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The Great Green Way: Cairns – Townsville


The Great Green Way is an area of outstanding natural beauty lying between Townsville and Cairns, taking in the towns of Ingham, Cardwell, Tully, Mission Beach, Innisfail and Babinda in Far North Queensland, including two World Heritage listings of the Wet Tropics Rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef.

The area has over 25 tropical islands off its coast, over 12 mainland National Parks, and it is the closest mainland access in Queensland to the Outer Barrier Reef.

One of the best aspects of the area is its relaxed, North Queensland lifestyle, where you can still chat with locals in an old Queensland pub, and where farming and fishing are still the dominant way-of-life. Discover its rich, diverse cultural history, or enjoy the luxury of fresh seafood and tropical fruits while enjoying the sunset.

Here are just a couple of locations on the journey between Cairns and Townsville that are well worth taking a break in the journey to see a little more of the unique features that North Queensland has to offer.

Babinda Boulders

Just 1 hour south of Cairns, Babinda Boulders is an iconic attraction and popular swimming hole. The water is refreshing year-round making it the perfect spot to cool off amid the granite boulders. Ensure you swim and walk in the designated areas. Shady rainforest hikes take you to some magical places such as Devil’s Pool. Babinda Boulders is located in the Wooroonooran National Park and holds particular significance for local Aboriginal people. You can continue into this park to explore Walsh's Pyramid, Behana Gorge, Josephine Falls and the Mount Bartle Frere trail which scales Queensland's tallest mountain.

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

The Mamu Tropical Skywalk is located 15 minutes out of Innisfail and is a spectacular walk through the canopy of World Heritage rainforest. Elevated walkways, a cantilever, and observation tower offer visitors the exhilarating experience of being high in the rainforest canopy. The Mamu Skywalk allows you to explore the rainforest from the forest floor to the canopy, in comfort and safety. The Skywalk passes through one of the largest-remaining continuous stands of complex vine forest on basalt soils in the Wet Tropics.

Paronella Park

On five hectares beside Mena Creek Falls is Paronella Park, there are picnic areas by the falls, tennis courts, bridges, a tunnel, wrapped in an amazing range of 7,500 tropical plants and trees. Opened to the public in 1935 Paronella Park is state and national Heritage listed and is a National Trust listed property. A magical moss covered garden with enough nooks, crannies and sources of fascination to keep you delighted for hours.

Mission Beach

Nestled between World Heritage rainforest and palm-fringed beaches, Mission Beach is a beautiful spot to explore dozens of rainforest and coastal walking trails, secluded inlets, and wide empty beaches to explore, and if you’re lucky you’ll see an endangered Cassowary.

Mission Beach offers a full range of dining options, cafes, art galleries, supermarkets, fishing, skydiving, white-water rafting and reef and mangrove tours. Water taxis shuttle day-trippers to idyllic Dunk Island.

Hinchinbrook Island

With its pristine beaches, rainforests, mangroves and inlets, Australia’s largest island National Park is worth planning for. Discover the unspoilt beauty and wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island. There’s no vehicle access, so you leave your caravan at Port Hinchinbrook or Cardwell, and ferry across to Hinchinbrook Island.

The world renowned Thorsborne Trail takes in the full diversity of the island in four days, but as only 40 people are permitted on the trail at a time, book ahead. There are spectacular day trips, too.

Paluma Range National Park

Take a detour through the small village of Paluma, in the Paluma Range National Park, and Crystal Creek for picturesque waterfalls and mist-shrouded rainforests. Enjoy close-up views of rainforest plants, insects and birds, and take in sweeping vistas. Information signs tell of the rainforest’s complex web of life and the rich culture and history of the area.


With 300 days of sunshine each year, Townsville is known as the dry tropics. The region’s diverse landscapes range from the majestic granite boulders of Magnetic Island to the lush rainforests of Paluma National Park, and sweeping northern beaches such as Balgal Beach.

Townsville is a great location to base yourself for a whole range of activities, you can snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef, scuba dive shipwrecks, explore hiking trails, or drive onto the ferry to explore the history and turquoise bays of Magnetic Island.

While the distance between Cairns and Townsville is only 348 km it can offer a whole lot more if you want to experience the best of North Queensland. Take the time, it will reward you with some great experiences.

Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

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