See the best of Northern Queensland’s varied habitats, flora and fauna while staying in unabashed comfort at top locations such as the Daintree Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and charismatic Outback.
Two highlights are the bird’s eye view during a scenic flight over the vast Outback and a helicopter ride across the Great Barrier Reef, as you explore Queensland’s wilderness on foot, by boat and vehicle.
Crystalbrook offers an exclusive wilderness experience at an elegant homestead in the Outback with outstanding birdwatching. You then get a taste of tropical rainforest at Daintree National Park before relaxing at a secluded hideaway on the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by turquoise sea.
Day1: Depart UK
Day3: Arrive Cairns
On arrival in Cairns, transfer to your secluded accommodation on Cairns' Northern Beaches – the perfect place to relax after the long flight.
Today there is time for a leisurely start before you transfer to the airport for a 45-minute scenic flight across the outback to Crystalbrook Lake, located 180 kilometres to the west of Cairns and part of the 34,000 hectare Crystalbrook Station.
During your stay in at Crystalbrook enjoy the ultimate experience of the rugged Outback from a former cattle station. An expert local guide will accompany you on a birding walk along the lakeside trail, or you can take in the peaceful environment from a kayak while spotting herds of wild brumbies (free-roaming feral horses). You also visit the historic Crystalbrook Homestead and old cattle station for afternoon tea.
Day7: Transfer to Daintree Rainforest
Today you transfer by private four-wheel-drive vehicle (275 kilometres or approximately four hours drive) across the spectacular highlands of the Atherton Tablelands to the rainforest of Mossman Gorge River and Silky Oaks Lodge. In the afternoon you can canoe or kayak on the main billabong (lagoon) near the lodge, to listen to the sounds of nature, enjoy the incredible birdlife, and marvel at the biodiversity.
You have a full day guided tour to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park and its ancient rainforest. This includes a walk to arch for native rainforest birds such as the southern cassowary, or reptiles and amphibians before boarding a boat trip to search for giant saltwater crocodiles.
Day9: Helicopter to Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef
This morning you transfer back to Cairns by road (a drive of around 1.5 hours) in time for the helicopter ride (1.5 hours) across to Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef. You arrive in time for lunch, allowing plenty of time to relax and take in the magical atmosphere of this hidden paradise in the afternoon.
During your stay on the island there are plenty of optional activities from which you can choose: we particularly recommend the trip by chartered boat through the channel between Hinchinbrook Island and Cardwell Coast, or a guided walk on rainforest trails to the famed Zoe and Mulligan Waterfalls in search of saltwater crocodiles.
And, of course, exploring the Great Barrier Reef from this secluded island is an absolute must; you can choose snorkelling or – if suitably qualified – scuba diving to enjoy the unspoilt and underwater world in all its vibrant colour. The best time to see manta rays and migrating humpback whales is between July and September, whereas to witness the annual coral spawning you should visit between mid-October and mid-November. You can also take an educational tour of the island’s marine research station to meet the scientists and learn about their current projects.
Day12: Helicopter ride to Cairns
This morning is free for optional activities if you wish, before a lunchtime helicopter ride back to Cairns airport, with a transfer to your accommodation on the Northern Beaches.
Accommodation: Kewarra Beach Resort, 1-night
Day13: Depart Cairns
This morning after breakfast you transfer back to the airport and check in for your international flight.
Day14: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 daysfrom £8,295 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 11 daysfrom £7,045 pp
When to go: Apr-Nov: Some properties will be closed during the rainy season Dec to Feb
Cairns is the perfect location to experience Australia’s wonderful biodiversity. From the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and its marine wonders, to the tropical rainforest of Daintree National Park, or the dry, remote outback, everything is just a short distance away.
Excellent for: Beach stay, City stopover
Outback is the term used to describe Australia’s vast, remote, arid interior – even more remote than "the bush" which refers to any area outside a main urban zone. Due to low, erratic rainfall and infertile soil, it is sparsely settled and over 90% of Australians live in urban areas on the coast.
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Flying safaris, Vehicle safaris, River safaris
Daintree is home to the largest range of flora and fauna on earth within Australia’s largest remaining tract of rainforest. This area of around 1,200 square kilometres contains the highest number of plant and animal species that are rare or threatened with extinction of anywhere in the world.
Ideal for viewing: Bennett’s tree kangaroo, swamp wallaby, saltwater crocodile, southern cassowary, striped possum
Excellent for: Self-drive
Lying only 80 kilometres north of Townsville amidst the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island boasts 11 kilometres of immaculate coastline, and comprises a pristine national park while the surrounding waters are a UNESCO World Heritage-listed marine park.
Where: Northern Queensland
Ideal for viewing: manta ray, humpback whale, green turtle, short-beaked echidna, orange-footed scrubfowl
The world's largest coral reef system of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands covers an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres. The biggest single structure made by living organisms is composed of, and built by, billions of tiny coral polyps and is easily discernable from space.
Where: Queensland / East Coast
Ideal for viewing: dugong, green turtle, saltwater crocodile, white-bellied sea eagle, roseate tern
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Hidden away in the spectacular and rarely visited rugged red outback of North Queensland, Crystalbrook Lodge offers an exclusive wilderness experience. Catering to only a handful of guests, this secret mecca for nature lovers is an oasis of luxury overlooking spectacular Crystalbrook Lake.
The accommodation at Kewarra Beach Resort and Spa is unique, exclusive and special. Individual bungalows and suites are dotted throughout 30 hectares of lush tropical gardens, offering an idyllic location for a relaxing holiday, as well as a safe and rich habitat for native Australian fauna.
Occupying an idyllic location on Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by the clear turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, this exclusive, secluded island hideaway accommodates no more than 28 guests at a time in relaxed and indulgent luxury with the highest standards of service.
Ideally located on the Mossman River, this luxury ecolodge offers a flavour of the natural tropical environment with outstanding views from each treehouse to the canopy. Silky Oaks overlooks a pristine billabong and makes a perfect base for exploring World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park.