Sydney! Welcome to Cairns & The Great Barrier Reef, 3 Day Short Break Getaway!

Did you know that it’s only a 2.5 hour flight from Sydney to Cairns? That’s right! Just take the Airport link from downtown (eg. Circular Key) to the Domestic terminal (about 15 minutes), jump on a plane (Jetstar, Qantas Empire Airways or Virgin) and within 2.5 hours you’re landing in the tropical paradise of Cairns.

A cab takes about 15min from the domestic terminal to downtown Cairns, where you may want to stay at the Mantra Esplanade Hotel – a fantastic location right in the heart of Cairns right on the esplanade, by the water.

Kick off those black business shoes and throw on a pair of flip flops, a T-shirt and shorts and soak up the 28 degree temperature and blues skies. Take a walk along Shields Street, grab a coffee grind from, say, Dolche Cafe or even Perrottas at the Gallery for your favourite cup of freshly roasted coffee.

Friday through Sunday visit the famous Rusty’s market and sample handmade samousas, kebabs, fresh tropical juices squeezed right in front of you from the local fruit farms of the Atherton Tablands. Rusty’s Market is a hidden gem the locals frequent for all their fresh fruit and veg with plenty of characters that give Rusty’s a true, local, tropical north feel.

Of course, the number one attraction in Cairns is undoubtedly The Great Barrier Reef! This 7th wonder of the world is right on Cairns’ door step, and within just a 60 min boat ride on one of the many daily cruise operators to the reef you can find yourself simmering away in the warm tropical crystal clear lagoons of The Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, take a dive, relax on a tropical island cay before sitting down to a smorgasbord lunch of prawns, seafood, hot and cold meats and salads that will take your taste buds back into some of Sydney’s finest restaurants.

After your day on the Great Barrier Reef, you will feel exuberant, de-stressed and even a sense of feeling there is more to the world than frequent flyer points and credit card statements from past shopping sprees. To keep your senses tingling, it’s now time to visit one of Cairns’ other fascinating natural environments, the World Heritage Listed Tropical Rainforest of Cape Tribulation! Now that’s a mouth full! Have one of the local 4WD day tour companies pick you up from your hotel and whisk you up into Port Douglas before taking you on a guided board walk through the pristine natural waters of the breathtaking Mossman Gorge. Now, it’s time to to spot wild crocodiles on the famous Daintree River,  but be sure to keep your eyes peeled as they are hard to spot! When you find one, you will really appreciate keeping your distance from these prehistoric creatures.

Now, its off over the cable car ferry and into Cape Tribulation for lunch a well deserved Aussie – style BBQ lunch on the edge of a crystal rainforest stream. Take some time out to enjoy the sound of native rainforest birds whistling a background tune.

Return to Cairns to watch the sunset on the Esplanade, before taking in the early evening light with a cocktail on the water at The Salt House Cafe Wine Bar, an outdoor Balinese style establishment right on the water front.

Your 3rd day in Cairns is about sightseeing as you take the historic Kuranda Scenic Train up to the little ‘Village in the Rainforest’, Kuranda. Markets stalls, shops, cafes, bug museums, a butterfly sanctuary and koala gardens are just some of the attractions. After a leisurely 3 hours in Kuranda, take the famous scenic cableway, Skyrail back down the mountain to experience breathtaking views of the Great Barrier Reef and rainforest canopies. Have your day tour bus bring you back to your hotel door step at 4:30pm. Finish the day off with a glass of champagne and a dozen oysters from famous Dundee’s restaurant, right on the waterfront – an experience not to be missed for any foodie!

Who would have thought that in less time than it takes you to get home from work you could be in a tropical paradise for 3 days and feel like it was a week?!

Welcome to Cairns The Great Barrier Reef!

Cairns Tour Advice and Booking Centre offer great 3 day packages to Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef that offer fantastic value for money with quality service and advice on Cairns and surrounding regions, visit for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned for more great photos and stories from this beautiful part of the world!

Story by Clint Carroll, a Cairns local Adventure Travel writer from