In October 2018 hundreds of mental health nurses will descend on Cairns for the 44th ACMHN International Mental Health Nursing Conference. As part of pre-conference publicity ACMHN have put their “Top 5 Tips for #ACMHN2018 Presenters” online [link].
That got me thinking that it might be helpful to have some “Top 5 Tips for #ACMHN2018 Delegates”, ie: a local mental health nurse’s suggestions on what to do when you’re NOT at the conference. FNQ (Far North Queensland) is worth exploring – be sure to tack-on some rest and recreation time before and after the conference.
With no further ado, please read on…
Top 5 Places for a Drink
Mondo is my favourite place for afternoon drinks or lunch. It’s a 500m walk from the conference venue. The location is fantastic, with views across Trinity Inlet and nearly always a cool breeze.
Local’s tip: If you do decide to eat here try the sizzling fajita. Yum!
Hemingways opened in June 2018, and sits in a beautifully restored/repurposed dockside cargo shed. It has an industrial chic look and feel about it, and they make their own beers on site. Hemingways is less that 200m from the conference venue… stumbling distance 🙂
Local’s tip: craft beer not your thing? the AIX Rosé is delicious!
Salt House salthouse.com.au
A 10 minute walk from the conference venue, Salt House has a new deck that overlooks the marina and a larger area where there is often live music. It’s cool and casual, and a favourite with the after-work crowd.
Local’s tip: have the Bloody Mary oyster shooter!
Do you have an image of a RSL as a dingy old place full of dingy old people? Forget it! From the conference venue take a 10-15 minute stroll along the lively, cosmopolitan esplanade to take a seat at the light and breezy bar with tilt-up windows.
Local’s tip: the bar’s resident willy wagtail is called Russell
Vine Room www.facebook.com/thevineroomurbanprovedore
Situated just across Florence Street from the RSL, Vine Room is an open air, slightly elevated spot for an afternoon/evening drink. Watch the dive trips come in from the reef with a cool beverage.
Local’s tip: if you’re with 3 or 4 others grab one of their platters for a nibble
Top 5 Places to Eat
Less than 200m from the conference venue, this groovy little place is great for just a drink, but the food is too yummy to miss. My favourites are the tapas dishes, which the friendly staff will match to your wines if you ask them to.
Local’s tip: the specials are nearly always amazing!
This seafood restaurant on The Nard (local speak for “The Esplanade”) is a great spot to watch the world go by while eating delicious things. It’s a 10-15 meander from the conference venue.
Local’s tip: the seafood chowder is a delicious and surprisingly cheap meal; if you want to treat yourself have the Morton Bay Bugs in garlic butter
The best Thai restaurant in Cairns is also on The Nard, but is a bit harder to find than the others. Look for the casual and fun Courtyard at street level. The door to the stairs taking you up to Iyara is to the right of the entrance to Courtyard. It’s a very good restaurant, and if you’re seated on the balcony you’ll be able to see the blinking lights of the shipping channel snaking out to sea.
Local’s tip: the starter that has a prawn, lime and peanuts wrapped in a betel leaf is fantastic!
Tha Fish www.thafish.com.au
Situated on the boardwalk of The Pier, Tha Fish overlooks the marina – it’s a 5-10 minute walk from the conference venue. Great food, great wine list and great service.
Local’s tip: order from “tha fish list” where you choose from one of 5 fishes and one of 5 cooking styles
If you found Mondo you can find Ochre – it’s just another 50m or so along the boardwalk that fronts Trinity Inlet. A creative menu using lots of native Australia ingredients. Classy!
Local’s tip: if there are two or more of you have a tasting platter (be sure to include the salt and pepper quail)
Top 5 Things to Do in Cairns
The Lagoon/Boardwalk www.cairns.qld.gov.au/esplanade
The boardwalk is a nice stroll, and well used by locals and visitors alike. If you do the whole thing it connects Hemingways to the mangroves near the airport, but that’s not much fun in full sun. Around sunrise or sunset it’s pretty nice though.
Local’s tip: there are a couple of avenues of large trees that converge at the lagoon – go via the shade if it’s sunny!
Rusty’s Markets www.rustysmarkets.com.au
The markets are a couple of blocks from the conference venue fronting both Grafton and Sheridan Streets. They markets are well-worth a visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. There’s a bit of standard hippy bling near the Grafton Street entrance, but the cool stuff is the food in the middle and Sheridan Street end of the markets.
Local’s tip: buy a few tropical fruits you’ve never tried before – the stallholders are generous with showing/telling you how to eat them
The Tanks www.tanksartscentre.com
If there’s a show on at The Tanks that coincides with your trip to Cairns get there. Tank 5 is a fantastic venue to see bands/other acts. If there are no live shows that appeal sus-out any art exhibitions. The Tanks are about $10-15 in an Uber or $20-25 in a taxi from the conference venue. There’s also a bus (see below).
Local’s tip: the botanic gardens are next door if you’re doing a day trip
The Beaches travelnq.com/cairns-beaches
It shits me when people say Cairns doesn’t have a beach. It doesn’t have a beach in the CBD, but then neither does Sydney. But you don’t hear people say Sydney doesn’t have a beach. The nine Cairns beaches are all north of the city. If you don’t have a hire car, take the sunbus to the beaches of your choice: www.sunbus.com.au/cairns
Local’s tip: stinger season usually starts in November, but they can come early some years.
The Red Arrow www.cairns.qld.gov.au
For a sweat-inducing but beautiful walk head to The Red Arrow near The Tanks/botanic gardens. Green exercise is better for mental health than gym-based exercise, and when you’re puffing for breath looking down on the airport/city from Mount Whitfield you’ll notice a smile pass over your lips between gasps.
