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It isn't always simple to find a balance between rest and relaxation time for the parents, and a fun vacation for the kids, especially if there are a number of children of varying age groups and interests. Of course, the activites and attractions listed on this page are just a sample of what awaits you and your family in Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.
IF ANY ATTRACTIONS HAVE MINIMUM HEIGHT, WEIGHT, OR AGE RESTRICTIONS, THOSE DETAILS WILL BE CLEARLY INDICATED. To find information about all the family-friendly accommodation Tropical North Queensland boasts, please go to the link on the right hand side column or go to our FAMILY FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION page. There are many beautiful family friendly places in Tropical North Queensland that are not so well serviced by public transport. First off the bat is the most popular free attraction in Cairns, the newly opened lagoon on the Esplanade.
As well as the trained lifeguards, security guards patrol the Esplanade 24 hours a day, backed up by security cameras and police, ensuring that Cairns maintains its proud mantle of 'the safest tropical city in the world'.
The council has installed free electric barbecues throughout the lagoon precinct, and along the esplanade, and there are plenty of grassy spots to spread out for a family picnic.
The Northern Beaches are connected to Cairns City by a regular bus service, and most are quite family friendly, with shops, eateries, playgrounds and picnic areas, and a range of family accommodation. And if the kids still aren't tired of swimming, there's always beautiful Mossman Gorge, six kilometres west of the town of Mossman, which is just over an hour's drive north of Cairns.
There is a picnic area, a suspension bridge and a 2.4 kilometre rainforest loop trail in Mossman Gorge National Park. Mossman Gorge is home to the Kuku Yalanji Aborigines, the area's traditional landowners, and is a place of deep spirituality. For more details about the Kuku Yalanji guided tours and traditional performances, please visit our ABORIGINAL CULTURE page.
While looking at plants may not initially be every kid's idea of a fun day out, this 38 hectare botanic garden, just five kilometres from the heart of Cairns City, is unique in that it is the only Wet Tropics botanic garden in Australia. The evolution of some of this flora can be traced from millions of years ago, when Australia separated from Gondwana and small pockets of Gondwanan plants becoming isolated. The main botanic gardens area is like a mini rainforest and even has an 'Aboriginal Food' plant section. The wilderness area of Centenary Lakes is just next to the Botanic Gardens, separated by a boardwalk that meanders through tropical ranforest, wetlands and mangroves. Just behind the Botanic Gardens, the 300 hectare Mount Whitfield Conservation Park is a great spot for hiking and birdwatching. There is also a short but very interesting Gondwana Evolutionary trail, leading from the car park to MacDonnell Street. For more information about birdwatching in Far North Queensland, please visit our BIRDWATCHING page. Just west of Cairns, atop the Kuranda Range, is the beginning of the Atherton Tablelands, also known as the 'Cairns Highlands'. For sure, the highlight of the Atherton Tablelands' for the kids anyway, will be the waterfall circuit. The smaller of the two famous crater lakes on the Atherton Tablelands, Lake Eacham, is a great family destination, and a cool swimming spot. Nearby Lake Barrine also has a walking track, six kilometres long, and you can take the family on a wildlife cruise, but the water is not suitable for swimming.
The Cathedral Fig and the Curtain Fig are also not far from Lake Eacham and Yungaburra, and well worth a visit. A visit to the tropical north wouldn't be complete without seeing some of Australia's fantastic wildlife up close. Whatever your age or nationality, Cairns Night Zoo is a 'must do' for any holiday itinerary. For those who are fascinated by natural marvels, the privately owned Granite Gorge Nature Park is an unforgettable spectacle.
Home to more than 75 different species of birds from all over the world, Birdworld Kuranda can proudly admit being Australia's largest collection of free flying birds. Set amidst 200 acres of dry Savannah and where the rainforest meets the Outback of Australia, you will find Cairns and Atherton Tablelands most loved wildlife park. At the Daintree Mangroves Wildlife Sanctuary you can enjoy one of the most comprehensive collections of Australian wildlife, including some of Australia's most distinctive animals: the Emu, the Cassowary and the Dingo. Hartley's is famous for its exciting and educational wildlife presentations including crocodile shows, wetland wildlife, snake show, cassowary feeding, koala feeding and more.
Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary features four different and unique habitats of North Queensland. Tarzali Lakes Fishing and Leisure Park is a fully operational aquaculture farm sprawling over 40 acres. In the Koala and Wildlife Park everybody can see wallabies, crocodiles, koalas and kangaroos among other native species. In the 1930's a Spanish migrant cane cutter, Jose Paronella, bought a large tract of land near Mena Creek, and proceeded to build a stone castle as a tribute to his wife Margarita. The Daintree Discovery Centre is an award-winning world class interpretive facility that allows visitors easy access to this unique rainforest wilderness and its inhabitants via boardwalk tours, a 23 metre high Canopy Tower, Aerial Walkway and comprehensive Display Centre.
The Daintree Discovery Centre is an easy two hour drive north of Cairns, just north of the Daintree River.
