Exploring Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

May 06 2015 Written by:Kirstine Dawson

Kirstine Dawson and Pedro O’Connor have recently returned from a travel workshop in Cairns.

I was lucky enough to extend and visit the Great Barrier Reef, listed as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It is a destination that has been on my bucketlist since I was a child, so I jumped at the opportunity to explore.

The most common exit to the Reef is from Port Douglas.

It takes just 2 hours onboard Quicksilver’s catamaran to reach their very own private pontoon, which is located on the outer reef at the very edge of Australia’s Continental Shelf.

Guests have the option to dive, snorkel, or stay dry and explore the stunning reef from the comfort of a Quicksilver semi-sub, a boat with a sub that is located 1 metre underwater.

After a day of viewing the reef, an ideal way to go back to shore is by helicopter; it’s a great way to see the reef from above.

A hidden gem in the bush is Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Located just 25 KM (16 miles) from Port Douglas is an award-winning ecotourism accredited attraction that covers 10 hectares in a World Heritage location. It is one of the best places to get up close and personal with the Australian wildlife…

During our trip we stayed at Thala Beach, a truly authentic Australian tropical bush retreat, located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas. The property’s accommodations are scattered throughout the bush overlooking the coastline. Falling asleep listening to the ocean is magical and the restaurant which is set amongst the trees is a perfect spot to view rainbow lorikeets feeding in the tree canopy.

Morning tea at the Botanical Ark Retreat was a treat, not one for the general public unless of course they stay there, but due to Pedro’s connections we managed a sneak peek into one of the area’s hidden treasures…

Established in 2003, The Botanical Ark Retreat offers exclusive Daintree accommodation in a peaceful family villa, with its own private beach, set within the globally unique rainforest conservation garden of The Botanical Ark.

This secluded property borders the Daintree National Park yet is within 35-minutes of the Daintree River and Port Douglas, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Botanical Ark is one of the world’s greatest collections of tropical ethnobotanical plants (plants humans can use). It grows more than 3,000 species of tropical plants, including fruit, spices and nuts.

Truly a destination that deserves more than a weekend, I will be returning to explore further…