Local’s tip: your accom provider may be able to provide a bike for you to get there – if so you can do the whole trip on designated bike tracks away from nasty killer cars [maps here]
Top 5 Trips out of Cairns
Great Barrier Reef www.cairnsattractions.com.au
You can see the Great Barrier Reef from outer space or from a boat from Cairns or Port Douglas. Boat trips are much cheaper than rocket trips, but it’s worth paying a bit extra for one that goes to the outer reef – that’s where the cool stuff is. Snorkelling is pretty easy unless you’re very unfit.
Local’s tip: don’t pre-book your trip, watch the day-to-day weather forecasts before booking – ideally you’ll go on a day when the wind is 10kmh or less.
Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation www.destinationdaintree.com
You can do this as a day trip in a hire car easily. Here’s my special secret itinerary which, until now, I’ve only ever shared with family and friends:
Wake up early. An early start means you beat the tourist buses heading up to the Daintree. It doesn’t have to be a pre-dawn take-off, but this is written as if you’re in the car and driving at 7:00am(ish) – if you’re not on the road before 8:00am you’re too late.
Drive north up Sheridan Street/Captain Cook Highway. If you didn’t get proper coffee before you left town, too bad: get it in the Daintree instead.
You’ll drive past all the suburban beach turnoffs and Palm Cove in the way out of town. Relax. By leaving early you can see any of them on the way back.
Drive through Ellis Beach. About 15-20 minutes later you’ll see the signs/parking area for Rex Lookout. Stop there for photos and fresh air. Lovely.
Keep driving north, don’t turn off to Port Douglas: keep going towards Mossman. If you’re REALLY desperate for coffee you can try your luck in Mossman, but it’s better to keep driving.
20-30 minutes later you’re at the ferry that crosses the Daintree River. Get a return ticket, and officially start to relax. You’ve beaten the traffic. You’re in a lovely part of the world.
You’ve crossed the river now. Chill. Soon after you get off the ferry you’ll see the sign pointing to Florence Lookout on the right. Take the turn. Take some photos.
Now you’re less than half an hour away from stopping for breakfast. Keep driving north until you get to Thornton Beach. There’s a place next to the beach that makes good coffee and breakfast. You can take your time.
Along the way there a free boardwalks. Take the time to walk along all of the free ones. There’s a commercial boardwalk/skywalk thingy too. You’ll see it advertised. It’s good, but so are the free boardwalks. You can choose to go on the paid boardwalk/skywalk on the way back if you want to.
Putter your way to Cape Tribulation. There are lovely beaches there – check with a local on whether it’s safe to get in the sea (irukandji likely to be a bigger risk than crocs).
Take your time. Late brunch/early lunch in Cape Trib. Soon the tourist buses will start arriving. You don’t care, you’re turning around and leaving Cape Trib now.
Enjoy the drive south. Turn -off/stop wherever you want. Make sure you stop in at that tropical fruit ice-cream place you saw on the way up.
After you’ve crossed the river again, plan to drop into Mossman Gorge on the way home. If you couldn’t swim before, you can here: fantastic clear, cold, croc-free fresh water.
How’s the time going? You’ll be time to have a look at Port Douglas: make sure. to get photos @ Four Mile Beach, somewhere down the other end of Macrossen Street near the Courthouse Hotel. Hang a right, and go up to the lookout.
Take your time driving home. Be sure to stop at Rex Lookout again (the light has changed, it looks different, there may be hang-gliders).
Do you have time to stop at Ellis Beach? It’s more about the beach than anything else.
Do you have time to stop at Palm Cove? It’s more about the bars and restaurants than anything else, but there is a nice jetty for a walk, and an irukandji net to allow safe(ish) swimming.
There a few more beaches on the way back to Cairns. They all have different looks/qualities, visit whichever you like: most are only 10 minutes off the highway, Yorkeys Knob is more like 15.
Mossman Gorge www.mossmangorge.com.au
Mossman Gorge is beautiful. If you can’t get to The Daintree for whatever reason go here instead – it’ll give you a good taste of the wet tropics with the bonus of cultural context.
Local’s tip: if you’re feeling the heat/humidity pack your togs – the croc-free water is always cool in Mossman Gorge
Port Douglas www.tourismportdouglas.com.au
Port is a pretty town which somehow maintains a small town feel despite all the tourist infrastructure. It’s definitely worth staying in Port for a night or two if you have time.
Local’s tip: the Sunday morning markets and Sunday arvo session at The Courthouse are fun
The Waterfall Circuit www.millaamillaa.com
This is another do-able as a day trip in a hire car thing. It’s lovely up on the tablelands, and a good way to see the good stuff is to ignore the advice of TLC and DO go chasing waterfalls. There’s a map in the link above,
Local’s tip: if you’re up that way definitely drop into the Mungulli Creek Dairy for cheese, chocolate and other yummy stuff
That’ll do for now.
My meta4RN website does not accept paid advertising – in fact, I pay a bit more each year to have a website without advertising. This is a prelude to say that my “Top 5 Tips for #ACMHN2018 Delegates” are just my opinion. It’s OK to ignore or disagree with my suggestions or – better still – add your suggestions in the comments section below… if enough people do add their suggestions, I’ll create another category: Top5 Reader Suggestions. 🙂
See you in Cairns for #ACMHN2018!
27th August 2018 [Twitter pics/updates on 9th September 2018]
Short URL: meta4RN.com/tips