There is so much more to the Cairns region than breathtaking beaches, world famous reefs and heritage listed rainforest. Even with so many things to do in Cairns with kids, you will find that if you venture further afield and there are also some incredible hidden gem destinations and businesses with a range of gourmet produce on offer. You will find coffee, native locally grown fruits and the freshest dairy products. And if you go even further, you can experience life off the grid as you have never known it before.
There really has never been a better time to support local businesses and travel within Queensland. Something as simple as a doing a day trip from Cairns by car will give you an authentic sense of what this area is really like (plus, you can stop whenever need to stretch their legs!).
Kids can learn through hands-on experience visiting farms and families can enjoy spending time together without the stress of international travel. Visit these destinations and talk to the families who have being running these businesses for years, and in some case, generations.
We want to take you to some of the best the region has to offer and show you the best local spots, so get the kids in the car and let’s go!
We are going to start out at Jaques Coffee, a family run plantation that has been in the coffee industry for more than 40 years, so know how to produce the best of the best. Then we are off to Gallo Dairyland to experience dairy farm life, including interacting with farm animals. If you go on specific days then a trip to Rainforest Bounty is a whole new culinary experience, with locally grown fruits that are gaining in popularity and changing the way we eat. And our special mention is Kinrara Expeditions, a unique 5-day experience that let’s your family reconnect with nature, and each other, in a magical destination.
These destinations are merely a sample of what Cairns area is showing off, so it’s not hard to see why locals and visitors alike love to spend time exploring the best of what’s on offer. We encourage you to get off the beaten track and explore Far North Queensland.
So, without further ado, here are our suggestions for one of the best day trips from Cairns
Cairns area day trip map
Below is the map of where to find these Cairns area tourist attractions.
The best day trip from Cairns
We think we have nailed one of the best day trips from Cairns for families. Add this to your bucket list now and thank us later!
In this article we will show you all the best places to visit in and around Cairns to get a real sense of the local area. We show you where to go, how to get there, how long to stay and what to try. It is a Cairns day trip itinerary for families that you are going to love!
Cairns to Jaques Coffee – 60 minute drive
Get an early start from Cairns for this adventure-filled day trip. Coffee is always a good way to start the day and the drive to Jaques Coffee is nothing short of spectacular. Leaving Cairns you climb higher and higher over the range before reaching Kuranda. This cute artisan town on top of the range is well worth a breakfast stop – but resist the urge to grab a coffee because it will leave you disappointed after you visit Jaques Coffee.
Keep going and head toward Mareeba and located just before town is the turn off to the Jaques Coffee plantation. Situated among 85,000 coffee trees is the restaurant and the start of your visit and, wonderful place for kids to stretch their legs.
This family owned business has been a part of the coffee industry for more than 40 years, so they know what they are doing.
After taking in the sheer expanse of the plantation, take a tour to get a real feel for how coffee is made from start to finish. Watch a documentary about the coffee-making process and kids can ask any questions they have. While the adults indulge in a coffee liqueur tasting, kids (and adults) can enjoy tasting the fruit itself. Kids will love seeing the machinery that is used to harvest and roast the coffee and learning about what actually happens.
When you have finished the tour, enjoy a complimentary coffee and wander the gardens and plantation to take a look at the coffee trees themselves. Stop off in the café for brunch on the timber deck (homemade lemonade scones, yum!) then browse the shop to grab some gifts such as coffee liqueur or whole or ground coffee beans.
A premium tour of the plantation is also available, which includes a behind the scenes tour, however must be booked in advance. This tour is a must for coffee connoisseurs.
Cost: Self-guided tour $15 adults / $8 children, premium guided tour $75 adults / $50 children
Opening Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10.00am – 4.00pm
Jaques Coffee to Gallo Dairyland – 45 minute drive
After leaving the tropical ranges and reaching the coffee plantation you will have noticed that the landscape has changed. Heading towards Atherton you will see that the environment is much dryer and there is much more open countryside – perfect for a dairy!
Gallo Dairyland is loved by locals. This family farm has been on this land since 1937 and owners Frank and Ann are still heavily involved in the farm and will often stop by your table to say hi while you are enjoying lunch. It is this kind of atmosphere that makes it the locals’ destination of choice.
This spot really does have something for everyone. It is a working dairy farm, which means you can watch the cows being milked (between 2.30pm-3.30pm) and learn about where milk really comes from. Kids will love getting up close and personal with the farm animals in the animal nursery, including chickens and calves. A great photo opportunity as well so don’t forget the camera.
