Summer may technically be over, but the warmth never ends in far north Queensland. Here are just some of the new tourism experiences now available in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef region.
Revitalise on the Reef
Sunrise yoga on Sudbury Cay, drift snorkelling over giant clams at Lizard Island, and learning about traditional Aboriginal healing at Cooktown, are all included in the seven-night ‘Revitalise on the Reef’ wellness voyages with Coral Expeditions. Departing Cairns in September 2021, the Outer Great Barrier Reef expeditions are curated by wellness expert Kris Abbey, who will join guests on-board for one-on-one consultations.
Social butterfly invites guests
Affectionately referred to as the Crystalbrook Collection’s social butterfly, the five-star hotel Flynn is taking bookings ahead of its March 31 opening. Situated opposite the Cairns Esplanade boardwalk, Flynn features two glass pools overlooking the Coral Sea, 311 stylish rooms and suites, three levels of restaurants and bars, the Eléme Day Spa, a 24-hour gym, and meeting spaces for up to 120 people. The hotel’s ground-level restaurant, Boardwalk Social, is already proving a hit, cementing its place as the stomping ground for locals and tourists alike.
Centre for Indigenous art
First Nations art will feature prominently at Bulmba-ja, the new name for the Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts, following its $5.9 million refurbishment. Meaning ‘house’ to the Yirrganydji and Yidinji peoples, Bulmba-ja incorporates a Yarning Circle and Elder’s lounge along with a unique integrated LED facade to display digital artworks. Home to JUTE Theatre Company and NorthSite Contemporary Arts (formerly KickArts), Bulmba-ja now includes Miriki Performing Arts and The Pryce Centre for Culture and Arts.
Feast on exotic fruit
An expanded rare and tropical fruits display and a food trail taking in the Cassowary Coast’s best food producers are part of the Feast of the Senses festival on March 26-19. Celebrity chef Jo Whitton from Quirky Cooking will show her skills at the Australian Bananas River Feast in Innisfail on March 29, the market day featuring food vendors, local producers, art, artisan products, music and entertainment.
Chill out in Port Douglas
Relax on a penthouse terrace with views of the Daintree rainforest at the newly refurbished Saltwater Luxury Apartments. The inviting outdoor couches and sun lounges are perfect for chilling out at the end of the day with a drink, or curling up with a book. Located in the heart of Port Douglas, and just a short stroll to the beach and the marina, the fully self-contained apartments have one, two and three-bedroom options.
Paddock to plate dining
Good cooking and great eating start with excellent farming and that’s just what you can expect at CC’s Bar and Grill at Bailey, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort in Cairns. Chef Matthew Larter, whose passion for beef has taken him around the world, serves Crystalbrook Signature Beef reared just 180km west of Cairns. He is part of a culinary trio including British-born chef Tyrone Hunt, who has a background in fresh seafood, and Mark Sinclair, who boasts an impressive professional pedigree in fine-wines and first-class hospitality.
Ned Kelly Series on show
Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly Series will be on display at Cairns Art Gallery from March 6 to June 14 as part of a national tour of the Australian masterpieces. Cairns is the only Queensland venue hosting the 1940s paintings from the National Gallery of Australia Collection.
Day & night citizen science
The first Great Barrier Reef day and night citizen science program, aligned with the Australian school curriculum, has been launched by Sunlover Reef Cruises. The Marine Biologist for a Day + Astronomer for a Night program involves a daytime guided snorkel safari, and night-time camping in deluxe swags on the Moore Reef Marine Base to study the stars.
Discover public art in Cairns
Cairns Regional Council has launched a Cairns Arts & Culture Map showing where to see public art on display, including paintings in the Cairns Courthouse, light projections in the city, and Indigenous prints etched into the glass of the Cairns Performing Arts Centre.
Silkari rebrands Oaks Lagoons
Oaks Lagoons Port Douglas has been rebranded to Silkari Lagoons Port Douglas. The 176-room property, boasting one, two and three-bedroom apartments, including spa, swim-out and plunge pool rooms, is on Port Douglas Rd, a short stroll to Four Mile Beach.
First nursery for outer reef
The Great Barrier Reef’s first outer reef coral nursery has been established on a high-value reef by the Reef Restoration Foundation volunteers who successfully pioneered an offshore coral nursery at Fitzroy Island. The not-for-profit organisation partnered with Seastar Cruises to develop the nursery, near their Hastings Reef mooring.
Indigenous stockmen recognised
The Indigenous Stock Workers display has opened at the Normanton Visitor Information Centre, recognising the Indigenous men and women who opened their land to agriculture and provided loyal service as stock workers. Funded through the Year of Outback Tourism Events Program, the display highlights the cattle industry in Normanton.
Aquarium by Night launches
Watch the underwater and coastal worlds come to life after dark at Aquarium by Night, a guided Cairns Aquarium experience giving a glimpse into the behaviour of the region’s nocturnal creatures. Corals glow, predators hunt and reptiles emerge from their burrows. Complete your evening at the Aquarium’s Dundee’s Restaurant for a dining experience with a sea life backdrop.
A cultural perspective on climate change
Climate change is the theme for the 11th Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) on July 8-12, which will show a First Peoples’ point of view on how the local environment has changed. A showcase of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, CIAF features ethically sourced art, markets, music, dance, fashion, food, crafts, theatre and workshops.
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