Everyone has a bucket list, but why wait your whole life to start counting it down when you can do so many ‘must-do’ things right here in Tropical North Queensland? With a hugely diverse region to explore there is always something on offer that you’ve wanted to do for forever, and activities that appeal to adrenaline junkies and the less adventurous alike. So book yourself a trip to TNQ and get that pen out because you’re about to do a lot of ticking off…
See a natural wonder of the world
Ask someone to name a bucket list item and you’ll find that almost everyone has a trip to visit nemo’s home on there. The Great Barrier Reef has to be seen to be believed, the sheer diversity of life sitting below the surface completely unaware of our existence impresses even the biggest of land lubbers. Regardless of how you view it, in the water yourself or from a glass bottom boat, this natural wonder of the world will be a tick off the list you’ll never forget.
The great thing about Cairns is that you don’t need to be a scuba pro to dive the reef, in fact you don’t even need to be qualified! Just hop on any of the boat trips and make sure to book yourself an ‘intro dive’. After a quick lesson with your instructor you can enter the underwater world and experience breathing through your regulator safe in the knowledge that you’ve got a trained professional to hold your had and guide you along. Bonus points for ticking off seeing the reef with this one and potentially the below, if you’re lucky..
Swim with sharks
What do you mean ‘is there a cage involved?’ you big chicken! Don’t worry, the majority of the sharks in Tropical North Queensland are very friendly indeed and even the ones with a bad rep are usually well behaved. Seeing one is a huge privilege and something you will truly never forget. Plus the Facebook brags involved are worth their weight in gold, and feel free to embellish the story to your liking. Punched a shark in the nose to win the love of a swedish backpacker? Sure you did.
Okay, so you’ve dived the great barrier reef and eyeballed a shark, how are you going to top that? How about by jumping out of a perfectly good plane? Not only will you get to see the amazing TNQ region from a different perspective you’ll also get to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush of falling towards earth at terminal velocity. Why waste your first ever jump on a boring hill in your hometown when you could rush towards the reef in TNQ! For something a little more sedate you can always parasail over on Green Island, viewing the reef from above without having the chuck yourself out of a plane.
White Water Rafting
This isn’t just white water rating, this is white water rafting on the biggest rapids in Australia! A day trip to the Tully gorge will certainly feed any thrill seeking cravings you’ve had, especially if you choose the ‘X-treme’ option. Don’t assume you’re staying in that raft all day though! If you’re after something slightly more sedate then rafting the Barron river just north of Cairns might suit. With much smaller rapids this could fulfil your needs without quite so many heart stopping moments.
Meet a real life dinosaur
This isn’t just me right? Because every time I visit the Daintree Rainforest all I can hear in my head is the jurassic park theme tune. Thankfully there aren’t any T-rex’s roaming Queenslands far north but the rivers are filled with another prehistoric creature, the esturine crocodile. These monsters can grow many metres in length and are regularly spotted sunning themselves on the banks of the Daintree river. You can safely view them having their afternoon sunbake from any of the many boat cruises that run daily. Just don’t add a croc fighting story to your shark one, that’s getting a bit far fetched.
Run a marathon
Okay sure, everyone wants to pound out their 26 miles in a big city but how about running a marathon through rainforest? The Gold Rush marathon takes place in July and the route runs from Babinda’s famous holders up to Kearney’s falls and back. I bet competitors in New York aren’t required to cary snake bite kits are they, the sissies. If you’re after an even bigger challenge then why not enter the annual Cairns Iron Man compeition – a 180km cycle, 4km swim and a full marathon to finish it off. Don’t worry, the finish line is right by maccas.
If the above haven’t raised your pulse enough then how about taking on Australia’s only platform bungee. Throwing yourself 50 metres down with only some elastic attached to your ankles ought to do it! For those seeking even more thrills AJ Hackett also give you the option of riding a BMX over the edge or wearing a harness and jumping off. I’m a big chicken and if you’re a scardey cat when it comes to putting faith in a glorified elastic band there’s always the minjin swing, or the onsite bar where you can nab a front seat and watch the adrenaline junkies do their thing.
Swim under a Waterfall
Surely everyone has wanted to sneak behind a high falling curtain of water, even if it’s only to check if there’s a secret lair back there (hey, if it’s good enough for Batman…). Brave the cold water at Millaa Millaa falls and you can easily swim back there. There’s something pretty hypnotising about watching the water cascading down from the other side and it certainly makes for some enviable photographs.
Fly in a Helicopter
A Ryanair flight this is not. Whether you tack a 10 minute scenic on to your reef trip or splash out on an extended flight over the rainforest or reef this will be something that truly takes your breath away. The scenery to fly over in TNQ is perfect for helicopter viewing, vivid green rainforest clad mountains or the infinite array of blues of the great barrier reef. For most people getting to just experience the feel in of flying in a chopper would be enough, but why not take advantage of the beauty of TNQ as a backdrop?
Hot Air Balloon
You witness real childlike wonder when people go up in hot air balloons. Who hasn’t become mesmerised watching one fill with air and, apparently magically, lift off gently. Whether you wanted to hop in with Dorothy on her way back to Kansas or simply felt a longing to jump in the basket when you spied one floating overhead once again, the endless rolling farmland of the Tablelands at dawn as the sun rises from the horizon will sprinkle extra fairy dust on an already magical experience.
Cuddle a koala
Of course, no Australian based bucket list would be complete without a snuggle with everyone’s favourite bear (sorry Paddington). But did you know that in some states it’s prohibited? Fortunately for the TNQ visitor Queensland isn’t one of them, so if you’re finishing off your trip in Syndey make sure you meet one of these cuddly creatures before hopping on your plane. For those pressed for time the wildlife dome at the top of the casino has koala’s in it’s gift shop (don’t worry, they’re shift workers and do get a break) so you can be up and down with souvenir snap in hand in no time at all.
Just watch out for the drop bears.
What do you think? Would you add any more bucket list items? Or have you already tried some?