I can’t remember who let me know about the annual pass that gets unlimited free access to 4 of the best tourist attractions around Cairns but I definitely owe them a beer!
For $55 I signed up to the locals four park pass deal which gives us unlimited entry to Rainforestation Nature Park in Kuranda, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary also in Kuranda, the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas and the Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome in the city centre. We’ve had the pass for less than 6 months and already got double the value out of it easily. Our boys are both under 4 so their entry is free – for older kids (4-14) it’s just $25 for the annual pass or you can pay $120 for a family pass – ridiculous value!
The first park we visited was Rainforestation – located about a 30 minute scenic drive from Cairns (make sure you stop at the Henry Ross lookout on the way up or back down the range for stunning views over the ocean and Cairns). You can easily spend the whole day there so make sure you set enough time aside to do everything on offer – or consider a few half day visits and spend the other half of the day in Kuranda where you can visit the Butterfly park too.
There are 3 main things you can do when you are there –
- Koala and Wildlife Park – easily my favourite bit especially with 2 younger kids as they can roam free here and interact with the animals. You can buy food for $2 on entry and handfeed the free roaming kangaroos and wallabies and there are loads of other animals to look at – including dingos, Tassie Devils, cassowaries, reptiles, turtles and massive saltwater crocs (fortunately not left to wander free around the park!). There are guided walks through the park during the day or you can just view at your leisure.
- Army Duck Rainforest Tour – it’s not often you get to ride in an amphibious WW2 vehicle so this really is a fabulous experience. You get taken through the stunning rainforest and then splash into the lake to spot more wildlife. To be honest it was a little more sitting still than my toddler could handle (the driver stops and starts a lot to show and tell about flora and fauna along the way which we loved but Mr 2 year old thought was his best opportunity to jump over the seats/try and leap overboard for a quick swim) – so if you’re travelling with younger kids maybe take some snacks aboard to keep them busy.**see notes below on snacks!
- Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience – this includes a show and a dreamtime walk – we’ve never timed our trip well enough to fit this one in but it looks fabulous and will be our top priority next visit.
It’s definitely worth a bit of planning in advance before you visit as the attractions at Rainforestation are timed. At the time of writing the schedule is included below – but a quick look at their website will confirm any details.
***SNACKS! As mentioned above snacks are important. DO NOT miss the opportunity to taste the local fruits picked from the onsite orchard (I can never go past the tropical and crazy looking fruit kebabs) or have a homemade ice cream. Or if you are staying for the day we can absolutely recommend the BBQ buffet served in the restaurant – absolutely mouth watering.
The staff are unbelievably lovely and helpful and can’t do enough to help out or give info (the first time we visited was mid-Summer-Cairns-inferno weather – one of the girls behind the Duck counter rushed to get ice for us as she saw we were visiting with a baby to make sure he was cool enough – so thoughtful!)
So what are you waiting for! Get yourself up there and say g’day to some of the residents for us!