They always say that you should be careful when picking your travel buddies for a little vacation, purely because if you go with someone who has really different ideas about what a holiday means, you could end up having the worst time of your life.
To that, I say hooey. Have you ever heard of doing things on your own? If you want to do something, and your mates want to do something else, just separate for a few hours. There’s no legally binding contract that says you have to be up each other’s bumholes the entire trip.
So, whether you’re a leisurely traveller who wants to do the bare minimum on a trip, or if you want to cram in as many activities as you can (or somewhere in the middle), we’ve got ya trip sorted.
How many people can say they’ve ventured to the very tippy-top of Australia? Cape York is the perfect feat for braggadocious travellers of the world because you get instant bragging rights and all you have to do is get there.
On your way to the top, however, I strongly suggest looking into some Indigenous-owned tours like Jarramali, where you’ll be guided through areas you wouldn’t otherwise discover if you did it on your own, and you’ll be educated about Indigenous stories told from an Indigenous perspective.
Head here for more info.
There’s inevitably going to be some swimming involved over at the ol’ Frankland Island, but honestly, if that’s over your laziness threshold then I don’t understand how you even managed to get on the plane.
Frankland Island is home to crystal clear waters and curious marine life, so if you’ve watched My Octopus Teacher and have a sudden urge to befriend anything that breathes liquid, Frankland Island is the perfect place to do that.
Just for something different, the first 30 minutes of your trip out is down a river system where you might even spot crocs sunbaking in the wild. No amount of Crocodile Dundee viewing can ever prepare you for the sheer size of them up close and personal.
We’ve unpacked the Undara Experience at length over here because the fact that there’s a giant cave made out of literal lava in Australia astounds this tiny mind of mine.
It’s huge. It’s made of lava. The lava isn’t hot. You can walk through the lava cave. You can learn about the art hidden in the lava cave. You can stay in an old train that’s been converted into a divine hotel room. It has it all, you guys.
While Cobbold Gorge does offer some more ~extreme~ activities like standing on a paddleboard, it’s still the perfect location to kick back and go at your own slow pace.
Stay a few nights at a wide variety of cabins or camping sites at Cobbold Village so you have ample time to sit back on a boat while a tour guide steers you through the gorge-ous (I hate myself more than you do) rivers, and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, it’s also home to Australia’s first-ever glass bridge, which is perched 19 metres above the freshest spring water you ever laid your eyeballs on.
The Human Equivalent Of Red Bull
Alright you adrenaline junkies, these next batch of vacation plans are for you.
Let’s kick things into high gear with Skypark Cairns. Tucked away in the World Heritage Rainforest, Skypark is the proud home to Australia’s only bungy jumping tower. Seriously, if you want to go bungy jumping in Australia you can only do it in Cairns. I find that shocking, but then I suppose I’ve never seen anyone flying through the sky with some rope attached to their ankle in Melbourne, so it adds up.
If bungy jumping is a tad too extreme for you, you can also opt for a ginormous swing, or you can chill out on the sidelines and watch other people take the leap of faith.
Have you ever considered floating through a rainforest on an inflatable doughnut? Now you have. Cairns Adventure Group offers a tonne of activities surrounded by a tonne of hella-old trees, so I hope you remember everything you learnt from white river rafting in Year 8 camp because you’re gonna need those skills.
Care to go for a jaunty zipline through Cairns? Yeah you do, who doesn’t? Nothing distracts you from your crushing day-to-day life than dangling in the air in the middle of a rainforest, trust me.
On top of ziplining, Cairns Canyoning also offers river boarding, abseiling, ‘uge rock jumping and the casual swim, so if you’ve just pooped your pants from launching yourself from a rock, you can sit in the water and contemplate your life decisions.
Hover over the picturesque Daintree and incredible coastline before landing for a four-hour guided fishing adventure to try your luck at catching a fish and squealing when you have to touch its scales.
Don’t lie, you find fish gross unless they’re cooked and in your gob.
You’ll never get a better view of Queensland than you will buckled up in a helicopter, so definitely put this on your ‘things to do before I go to hell’ list.
I can personally confirm that diving among sharks at night is the most exhilarating and slightly petrifying experience you’ll ever have – you’re in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef in pitch black, and the only light source comes from a torch on your wrist.
Do it. Book it now.
The Cool-With-Whatever Traveller
Yes, hello to the vacationers who don’t mind going with the flow, I see you.
If you’re happy to do a bit of a mix of leisurely and ludicrous activities, there are a few suggestions that might tickle your pickle. One of these pickle-ticklers is mountain biking because it’s 11 times better than riding down to the shops, it’s active which means you won’t feel guilty about sinking some tins later in the day, and you’ll get to see parts of nature inaccessible to those travelling on foot.
Cairns hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships twice, so if you’re looking for some primo tracks that you won’t find in your suburb, I strongly recommend booking some flights.
There is simply too much to list when talking about the Ocean Safari tours, but if you ever wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef, this half-day tour is a must.
Because I’m having a bit of a turtle moment (they’re so bloody cute), I will point out that the safari includes swimming with turtles – and by turtles I mean a lot of turtles – a trip to the Turtle Rock Cafe as well as a beyond-stunning sand cay.
Every time I mosey on down to the beach and spot someone kitesurfing, I sit there staring at them for a minimum of three hours wondering how they’re not drowning and/or how they’re still standing. It looks so damn physically draining.
If you want to impress me and learn how to kitesurf, Windswell is where to do it. I mean, you were bound to venture up to Port Douglas anyway, you may as well earn my respect while you’re up there.
The sole mention of hot air balloons alone is enough to convince me that I need to drop everything and book tickets immediately.
I’m just glad they stuck around after the invention of planes because they’re so much prettier.
My only advice to anyone hopping on a hot air balloon is this: do not make a risky proposal on a hot air balloon. If they reject you, you’re literally stuck in a basket with them for the next few hours with nowhere to escape.Image: Instagram / @skyparkcairns