you may enjoy reading these blogs:

Things to See and Do in Cairns.

Driving from Townsville to Cairns

 

 

We are Kevin & Adele, originally from Brisbane in Queensland Australia.

Adele has visited 24 countries and since Feb 2016 we have been driving around Australia exploring all there is to see. Our passion is to assist you to plan your adventures.

You can find us on YouTube and follow us Facebook.

 

_____________________________________________________________

Photography and Socials

Our camera equipment we use for all our photos and videos are:

Canon 800d – https://amzn.to/2vGuQUt – the latest DSLR Canon 24mp camera, buy here to save.
Canon 50mm lens – https://amzn.to/2Llh4BD. This is the lens I use the least, ideal for still, close up shots.
Canon 24-105mm lens – https://amzn.to/2vAtF9b. This is my all round, every day use, zoom lens. Amazing quality, great price.
Canon 70-300mm lens – https://amzn.to/2vAuxKZ. I use this one a lot for long range shots.
Sigma 10-20mm lens – https://amzn.to/2JcLDqn. My wide angle lens for all my inside photos & video plus lots more, love this lens.

The new Go Pro 7 – https://amzn.to/2vyuP4X –  is an awesome piece of equipment. I use this for all underwater, action video and some general use. Buy here brand new and great value.
Mavic Pro Platinum Drone – https://amzn.to/2URtUXG. This is an absolute ripper of a drone. The Fly More Combo will provide you with everything you will need. I use this for all my aerial footage and this price is well below other retail stores. ________________________________________________________________

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