Go North!

Now’s the time to dive into tropical north Queensland – and experience some extraordinary adventures on, in and even through the water!

From setting sail… to soaking in ancient hot springs … or riding gentle river rapids… there’s an adventure that’s sure to top your list of unforgettable holiday moments.

Let’s start at beautiful Magnetic Island off Townsville – where sailors and spectators alike gather to witness the fun and spectacle of the annual Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week.

Creek to Coast’s very own Scott Hillier is the long-time MC and host of the event. It’s called the “relaxed regatta” because it comes at the end of Queensland’s yacht racing season.

Anywhere between 50 and 90 boats take part in 5 big days of sailing in the seas off Magnetic Island.  Pilgrim is a regular competitor (and past winner) in the event.  But when she’s not competing, this luxury 58-foot racing yacht takes tourists sailing to secluded island beaches.

With Pilgrim Sailing, you can choose from a full day sail, including gourmet lunch and wine or beer; a sip-and-sail sunset tour, to see out another glorious tropical day; or enjoy Beach Club where you’ll be spirited away to a private cove for a romantic picnic.

A highlight of Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week is a family-friendly Community Day held on the island. Members of the public make the voyage from the mainland to take part in a raft of shenanigans onshore – from sand-castle competitions; to mud-crab races; to a raucous beer-can regatta.

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort serves as Race HQ – for nightly get-togethers of sailing teams for the day’s racing results. There’s live entertainment and plenty of tall (and true) sailing tales shared over a beer.

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week is on again in 2022, so make plans to get yourself to Magnetic Island for all the fun.

And while Maggie is magic during the event, it’s just as alluring the other 51 weeks of the year.

The same waters that sailors love to ply are perfect for paddling too.

Hook up with Craig from Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks and enjoy a morning or sunset guided tour from Horseshoe Bay.  The half-day morning adventure includes a tropical breakfast on the beach and the very real likelihood of spotting marine life from sea turtles, dolphins and whales to wading sea-birds.

If paddling isn’t your preference, there’s plenty of other activities to keep you and the family busy on Maggie. Why not grab your fins and masks and snorkel some of the amazing trails around the island? Or how about tackling the famous Forts Walk for fascinating history and breath-taking views?  Or tour around the island, topless (the car that is) and visit some of Maggie’s funky cafes and eateries.  Café Nourish at Horseshoe Bay is well worth the visit for its friendly atmosphere, water views and awesome brunch menu.

Whatever you do, make sure you make friends with the island’s wildlife – from snapping a Rockstar selfie with a Rock Wallaby to spotting some of Maggie’s resident koalas.

For a fully immersive nature experience, you can’t go past Bungalow Bay Koala Village Wildlife Park.  Join one of two daily tours to meet and interact with turtles, pythons, lizards, wombats, echidnas, crocodiles, koalas and a Black Cockatoo known as Shadow.

The park is part of a laid-back accommodation village that offers bush bungalows and campsites.  Bungalow Bay has a great camp kitchen, clean amenities, tropical pool and Deck Bar for casual dining and closing the day with an icy drink or two.

Magnetic Island is just 20 minutes ferry ride from Townsville.  Best of Magnetic can help you with booking your Magnetic Island holiday – as the island’s number one accommodation provider. You can explore 160 holiday properties on the island – from holiday houses to villas and apartments.  Best of Magnetic can also set you up with car hire for your stay.

Head north-west from Townsville and you’ll discover an epic landscape in stark contrast to Magnetic Island’s tropical splendour.

The Gulf Savannah and beyond is filled with amazing attractions for the touring traveller.  Take Cobbold Gorge – an oasis in the Outback where a natural waterway weaves through towering sandstone cliffs.  Or Undara Lava Tubes – where you can explore the world’s longest lava tube cave system.

Or drive a little further to discover Talaroo Hot Springs – about 360 kilometres west of Cairns. What was once a working cattle station is home to a new tourist experience that’ll knock your socks off… and pretty much every other item of clothing too!

Sink into the warm, healing waters flowing from a terrace of natural geothermal pools – a place of deep spiritual value to the local Ewamian people.

Take a guided tour and discover the cultural and geological wonders of the springs – fed by 20,000 year-old rainwater that’s been heated by geothermal forces to emerge, millennia later, as the springs.

Each tour offers a soaking session in the purpose-built plunge pool – or you can book a private pool for an additional fee.

Visit Talaroo for the day or stay longer to soak up the place.  Within cooee of the springs, there’s a caravan park and campground with 30 landscaped sites.  A brand new camp kitchen and amenities adjoin the sites – plus there’s a café selling coffee, snacks and simple meals.

And when the sun sinks low, join the local guides and other guests for a traditional yarning circle beside the campfire.

Talaroo Hot Springs welcome the public in the cooler months, from April to October.

But there’s plenty of summer fun to be had in the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef!

For a start, summer brings longer days that melt into balmy nights.  And the prevailing northerlies usually deliver calm conditions and great underwater clarity out on the Great Barrier Reef.

Plus, it’s easy to keep cool with amazing experiences like Foaming Fury. Run by the Cairns Adventure Group, this half-day tour takes you to the Mulgrave River, south of Cairns, for a guided adventure of white-water tubing. It’s a gentle adrenalin rush, however, suitable for ages from 5 upwards.

After your rapids ride, why not relax for a night or two in the golden city of Cairns?

Crystalbrook Flynn offers stylish rooms and suites framing views of the ocean, harbour and rainforest-clad mountain ranges.  Enjoy dining at the hotel’s suite of eateries – including Boardwalk Social and Whiskey & Wine, a swanky terrace bar and dining venue overlooking the newly refurbished Cairns Esplanade precinct.

Cairns Esplanade has never looked so good – after being lavished with 28 million dollars of love. The refurbishment has included 12 hectares of landscaped lawns, hanging gardens and new waterfront event spaces.  Plus, there’s a dining option along this stylish stretch to suit every taste – whether you’re after Greek, Bavarian, Thai or Italian cuisine.

Speaking of Italian, you can’t go past Gelocchio just off the esplanade.  This family-run gelati shop is a 10-year institution in Cairns – with flavours inspired by the exotic fruits of the Tablelands.  Try Soursop or Dragonfruit gelati – just two of the sensational flavours that keep patrons coming back for more.  Or you can opt for a more traditional treat – like the very popular Ferrer Rocher, dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with nuts.  A truly sweet way to finish a spectacular holiday in Queensland’s vibrant tropical north!

We’ve got just three little words for you – Go North, people!

Previous articleVespertine by Margaret Rogerson
Next articleThe Storyteller by Dave Grohl