If the most adventurous you've been lately is ordering a spicy Thai curry, go north my friend, for
Cairns and its tropical surrounds are an adrenaline-junkie's paradise.
It's where I find myself hanging upside down, 12 metres above the ground in the majestic Daintree Rainforest, with my feet crossed firmly and my arms
dangling below me - not exactly how I envisaged one would 'jungle surf', but that was just one of the many surprises of this trip. After a short countdown and cheers from my group, I shoot laughing and 'wahooing' from one tree to the next... Tarzan, eat your heart out. Kelly Slater may know a thing or two about catching waves, but I've got this jungle surfing thing all stitched up.
Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours is a major draw card to Cape Tribulation, on the Daintree Coast. Hooked onto zip lines, you fly free as a bird from one tree to the next on a short but fun course through the rainforest.
With all the liberating adventure of the afternoon's tour, I almost have to remind myself to take a moment, look out and really appreciate just how incredibly beautiful this part of Queensland is. Ancient, solid trunks reach high into the sky dressed with glossy green leaves resplendent in the afterglow of recent rain, while the clear mountain river surged beneath our feet.
Two days earlier, my travel buddies and I kicked off our long weekend by river tubing down the Mulgrave River, 50 minutes south of Cairns. While most were expecting a nice relaxing cruise
down the river, this fun-loving neck of the woods had other plans. We bounced, laughing and screaming over fast-flowing rapids,
and maneuvered ourselves with frenzied paddling and dogged concentration through a space under a bridge just wide enough for one. Our
Foaming Fury guides had an infectious lust for life that left me envious of their outdoor 'office'.
Luckily, no matter your fitness level, there's an activity guaranteed to get your blood pumping in the Tropical North. For me, the idea of hooning around for an afternoon on a quad bike seemed like the perfect mix of thrills and (minimal) exertion, and I wasn't wrong. Upon arrival to
Daintree Station, just outside Port Douglas, we met our trusty mechanical steeds and after a quick safety briefing, were ready for our Jungle Rumble quad adventure.
If there's one thing that makes quad biking all the more fun, it's mud. And we couldn't have asked for more. Navigating the old rainforest logging tracks on the property, our cautious-to-begin-with group kept the guides busy with plenty needing a helping hand out of a boggy mess. But once we got a feel for it, there was no stopping us. Especially me, it seems, as I roared down an embankment and up the other side only to lose control and come to stop at the foot of a tree. Apologies to the tree, but at least my clumsiness had us all in stitches and became the talking point for the remainder of the trip.
My newfound love for the north was cemented with an adventure tour for my taste buds at
Salsa Bar & Grill in Port Douglas. Loved by locals and the who's who of Hollywood alike, this local restaurant serves up a staggering selection of delectable seafood, Moorish desserts and fabulous cocktails. Equipped for the night with my dragon fruit and orange caprioska, I couldn't believe I'd only flown two hours north, and not to Thailand.
The signature linguine pepperincino with garlic yabbies and shaved parmesan really is to-die-for, but if you're nibbling beforehand, order the entrée size for your main. They certainly don't scrimp on portions here. Salsa Bar's friendly and knowledgeable wait staff adds that extra special something to the relaxed and fun-loving ambience.
After (self-inflicted) jam-packed days, retiring to our accommodation felt almost like a holiday from a holiday. Perched high atop a hill overlooking its own private beach and lush rainforest, just 10 minutes south of Port Douglas,
Thala Beach Lodge is truly an oasis everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing.
The roomy individual bungalows offer privacy and stunning views to boot and if your legs are feeling weary from too much adventure, their friendly staff will pick you up in a golf buggy and transport you in style to the on-site restaurant, or down to the beach where you can enjoy a sunset drink, or simply relax in a hammock between two palm trees. How much more tropical can you get? Well, there's the private coconut plantation on the property, the fruits of which are enjoyed on the menu by way of delicious cocktails, or in the form of oil, enjoyed with dukkah and warm Turkish bread.
And hey, I'll try anything once.