Fred Van Eijk

While some Aussies travel thousands of kilometres in search for true tropical paradise, Travel Counsellors Australia’s MD, Fred van Eijk, tells us he found it right in Australia’s backyard.

During my first trip to Cairns, I instantly became an admirer. Cairns is a tropical paradise in the northeast Australian state of Queensland. The relaxed aura is hard to ignore while wanting to join the many adventurous activities is not unlikely either, especially for families. But don’t worry, lazing around is not frowned upon here.

Cairns is a tourist destination that is equally enjoyable for both backpackers and the luxury-seeking traveller. You’ll find both kinds visiting the restaurants along the Esplanade, hunting for souvenirs on the night markets, jogging over the boardwalk and discovering the sublime underwater paradise of the Great Barrier Reef. The last being a snorkel-hub that has always been a personal dream of mine to see, one I never expected to come true.

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Cairns is a popular travel destination due to its tropical climate and the many attractions it has on offer. The Great Barrier Reef is only one and a half hours away by boat. The national park Daintree is a truly impressive spot and perfect to get the full tropical rainforest experience. Travel a little further and you will find the breath-taking waterfalls of Atherton Tablelands, a park that is also great for strolling around and canoeing.

In the near surroundings of the city, you can visit various theme parks and learn more about the nature and culture of the Aboriginals. The Kuranda Skyrail cable ride – which soars over 7,5 kilometres of the rainforest – and the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park are two of the many options you can choose from.

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A tropical climate is not always as idyllic as it may seem. In the middle of the year, Cairns gets hit with droughts and hot days. At the end of the year, rain season will start with short but rather intense rainfalls and sweltering temperatures. There is also a chance to encounter a cyclone, so speak to experienced travel advisors to get well-informed with the best times to travel and how you may need to prepare.

Cairns boasts a diverse range of cheap hostels, but also fairly affordable hotels and apartments. For a somewhat more luxurious stay, I’d recommend the Pullman International or the Shangri-La, Hilton and Pullman Reef Hotel. For just 12 AUD you can devour a delicious Asian buffet in the night markets. For a price that’s a little higher, the Salt House offers great drinks, a lunch or delicious dinner in a trendy surrounding with impeccable service.

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The beaches north of Cairns – the Northern Beaches – are ideal places to come to peace on the sand beneath the sun. Make sure you check with the lifeguards and local signs before you walk into the sea as however inviting it may look, it can be just as dangerous. The most famous beaches are Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach, Palm Cove Beach and Ellis Beach. On Trinity Beach, we enjoyed an alluring evening dining on the terrace of L’unico; a restaurant with an Italian kitchen that makes full use of all the delicious local ingredients.

On a daily basis, a diversity of boats and catamarans leave to the Great Barrier Reef. One of the many options is to take a boat journey to the Green Island where you can spend a couple of hours to snorkel, dive, laze around or take a helicopter ride. A different option is to spend your day on a catamaran enjoying the many beauties of the reef through you diving glasses, both from the boat and endearingly minuscule islands. No matter how you get there, the experience will be unforgettable.

L'unico - Cairns Trinity Beach

In May of 2018, the Travel Counsellors conference will take place in Cairns. Intrigued by owning your very own travel agency? making use of the best support and taking part in next year’s conference? The time is now, join us as soon as you can!

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