Spotlight on Tropical North Queensland

If it’s pure back-to-nature escapism you’re after there are few better destinations to consider than Tropical North Queensland, where rainforest meets reef and you may just spot a living dinosaur among the coconut palms. How does a champagne breakfast overlooking more than 400 species of coral sound? Or your own Herbal Essences™hair-flick moment beneath a crystal-clear waterfall? Pretty good we think, which is why taking a trip to the wet tropics before most eastern seaboard dwellers make their move north for winter is doubly appealing.

When you’re floating in your lagoon-style pool or tucking into seafood dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the world, who cares about a bit of warm rain anyway? Whether 'the wet' arrives or not during your stay, it’s all part of the experience. And if strolling from lounger to lunch spot and back again isn’t enough exertion for you it’s always possible to throw in a bit of whitewater rafting, maybe a skydive, and a few bushwalks boasting spectacular scenery.

With two of the planets greatest natural wonders on the doorstep – the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef – it’s surprising you haven’t packed your bags for one of our postcard-perfect properties in the region already. Here, representatives from five of our most heavenly hideaways share their tips for holidaying in Tropical North Queensland during the green season. We urge you to dive on in!

Practise peace in Palm Cove

Alamanda Palm Cove

Anja Lamond from Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore says: “Now is a great time to visit if you’re in need of rest and rejuvenation because we’re still running activities such as Pilates and SUP yoga but the local area isn’t as busy as peak season. And just because it’s the season for stingers doesn’t mean you can’t swim in the ocean; the netted areas are only about a three-minute walk from the resort and you can just wear a stinger suit on Great Barrier Reef excursions or to go paddleboarding. Whitewater rafting and cycle touring are very popular too, though I personally prefer to spend time in the day spa. Our spa products are made with organic ingredients like coconut sugar, strawberry and rhubarb so the body scrubs and wraps are to die for! If you’re coming to Palm Cove you also owe it to yourself to try our restaurant Nu Nu, which was just named best regional restaurant for 2017 in the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide. I’ve lived in many countries and would say Nu Nu’s breakfast is the best I’ve ever had. For dinner I find it hard to pass on the smoked red emperor with papaya relish, which is served on a betel leaf so you can eat it with your hands. For couples, a private dinner on the beach is hard to beat and the sunsets here are beautiful year-round.”

Uncover the artful nature of Port Douglas

casa blanca

Ann Scott at Casa Blanca - The Tropical House in Port Douglas explains: “The green season from February to April is a beautiful time to visit because the rainforest just comes alive and the flowers in the garden at Casa Blanca tend to be more intense. Even if it rains when you’re here you can still happily walk in tropical rain and not get cold. The property is more spacious than a lot of holiday houses up here so you don’t feel like you’re on top of each other inside, and there are alcoves outdoors if you want to sit outside to watch the rain and the electric-blue Ulysses butterflies going about their business. It’s also possible to organise a yoga class onsite and there is a packed bookshelf at the property for those who like to relax with a novel or read up on the region. One of the other things I like about this time of year is that you don’t have to worry about getting at table at your favourite restaurant because the town is quieter. Some of the eateries run seasonal offers so you can enjoy a leisurely lunch at a good price before returning to your daybed by the pool, which tends to be a more refreshing temperature than the sea around this time. If you’re on the hunt for souvenirs at the Sunday market I recommend the beautiful lino prints of Anna Curtis (some of which you’ll see in Casa Blanca). Another talented local artist inspired by the natural environment around Port Douglas is Lindsay Currie, who runs the Jeweller Gallery. I also suggest stopping by the Ngarra Gallery and absolutely insist you check out the Yalanji Arts Centre if you go to Mossman Gorge.”

