Though it’s known as the “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef,” the Australian city of Cairns is also a great base for day trips and extended excursions into the surrounding rainforest, parks, rivers, streams and gorges. One of the most exciting ways to explore the interior is via a Cairns white water rafting tour.
The Tully River is the go-to destination for rafting enthusiasts looking for an action-packed day on the water. Most tours (guided tours are highly recommended, both for safety and enjoyment) feature pick-up and drop-off service; as well as access to as many as 45 rapids, lunch and refreshments, and a close look at pristine stretches of UNESCO-designated World Heritage Rainforest.
The Barron Gorge National Park is located just 20 minutes from Cairns. The grade 2-3 rapids on the Barron River are great for newcomers and the inexperienced. If it’s a half-day excursion that you’re seeking, the tours based here are typically shorter in duration than those on the Tully (generally a mere 4 hours from start to finish).
If you have a little more time on your hands, multi-day trips to the North Johnston River offer glimpses of numerous waterfalls and creeks, lovely rainforest clearings, striking geological formations (it is a volcanic gorge), serene campsites, and above all some extremely exciting rafting. This option is often considerably more expensive than either of the aforementioned destinations (helicopter transport is part of the bargain, after all), but tours to this beautiful part of North Queensland are worth every penny.