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Reef and the Rainforest

From beaches and the luminous green of rainforests to the clear blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, North Queensland is an unforgettable travel experience, writes Vijaya Pratap

Published: 17th July 2015 03:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2015 03:58 AM   |  A+A-

I wanted to experience a real Australian tropical adventure, so I headed to North Queensland. Situated on the East Coast of Australia, Queensland is a tropical paradise with something for every nomad. Picture Queensland – a tropical breeze, while sipping a peach Bellini (a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach purée or nectar) on a white silica beach surrounded by turquoise water as far as the eye can see. Picture a tropical Rain Forest, the air thick with heat, sweet floral aromas and exotic wildlife. Picture sitting around a campfire looking out, to the secluded red desert illuminated by evening stars. From night life hit spots to grand beaches to heritage, listed rain forest and even the vast deserts, Queensland has it all and I experienced all of it.

I stopped off at Cairns, the gateway to the tropical islands off the coast. A scenic 30-minute drive northwest of Cairns is Kuranda, aboriginal for “village in the rainforest”. Visitors may get to Kuranda via scenic railway, skyrail rainforest cableway or the Kuranda range road – I tried all the three. The village has attracted many and varied artists to the area, and their unique art and crafts are found at the heritage markets and village shops. I ended up buying some lovely tribal art pieces. Other attractions of the area are, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Bird World and Kuranda Natural Park.

Skyrail rainforest cableway was a truly unique rainforest experience, carrying passengers in comfortable six persons gondolas through pristine world heritage listed tropical rainforest. Gondolas glide just metres above the canopy providing uninterrupted views of the rainforest.  The rail makes two stops at Red Peak and Barron Fall Station. At Red Peak Station, qualified rangers provide guided board walk tours. Easy access walkways at Barron Falls Station take you to three separate look outs providing breath-taking views of Barron Gorge and Barron Falls.    

The skyrail’s glass floor “Diamond View Gondolas” besides providing panoramic views of the tropical lReef the.JPGandscape, Coral Sea and rainforest canopy, also gave the unique perspective of looking straight down from the tree tops to the forest floor below.  It is the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on earth and home to largest number of plants and animal species in the country with cool, lush greenery, trickling streams and mysterious wildlife.

Fact File

  • SilkAir has direct flights from Singapore to Cairns -weekly thrice. From Hyderabad to Singapore- weekly 9 flights
  • Visa: www. Australia.com, but it is better to go through a travel agent: asconhyd@yahoo.co.uk
  • Currency: Australian dollar is equal to around `50
  • Where to stay:  Shangria- La Cairns- 4 Star, Pacific Hotel Cairns- 3 Star
  • What to eat:  Sea food is the best bet. For people with adventurous taste: Kangaroo and Crocodile delicacies (!!)
  • What to buy: Aboriginal art, boomerangs and opal jewellery for the collectors
  • For reservations of tours: www.skyrail.com.au / www.greatadventures.com.au

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef blessed with breathtaking beauty is one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. Snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins are some activities a visitor can enjoy. I snorkelled in the Pacific and later took a helicopter ride to see the reefs from the sky. Inside the semi-submersible I sat in comfort and saw the underwater life, went over all the reefs, almost touched them (though thick glass was a barrier), and  looked at all those wonders from close quarters.

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