Sunshine for days – How we do winter in Tropical North Queensland!

Katie Purling is a pharmacist turned photographer who grew up in the beautiful Adelaide Hills... it was here amongst the gum trees and the endless fields of green that she first developed her love and appreciation for nature and all things colourful. Follow her journey at @MyColourfulWorld_

Well Southerners, it's that time of year again, the mercury starts to drop, the chill works its way in through every crack or crevice around the house and your toes nearly drop off running to the toilet in the middle of the night...

Winter's beginning to rear its ugly head!

So while you're all getting rugged up under a thousand layers, I want you to spare a thought for us tropical people.

You see the wet is behind us, the sun's still out and the weather's starting to get real nice. Welcome to the Far North, where it's a shorts and t-shirt kind of day, every day!


Location: Palm Cove

Recently I convinced my best friend from chilly South Australia to join me for a weekend of sunshine, adventure and a little bit of R & R of course! Teaming up with Mantra Hotels and some awesome local attractions I planned to send this southerner home with a dose of the tropics that was sure to make the winter chill sting that little bit more.

First up we hopped on Big Cat Green Island's ferry from Cairns and set sail for Green Island. After approximately 50 minutes by boat, the crew had us touching down on the island paradise and ready for a few hours of adventure.

Green Island is a naturally formed coral cay, surrounded entirely by fringing reef! As soon as you hop off the boat you will be in absolute awe of the unbelievably clear turquoise water and itching to jump in as you catch glimpses of the whole other world lying just beneath the surface.

Nemo here I come!


We were in the water for no less than a few minutes before we bumped into a beautiful blue spotted sting-ray. Holly was a little cautious and kept her distance but I knew better of this shy little fella and floated on by admiring the patterns on his skin.


Much of the next few hours were filled with meeting and greeting some more of the reef's friendly inhabitants (including Nemo of course) as well as soaking up the sun on the white sandy beach. It was just heavenly!

Before long however it was time to jump on the boat and head back to the mainland.


Next stop on the itinerary was the bustling seaside town of Palm Cove to check into our accommodation and relax before a bit of wining and dining later that evening.

Palm Cove is a popular spot for holiday goers, boasting a beautiful palm lined esplanade which is home to plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops to keep everybody occupied. And for the little ones, there are tonnes of fun activities both on and off the water that will have them entertained for hours.


We opened the door to an incredible room within the Mantra Amphora and couldn't wait to jump in the hot tub for a soak and a well-earned glass of bubbles after our salty adventures earlier that day.

This was relaxation done right....


Or so we thought...

Unfortunately, thanks to a certain southerner (not to name, names) running the bath far too hot for the TNQ climate we very quickly began to sweat up a storm and I quote it felt "like we were burning in the fires of hell!"

Welcome to the tropics, we like our baths luke-warm at best!

Thankfully we had the resort pool to cool off in; a more sensible option and the perfect end to our afternoon.


Dinner that evening was at the scrumptious Lime and Pepper Restaurant, located on the esplanade at Peppers Beach Club & Spa.

Now I wouldn't describe myself as much of a foodie, Holly on the other hand is a connoisseur of fine dining and put it this way...she was in foodie heaven!

Each of the three courses we sat down to were full of rich and wonderful flavours and had us licking our lips excited for more. By the end of the evening I genuinely needed to be rolled back to the room - Talk about food babies!

There are a delicious range of options on the menu but my favourite dish was the duck with sautéed kale and kipfler potatoes! It was cooked to perfection and the mix of flavours and textures on the plate was just...yum!

The next morning, I couldn't miss the chance to get up for sunrise, especially with such a magical back drop waiting just across the road. So I jumped out of bed super early and bee-lined for the palm trees to see what the sky had in store.

Safe to say I was pretty happy with the result! But then again I will let you be the judge....


After a stunning sunrise we returned to Peppers Beach Club & Spa for a delicious buffet breakfast and some time to explore the resort during which we very quickly came to realise this place was the definition of paradise.

Peppers is next level ahhh-mazing and had us feeling like we were somewhere in the Bahamas as we floated around in the sandy shallows of the main pool.

And if the tropical island feel isn't your style, well just check out the serenity pool for some ultimate rainforest relaxation. They have it sorted, no matter what you fancy!



After some early sunshine and a quick dip we were ready for our next adventure.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, here we come!

In the past I hadn't been too interested in the Skyrail, which was likely the reason I had yet to check it out even after living in Cairns for over 2 years.

Within the first five minutes however I was literally blown away. Both by the wind and the insane views that welcomed us as we climbed higher and higher into the mountains!



We were very fortunate to have a fun and knowledgeable tour guide, Marni, an employee of the Skyrail for over 10 years and she popped us in the canopy glider for an open air experience we would never forget.

Warning: if you are afraid of heights - this is so worth pushing your boundaries for, as the sights are second to none.


The Canopy Glider is an open air gondola which affords uninterrupted 360 degree views of the region. I was literally hanging out of the gondola snapping away to my heart’s content whilst suspended up to 40 meters above the tree tops with a trusty harness keeping me from falling.

This was my kind of adventure!

No photo could ever do this incredible experience justice, although I must say I certainly tried my hardest, madly snapping away the whole time.


We passed over 15km's of lush rainforest, dangled over the Barron River and captured an incredible view of Barron Falls and the mountains beyond. You could even spot fresh water crocs sunning themselves on a log in the Barron River - I honestly believe there is no better way to appreciate the vast landscapes that surround Cairns, than from the Skyrail.

Last but certainly not least we headed to Port Douglas for a spot of shopping and an afternoon cocktail by the pool at Pepper's Port Douglas. A slightly smaller but equally as luxurious resort located only a stone’s throw from both the beautiful Four Mile Beach and Macrossan Street.

This vibrant little town is an absolute hub for holiday goers, with everything you could need at your fingertips. Macrossan Street is bursting with cafes and restaurants offering a broad range of cuisines!

And what about the shopping...ohh the shopping!

Put it this way, Holly and I got lost wandering this street for hours, but only after a few poolside Pina Colada's at Peppers of course.


So there you have it, a glimpse of how we do winter in TNQ! It was safe to say Holly was begging to stay longer as she boarded the plane back to chilly South Australia and I'm 99% sure she would have stayed for good if there wasn't an adorable fur baby waiting patiently for her back home.

But I'm content knowing she will be back, after all we do live in paradise up here in the tropical north! How could anybody resist?!

If you would like to fly north and escape to Tropical North Queensland, check out accommodations offers here.

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