Cairns to Mission Beach

The northern part of Queensland is an endlessly alluring tropical paradise that has stolen the hearts of many a visitor. With wild rainforests of verdant green, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and more swimming holes that you could explore in a lifetime, northern Queensland is an adventurer’s paradise.

If it’s nature and solace that you seek, then Queensland is the place to be. Most people choose to fly into Cairns. From here it’s easy to pick up a rental car and hit the road for what is guaranteed to be a thrilling and memorable trip.

From chasing waterfalls and rockpool swimming to guided tours of ancient rainforests in the mountainous regions, there’s so much to see and do on a road trip from Cairns to Mission Beach.

Breakfast Before Hitting the Road

Before setting off on your road trip, make time to grab some breakfast at the legendary Babinda Bakery. The bakery is a local institution, opening at 8 am every day, serving great coffee and baked goods. Make sure to grab some of their famous cream buns for the road. They are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Barron Gorge National Park

For your first taste of some classic Queensland beauty, take the short drive north from Cairns to Barron Gorge National Park. Here you’ll find rugged rainforest-clad mountains and gorges, tumbling waterfalls, and a plethora of wildlife. The area has a fascinating history and is home to one of Queensland’s most popular parks. The park extends from the coastal lowlands (Lake Placid) to the elevated regions of the Atherton Tableland (near Kuranda) and lies within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The Barron River is the beating heart of the park. Rising from the rainforests of Mount Hypipamee, the river traverses 60 kilometres of the Atherton Tableland, before entering the steep Barron Gorge and falling 250 metres onto the coastal lowlands. From here it flows into the Coral Sea. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the wet season, floodwaters transform a Barron Falls into a truly spectacular sight, which is best viewed from the Din Din Barron Falls lookout near Kuranda.

Creeks, Castles and Tree Canopies

From Barron Gorge National Park, head south towards Wooroonooran National Park where you’ll find the Mamu Skywalk. A short rainforest walk guides you along a path towards an elevated skywalk. From here you can climb the stairs to the observation tower and enjoy unobstructed views as you gaze out over the forest and the Johnstone River from 37 metres up in the sky.

After taking in a forest stroll, drive up the road to Henrietta Creek Campground. Follow the track to Nandroya Falls before stopping at one of the swimming holes along the way for a quick dip.

After, head for Paronella Park where you can wander the grounds of a castle that was built in 1935 by Spanish immigrant Jose Paronella for his new bride. The tropical plants and trees have taken over the building, turning the ruins into something that’s even more romantic.

Charley’s Chocolate Factory

From Paronella Park, carry on towards Mission Beach, but making sure to make a pit stop at Charley’s Chocolate Factory first. Here you can witness the entire process of chocolate production, from seeing cocoa being grown, all the way to the finished product.

Mission Beach

With your belly and your bags full of chocolate, hop back in the car and continue on your way to Mission Beach. After driving through lush countryside, when arriving in Mission Beach you’ll be welcomed by stunning coastal views that’ll have you running towards the ocean.

If you arrive before dusk, make sure to stroll the beach and enjoy one of Australia’s most breathtaking sunsets. With the sun all tucked up for the night, treat yourself to a beautiful pub feed at the Garage Bar. The menu offers everything from tapas to sliders, all of which can be washed down with a cold beer from their extensive craft beer menu.

Mission Beach is the quintessential tropical beach paradise, complete with pristine white sands and overhanging palm trees. It’s an interesting mix of art, culture and countryside. Take your time and make the most of some time off the grid in this stunning part of the world.

Photo by Adriel Kloppenburg on Unsplash