Next comes the delicious part, the cheese factory. Gallo Dairyland makes 16 flavours of cheese on site using European cheesemaking techniques. The Cheese Viewing Room provides the opportunity to see what it takes to make cheese that is loved not only across North Queensland, but all over Australia. After your tour, sit down in the air-conditioned restaurant for lunch and take in the breathtaking views of the Tablelands. The locals tell us that you can’t leave without trying a cheese platter so make sure you leave enough room!
Time for the next destination, but before you go don’t forget to check out the incredible chocolate that is made on site. Chocolatiers temper the best chocolate using the finest couverture from Switzerland!
Opening Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10.00am – 4.00pm
Gallo Dairyland to Rainforest Bounty – 15 minute drive
It’s only a short drive to Rainforest Bounty but our next stop is a different world.
There is something truly special about Rainforest Bounty. Geraldine, the founder, has created an entirely new category of food product. She is so passionate about conservation and changing the way we eat that she decided to redesign her 80-acre dairy farm and turn it into a vibrant rainforest with native fruit species. She is now witnessing the benefits of this as she grows a unique range of native fruits and introduces them to both locals and visitors. She has also seen the return of cassowaries to her home property.
Rainforest Bounty is a great way to introduce kids to seasonal and local eating and to encourage them to be aware of how and where food is grown in rainforest. Rainforest Bounty is only open on event days so please check the website before you go. Native Food Discovery Days are a fabulous and interactive way of introducing families to native Australian fruits and regenerative agriculture.
If you have time, why not attend the cooking school or save the date and join in the fun of the Ooray Plum Festival held in September or a Sunday lunch event that are held throughout the year. After the event, let the kids cool off with a paddle in the shallow river. Bring a picnic blanket and sit overlooking the river to enjoy the beautiful surrounds and after everyone has dried off stop in and check out the products that have been made on site, including Cape York Lilly Pilly Chutney, Boonjie Tamarind Vinegar and Ooray Plum Spicy Sauce. Yum!
A visit to this property is a wonderful opportunity to show kids a variety of true native rainforest fruit that can’t be seen in many other places.
Cost: Check website for event prices.
Opening Hours: Check website for event times and dates.
Rainforest Bounty to Cairns – 90 minute drive
From here it is an scenic 90 minute drive back to Cairns down the Gillies Range. If you have time, drop in to Lake Barrine or Lake Eacham, both part of Crater Lakes National Park. These lakes are formed when water fills a volcanic crater and make a great stop on the way back. Lake Barrine has a walking track in case you need to burn off the delicious food you ate during the day!
Special mention – Kinrara Expeditions
Our special mention is not a day trip, but rather a 5 day experience. Departing from Cairns, Kinrara Expeditions offer a trip of a lifetime to a working cattle station that surrounds Kinrara National Park, around 250km south west of Cairns. It is here that families can experience life off the grid and enjoy activities like hiking, kayaking, swimming in natural waterholes, 4WD excursions and just generally spending time outdoors.
You can leave the car behind, as you are picked early for a 4WD trip from Cairns to Kinrara, which in itself is an adventure. Sit back and take in this incredible environment, from rainforests to mountain ranges to volcanic landscapes, as you see what truly makes this country beautiful. Once at Kinrara families can settle into their tents, already fully set up with beds which can be arranged in any configuration (no air mattresses here!) before exploring the property.
Like most working cattle stations, everyone eats together sharing conversation and stories of their day. There is space for reading, doing puzzles or playing family board games. Shared amenities are also a part of the experience, but don’t think that you will be doing it tough – an open fire pit heats the water so you can enjoy endless hot showers.
During a stay, guests are invited to do any range of activities, including bushwalking, canoeing, swimming in waterfalls, fishing and birdwatching. A definite highlight for kids is the 4WD excursion where they can see what life is like on a cattle station, see wildlife like kangaroos, goannas and wild boar, and then enjoy a picnic by a dam. Tours are led by local guides who are exceptionally knowledgeable about the land and its history.
Curiosity is encouraged at Kinrara, and kids are welcome to ask questions and generally to explore the uninterrupted space they have to play in.
Kinrara is really an experience – a moment in time to slow down and relax as a family and enjoy the simplicity and experience the true wonders of nature.
Cost: $2,300 for adults, $600 for teenagers and $350 for children
Opening Hours: See website for pick up dates/times.
The best day trip from Cairns
So what do you think? Excited for an excursion that includes farms, plantations and animals? Keen to get off the standard tourist trail? This trip has something for everyone and is a fabulous opportunity to get back to the roots of what this community is all about. We are excited for you to have an authentic experience talking to people who actually grow the food we eat and farm that land. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go and explore around Cairns!
For more farm visit ideas visit qld.gov.au/tastefarmlife.