So this started out as a free things to do in Cairns with toddlers post but then I realised that a lot of the stuff we do also includes our first baby (Bobby our kelpie cross) and when we were looking for places to all go out together we struggled to begin with – a lot of the amazing places in Cairns being National Parks. I’ve often said that our dog is probably the highest maintenance in our house – she beats both boys in the high energy stakes, needs daily if not twice daily outings to keep her sane and is impossible to tire out. To be fair though I can lock her out the back garden with a bone and a bowl of water and leave her for a few hours so I suppose in this respect she is easier to control than the boys – although if you replace ‘bone’ with ‘biscuit’ and ‘garden’ with ‘Wiggles on the TV’ the sentence could also ring true for them 🙂
Anyway I digress as usual – here are some of our favourite spots….
- Goomboora Park
Located on Shale Street in Brinsmead this is my absolute favourite place to hang out in Cairns – there are loads of tracks and swimming spots and it is completely dog friendly with lots of dog off leash and swimming areas. There are tracks through the trees that you can do mini bush walks through – perfect for little legs and really well maintained. There are 2 huge fields in the middle of the park surrounded by a sealed path which is great for bike/scooter/roller skate riding and lots of it is away from the road so the little ones can all run free. We’ve found a great little swimming spot that is mainly shallow and not too scary with our 2 and 1 year old – but still deep enough to pull along an inflatable boat. The water is always lovely and cool so it’s the best place to visit in Summer!
We often meet friends there for BBQ dinners as there are lots of cooking areas and picnic tables – our favourite is right next to the new adventure playground so the boys can burn off their energy while we sit or cook.
As if that’s not enough to do there’s also a lovely little cafe at the adjacent Cool Waters Holiday Park where you can pick up food and go and feed the turtles in the creek.
2. Ryan Weare Park
Located on Kamerunga Road in Freshwater this park is another favourite for a few reasons – there’s a great little play area, toilets, picnic spots, a lovely swimming area and the main attraction – the train tracks run right next to it.
For my train mad toddler it is so exciting to hear the toot of the engine as it leaves Freshwater station just a few minutes up the road and we run and wait for it to drive right past us – waving at the driver and all the passengers on their way up the hill to Kuranda. It passes the park twice a day so is a great morning or afternoon activity – there’s also a lovely coffee shop in Freshwater station too and a little museum if you fancy a bit more of the railway experience.
3. The Green Arrow (almost)
Before it was named the Green Arrow, the fire trail leading up to the main track was known to the locals as ‘The Rock’. It’s a steep hike so be prepared for a bit of a workout (especially if you end up carrying precious little ones most of the way!) but the views at the top are well worth it – and it’s only about a 15 minute climb.
Once at the top there’s a big open plain – perfect for throwing a ball around – or you can climb a bit more and look out across Redlynch Valley and the Ocean. This last bit was my toddler’s favourite part – he could clamber up the rocks and pick flowers along the way.
At the opposite end of the open plain you can see the start of the Green Arrow walking trail – this is now National Parks area so no dogs allowed (Bobs was gutted)
Park at the top of Bel Air Drive in Whitfield and you’ll see the entrance to the fire trail from the road.
4. Holloways Beach
There are loads of dog friendly beaches in Cairns but Holloways has always been my favourite. It seems to be one of the least Crocodiley (yes that’s a word) – although of course anywhere up here you’ve to be careful of both crocs and stingers. There’s a great children’s playpark next to the toilet block and a cafe if you need a coffee shot. We always park a bit further up and walk up the beach to watch the (crazy) kitesurfers or collect shells.
Also once a month be sure to check out the Holloways Beach markets – always a great mix of stalls.
I’m sure there are hundreds more places around that are kid and dog friendly and I’d love to hear about them – meanwhile we hope you enjoy some of these!
***Please note – during the wet and times of heavy rains the creeks and rivers in Cairns can be dangerous and get out of control very quickly so always be careful and avoid swimming if in any doubt.