If you drive 70 km (44 miles) west of Palm Cove you'll encounter another world: giant termite mounds dot savanna scrub, and vast reclaimed wetlands give refuge to hundreds of bird species, including Australia's only stork, the Jabiru. Knowledgable, enthusiastic staff run numerous nature-based excursions on and around the vast, lily-littered lagoons and savanna. A 2½-hour Sunset Reserve Safari combines a bird-watching cruise, a ranger-guided savanna drive on which you'll spot wallabies and kangaroos, a "billy" tea and bird-hide stop, and fine Aussie wine and cheese. Consider signing up for the Wetlands' fantastic four-day package for A$820; it includes rain forest, reef, and outback trips, along with deluxe safari-tent accommodation and some meals. Daily transfers to and from Cairns are available for around A$50 one-way. All proceeds feed back into the Wetlands' environmental work.
Clancy's Lagoon Visitor Centre, 142 Pickford Rd., Biboohra, Queensland, 4880, Australia