Stretching 2,300-kilometres up the length of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, but you don’t have to work for NASA to suss why its unique geography has been declared a World Heritage Area. Before hopping in your wetsuit to discover the reef’s 90-plus islands, spend some time in fun-loving Cairns, a magnet for water-babies thanks to its destination diving, sailing and snorkelling. Expect awe-inspiring nature, exciting activities and mouth-watering restaurants and bars for après-sun lounging.

Spotlight on: the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef makes the Wall of China look small – one of the world’s seven wonders, it’s home to more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and hundreds of tropical islands – where some of the world’s most eye-poppingly beautiful beaches await...

Smith insider tip #1 Eat at... Ochre Restaurant, whose ambitious menus champion inventive combinations of native produce: damper crumb and kakadu plum with emu carpaccio, or green-ant salsa verde with smoked crocodile, perhaps. The dining space has been designed in honour of the Australian outback: violet-sunset-hued banquettes; earth-red walls; natural timber furnishings.

Don’t miss... The elaborate tasting menus, which deliver mini-tutorials on the region’s flavours.

Smith insider tip #2 Drink at... The Conservatory Wine Bar, which showcases a thirst-quenching array of brilliant Australian wines. You can also construct your own grazing plates from the bar’s selection of charcuterie, cheeses, olives, dips and other antipasto.

Don’t miss... Beers by Townsville Brewery, whose award-winning brews hail from North Queensland.

Smith insider tip #3 Sleep at... QT Port Douglas, a fun-loving tropical treat decorated with juicy, ice-lolly colours. Staff dressed in retro Hamptons-style togs, a boutique stocked with beachy homewares and accessories and a sprawling outdoor-indoor bar and restaurant amp up the fun. Cairns is just under an hour away from Port Douglas by car.

Don’t miss... Cocktails and surf flicks at QT’s sunny Estilo bar, which has a TV showing silent looped footage from 1950s surfing movies. The swim-up Pool Bar is the go-to spot when the temperature rises.

Read more about CAIRNS

Begin your Australian adventure in style with Singapore Airlines. Fly one stop to Cairns from £665

Related Articles