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Australasia & South Pacific, Featured Articles

Making the most of Australia’s tropical north

Mackay ReefLauren Edwards offers us a taste of all that Queensland’s Cape Tribulation has to offer… You’ve fought your way through the chaos of the East Coast. You’ve battled your way through the backpacker central of Cairns. You keep driving and driving, desperate to escape the swarms of Euro-backpackers, the party bus pub crawls and jelly wrestling competitions.

You begin to panic as you reach a crocodile infested river. Driving onto the ferry you see nothing but a tangle of mangroves waiting eagerly to greet you on the other side. You ask the sun scorched ferry worker if your toy size Hyundai Getz rental car will make it around the maze of mountain roads that lay ahead. He laughs, engulfing you in a cloud of XXXX Gold scented breath. “She’ll be right!” he squawks as he wanders, still laughing, to the next car.

The one road leading north of the river disappears into the rainforest canopy. As you climb higher the views into the depths of the forest beneath you are accentuated. The forest is becoming denser. Mist is creeping through the trees, at some points masking the road. You feel as though you’re driving through the set of ‘Jurassic Park’. It’s prehistoric, with fast flowing waterfalls drowning the roads from the heavy rains. A far cry from the concrete jungle of Cairns.

Myall Beach looking towards Cape TribulationCape Tribulation is an untouched paradise. The only place on Earth where two World Heritage sites join; the Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. This 110 million year old rain forest is vastly protected from the onslaught of chain hotels. The open jungle style houses of the locals are hidden deep beneath the canopy, out of sight and creating an unspoilt view. However, due to the influx of tourists into Cairns, the beauty of Cape Tribulation is going unnoticed. Fantastic eco-friendly tours are being immersed under the commercialism of Cairns’ bigger companies.

‘Ocean Safari’ offers an incredible half day snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef. The only tourist boat operating north of Port Douglas, guaranteeing you untouched, pristine reef. Located just ten miles off the stunning Myall beach, MacKay reef takes about thirty minutes to reach. Nicknamed ‘Turtles’, for obvious reasons, MacKay boasts some of the most friendly and curious turtles. They’re so comfortable with daily visitors, who are briefed before entering the water and watched vigilantly by the guides, that they know they’re in no danger. The passionate crew ensure no damage is done to the reef or its inhabitants and leave no traces of their visits. Visit at the right time of the year (July or August) and you’re in with a chance of some whale watching too.

Sunrise on Cape Trib beachCape Tribulation offers an excellent selection of tours and activities; from horse riding to swinging through the trees.  Offering you your best views of the rainforest, the ‘jungle surfing’ eco-tour has you flying through the trees and over fresh water creeks. On a clear day, from the highest platform you can even see Mackay Reef. Cape Trib Horse Rides offer a unique opportunity to ride through the dense sheltered rainforest, through creeks and along the beach, towards the Cape itself, while Paddle Trek is Cape Trib’s local kayaking tour. The sunrise or sunset daily paddle launches right off Cape Trib beach itself and explores the bay and the fringing reef while offering a great chance to spot some wildlife. For overnight stays the Cape Trib Beach House YHA offers  a choice of cabin style rooms, from dorms to private beach front huts, in an excellent location, and Cape Trib Camping boasts an incredible location leading right on to the unspoilt Myall Beach with both powered and non powered sites, spotless facilities and a wood fired pizza restaurant. Lauren Edwards

Useful websites:  http://www.junglesurfing.com.au/,  http://www.capetribhorserides.com.au/,  http://www.capetribpaddletrek.com.au/

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About Itchy Feet Magazine

Itchy Feet Magazine is an online travel magazine for independent and adventurous travellers. Our aims are to champion sustainable travel, provide a platform for new journalistic talent and last but not least provide a fresh and inspirational e-magazine covering all corners of the globe, from hidden gems to well-trodden paths.

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