Wet, wet, wet in North Queensland

North Queensland is home to the some of the most incredible wetlands flooding with wildlife and fauna. So pack your sun cream, don’t forget your binoculars and brush up on your Aussie-isms, because here at Black Tomato we’ve conjured up a six night break with a difference. Jet off to the tropical North and head to the Mareeba Wetlands to soak up some alternative safari in serious style before getting a real taste of what this region is all about.

cairns to kuranda

Fly into Cairns and after a restful night at the luxurious Sebel Hotel it’s time to pick up your pre-hired car and hit the road to Mareeba. Climbing the East-West Highway 380m above the Coral Sea, you’ll whizz through orchards and farms, and into the lush surroundings of World Heritage Rainforest. Along the way, make a quick stop at Kuranda. Home to the Aboriginal Djabugay people for over 100,000 years, the beauty, peace and fertile earth of Kuranda have attracted everyone from gold prospectors in the 1800s, to free-thinking creatives in the tree-swinging sixties. Trust us, this jungle pit stop is sure to make your jaw drop.

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jaw drop, mouth full

Kuranda boasts an unrivalled selection of one-off indigenous artifacts and the best collection of Aboriginal instruments in the world. But before you get down to the serious business of buying that 10ft didgeridoo your father-in-law’s always secretly wanted, why not get to know the area on the Skyrail up to Barron Falls. At 853ft, Barron Falls is where the Barron River cascades from the verdant elevation of the Atherton Tablelands down to the Cairns Coastal Plain. A spectacular sight and a great way to work up an appetite before heading down to one of Kuranda’s finest restaurants.

to the mareeba

Fresh from the culture and cascades of Kuranda, it’s time to drive down to the Mareeba Wetlands. 35km South West of Kuranda at the foot of the Hann Tableland, Mareeba boasts 5000 acres of stunning savannas and wetlands made up of 12 inter-connected lagoons giving life to a wealth of animal and birdlife. Hole up in the Jabiru Safari Lodge, where you’ll find your very own African-style safari cabin with its own private timber terrace granting full access to the Mareeba experience whenever you want it. Comfortable, stylish and set right within the reserve, this is the perfect hideaway for a bushwhacked soul.

so-fari so good

Boasting a list of safari options so long it rivals the number of resident species, you won’t be stuck for places to canoe and animals to see in Mareeba. Whether it’s a splay-footed Jacana hot-stepping from lily to lily or a nondescript log subtly transmuting into a grinning freshwater croc, there are subjects aplenty for the serious shutterbug and snap-happy amateur alike. But make sure to keep your peepers peeled for Kadimakara – a 19 meter long lizard. Don’t worry, this big guy won’t bite. Nestled deep in the savanna, Kadimakara is a steel sculpture installed by the Japanese artist Tanabe-san to promote the conservation of wild rice, and one you sure won’t be able to miss.

bean there, done that, got the chocolate?

When day four dawns feel free to continue your Mareeba Wetlands adventure, but we thought we’d let you in on a few hidden gems in the area worth a visit while you’re in this neck of the outback.

We all know Australia for its fine amber nectar export, but brewing in North Queensland you’ll find aromatic coffee plantations that have been stealing awards left, right and center. Just a few minutes from the Mareeba you’ll stumble across The Coffee Works – Australia’s foremost roasters and purveyors of all things coffee-related and fine chocolaty. We gave the lime and black pepper dark chocolate a try, and then another try and then bought a crate. If you’re a true coffee fanatic, then you can’t miss out on the Skybury Plantation which provides its delicious beans world wide. If you recently sat in the Houses of Parliament, you’d know just how good these beans taste.

cairns and home

After a final night at the Jabiru Safari Lodge in Mareeba, it’s time to say goodbye to the wonderful reserve and set your coordinates for Cairns, a 64km drive East along the Kennedy Highway. Check into the familiar comfort and luxury of the Sebel Cairns for a night of relaxation and pampering before you return your car and head home.

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