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Australian Hand-Crafted Journeys

Queensland Frontiers: Cape York & Great Barrier Reef by Angelica

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BLOG | Part of our Innovative Itineraries series, this itinerary was created by Senior Travel Designer Angelica Aidone. Wade into the remote and natural beauty of Tropical North Queensland and the Torres Strait to discover profound and enduring cultures alongside nature at its most exquisite.

At a Glance

This customised journey was created by Senior Travel Designer Angelica Aidone for three well-travelled couples looking to discover the stories and histories of Australia’s most remote regions, with each destination offering a profound diversity of experiences and interests.

Part of a larger itinerary, Angelica custom-made this journey to satisfy each of the travellers’ specific interests, and heavily leveraged local connections and knowledge to bring it all together. These adventurers discovered some of the country’s most inaccessible areas with The Tailor’s carefully cultivated network of expert guides, venturing to rarely visited sections of Australia’s mainland to remote islands and waters while exploring their interests including nature and science, wildlife, and pre- and post-colonial human history.

Tropical North Queensland is a biodiverse region home to three World Heritage sites: the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest in the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and Australia’s largest fossil mammal site at Riversleigh. With over 70 National Parks abundant with animal life, mountainous peaks, rich ongoing Aboriginal cultures, colonial and World War Two histories, and much more to discover, Tropical North Queensland is filled with stories best told by those who know them intimately.

Chopper, drive and sail the remote regions of Tropical North Queensland on this unforgettable adventure.

“These travellers’ interests include Indigenous culture, art and history, fossils and topography, World War history, birdwatching, and wildlife encounters—this custom itinerary covers it all and more!”

Destination 1:

The Tip and Torres Strait Islands

A pontoon in clear blue waters outside of Horn Island, Torres Strait Islands

This Australian hand-crafted journey begins at the country’s very end—flying into Bamaga, one of the northernmost settlements on the mainland of Australia. Following a visit to the tip of the mainland, helicopter directly off the beach to Badu Island and begin your cultural journey throughout the Torres Strait.

During your time amongst this archipelago, you’ll rest in airy private island residences, within the well-appointed Grand Hotel on Thursday Island, and at rustic yet comfortable private camps. Blending comfort and charm with plenty of local friendliness, you’ll discover the appeal and allure of the Torres Strait Islands first-hand.

Led and hosted by locals from North West Safaris, your adventure here will be a cultural and natural delight discovering the lifestyle, history, and richness of Torres Strait Islander culture. Discover the Badu Art Centre to see works by famous artists, enjoy secluded beach lunches, embark on a cultural tour, and partake in a presentation including food tasting and traditional dancing. Venture to the archipelago’s pristine islands such as Irrki o Muralag (Prince of Wales Island) with a Kaurareg Elder to explore a hidden and rarely visited waterfall, enjoying local stories and food lore along the way, before enjoying a refreshing dip.

With a helicopter ride back to the mainland, settle into your accommodation for the evening before your adventure continues across the Cape York.

Destination 1: The Tip and Torres Strait Islands has accommodation for 3 nights in private residences and campgrounds, and the Grand Hotel Thursday Island with touring by North West Safaris.

Destination 2:

Cape York

Eliot Falls flowing on the Cape York peninsula in Jardine River National Park

Travelling down the mainland, you’ll traverse the largest river on the Cape York peninsula – the Jardine, renowned for its crocodiles. Over creek crossings and historic 4WD tracks alike, you’ll venture through unique historical sites and outstandingly rugged National Parks only sparsely populated by locals and travellers alike.

Within this region lined with National Parks, historic homesteads and stations, you’ll rest at bush camps set up on historic sites with pioneering history, and rainforest-nestled cabins hosted by a local Aboriginal family. These rustic destinations will envelop you into the environments you’re found within, whether you’re resting a mere metre from rainforest and wildlife walks directly outside your front door, or you’re camping out on sprawling and sparse landscape admiring an unblemished starry night sky above.

Discover the contrasts of the Cape’s notoriously rugged 4WD tracks and historic buildings alongside the dramatic ranges of the Kutini Payamu/Iron Range National Park known for its rare flora and fauna. Discover historic sites from the 1930s Gold Rush era and the Iron Range USAAF/RAAF Airbase which played an important reconnaissance role in WWII. During the evening, go on nocturnal walks amongst the tropical rainforest and keep your eyes peeled for Palm Cockatoos, Eclectus Parrots, Green Pythons, and the elusive Cuscus.