You can fit a lot into a long, sunny Tropical North Queensland day, so why not treat the family to a full day of fun, starting with a unique experience aboard Skyrail cablecar, gliding above the treetops of the World Heritage listed rainforest all the way to the charming mountain village of Kuranda, then after a morning of shopping in the colorful markets of Kuranda, you return to Cairns via the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Come and relax with Aussie Drifterz on the best value tour in town – tube through rainforest tree tunnels, make natural face paints, swim or just chill out. Whether you're a thrill seeker or looking to experience Cairns' sublime ocean and mountain views, Southern Cross parasailing is the answer.
The luxury, purpose-built boat is specifically designed for open waters, providing a smooth and comfortable journey across the Trinity Inlet.

Hambledon Drive, Edmonton (Approx 10 km South of Cairns), Phone (07) 4055 5477 or 0407 963 543. Learn about the marine life and eco-systems through our reef interpretive chat on board or take part in a guided snorkelling tour and surround yourself by the rainbow of brilliantly coloured fish and coral. A typical charter with Paradise Sportfishing Adventures begins with catching live bait using a cast net from the boat, you will find the biggest and best fish are caught using live bait such as live prawns and live herrings. Paradise Sportfishing runs with a minimum of just two passengers and only take a maximum of eight. Join Hidden Valley Trail Rides and ride amongst the gum trees and all the other types of fauna and flora growing in the tropical outback of Cooktown's river's flood plains. What could be more memorable than taking your family on a scenic flight across beautiful Tropical North Queensland in a hot air balloon? You'll find a number of Tropical North Queensland ballooning options on our BALLOONING page, whether you want to take the whole family along for a short scenic flight, or even if you want to leave the kids at home and treat yourselves to a romantic luxury balloon flight..
The intent of the ASTM surfacing and playground standards is to prevent death or debilitating injury. But we can make it a whole lot easier, cause we've done the research for you, finding family-friendly accommodation and activities to suit every member of the family and every family's budget.
For many, many more family holiday ideas, please take the time to browse through the pages of our website, particularly those listed under "DESTINATIONS", "ATTRACTIONS" AND "THINGS TO DO", under the MAIN MENU.
We're constantly developing the page as we include more and more family-friendly places to stay. To make the best of your holiday time in Far North Queensland, we recommend that you rent a car if you don't have your own. It's something of a 'locals only' secret, a series of swimming holes hidden in a tropical rainforest. This is where the Mossman River emerges from under the rainforest canopy, cool and clear in a series of swimming holes.
The Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community strives to protect their natural heritage and share its unique qualities with visitors.
And if you want to see all the companies that include Mossman Gorge on their tours, please visit our RAINFOREST TOURS page.
The boardwalk gives the visitor a unique opportunity to observe this native rainforest ecosystem. The forested mountains of the park reach 365 metres above sea level, providing wonderful views.
Mosquitos and other tropical insects love these parklands as much as we do, so wear insect repellant. If you want to find out more about hiking and bushwalking, Tropical North Queensland features dozens of National Parks, all of them sensational for walking.
The Tableland is a a lush, fertile area of rich agricultural land and varied wilderness, dotted with charming little Australian country towns.
Within 15 kilometres of the town of Millaa Millaa, you can visit six different waterfalls; Zillie Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Elinja Falls, Mungalli Falls, Sovita Falls and the Pepina Falls, each one unique in its own way.
There is a 3.5 kilometre paved walking track, which is flat and suitable for all the family. For more things to see and do on the Atherton Tablelands, please visit our ATHERTON TABLELANDS page. Explore a labyrinth of caves on 2 levels over 250 square metres to discover spectacular and colourful natural crystals, ancient fossils, and rare delicate minerals. Just 20 minutes north of the city at Palm Cove, Cairns Tropical Zoo has exciting daily presentations featuring fabulous free flight birds, giant saltwater crocodiles, feeding the pelicans, stunning reptiles, and so much more - including a mob of tame kangaroos just waiting to be hand fed. Contrary to what many people think, bats are not horrible animals that suck your blood, actually, most of them are vegetarian. Education guided tours explaining the breeding, survival and farming of these impressive reptiles are available. You can wander through the boardwalks and discover a great array of animals and trees in their natural habitat.
The Tower is quite unique as it has five viewing platforms that look out over the rainforest canopy and beyond. The range of nature cruises is huge, and there is something to suit everybody's taste and budget.
On your return, there's an afternoon of culture and entertainment waiting for you at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, with theatre and dance and even the chance for the kids to learn to play a didgeridoo throw a boomerang.
The tour may be code shared with Foaming Fury and conducted on either the Mulgrave River or Behana Gorge. With four giant waterslides for adults and kids, a fun pool and a wading pool for toddlers, this is really an ideal family destination, surrounded by well maintained parkland, where friendly peacocks, ducks and geese roam freely. Visiting three breathtaking sites daily on the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas, Calypso travels with approximately 80 guests to ensure maximum comfort and a personalised experience for all. Unlike other fishing tours in Cairns, John does not employ drivers so you will be fishing with the person you talk to when booking, someone who has been fishing trinity inlet estuary for 16 years. As you travel towards your first spot and depending on the tide, you may see a crocodile or two basking in the sun along the banks of the Trinity Inlet Estuary.
