Our initial plans included camping at Cape Tribulation and a hike up Mount Sorrow, which is approximately two-and-a-half hour drive north of Cairns. Since we were in a hurry to head southward, we compromised and visited Barron Falls and Kuranda instead. After a quick 45-minute drive, we walked through some serious jungle to the view point. Given the recent rain, the falls were swollen and quite magnificent. We wound back down the road to Cairns and stopped in at Fryday’s for an acai bowl. Highly recommend, super refreshing.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent looking at more waterfalls. We considered swimming under one, but later found out about the leeches who enjoy doing the same thing and were very glad we didn’t. I love waterfalls, but super detest leeches due to wading in a stagnant pond at a wedding when I was five when I brought an unwelcome guest home between my toes.

Our last stop was Parnella Park. We showed up at 4:30, just in time for the final tour of the day. Our guide Mandy was top notch. She shared the castle’s fascinating history as well as bug spray, when appropriate. Unlike Larnach in New Zealand, Parnella Park was built entirely for amusement. Its industrious owner had the foresight to install one of Australia’s first turbines in the nearby waterfall, bringing electricity to the area and immense wealth to himself. The park was a welcome respite for ex-pats in the early 1900s. Nowadays, after damage from multiple hurricanes and the relentless jungle foliage, the buildings are in beautiful disrepair. The winding paths and water features reminded me of The Secret Garden. Our admission to the park included a free camp site, so we hurried to set up our tent and grab some dinner at the local pub.

As someone who’s used to dealing in Fahrenheit, 30 Celsius does not sound that hot. Let me tell you, my friends. 30 Celsius is no joke. Add in 90% humidity, obnoxious insect noises and several bug bites and you’ve got a perfect storm of awful. After three hours, with every pore of my body oozing sweat, I finally gave up and turned the A/C on in the car for twenty minutes. I awkwardly curled up in the trunk–sadly, Toyota Corollas are much smaller than Nissan Wingroads–and woke up every hour for another dose of glorious air conditioning.

I do not recommend camping anywhere near Cairns in the summer months.