After days in the heart of remote National Parks and landscapes of contrasting green and red, transfer to the remote Lockhart River esplanade to board your home for the next several nights – the luxury yacht Aroona.

Destination 2: Cape York has accommodation for 3 nights at a collection of bush camps and remote accommodation options with touring by North West Safaris.

Destination 3:

Great Barrier Reef

Aroona Luxury Boat Charters anchored on the Great Barrier Reef alongside corals with guests paragliding

Set sail off the coast of Lockhart into the deep blue waters of the Northern Great Barrier Reef. This exquisite region is home to important historical sites, nature, and wildlife, and many of the places you’ll visit can only be done by a vessel such as Aroona.

Aroona is an elegant mid-size luxury yacht serviced by an enthusiastic and local crew. Catering for fishing, diving, scientific research, filming, exploration, and adventure charters alike, this vessel promises a five-star luxury adventure experience upon the Great Barrier Reef with a crew perfectly adept at reading your interests and showing you the region at its most splendid.

Over the five days cruising from Lockhart to Cooktown, you’ll stop at remote reefs and rock pools, isolated islands, and still waters upon the edge of the Continental Shelf to discover seas abundant with life. Explore the exquisite snorkelling and diving sites of the Great Barrier Reef and admire Pilot Whales passing through waters filled with turtles, reef sharks, clown fish, and a whole host of beautifully coloured fish and coral. While venturing between sites, keep an eye out for rocky outcrops and tidal coral reefs which may house critically endangered hawkbill turtles.

For human history, sail around the Flinders Group Islands and Cape Melville and learn about the Yiithuwarra / ‘saltwater people’ Aboriginal people and visit important heritage sites. Discover rock art sites from the late 1800s depicting intensive contact between the Yiithuwarra and Europeans, marine creatures, and post-contact ship paintings. Further down the coast, discover old ruins of shipwrecks and monuments on Cape Melville.

Over five beautiful nights, sail throughout the remarkable waters of the Northern Great Barrier Reef. Your aquatic journey ends back on the mainland when you set anchor at historic portside town, Cooktown.

Destination 3: Great Barrier Reef has accommodation for 5 nights on Aroona.

Destination 4:

Cooktown and Laura

Guide overlooking Quinkan rock art outside of Laura, Queensland

Enjoy one final breakfast on Aroona before disembarking at the Cooktown Marina. Bidding adieu to the Aroona crew, you’ll be transferred into the capable hands of your hosts, including a local Aboriginal Elder of the region who will show you through the areas he grew up in and knows intimately.

Staying overnight in comfortable resort accommodation, Cooktown is a hub for profound adventures. This charming portside town comes with a colourful and rich Aboriginal and colonial history to discover, alongside spectacular sunsets, abundantly biodiverse wetland areas, beautifully restored cattle stations, bird and wildlife spotting opportunities, and a day trip’s proximity to some of Australia’s most exquisite rock art sites.

Your time throughout Cooktown and Laura will reveal a fascinating cultural tapestry. Led by a Traditional Custodian on the country he grew up upon, venture out of Cooktown via 4WD to remote UNESCO Heritage-listed Quinkan Rock Art sites in Rinyirru/Lakefield National Park. This remarkable site shows one of the largest bodies of prehistoric art in the world. In the region, you will also visit the historic Old Laura Homestead, travel down the rugged Battle Camp Road, and marvel at views of escarpment and wilderness in one of the region’s majestic National Parks. Finish your adventure with an epic helicopter journey over the Daintree, following the winding river system to your final destination.

With your luggage transferred while you were adventuring, arrive in Cairns and settle into your hotel before your journey homewards.

Destination 4: Cooktown and Laura have accommodation for 1 night at Sovereign Resort with touring by North West Safaris.

Why do you love this itinerary?

“This itinerary really shows what we do best at The Tailor – it’s creative and required a lot of outside-of-the-box thinking. It was extremely rewarding to get messages from the clients every step of the way about all the amazing things they experienced!”

Where to next?

The lush tropics of North Queensland delights guests across the globe with its profound nature, enduring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and rich abundance of stories and histories. Popular for all the right reasons, this itinerary delivers a new perspective on Tropical North Queensland and highlights the hidden gems of the region that only few travellers will experience.

What elements of Tropical North Queensland compel you? Where do you want to travel? Be sure to let us know.

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Australian Hand-Crafted Journeys

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