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Due to the large number of National Parks, State Forests and general wilderness areas, North Queensland is an excellent destination for bush walkers. Permits are not required for day visits to National Parks but they are required if you intend to camp.

There are easy walks that are accessible by people of all ages and fitness levels. From a gentle stroll to tracks that are only suitable for very experienced hikers. Walking tracks are well sign posted, well maintained and reasonably accurate with regards to distances and facilities offered. The most well known walking tracks close to Cairns are the Red and Blue Arrow tracks on Mt Whitfield. At times they are quite steep but once the summit is reached (about 30 minutes) you are rewarded with magnificent views over the Coral Sea. These tracks are well sign posted and easy to get to (a taxi fare of $6 to $7 from the Cairns CBD).

All National Parks have walking tracks. Bush walkers can see abundant wildlife including birds, butterflies, small mammals and reptiles. Lush tropical rainforest, colourful flowering trees and plants, orchids, fig trees and stunning waterfalls, mountain back drops and coastal plains can make any bush walk an absolute pleasure.

Bush walking safety tips - follow these simple guidelines whenever walking in the bush

  • Be prepared - let someone know where you are going, take a small first aid kit, raincoat, a hat, water, a watch, insect repellent and sunscreen.
  • Take care near water - rocks can be slippery, currents strong and submerged rocks and logs common in Creeks and Rivers. Always check for signs before swimming as hazards can include crocodiles, stingers and slippery waterfalls.
  • Stay on the track - read maps and signs carefully.
  • Never feed or play with animals - human food can be harmful and some animals will bite or scratch if they feel threatened.
  • Leave pets at home - cats and dogs kill thousands of native animals every year. If you are travelling with pets leave them in a boarding kennel if you are planning to visit a National Park.
  • Be Considerate - keep your noise down so that others can enjoy the Bush.
  • Be careful with fires - use fireplaces or designated BBQ's.
  • Take all of your rubbish with you.

Maps and information booklets on the various Bushwalking areas are readily available throughout Cairns. An excellent book called "50 Walks in North Queensland" by Tyron Thomas outlines the most popular walks in the region. The information contained details the length of the walks, duration, conditions, grade (easy to hard) and what to expect along the walk. This book is readily available from bookstores in Cairns.

Many day tour operators in Cairns specialise in taking visitors on bush walking tours. They can accommodate any fitness level and degree of experience. The Australian wilderness is very beautiful however if proper care is not taken it can be a dangerous environment. For this reason we recommend exploring with an experienced guide.

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