Tropical Queensland on any budget

It’s nearly winter, so high time you headed north to the sun and fun that only the Sunshine State can offer travellers on even the tightest of budgets.

About this time of year those Australians living in the southern half of the country are suddenly struck by the sense that there has to be more to life than this. In the northern hemisphere it’s a well-recognised phenomenon called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Put simply, it means you need some sun on your skin. And where better to to do it than Tropical North Queensland, or TNQ to the locals?

Because it’s a long journey from the southern capitals such as Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne – and even further for those in Western Australia, it’s easy to assume it will be too expensive for those with very modest travel budgets. Fear not, we’ve taken the trip and worked out how those on fixed incomes can still enjoy a TNQ getaway without breaking the bank.

And for those who are lucky enough to have a little extra, we suggest luxury and mid-range accommodation options. Our holiday takes in two great destinations, with two nights in Palm Cove and four in Port Douglas. Palm Cove is located about 25 minutes north of Cairns Airport. As the name suggests, it is a well-protected cove, nestled between two headlands. There is one main street, Williams Esplanade, where most of the accommodation is located, punctuated by cafes, restaurants and shops. Living is easy in Palm Cove – shorts and sarongs constitute ‘smart casual’. It is an easy walk from most hotels and apartments across the road to the picture-postcard beach, with netting organised to protect swimmers from any nasty stingers.

Palm Cove is picturesque, relaxing and compact. So two or three days is plenty, then it’s time to head another hour north to Port Douglas. A much larger town with many luxury resorts, as well as a cluster of apartments and hotels at the Four Mile Beach end of the main drag, Macrossan Street. There are a wide range of activities on offer in Port Douglas, from the predictable – golf, tennis, shopping, and dining – through to the more adventurous – including scuba diving, heli-biking and sea kayaking. Port Douglas is also the departure point for day long tours to the Great Barrier Reef as well as forays into the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. If possible, make sure you don’t miss the Daintree, in particular the Mossman Gorge Visitor Centre where local indigenous people will share a snapshot of their history and culture you won’t experience anywhere else.

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