FAR north Queensland has long been a favourite holiday destination for LGBTI Australians, and it’s not hard to see why.

And with Tropical Mardi Gras just a few months away, there’s never been a better time to visit Cairns — the gateway to the region.Star Observer MREC_300x2502

The area not only has a large and growing LGBTI population, but many from Australia’s larger cities enjoy visiting to soak up the laid back lifestyle and paradise.

The Cairns region is home to more than 160,000 people and is has easy access to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, as well as Port Douglas, Barron Gorge, Palm Cove, Atherton Tableland, Cape Tribulation, and more.

To be able to see all of the following attractions (and more) with ease, we recommend you stay at the Cairns Queenslander Hotel & Apartments. The perfect place to base yourself in this exciting region.

While Cairns itself doesn’t have any specific “gay” bars or nightclubs, there are regular gay-centric parties and events held throughout the year.

One of those events is Tropical Mardi Gras in October, regarded as the largest LGBTI pride festival in northern Australia.

Formerly known as Cairns Tropical Pride, the theme of Tropical Mardi Gras this year is “Show Your Love in Paradise” and it features a program of activities, parties and trips to the natural beauty of surrounding World Heritage environments.

Highlights of the program include a Rainbow Rave for LGBTI youth, Fair Day, film screenings at Cairns Botanic Gardens, a family picnic day, and arts and fashion events. There’s also the popular Splash! Pool Party, which is followed by the Beached As Recovery Party.

Tropical far north Queensland is a popular destination for LGBTI tourists

Tropical far north Queensland is a popular destination for LGBTI tourists

“If you are on team equal, then you are welcome at our events,” festival director Zelda Grimshaw said.

“While Australia is dragging its feet on marriage equality, the community is running full steam ahead — we just need our governments to catch up. We know we have many supporters in the ‘straight’ world, and now is a great time to show your support.

“Let’s be out and proud on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Daintree Rainforest, on the Esplanade, in the Botanic Gardens, in the pool and on the beach. Dance, swim, snorkel, dive, explore, escape, chill, cuddle, dance some more and show your love in paradise.”

Whether you visit during Tropical Mardi Gras or not, the far north Queensland region has something for every gay traveller to enjoy.

The majority of Cairns’ nightspots are gay-friendly, and a few resorts in the city and surrounds — such as Turtle Cove — cater to gay travellers. In addition, the whole region is a top destination for recovery week holidays after the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Also on offer are activities like diving or snorkelling on the reef, white water rafting, bungy jumping, or a a visit to Buchans Point – the unofficial “gay beach” of the far north.

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Tropical Mardi Gras

When: October 1-11

Where: Cairns and surrounds

Details: tropicalmardigras.org

CAIRNS

Where to stay: 4-star Cairns Queenslander Hotel & Apartments

Inclusions: Three nights accommodation at the four-star Cairns Queenslander Hotel & Apartments in a standard suite. Includes free onsite parking.

Price: $189 per person

Travel Dates: October 1 – November 30, 2015; or February 1 – March 30, 2016.

DETAILS: http://www.flightcentre.com.au/accommodation/cairns/3726762

For more fantastic gay and lesbian holidays, visit flightcentre.com.au/holidays/gay-and-lesbian

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