At Black Mountain Hideaway, Suzie and Saxon offer a wide range of adventurous and exciting trailrides. At Cairns Unlimited, we can arrange a family ballooning flight from Cairns, Port Douglas or in Mareeba, the hot air ballooning capital of Australia, on the lovely Atherton Tablelands.
According to US Consumer Product Safety Commission "values less than 200 G-max are not likely to result in death". Please visit our CAR HIRE page, where we will offer you the best deal available on a rental car, four wheel drive or campervan in the whole area. The 4,800 square metre seawater lagoon pool features sandy beaches and children's play area, and is supervised by two lifeguards during opening hours - one patrolling the surrounds of the lagoon and the other keeping watch from the patrol tower. The depth of the pool ranges from 80cm to 1.6m, and disability access is provided at one end of the pool.

Crystal Cascades is not serviced by public transport, but it isn't hard to find if you have your own vehicle.
Mossman Gorge is one of the most accessible and most visited spots in the Wet Tropics rainforest. Guided bushwalks are available that give a rare insight into the special relationship the local indigenous people have with the rainforest, while traditional dance performances and artifact displays portray their rich cultural heritage. For example, the garden is home to a tropical flower known as Amorphophallus Titanum which weighs up to 70 kilograms with a single leaf almost seven metres across!
With altitude ranging from 600m to 1100m above sea level, the air feels cool and fresh after the humidity of Cairns.
If you're interested in hiring a car to give you the freedom to explore the Atherton Tablelands at your own pace, please visit our CAR HIRE page.
Whilst enjoying your bacon and eggs or scrumptious Belgian Waffles, enjoy some very up close and personal animal time with one of the zoo's keepers. Enjoy live music provided by the resident musician, then it's off on the spotlighting tour. Like no other place in the world this awesome landscape stretches as far as the eye can see. The Spanish gardens are surrounded by a magical dream-like feeling, like something from a fairytale.
Families can take a self-guided tour using an audio guide, or a pre-booked group tour with an experienced naturalist.
Note that since the road north of the Daintree River was sealed, access to Cape Tribulation is now possible for all types of conventional vehicles. Although crocs are really the stars of the show around here, many kids will also be interested in spotting other wildlife. Due to safe, padded seats, age is no barrier, although children must be accompanied by an adult. From short, historical, interpretive, low-impact tours to full days of action.Every tour begins with a brief of horsemanship which includes safety guidelines and instruction. There are plenty of things you and your family can do in Tropical North Queensland that don't cost a cent! The lagoon is surrounded by a park, boardwalk, locations for picnics and barbecues, recreational facilities, and an outdoor concert stage, in all over four hectares of free family fun for you. The water in the lagoon is sourced from the sea and is filtered every three hours to keep it clear and clean. The Northern Beaches, a string of sandy coves just north of the city, are ideal for kids of all ages.
Luckily for you and your family, the Cairns City Council has set up floating swimming enclosures at a number of the local beaches. The 1.3 kilometre Red Arrow circuit takes approximately 40 minutes to one hour to complete, and is suitable for everyone, regardless of fitness level. Venture into the man made cave system, which offers an amazing labyrinth of gemstone, crystals and fossils studded into the walls. There are numerous opportunities during the day to get close, touch, feel, and make some new animal friends. See crocodiles, koalas, birds, some cute & cuddly animals and maybe even a slithering creature! And get an insight into some of the early history of European settlement in the Kuranda region. Birdlife is abundant in the Daintree area and if you are into birdwatching, the variety is amazing. The unique parasailing chair seats 2 passengers side-by-side, allowing the journey to be shared, and is not like the harness system where you dangle like a tea bag. There were three kids on board when we travelled on Paradise Sportfishing Adventures, and they enjoyed the experience as much as any of the adults. They have horses for all levels of riding and even include a free riding lesson with all trailrides! Staff use special sand cleaning equipment to scour the artificial beach down to a depth of 30cm to remove any foreign objects.
Unlike the surf beaches of southern Queensland, Tropical North Queensland beaches are protected by the largest coral reef in the world, and as a result have little or no surf, just gentle lolling waves. The Blue Arrow walk, on the other hand, is a steep 5.4 kilometre climb to the highest point in the park. What began with one man's passion is now Australia's most spectacular mineralogical collection, attracting more than 25,000 visitors annually.
Enjoy Billy Tea & Damper with our Swaggie (an original Australian bushman), and meet some friendly kangaroos before heading back for more entertainment and some 'Hokey Pokey'. And keep your eyes open to distinguish the different snakes that may be camouflaged among the trees.
Southern Cross Parasailing follows strict industry regulations and guidelines and don't require you to where bathers as you won't get wet.
Crystal Cascades is more popular during the summer months, because of the danger posed by stingers in the ocean.
There are three walks of 1km each and smaller circuits that will stay in your memory forever. Some of the activities include hand feed wallabies, birdwatching both during the day and during the night, and swimming in any of the numerous safe swimming holes that you will find at Granite Gorge.

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