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Three Cairns Activities Perfect for Families Who Are Visiting Queensland


Your family vacation is a time to sun, swim, and spend quality time together. The lazy, hazy summer vibe of Cairns makes it a great place to unwind, while taking in some of the region’s spectacular sights and sounds. Here are three Cairns activities that you can enjoy with your kids in tow.

Take a Dunk: Great Spots to Swim

A fabulous family day of fun is yours with a visit to the Esplanade Lagoon. It’s a man-made pool filled with filtered seawater that has all the advantages of a visit to the ocean– sun, saltwater, and even sandy beaches–without the danger. Lifeguards patrol the pool during the 16 hours of operating time, keeping the pool accident-free. For your family’s protection there are also security cameras, and the entire park is kept glass free. The artificial beach is clean and well maintained. The lagoon is surrounded by parkland, with a lovely barbeque and picnic area set in four hectares of greenery. Another great family swimming spot is the Crystal Cascades, comprised of a series of freshwater pools. This rainforest gem is a short drive out of town and won’t expose you to the stinging jellyfish that keep many families out of coastal tidewaters. The best part of swimming in Cairns? It’s free!

Dig Into the Past at Cairns Museums

The Crystal Caves is a labyrinthine network of caverns festooned with kaleidoscopic crystals and mineral formations. Owners Rene and Nelleke Boissevain display their own collection of minerals and gemstones from around the world in the ‘fascinating facets’ museum portion of this family-friendly attraction. The Cairns Museum, which focuses on the regional history of Queensland, will be closed until late 2014. Fortunately, a new museum for military enthusiasts is set to open next June, and will feature armour and artillery from the 1800s to the modern day. A visit to the Cairns Maritime Museum will net your family a glimpse into the seafaring past of Queensland, with displays of islander artefacts, shipwreck relics, and vintage diving equipment left over from the early days of the pearl trade.

Up Close and Personal With Australian Critters

You don’t have to go to Africa to go on safari: in Cairns, indigenous and exotic animals can be seen at a number of venues. See koalas, lemurs, and an assortment of reptiles at the Cairns Tropical Zoo, or head for the Cairns Wildlife Dome for up-close encounters with native Australian fauna such as kookaburras and turtles. Children will enjoy the whistling breeze in their ears as parrots and cockatoos fly freely through the rainforest-inspired urban wildlife centre.

If reptiles are your thing, you’ll love Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, an outdoor park where you can travel on boardwalks and by boat to witness crocodiles in their native habitat. Hartley’s offers Gondwana Gateway as a nature interpretive centre whose aboriginal guides explain why Australia is home to so many of the world’s most unique creatures, and how the various oddball adaptations made by the continent’s animals occurred in response to geological and climatic pressures.

Most people think of wildlife viewing as an on-shore activity, but with its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is one of the world’s pre-eminent snorkelling spots. Take a family cruise out to the archipelago of islets on the outer reef, and spend the day swimming after jewel coloured fish as they dart about on the wild coral formations. Adventures are available through Quicksilver outfitters, with marine biologist guides to provide an educational experience for the whole family. Great Adventures will take you to a sandy islet so you can wade into the shallow water rather than jump off the boat, while Passions of Paradise provide a sailing adventure aboard their catamaran to reach some of the finest snorkelling spots in Cairns.

With its freshwater swimming, quirky museums and sensational snorkelling, sunny Cairns, in Queensland Australia, is a family vacation spot without equal. Give your kids an experience they won’t forget with all sorts of wildlife encounters, from cute and fluffy to downright dangerous. A day out in Cairns is never boring, with a great deal to do (and some great deals, too!)

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