Cairns: accommodation and beyond

Lake Barrine in the Atherton Tablelands is a haven for wildlife.
Lake Barrine in the Atherton Tablelands is a haven for wildlife. Contributed.

STAYING in the heart of Cairns is a delight - especially since the refurb of the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort.

This place is what I consider a resort should be.

It's accessible in every sense of the word.

Situated in the heart of the city, surrounded by fabulous old fig trees (home to a colony of noisy fruit bats), the hotel is huge and welcoming - the foyer is bright and cheerful, with high tech Apple Macs on display for your use, a colourful kids' play area, a bar along with luscious lounge chairs to sink into and a glass wall uncovering the huge pool area.

It's the kind of place you feel comfortable slapping about in a sarong, as equally as you do being picked up by stretch limo in your finery. All very tropical north!

The Cairns Oasis is very much geared to the leisure traveller and has a brilliant range of packages on offer, taking in most of the region's most stunning attractions.

I chose the Mamu Rainforest package. For $270 per person, twin share, I not only had a fabulous room for two nights (with yummy buffet breakfast both days) but I was also collected from the foyer for a tour which was truly spectacular.

Starting the day, Joe our driver expertly negotiated his bus into the Atherton Tablelands.

First stop was the mirror-like Lake Barrine for a cruise around this wildlife haven. Finishing the 45 minute boat ride, we were whisked into the Lake Barrine boatshed for fresh scones, jam and cream.

Lucky, because it was nearly 30 minutes before I'd eat again! And that was after exploring the Millaa Millaa and Mena Creek Waterfalls, on the way to Mungali Falls for lunch.

With a tummy full of fish'n'chips, the Ma Mu Rainforest walk was never going to do me any harm.

This canopy walkway has everything one would expect from an eco-sensitive development - the tracks are sensitively cleared from exitisting fire trails and every bit of material used is recycled or eco certified.

Designed to have virtually no impact on the surrounding rainforest, Ma Mu is a 2.5km return walk into the canopy, a World Heritage Wet Tropics area, where cassowary roam and rare tree kangaroos dwell.

It is a magical part of the world, much protected by the Ma Mu Aboriginal traditional owners, who happily share this experience.

Gazing out from the highest point of the walkway's tower, it's a shock to see the vastness and beauty of this forest.

It's a rare treasure which we are privileged to enjoy in this low impact manner.

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