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  •   Tropical North - Natural Attractions

•   Flecker Botanical Gardens and Mt Whitfield Conservation Park
For a tranquil walk in lush tropical surroundings, head to Flecker Botanical Gardens. There are 38 hectares of tropical flora, some dating back to the Garden’s foundation in the 1880s. Entry is free, although donations are welcomed. Adjoining the gardens, Centenary Lakes is a wilderness parkland, with a boardwalk through mangroves and tropical rainforest. More adventurous visitors can tackle the walking tracks in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, just behind the gardens. Not for the faint-hearted, the tracks scale the forested mountain peak, but the views from the top are wonderful. The birdlife is prodigious and walkers may come across the secretive agile wallaby in the early morning or late afternoon.

•   Barron Gorge National Park
Barron Gorge National Park features rugged mountain scenery, steep ravines, tumbling waterfalls, rich wildlife and tropical rainforest. It has the most accessible rainforest close to Cairns and became part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area in 1988.You can explore the park on the 34km Kuranda Scenic Railway or sweep over the top of the trees on the Skyrail. There are stops along the way where you can alight and get closer to this remarkable area.

•   Daintree National Park
Daintree National Park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and features long sandy beaches, rocky headlands and steep mountain ranges intersected by numerous creeks and rivers. One of Australia’s last extensive stands of lowland rainforest is found here. Impenetrable ranges, rising steeply from the coast, are blanketed with dense upland rainforests that support many ancient plants and animals. Visit the Daintree Discovery Centre for an insight into this unique and ancient area.

•   Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham
Lake Barrine is a volcanic crater lake surrounded by rainforest. The deep waters of the lake and the pleasant coolness of the Atherton Tableland have combined to make Lake Barrine a popular stop for visitors to the area. Take the walking track around the lake for tree-filtered lake views and excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. Lake cruises operate from the privately-owned Lake Barrine teahouse, which offers dining with water views. Nearby, Lake Eacham is a similar volcanic lake with a circuit walk through rainforest. Both are part of Crater Lakes National Park.

•   Malanda Falls Conservation Park
On the Atherton Tableland, Malanda Falls Conservation Park protects a small rainforest remnant and the falls themselves, where the North Johnstone River tumbles over an ancient lava flow. Enjoy a picnic by the river, look for brush-turkeys and orange-footed scrubfowl building mounds in the rainforest and perhaps see platypus in the river around dusk.

•   Hallorans Hill Conservation Park
Behind the town of Atherton on the Atherton Tableland rises Hallorans Hill, an extinct volcanic cone. Hallorans Hill Conservation Park protects open eucalypt forest and rainforest remnants on the hill. Enjoy a picnic and take in the view from the top of the hill. Follow the Aboriginal trail for information on Aboriginal culture as you walk to the crater (the track has some steep sections).

•   Millaa Falls Circuit
A few kilometres south of Millaa Millaa on the Atherton Tableland is the renowned Waterfall Circuit. It takes in Millaa, Zillie and Elinjaa Falls. During the wet season, these waterfalls are a spectacular sight and can be heard a few hundred metres away from under their rainforest canopy.

•   Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
Dry prickly vine scrub and jagged limestone outcrops at Chillagoe conceal the breathtaking beauty of the limestone caves underground. Many of these caves are protected in sections of Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park. Visit Chillagoe itself, a delightful country town, before heading to the limestone caves. Guided tours of Royal Arch, Donna and Trezkinn Caves operate daily, or you can explore The Archways, Pompeii and Bauhinia Caves on your own. Always take at least two torches when caving and never cave alone. Above ground, there are Aboriginal paintings, a historic mine smelter and plentiful birdlife.

•   Green Island
Green Island is one of the most accessible and popular destinations on the Great Barrier Reef. Many tours from Cairns head to the island, a true coral cay formed as sand and coral pieces built up on the calm side of the reef. The island is covered in tropical vine forest which supports a diversity of birds and insects. The surrounding coral reef is teeming with marine life and many visitors indulge in some snorkeling for a close-up look. Between October and May, remember that there may be stinging jellyfish in the waters around Green Island.

•   Undara Volcanic National Park
Undara Volcanic National Park protects the Undara lava tubes, the longest lava tube cave system in the world. Take a tour to see inside these fascinating tubes, a reminder of a volcanic eruption about 190,000 years ago. As a nearby volcano erupted, molten lava flowed over the surrounding area. The outer layer of lava cooled and formed a crust while the molten lava inside drained away leaving a series of hollow tubes. They are surprisingly full of life with wallabies, bats, insects and birds choosing the cool tubes for a home.

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