Get among the green in the Misty Mountains

misty mountains

Misty Mountain Rainforest Retreat's Sharon Salvestrin says:While every season has something special to experience at Bellenden Ker, summer can be the perfect time to photograph waterfalls in all their glory, and to see the birds and butterflies in full flight. To my mind there’s nothing more romantic than relaxing on the deck with your partner, reading a book or simply enjoying the privacy… but there is also ample indoor space in the Blue Lagoon Villa if you feel like binge-watching movies or playing pool. For people who don’t like extreme heat or crowded swimming holes, Misty Mountain Rainforest Retreat is a dream come true. You don’t have to go far to find whitewater rafting sites or to pick up a boat to the Frankland Islands, while keen hikers have three mountains to choose from. For beginners I recommend the Walsh’s Pyramid walk, and everyone should visit the famous Josephine Falls at the east end of the trail on Queensland’s highest peak, Mt Bartle Frere. On the weekends you should head to Rusty’s Markets in Cairns for the freshest tropical fruit and most delicious avocados you can imagine. I also urge seafood lovers to order the fish and lobster from Great Barrier Reef Tuna, and try the delicacies from Angelo’s Fine Foods. Guests can use the golf buggy and hamper set to make the most of the many perfect picnic spots around the property, or you can arrange to have a private chef cook for you. We even have a helipad so you can be the first people to get out on the reef for a champagne breakfast.” 

Find happiness in a hammock on Mission Beach

Sejala beach huts

Janet Norgate from Sejala Beach Huts on Mission Beach tells us: “I love it when everything is alive and bright green, and the seasoned travellers that choose Sejala Beach Huts tend to enjoy reclining in a hammock watching Mother Nature’s show as she shifts from tropical downpour and wild seas back to bright sunshine. At Mission Beach you can slip on a sarong when you arrive and stay that way until you leave, because even if you get stuck in the rain you’re dry again within five minutes. We get a lot of weekend visitors from Cairns and Townsville who value the seclusion of the property, but it’s still only a short stroll along a beach track to the township. For dinner I like PepperVine, and the bar at the resort next door is ideal for sunset cocktails. It’s handy not having to drive to go out of an evening, but you do need transport to make the most of all the activities on offer. You can take the water taxi to Dunk Island, follow the Kennedy Walking Track, paddle the Tully River, skydive onto the beach or, if you’re like me, just sit on your terrace and watch the coconuts fall. Once you’ve picked a mango off a tree here or tried the bananas and passionfruit from a roadside kiosk, you can never go back to bland supermarket fruit. There’s an element of ‘land that time forgot’ here, from our hippy local markets to the cassowaries roaming around – it’s hard to put into words how gorgeous it is.”

Bask with the birds of the Daintree

the white house holiday apartments qld

Margaret Wilson, manager of The White House Holiday Apartments, says: “Port Douglas is very peaceful at this time of year, though we still welcome a lot of international travellers and Australians who aren’t bound by school holidays. The area we’re in, known as the golden rectangle, hasn’t been built up in the way that places further inland have so it’s still as tranquil as it was 20 years ago. Indeed, guests often tell me they’re surprised how peaceful it is at The White House despite being so close to town. The marina, which is only a 10-minute walk away, has become a really vibrant hub since changing ownership a couple of years ago and you could easily eat out three meals a day if you wanted. Zinc and Hi Tide are two of my favourite restaurants serving modern Australian cuisine, and the Surf Life Saving Club opposite does good grub if you’re after something more casual. Having said that, one of the reasons people often stay with us for 10 days or more is that each apartment kitchen is fully equipped with a dishwasher and family-sized fridge to help you keep costs down. While some are reluctant to visit in the wet season it’s actually the best time to do some of the rainforest tours, such as the trip out to Wujal Wujal (Bloomfield) Falls. There is a swimming enclosure directly opposite the property so you don’t have to worry about stingers, and most dive operators provide stinger suits for free. I advise wearing these suits year round for snorkelling anyway to save you having to lather yourself in coral-harming sunscreen. The nearby wetlands conservation centre offers tickets to ‘breakfast with the birds’ but you don’t need to leave your balcony to hear and see the honeyeaters, sunbirds, kookaburras and various migratory birds from Asia. If it’s pure R&R you’re after, we’re fortunate to sit next door to a fantastic day spa so you can easily float home after your treatment.”