1. It Is Arguably The Most Beautiful Part Of Australia
To borrow a line from iconic Aussie band Gang Gajang, “This is Australia”. You could be forgiven for thinking the band’s smash hit song Sounds of Then was written about tropical North Queensland, when in fact the timeless tune was penned while frontman Mark Callaghan was living 1,000 kilometres down the Queensland coastline at Bundaberg.
From the white sand of the Great Barrier Reef to the rainforests of the Wet Tropics, most Australians would be happy for this part of the country to be the face of our tourism product. Away from the golf course, North Queensland has serious tourism firepower: whether it’s the vibrant festivals and events of tropical Cairns, or beachfront dining, decadent day spas and tropical resorts of Palm Cove, there is something for everyone. See blog.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au for more.
2. Experience Tropical North Queensland’s Most Iconic Golf Course
Lush golf greens, challenging fairways and endless summer lifestyle. Paradise Palms is where the rainforest meets the reef, a tropical paradise for golfers. Situated between two natural wonders – World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – Paradise Palms is a vibrant, fun and relaxing place to enjoy world-class golf.
A 20-minute drive from the relaxed city of Cairns, the championship course and its sweeping fairways take you on a journey through snaking creeks, narrow, undulating greens and 72 bunkers. It is widely regarded as the most iconic and challenging course in Tropical North Queensland.
The club now has its sights on improving its ranking of No.93 in Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses list. With local owners recently purchasing the resort in 2015, Paradise Palms is being revitalised with vibrant, fresh and fun changes that will ultimately give the property its heart back. Such changes have already begun with the purchase of new Club Car golf carts fitted with Visage GPS. Course upgrades include the installation of four hit-up nets and the redesign and refurbishment of all 72 bunkers. With the reconfiguration of the course, two new holes were all created while still remaining loyal to the original Graham Marsh design.
Paradise Palms has also rolled out a new logo and website, along with a delicious new menu in the restaurant and a larger variety of competitions on the fairways. The resort’s first major event since the rebrand will be this year’s 2016 Qantas Cairns Classic PGA event from July 4-7.
To acknowledge the rejuvenation of the facility, the resort will be hosting a three-day celebration from May 13-15. Festivities will include a Freaky Friday Golf Fun Day on May 13 and two-ball best ball competition for Golf Australia-affiliated golfers, followed by a presentation. On the Sunday, there will be a competition in the morning and a family nine-hole event in the afternoon.
Over by the clubhouse the focus will be on families with food stalls, children entertainers and rides. Paradise Palms also provides the opportunity to stay in paradise with its 4.5-star resort accommodation, irresistible pools, lush gardens and fresh, local cuisine in the restaurant and bar. Stay-and-play options are available throughout the year for golfers wanting a relaxed getaway. Experience the best golf in Tropical North Queensland.
See paradisepalms.com.au or call (07) 4059 9999 for more.
3. Play Golf With The Crocs, Seriously!
Located in Port Douglas, Palmer Sea Reef is one of the more “Australian” championship courses you’ll play. Designed by Thomson, Wolveridge & Perrett, the course opened in May 2000 and is Australia’s only tropical links-style golf course. Located beside the Coral Sea in an idyllic setting (on what was initially a struggling cane farm), the land turned out to be the perfect site for a unique layout.
Measuring 6,135 metres, the course boasts wide, undulating fairways, 89 bunkers and large greens with well-placed swales and mounds to test the skills of all golfers.
With a rainforest backdrop, this is indeed a scenic place to play golf. The presence of several two-metre-plus crocodiles on the course requires adherence to a strict Crocodile Management Plan that educates golfers not to enter the water or risk serious injury by nearing the edges of ponds to retrieve balls. Coral Sea, rainforests and crocodiles – could golf get any more tropical?
The superb Queenslander-style clubhouse [below] boasts a restaurant and lounge bar with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as complimentary lockers. There’s also a full range of facilities, including a dedicated chipping zone, bunker area and putting green. Visitors are welcome to join the members’ competitions held Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with club and shoe hire readily available.
Palmer Sea Reef also offers local accommodation transfers as well as small group transfers to other golf clubs in the Port Douglas area, including Paradise Palms, Mirage Country Club and Mossman Golf Club. This includes Cairns airport pickups and drop offs. One major event being planned for later in the year is the Hemmingway Brewery Tournament that will offer a major prize of a game fishing trip valued at $6,500. See palmergolf.com.au/seareef for more.
4. Another Slice Of Paradise
Paradise Links Resort Port Douglas is the perfect golfing escape. Boasting an ensemble of 69 luxury self-catering villas and apartments; studio, one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as two, three and four-bedroom villas (some with your very own private pool), here is a place you can unwind and take in the tropical lifestyle.
Encased in 10 acres of lush tropical gardens and boasting spectacular golf course views, you’ll experience great accommodation and even better golf.
Paradise Links Resort is just a short stroll from Palmer Sea Reef and boasts two lagoon-style swimming pools, tennis court, two barbecue pavilions, free wifi, complimentary car parking, bike hire and a tour desk to arrange all your ‘Troppo’ adventures.
Not to mention that you’re only a five-minute walk to Four Mile Beach.
Winner of the Douglas Chamber of Commerce Business Award for “Best Resort Accommodation over 40 rooms” and voted one of the “Top Hotels in Australia” on Tripadvisor, Paradise Links Resort Port Douglas is a must-stay destination with your golfing entourage. See paradiselinks.com.au for more.
5. Because Johnathan Thurston says so, OK?
Johnathan Thurston, widely regarded as the best rugby league player in the world, is one of few NRL players able to transcend their sport. In Townsville he enjoys God-like status as the North Queensland Cowboys’ co-captain. It became official in October last year when he delivered the region its first NRL premiership in a thrilling grand final.
Thurston [below] is as hungry for success as they come, but if you think that dog-with-a-bone tenaciousness only manifests itself on the footy field, you haven’t seen the man they call ‘JT’ swing a golf club.
Australian Golf Digest contacted the gifted halfback to get his thoughts on golf in the far north.
“I’ve played some pretty good golf courses in this part of Australia,” says Thurston. “Paradise Palms, Palmer Sea Reef … We used to go up to Paradise Palms a fair bit if we had the weekend or a few days off.”
Thurston first picked up a golf club when he was in Sydney playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs. “But now that I’m up here, I play Rowes Bay, Townsville and Willows golf clubs, so I get around,” he laughs.
“My favourite hole at Rowes Bay is probably the ninth, which is a par 5. You’ve got to drive down to the bunkers and if you hit over the top of that, sometimes you can get over a little lake with your second, which is about 50 metres short of the green. So you’ve got to try and have a crack, which most of the boys try to do if their drives are any good. I really like that hole.”
There you have it – if golf in Far North Queensland is good enough for the region’s most famous sporting star, it’s good enough for anyone.
There are generally only two seasons in the Tropics, ‘the green’ and ‘the dry’. The green season weather begins with the first monsoonal rains, usually around November, and ends around May. About 75-90 per cent of the annual rainfall is recorded then, with the highest falls between Cairns and Tully around the Bellenden Ker and Bartle Frere Mountains. During the cooler, dry season the days are balmy and the evenings pleasantly cool (17-26ºC)